Relationships and Divorces with Someone Who Suffers Borderline Personality Disorder

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Some of the most emotionally abusive relationships and traumatic divorces involve the mentally ill. One of the most difficult of these mental illnesses is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) because it is not easily diagnosed. Behaviors can range from extreme violence to subtle patterns of emotional blackmail and projection. On top of that, many Borderlines tend to live in denial, constantly avoiding their own feelings of emptiness, insecurity, anger, disappointment and fear that more often than not stems from an abusive childhood. It is hard to treat and help someone if they don’t want to face their own abuse — abuse that they themselves suffered or the abuse that they themselves do.

Classifying Borderlines as “Acting In” or “Acting Out”

Not all borderlines are focused on harming others. Some are so busy with their own inner demons that they are trapped in a realm of substance abuse, suicide attempts, and self-hate that for most can be traced back to child abuse or neglect. They are often known as the “acting in” type. If this is the kind of Borderline in your life, count yourself lucky. That’s because they are both more likely to recognize their own problems and work on them and less likely to focus on destroying other people in a desperate attempt to portray themselves as worthy people who are victims in need of assistance.

The other group of Borderlines, sometimes called the “acting out” group, are narcissistic sociopaths with little sense of guilt or remorse. They often have little limit to what they will do to make themselves “win” and you “lose” and don’t care who else they hurt in the process. If you have been in a relationship with a person suffering Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), be aware that much of what is written about “acting out” Borderlines applies equally to Narcissists.

Blaming and Projection

A relationship with someone who suffers from BPD can leave the one being abused feeling confused and hopeless as they are often blamed for all the problems in the relationships, even including things they didn’t do. Often, such blaming for fictional behaviors is a form of projection used to distract from the Borderline doing the exact thing she or he is accusing the partner of doing. For instance, your Borderline significant other may be having affairs, but you can be sure you will be accused of having affairs (even if you have never had one) long before he or she will admit to one. You may find that many of your friends and family will have heard about your fictional affairs long before you even realize your significant other has been lying about you far and wide. When you try to explain what is really happening, many will refuse to believe the truth because they have heard so many lies about you they cannot imagine they are all false.

The Borderline’s excessive tendency to project or transfer their own negative feelings, behaviors, or perceived negative traits onto others usually arises from their own feelings of self-hatred and self-criticism. In order to deny and escape the truth about their own private hell (usually rooted in an abusive childhood), they instead project their own feelings of self-hatred and inadequacy outside themselves onto others. This is why Borderlines will constantly criticize you, accuse you of saying or doing something you haven’t done or said, and blame you for their problems and unhappiness.

Borderline projections can be very destructive and because most borderlines do not have healthy boundaries, situations can escalate and cause more unnecessary hurt and damage all the way to very serious false criminal allegations that can cost innocent people their jobs, children, and even their lives. For more on this, read up on BPD Distortion Campaigns.

Related to projections is the behavior known as “gaslighting” in which the Borderline tries to confuse another person into believing things that are not true. Often this is to create self-doubt. The target for this abuse can end up questioning his or her own sanity as the Borderline matter-of-factly relates “events” or “what was said” that the target does not recall because they never occurred. You can read more about this behavior in our article Borderlines Make You Feel Insane Via “Gaslighting”.

Divorce Can Intensify the Emotional Abuse

When you divorce someone who suffers from BPD, the emotional abuse does not necessarily end there. It can result in a high-conflict divorce costing you more than you bargained for, not just in terms of wasted money and time, but in very deep psychological wounds. The borderline ex is prone to litigate over everything and to refuse to cooperate with court orders, reasonable requests, and common sense. She or he will likely make even straightforward property settlement issues costly, dragging out the legal process by refusing or avoiding to comply with court decrees to return property, split retirement accounts, repay money owed, and more. He or she may manipulate others by crying poor, telling others that you have lots of money stashed away and have always been mean with money, when in reality they themselves have a much higher income and have more savings than you. Again, this kind of behavior is projection and also a way to humiliate and dominate you.

Another way Borderlines can mess with your mind and emotions is to try and suck you back into the marriage if it is the early stages of your divorce or separation. Be sure to set your limits and be prepared to stand your ground and stick to your boundaries. Borderline behavior will swing unpredictably, one week they may call and want to talk for hours, the next week they may block off any and all communication from you.

