I have access to some of the greatest minds in the world of psychopathy. For years, these individuals have studied, taught, researched, and written. Yet, when they have certain questions that they just don’t understand, they ask me. At times, I sit back and think about how amazing that is. At others, I genuinely wish I had no clue about this subject.
I lived with psychopathy. I watched it, learned, and put all of the pieces of this very complex puzzle together. Then, I spent a significant amount of time doubting whether or not it could be. But it was. It is. When I realized this, I set out to educate the world. I was on a mission that caused our worlds to collide. Before long, I came to a place where I grew tired of talking about it. Its toxicity became too great for me to continue to recount. However, in truth, once we are touched by it, it is ever-present. So here’s round two.
As I was recounting my latest round of psychopath inspired nonsense to one of the experts, he asked if it was common for them to “keep coming back.” I laughed to myself because I couldn’t imagine that he didn’t already know the answer. Turns out he did, but what he specifically had been pondering was their “rate or return.” Luckily, I was there to explain.
There is a long and short answer to this question. Believe it or not, both are relatively simple, because in truth, so is the psychopath. And usually, they do come back.
Sometimes, they just want to test the waters. Perhaps they are short on psychopathic/narcissistic supply. They may have broken up with a partner. A good source cut connections. Perhaps something happened in their lives that re-kindled their anger at you. Who knows. There are as many reasons as there are psychopaths. Either way, what better place to look for more, than from someone who was readily available in the past?
Maybe you won’t respond. Maybe you will. They think it’s worth a shot. If you maintain no contact, it is likely they will move on. It is also possible that they will try again in the future. This is mostly about them and where they are in their own heads at any given point in time. Regardless, their connection to you is minimal under these circumstances. You’re exceptionally fortunate if you reside here.
However, if they perceive that you have wronged them in any way or have caused “narcissistic injury,” the ride will be much rougher. These personalities tend to be relentless and will not back off until all the perceived “wrongs” have been righted. Unfortunately, all you really have to do is exist in order for them to feel wronged. Remember, they feel nothing is their fault. They will do their best to destroy and use any means possible. This often even extends to the manipulation of their own children without a second thought. What better way to disarm a caring parent, for example, than by harming their children?
They are sinister. These folks tend to be the ones with the higher scores on the Psychopathy Checklist. These are the sadists. These are the cases in which there is increased cause for concern. These are the individuals with psychopathic features who are quite dangerous (not that they all aren’t to some degree.) Sound extreme? Ask the families of those whose stories appear on Dateline or Forensic Files. Consider the story of the court appointed Wisconsin social worker who was sent to supervise a visit. The estranged father pushed her out the front door and proceeded to kill his two sons just to hurt their mother. Some simply have an axe to grind and it does not matter to them how long it takes to settle their score. They will do it. Or at least they will try.
Psychopaths are vindictive and vengeful. They stalk. They are obsessed. Sadly, many do so in very legal ways. Often, they do so in such a manner, with their agendas so hidden, that they may seem legitimate to even the most seasoned receivers. If you are the object of their obsession, prepare yourself for the ride of your life. Fortunately, once you have them figured out, however, their games are highly predictable and you are better able to self-advocate.
For example, consider the behavior of “Fred”. At the end of his marriage to “Lisa”, he did not adequately “finish her off,” (his own words.) He brought forth years of post- decree litigation against her, hoping to facilitate her demise. He did not, however. She gained strength and flourished. This drove him harder to exact revenge.
In the initial round, he alleged numerous counts of contempt, as well as parental alienation, and many other completely ridiculous, falsified items. As is usually the case, projection ran rampant and it was he who was doing the alienating. His intentions were to “break her and her daddy too,” (financial) and “put her through so much she had no choice but to end it all” (emotional and psychological.) Mind you, he had already waged years of physical, psychological and emotional warfare on Lisa and her children. But he wasn’t done.
The divorce was only the beginning, which is very common with these abusers. It should be noted that she was the moving party after she discovered he had been with multiple women and had another family in another state. That was her first “mistake.” The leaving was not on his terms. It did not matter that he had been incredibly abusive and had affairs. It did not matter that she experienced the proverbial back breaking straw.
He was angry that he was not the one to initiate the leaving and it did not follow his timeline. Had it, he likely would have had time to allow the house to foreclose, sink her into debt, force her to remove the children from activities, harm them further, and the like. His terms. She, however, innocently derailed his plan by leaving first. This was the first reason he desired such revenge. She made a reasonably clean break, which was not how he saw their ways parting. In front of the children, he had stated that he wanted them to be homeless so she had to “figure it out.” When that did not happen, he sunk further into the desire for revenge.
Flash back for a moment
Let’s dissect the the above statement regarding her “ending it all.” With this, he meant her life. Interestingly, in the end stages of the divorce, he either purchased or planned to purchase an automatic weapon in order to “defend himself” against her. He wanted to kill her.