No doubt this will be very frustrating so it will be important that you have good legal representation – preferably an attorney who is familiar and understands what drives high-conflict divorces – and a supportive network of family and friends that you can trust. Most importantly, do your best to disengage from the situation. If you have tried every avenue to reasonably communicate with your Borderline and they continue to be unresponsive, do not persist by sending more communication thinking that they might not have received the others you sent. Otherwise the Borderline may distort the truth and accuse you of stalking and harassment.

Borderline Behaviors Regarding Child Custody Disputes

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If you have children together, the harm from the Borderline will almost certainly be far worse than you can imagine. Many Borderlines, particularly those who do not focus on self-harm, have difficulty acting appropriately in regard to the children. They will do far more damage as their distress overflows to severely affect the children’s lives. Your children will be put in the middle of the war and used as pawns for the Borderline to control and manipulate. The Borderline will likely engage in parental alienation against you and your children.

Don’t be surprised if your children are taught by the Borderline to lie to harm you, especially lies to paint you as an unfit and dangerous parent. Your children may be too young to understand the difference between a lie and a truth and merely imitate their sociopathic parent as ordered. In other cases, they may know they are lying and feel guilty doing so. But they do it because they are more afraid of upsetting the Borderline than they would ever be of you. You know what hell the Borderline can dish out and how hard it is to endure it as an adult. If you think about what it would be like as a child who cannot escape and is dependent upon such a sociopathic parent, you may gain an understanding of why your loving children may be willing to wrongly help destroy you.

Plan for the worst imaginable. You can be a good parent, hard worker, and honest person who has never done anything more seriously wrong than earn a parking ticket for an expired meter. But the Borderline may try to convince all coworkers, friends, and family (yours included) that you are a drunk, drug abuser, child sex offender, thief, spousal abuser, deadbeat, and more.

The efforts to inflict a distortion campaign on you will increase dramatically when there are children involved. Expect a stream of false and exaggerated reports to the police and CPS to try to get you arrested, imprisoned, and banned from seeing your children. Your workplace may become an intolerable viper’s nest of lies and rumors as the Borderline makes sure everybody knows how horrible you are. If you dare to defend yourself with the truth, she or he will convincingly attempt to portray you as the psychopath and most people, lacking complete information and having heard about your supposed horrible nature behind your back for years, will swallow up the lies like hungry fish snapping at worms on hooks.

All this maybe twisted to look like it is for the “best interests of the children” or “protecting the children”. The Borderline is desperate to keep them away from you to prove that she or he is a better person than you and also because of their own fears of abandonment and poor self-image.


Understanding Emotionally Abusive Relationships

There is help available for those being abused by Borderlines and those suffering similar conditions that drive them to emotionally abuse their loved ones. Identifying and understanding the emotionally abusive behaviors is the first step. In her book The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing, Beverly Engel points out that many couples can remain trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship without realizing how destructive and dysfunctional it really is.

Without intervention, the cycle of abuse continues, resulting in severe psychological damage and possibly another generation of emotionally abusive relationships. Engel’s book covers the gamut of emotional abuse from the less serious to the truly terrifying. She explains how even normally non-abusive people when treated abusively for long periods can eventually retaliate with emotional abuse of their own. This is a further scenario of how the cycle of abuse can turn adult abuse victims into abusers, much like happens to many abused children who become abusive partners and parents.

If you’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship, Engel believes you must come to terms with abuse or neglect in your past. Her book helps readers identify their “original abuser” (often a parent), identify traits in partners that are related to that abuse, and how to overcome the emotional abuse. She suggests methods to work with a partner who is willing to make some changes as well as things to do when there is no chance of stopping the abuse without ending the relationship. In order to minimize the chance of establishing yet another emotionally abusive relationship, it is critical to understand the emotional abuse cycle and one’s involvement in it before proceeding to a new relationship. Engel’s book helps readers with this challenge, too.

Engel devotes particular attention to emotional abuse in the context of two personality disorders, BPD and NPD (Narcissitic Personality Disorder) as she has found in her experience as a therapist that these personality disorders are particularly likely to both originate from emotional abuse and to cause future emotional abuse:

I have also singled out BPD and BPD because they — more than any other personality disorders or mental illness — are thought to be primarily caused by emotional abuse or neglect in childhood.

Another reason for my focus is that BPD and NPD are considered by many to be the personality disorder of our time. The sheer numbers of people suffering from these disorders has caused a great deal of focus on them, including a great deal of research as to their cause.

Identifying The Emotionally Abusive Traits of a Borderline

Emotionally abusive relationships and common Borderline behaviors heavily overlap. The following questions have been adapted from Engel’s The Emotionally Abusive Relationship and Randi Kreger’s classic Stop Walking on Eggshells, another excellent book for people who know or suspect a family member may suffer from BPD. These questions can be used to both identify emotional abuse and hazard a guess that the abuser may suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.

  • Do you feel that anything you say or do will be twisted and used against you?
  • Do you feel that you can never seem to do anything right to please your partner because what he or she wants is constantly changing or their expectations are unrealistic?
  • Are you blamed and criticized for everything wrong in the relationship – even when it makes no logical sense and not even your fault?
  • Do you often feel like you are in a no-win situation when it comes to dealing with your partner?
  • Does your relationship with your partner feel like a constant emotional roller coaster, where there are periods of irrational and perhaps violent rages or the “silent treatment” alternating with periods of loving and normal moments?
  • Do you feel like the person you care about sees you as either all good or all bad, with nothing in between, and with no rational reason for the black and white perception of you?
  • Does your partner frequently criticize you, denigrate or deny your point of view?or accuse you of doing things you never did and saying things you never said?
  • Are you constantly being accused of doing things you never did and saying things you never said?
  • Do you often find yourself not being able to have an honest conversation with your partner because you are afraid of your partner’s reaction? As a result, do you find yourself concealing what you truly think and feel because it’s not worth the misunderstanding and horrible fight that will no doubt follow?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to most or all of these questions, you are being emotionally abused and your partner likely suffers from BPD or a similar personality disorder.

Diagnosing BPD

Please realize that diagnosing BPD is very difficult for a variety of reasons, so much so that even many professionals shy away from doing it. One experienced child custody evaluator says in a multi-decade career in which he’s evaluated many parents with personality disorders, he has only diagnosed one parent with BPD. As he explains, that was not because this parent was unusual — many of the parents behaved like Borderlines and such a diagnosis would be accurate. This instance was the only case in which he diagnosed a parent with BPD simply because the court ordered that diagnosis to be considered and either confirmed or rejected.

The evaluator stated that Borderlines often get very upset when they are labelled as such. Because of this, he and many of his colleagues conducting child custody and psychological evaluations refuse to use such labels as Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder even when they appear accurate. There was a suggestion that this also had to do with the likelihood that if he were to anger such a person with an accurate diagnosis, there may be some adverse consequences for him including licensing complaints and lawsuits. Further, most judges also lack training in psychology and don’t understand the diagnosis and therefore wouldn’t know what to do with it even if it were made.

One wonders what the point of a custody or psychological evaluation is when the accurate diagnosis will not be made for fear of the consequences. Given this sad state of affairs, if you do find yourself in a divorce or child custody battle with a suspected Borderline or Narcissist, you may be better off avoiding the huge expense of a custody or psychological evaluation. This is doubly so when you consider that many Borderlines and Narcissists are adept at making the more mentally healthy parent look crazy while appearing to be victims.

Further Resources

If you recognize BPD-like behaviors in an emotionally abusive relationship, you likely will be able to benefit from the large numbers of books and resources created to help people understand BPD and find a way to deal with the abusive behaviors.

Please review the links below to learn more that may help you make the best out of a bad situation involving BPD and emotional abuse:

There are also a variety of excellent books available on BPD and its impact on relationships, divorces, and children. Below are a few excellent titles.

Please note that High Conflict People in Legal Disputes has sold out of three printings but is currently readily available as an Amazon Kindle electronic book title or as a used book.

Amazon provides free Kindle reader applications for PCs, Macs, Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry platforms. For more information, click the banner below.

  1. August 9th, 2010 at 00:21 | #1

    Hi. My third book, the The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, contains a revision of these types.