Translation of his thoughts: “I want you dead. Not only can I not stand you, but you will cost me far too much money in this divorce and I prefer you were no longer living. I tried, but I did not want to actually risk prison by doing it myself. The whole ‘gun thing’ did not work out for me, so I will emotionally destroy you until you do it yourself.”
Had he been successful and had that occurred, he would have been able to “prove” everything he had been saying about his “crazy ex-wife.” She would have proven him “right” and solidified his lies were correct and what he “endured at her hands,” simply by what he had to put up with. People would have believed she was nothing more than the insane crack-pot he alleged. At that point, he would have received pity, probably even praise, and she would be out of the picture. Let the record show, however, that if Lisa ever ends up dead, she did not do it to herself. Yet, in this case, this did not happen. She did more than survive. He did not get what he wanted and after protracted litigation where he ultimately failed, he retreated.
Furthermore, enter the scenario with the children. In this situation, they were also expensive. He also knew that accessing them was the best way to harm his ex-wife. Additionally, he had deep seated disdain for them as well. He was abusive to all of them and continually reminded the girls that they “reminded him of her.” He had been abrasive from the start.
Yet, during and after the divorce, his behavior became even more unusual and dysfunctional. The mask had cracked. They were down-right afraid and not without good reason. He withheld food on visits, he assaulted the oldest, lied to all of them and attempted to drown the youngest in a nearby river. The youngest was able to re-tell the story to her GAL and this was one of several the events that ended his visitation.
This event did not occur without warning, however. As they typically do, he gave fair notice. The problem is that most do not understand what they are saying. Lisa came to hear the meaning in time. On the day of the incident at the river, he had warned her that, “accidents can happen to anyone, people die every day, it doesn’t matter if they are young or old, they die every day…”
After this, he felt he was in a position to force the dust to settle. He was not, however, gone in the way most thought he was. Lisa knew.
Where did he go?
She knew all he was doing was re-grouping. He was losing his shirt, so to speak. He never expected she would figure the situation out, recognize what she was dealing with, or have to strength to do anything about it. She had been his punching bag, along with the kids, for all those years. He was furious. But she knew how to read the messages sent to the children in their Christmas cards each year (his only communication other than an occasional birthday card.) She knew “you’ll get your gift when I see you” and ” I will see you soon,” when all visitation had been ended by the court was a threat. Lisa knew he would return.
Many told her he was gone for good. Others told her she was being paranoid when she said it was not true. Her own lawyer said that she had given him too much credit. She, on the other hand, knew they were incorrect. The sharpest tool, he was absolutely not, but she had come to speak “psychopath” and knew that he’d be back one day to try to finish the job. He couldn’t stand that she was still standing. He could not stand that she had “won.” He will claim that he spiraled into a depression, but he did not. Or maybe he had. However, if he did, the reasons were none so noble as the ones he proclaimed. He was merely enraged that she had survived and was thriving
It wasn’t enough that the litigation total had just crossed over $100,000. It did not matter that he ended up filing bankruptcy in the process. That was her fault, after all. Never mind that his spending habits were akin to a child in a candy store or a college freshman at a frat party. He wanted more. He wanted to harm her due to his obsession with her demise. He was insatiable. Instead of moving on with his life, post-divorce, he waged war.
The battles were small skirmishes and usually over money, but constant. Initially, he sent email suggesting he had no money and would reduce his child support. He did reduce it. She rode the situation out. She kept records, and she continued to notify him of his obligations. All the while, she never initiated any legal action. He was the litigious piece of that equation. It’s in their nature and she expected it.
He got raises, he failed to report. He convinced a doctor somewhere that he was “disabled” and it took him a very short time to file for a reduction. He got it. He hid money. He spent money. He did as they do with finances. No surprise.
When he got a new job, he filed for a reduction in support, based on his probationary pay; never thinking for a moment that the pay scale would be supbeanoed. In the end, he ended up with a significant increase and a payment program regarding his large arrearage, which had risen into the tens of thousands. The judge referred to him as a deadbeat. He had been admonished again in the very courtroom he had hoped would vindicate him. He grew angrier.
As of late
Then it happened. Lisa knew the day would come when she would open the mail box and sitting within would be the notice; a one-two-punch of sorts. Holland Law Offices. A petition to modify support and visitation. A death warrant. Hers. Her minor children. The oldest, now majority age, was out of the picture (sort of). Never mind the fact that he had not had anything to do with them in almost seven years. Never mind. Anyone who would take this case would ultimately wear their blood on their hands if he were to prevail. But will he? That remains to be seen. Fortunately she knows his tactics. She knows that when the angry and violated persona did not work, he will need to switch methods and turn on the charm. He will swing from Mr. Apologetic, “I Was So Wrong Nice Guy” asking forgiveness to a wild man again. She knows and anticipates and has planning for this day as well for years.
Why? They all come back.