    Randi Kreger

  2. miki
    November 20th, 2010 at 06:32 | #2

    WOW, Its wierd to read a series of symptoms and descriptions of BPD behavior and it all literally and specifically describes my partner who, 2 months ago, absconded with our 4 month old and has disappeared. She filed a temporary order of protection (totally false accusations) and used the temporary period before court to flee and never showed up at court. I have exhausted all of my limited resources to find her and have her served with a petition to return the child…anyway, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

    Previous to her disappearance, she began fall apart about 4 months into the pregnancy…one day she went from an almost unbelievable affection for me, to a total rejection of me and perceived me as completely bad, with no nuance or reflection of how she perceived me before….it was almost like she couldn’t see me as human and it happened almost overnight. I reached out to her therapist and her parents….she had them convinced that I was basically a horrible person and cheating on her…while I was totally committed 200%. She monitored my emails and phone behind my back and used professional communications as proof of inappropriate female relationships…it was so far from the truth that it was absurd. After our child was born she became increasingly uncomfortable with my relationship with my daughter…almost as if any relationship we might have would somehow undermine her world…I should also mention that she lost custody of her two boys from her first marriage, then 4 & 6, by just walking away and leaving them in another country where their father worked and never pursued custody…then after she was pregnant she became obsessed with reconnecting with them…as if I was the one who took her away — but I didn’t know her then.

    My problem is that if I am ever able to serve her…I know she has BPD and/or is someone who is mental ill in some way…but she is beautiful, very intelligent, and presents the image of a very together sort of person…and I don’t think anyone would believe a claim that she suffers from a mental disorder…her own therapist was tricked by her. I just want to organize the best possible confrontation of her obviously destructive and abusive behavioral patterns and how they have been and continue to be destructive to her children…any advice out there?

  3. JDuffy
    October 11th, 2011 at 13:29 | #3

    How does anyone with this disorder ever GET married or HAVE relationships? It would seem many of these issues would surface while dating.

    • October 12th, 2011 at 00:29 | #4

      JDuffy,

      Not all Borderlines are the same. It’s helpful to split them into two major groups, the “acting in” and “acting out” groups.

      The “acting in” group tends to hurt themselves with behaviors that are obvious such as self-mutilation, suicide attempts, etc. These people are mostly a danger to themselves. Usually in a relationship they cannot hide their problems for long.

      The “acting out” group is a severe hidden danger to others. They are often able to hide their mental illness for many years even in a marriage. Many of these people are good at playing victims that need help. They often dupe well-intentioned people into feeling sorry for them, helping them with money and attention, and even falling in love with them and marrying them.

      Those in the “acting out” group are generally sociopaths who use lies, deceit, and emotional blackmail to control and manipulate others for their own purposes. They generally have histories of child abuse and a very poor self-image. While that is common for many in the “acting in” group, too, the difference is that the “acting out” personalities have learned to bolster themselves by abusing others much as they were abused as children.

      To a person familiar with personality disorders, they often appear to act as if they have little self-worth without hurting other people to make others suffer embarrassment, pain, or worse. But many people who are not familiar with their sociopathic ways of thinking genuinely believe that these people are victims of some horrible husband or wife committing years of domestic violence against them. They may believe this so strongly that they will be recruited as accomplices in crimes such as perjury, stalking, defamation, and harassment in which “the ends justify the means” is a frequent theme.

      Often the accomplices will not understand how they were duped unless the sociopath turns on them personally. This does happen, but it is often so insidious and calculated that by the time they realize what is happening, nobody is going to believe their story because there are many other accomplices who have heard all sorts of bad things about the former accomplice now turned victim.

      As to how “acting out” personalities behave while dating, here are some general themes:

      1) Consistently acting as a victim without any real evidence but appearing sincere because of their emotional intensity

      2) Extreme thinking that often appears irrational — you were late 5 minutes, you must hate me so much or you are so irresponsible and don’t deserve me

      3) Pattern of using threats to control others — do what I want or I will leave you

      4) Spreading defamation against you behind your back, even turning your friends and family against you with years of lies that few will mention to you because it is so uncomfortable to talk about them

      5) Affairs and infidelity — since they have little self-worth, they are looking for a “backup plan” (often more than one) as they do not believe any relationship will really last and they need relationships in which they can control and abuse another person to feel any sense of security or self-worth

      6) Projection — they will accuse you of affairs, badmouthing them, etc. even when you are not doing so and have never done so

      Most people do not have enough understanding of sociopathic thinking to successfully detect it before they are being badly hurt. And since these sociopaths will often use their victims for years before turning on them, it’s quite possible that the victims will be deeply enmeshed in long-term relationships with a marriage and kids before they even get an inkling that they married sociopaths.

      What I’ve noticed in particular in that sociopathic women often are tipped over the edge from dysfunctional to totally destructive by having children. It’s like the arrival of children makes them recall the abuse they endured as kids. Then their personalities warp into something much more focused on harming others as a means to “protect” themselves from their imagined fears.

      For instance, a sociopathic woman who was abused as a child may accuse her husband of beating her and have him jailed, even if he never laid a finger on her. She recalls how her father beat her for years and after all now her husband is or will soon be a father and therefore he is going to be an abuser. Although this is not generally literally true, this is how their sick minds reason. So she strikes out to “protect” herself by lying and attacking with false allegations. Given the common illegal pattern in US law enforcement and courts regarding how false allegations are treated as credible even without any proof or due process, the victim husband can easily find himself kicked out of his home, banned from seeing his kids, and saddled with huge financial obligations overnight simply because he made the mistake of having kids with a very sick woman.

      There is no shortage of sociopathic men, but they are far more likely to end up in prison for their crimes before they can suck in and abuse multiple people in psychologically violent relationships. I think this is part of why you hear so much more about Borderline women in relationships even though statistics from recent research say that BPD is more or less equally prevalent in women and men.

      Rob

  4. ann moore
    November 3rd, 2011 at 04:41 | #5

    Omg, BPD describes my x-husband to a T. The most unblievable thing he has done is get over 15 affidavits from our friends and his family to say that I have been abusive. He even put me in a choke hold (he is a trained law enforcement officer and knows that is so highly illegal he could risk never having his career again) when I thought I would fall unconscious, I defended myself by biting on his arm. When the police arrived he managed to convince them of my guilt and lied telling them he “never laid a hand on” me. He is so abusive to our children now that I’m afraid they are shutting down emotionally. They are failing out of school, having nightmares that their father either kills me or leaves them with his girlfriend and never lets them come home to mom. MY 8 YO SON EVEN TALKS OF WANTING TO COMMIT SUICIDE!!! MY GOD IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE THAT CAN HELP ME. I’m so afraid of my x-husband and loosing my children that I feel like I’m loosing my mind. My heart is already so broken for my children that I can’t even fathom moving on to another relationship. I have even tried but as soon as my x-husband found out, his inappropriateness quadroupled and so did his abuse towards me and my children by holding them hostage and threatened to have me arrested by all his collegues in his “county” if I even dare go near my children. Now I’m even contemplating suicide because I can’t live like this seeing my children suffer so. They absolutely hate their dad but he makes them stay with him at his girlfriends home as he spoils her children rotten and makes them watch. He dosen’t even provide hardly one meal for them let alone 3, and nothing to drink but brown well water. They come home sick and dehydrated from their dad weekend everytime. Not to mention the abuse. I can’t afford $ 5,000 to $10,000 on an attorney because I’m pretty much supporting them all on my own. He only pays less than $100.00 per child per month. My electric bill alone is twice that much!!!! Help me please anyone!!

  5. that guy
    March 8th, 2012 at 20:01 | #6

    ann moore… you are borderline and projecting. Get help.

    • March 8th, 2012 at 21:54 | #7

      that guy,

      Is it possible the Ann Moore to whom you are replying is not somebody you know? I checked your IP address and hers and they are several states apart. Also, it is not an unusual name. In her immediate area, there are dozens of people with the same name. So it is possible she is not who you think and could be telling the truth about her situation.

      Chris

  6. Rev TDC
    April 5th, 2012 at 17:44 | #8

    My wife of nearly 3 decades has been clinically diagnosed with PTSD and BPD. She had her first serious “breakdown” 10 years ago. When she “acts out” she gets involved in immoral situations with other men, sometimes complete strangers. I have endured hell on earth in this marriage, hoping and praying for her healing. I suppose others would already have divorced her by now, but I do not want a divorce, because she cannot survive alone. Now, she has gone to a lawyer and is filing for a divorce from me. I do not believe she is mentally competent to file. Does the Tennessee law provide any protection for me in such a case as this?

    • April 6th, 2012 at 04:41 | #9

      Rev TDC,

      I’m not a lawyer, but it seems unlikely to me that there is any way to block her from going through with the divorce. More importantly, you don’t deserve to be in such an abusive relationships. Nobody does.

      There are a small number of Borderlines, mostly the “acting in” group in my observation, that recognize they are really messed up and do try to work on their problems. These people are generally less dangerous than the “acting out” Borderlines. If you think most of her behaviors are “acting in” (i.e., mostly self-harm, not harm directed at others), you may want to consider reading books on healing emotionally abusive relationships to see if you can make any progress at fixing the relationship with her.

      I’d advise reading such books in any case because you cannot help but have your own psychology warped by being in a relationships with a person suffering from a personality disorder. I’d particularly recommend Beverly Engel’s book discussed in my article Relationships and Divorces with Someone Who Suffers Borderline Personality Disorder.

      Rob

  7. Miranda Morillo
    August 15th, 2012 at 10:30 | #10

    My son was a fantastic articulate wonderful person.

    His father and I had a long drawn out bitter custody battle(about 6 yrs)starting when he was just 6 (my daughter was 11). From the beginning his dad said, “Don’t use the children as a weapon.” I tried to do my very best to NEVER say anything “negative” about their dad, sometimes I failed.

    My daughter was about 13 and her hair was falling out, she was being locked in her bedroom (on the 2nd floor)about 15 minutes after she got home from school. She told me she wasn’t given lunch money or allowed to take a lunch to school because she was too fat.” The following summer the dad, his girlfriend and her 3 girls plus my son went on vacation. They did not want to take my daughter because she was a “problem.” He asked me to keep her for the entire summer. I jumped at it. When school started she did not want to go back to ‘his’ house. He allowed her to stay with me. After about 6 months, I filed paperwork for ‘custody’he fought me and lost. He would not allow her back into ‘his’ house for her things.”She didn’t have any ‘things’, I paid for anything you had or used while you lived here.” I told her to ‘let it go’ we would replace her things.

    I continued to fight for my son. During that time, my ex kept him away from me time and time again, had me arrested for kidnapping (which I didn’t), and a whole list of other things.

    Whenever my son would have his time with me, he would be all miserable, angry, sad. After I gave him some time to adjust to my house, I would remind him that it was a choice to live happy or not, and his disposition would switch – like a light switch. When he went back to his dad’s he was punished. For what? For having a good time for being happy for loving his mom.

    After 6 years of fighting and seeing my children suffer through this, I made the hardest decision I’ve ever made. That was to remove myself from my son’s life, so he would not get hurt anymore. That was in 2006, just before he turned 14. I (we all) thought it’s only a couple years we’ll have him back in our lives in no time at all. That wasn’t the case. His dad had him diagnosed with all sorts of crap, and gave him all sorts of meds. Why? Not because he really needed all those things, but because when you have a child who is smart, and funny, and has their ‘own’ thougts and feelings you have to actually pay attention to them, interact with them.

    Long story short. My son is dead.

    We were told it was an “adverse synergistic reaction to drugs complicated by pneumonia.” Guess what?! That was just a small part of it. NCIS investigated for more than 2 yrs. Just recently, I got a copy of that report. My son was NOT mentally ill the last time I was with him. He was severely mentally ill the day he died.

    In the report, out of say, 25 neighbors interviewed, only about 3 knew my son existed, 1 knew he existed and lived there. The investigator made the report/inventory/observation of my son’s room and everything else.

    In my son’s room, it smelled of urine and feces, the whole house had AC, my son had a fan, a deflated air mattress, heavy blanket in his room. Had no closet doors, dead bugs, holes and brown stains on his walls. 4 puzzles, and about 4 peices of clothing. HE WAS 15! He was “home-schooled” because of his “behavior” problems, was never allowed to go anywhere without someone else there ‘watching’ him. Ate almost all his meals alone in his room, and on and on…..

    We found out the day he died he became unconscious 2 times and the “step” did not call 911.

    No one in my family was even told until 10 weeks after he died, and then it was my ‘ex’ who called my 19 yo daughter and told her, after making sure she was alone.

    I tried to protect my son from being hurt from an idiot by removing myself (the cause of everything bad in the world according to my ex), thinking he would be ‘safe’ with his dad.

    While I agree there is probably some sort of genetic pre-disposition for ‘mental illness’. There is a very big factor that gets too overlooked. That is the ‘invisible’ mental, emotional, de-humanizing abuse that goes on behind closed doors repeatedly hurting, demoralizing, in effect, killing the person that was once there.

    This is a way of controlling another person.

    The one on the receiving end (a child who is supposed to be protected and loved, nurtured and taught)instead is made to believe he is bad, is not normal, has a mom and sister who abandoned him because he was bad….and so much more…has no other way of coping but to pull inside themselves and believe all the lies and garbage the ‘adult’ who ‘loves’ them puts into their head.

    You will NEVER convince me that environment does NOT play a HUGE role in someone’s life.

    What must my ‘normal’ son have gone through to become the way he was when he died?

    I share my story in hopes that no one else will ever have to go through what my son did.

  8. The nice wife
    September 6th, 2012 at 01:10 | #11

    My husband was going through a divorce with Bpd before we met. It was a horrible ordeal. They take you for everything you got. There only desire at this point is to win, so somehow before when they seemed to be falling apart , could barley function , very weak people they once were in your presence , now all of a sudden durning divorce , they are stronger than ever only living to conquer and ruin you so they are able to control themselves. 4 years later after a protracted divorce battle they loose a lot of money fighting for money & property that is no longer at the same value!!! Very self destructive ! Need any advice , we have lots to give! You don’t have to suffer like my husband did through non experience .

  9. brianna
    September 21st, 2012 at 16:57 | #12

    I am going through a high conflict divorce with my husband who has BPD.He has slandered me publicly online,saying I’m a cheater etc. I have proof of it.Is there anything I can do about that and is there anything I can do about preventing him slandering me again? He is making multiple accounts on facebook and slandering me using my name in reference to the post.

    I am also extremely concerned about our child.She is 14 Months old and he has never cared for her, or been alone with her.I did 100% of everything but now he’s using her as a pawn.He is living with his mother (who hates me and has been waiting for the day we break up) and I have a feeling she’s hiring him an attorney.I just saved him from going to jail for a second time for domestic violence on me only hours before he dumped me. The DV occured three days ago. Please give me any advice you have to offer.

  10. September 21st, 2012 at 23:43 | #13

    @ The nice wife
    The nice wife,

    Have you been attacked yourself by his ex-wife?

    It is very common for those with Axis II Cluster B personality disorders (BPD, NPD, ASPD, HPD) and a few others (Paranoid Personality Disorder, for instance), to abuse any new romantic partner of their ex. For instance, the kids tell her that her ex-husband is dating you, engaged to marry you, or worse has married you then she may start to defame you, stalk you, and threaten him and you about your relationship. She may invent false child abuse allegations against you.

    If you had to sum up in a couple of sentences how these people function, it is that they become offended, upset, and/or afraid about the most minor things because it triggers their pathological sense of insecurity and associated fears. Then they lash out at their victims trying to control them via threats, lies, terror, and other unacceptable tactics.

    Rob

  11. September 22nd, 2012 at 00:13 | #14

    @ brianna

    Brianna,

    How do you know he has BPD? What behaviors does he show? Has he been formally diagnosed? Do you have evidence of the diagnosis?

    Even if you have lots of evidence he has BPD, if there is not a formal diagnosis that you can show the court then if you talk about it with others or the court you are likely to be punished for saying this. The court will view it as you are defaming him, even though you may not be.

    What to do about the distortion campaign and its associated defamation and false accusations is one of the most difficult things to figure out. Some people ignore it, only to see they are hated by everybody around them because they did not defend themselves. Others defend themselves with facts and evidence and find themselves punished by the courts for having said anything at all. The law says that truth is a defense against defamation or false accusations of defamation. Family court says that the truth does not matter and all that matters is the opinion of the moment of that particular judge. If you are falsely accused of affairs and you defend against it and point out accurately that he is projecting affairs on you because he in fact had affairs, then the judge may punish you for saying that and do nothing about what he is doing. At least that is the way it usually works for men. Some judges may apply the same rules to women, others may let the women do anything they want, illegal or immoral, and hurt the men.

    In today’s legal climate, it is sort of like playing Russian Roulette when you go to court. It is a crapshoot rigged in favor of the liar as to what kind of judge you will get and what decisions that judge will make. Get a bad judge and you may never see your child again, especially if you are a father. You have a little less to worry about because you are female and from the statistics most courts are biased against fathers. But that doesn’t help the good mothers who end up in front of an idiot judge who falls for lies from the sociopathic ex-husband.

    We believe that judges should be stripped of the power to decide anything long-term in family law cases. All long-term decisions should be made by juries of peers. Unfortunately, that is not how it works right now. It is best to stay out of court as much as you possibly can because sociopaths do really well in court as they are expert liars and are emotionally convincing and most judges have zero knowledge about how sociopaths function and are readily manipulated by them.

    Regarding your daughter, how about you suggest that both of you take a parenting class (same class, separate sessions) for infants and toddlers? I realize you may not need it, but if he (or at some point the court) sees you have suggested this and are going to do it, too, he may not be as resistant to it. It is far cheaper and less miserable to try to get somebody to cooperate like this than to take him to court.

    Most kids who are 14 months old are old enough to be eating solid foods and can take baths in a tub (with careful constant supervision) and so forth. I don’t think there is that much to worry about so long as everybody avoids introducing foods that are likely to trigger allergies and that both parents disclose any medical problems (and appointments, medications, etc.) to each other on a timely basis and let each other know who the childcare providers are so you can reasonably investigate anything that seems to be doing really wrong.

    My experience is that a 14 month old is a breeze to care for versus even a 6 month. However, if that 14 month old ends up scalded on the bottom and you are being lied to about the problems and the childcare providers it then becomes very hard to know what to do. Worse still is when the sociopath lies to the doctors to make you look like a problem.

    You may need to get your own doctors for the baby, separate from any he is using. Sociopaths are very good at lying and convincing people to believe lies about you and to do bad things for them. My experience is that you need to have frequent ongoing access to any childcare and medical providers and need to be able to drop them and switch to others when you see signs they are not doing their jobs because they are buying into the lies.

    What are you calling DV? This term has been so overly broadly that you can even find DV literature saying it is “DV” if a man does not spend time with his wife at her demand or if he does not give her all his money at her request. I don’t think that is what you mean, but there are people out there (men and women) who believe such things are examples of DV.

    Can you explain the latest incident and what the other incidents were like?

    Do you have any evidence of what happened?

    A fair judge will not do much about DV unless you have evidence. Somewhere along the way, if you are in court in a high-conflict case, you will run into a fair judge over the decade or more you will be fighting in court. You don’t want to be in a position that you create the impression that you falsely accused him of anything. It is best to have some evidence and if there is no evidence then to not approach it from the angle of accusations but more from risk mitigation strategies until there is evidence.

    That is why I suggested the parenting class, for instance. The idea is to make sure he has some good guidance for what he should be doing and that you also know what that guidance is so you can remind him gently if it seems he might be slipping up. If he hears he should not give baby peanuts at a young age, even a Borderline is often then less likely to do that.

    Rob

  12. Anthony
    November 3rd, 2012 at 15:13 | #15

    I left my spouse and filed for divorce March of 2010. She was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and BPD. Her Psychologist was treating her for both and she was enrolled in a cognitive therapy class. She told our older children (adults in their mid 20′s) and myself the diagnosis in the hopes I would see that she was getting help and come back… After reading the traits of someone with BPD I was amazed at how accurate they were. My oldest called me and said, “Dad, mom told me what is going on with her and it’s exactly what we experienced from her…” Unfortunately, the relationship between our two oldest has completely ended. They don’t accept calls, emails or letters from her. We have a 16 year old that wants to have a relationship with her and for right now after a year of living with me full time has started seeing her again. The pattern will return as I watched it happen over and over for 20 years. She has stopped therapy and classes because, “she is all better now and never had BPD,” so she states.

    I never moved back after moving out and she has exhausted all stall tactics for prolonging the divorce process. I have left the BPD component out of the court process. Is there any case law on BPD being grounds for divorce? I am considering asking the court to have her prove that she was being treated for BPD as grounds for divorce in an attempt to obtain a final judgement. I have left out some details as to why I am headed in that direction in the event that she were to read this comment.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

  13. November 3rd, 2012 at 22:31 | #16

    @ Anthony

    Certainly there is case law involving diagnosed Borderlines in divorce and custody disputes.

    Occasionally, the judges even get it right. But you would probably have better odds playing the lottery.

    Generally speaking, family law judges don’t understand psychology and are quick to falsely conclude that personality disordered females are victims and their husbands or boyfriends are abusers. Facts and statistics about BPD do not matter to most of these judges unless they are presented by a “licensed medical practitioner” or “licensed psychologist”. If you present them, even if you are provably correct in what you say and have extensive documentation to back you up, many of these judges will make fun of you for pretending to be an expert because you don’t have a government-issued license. Then they will punish you for having the audacity to tell the truth and trying to hold an abusive woman accountable for the harm she does to others.

    Now if you sit in on other cases and see your judge it not a blithering biased moron who acts like I describe above, maybe you might be willing to take some risks about mentioning the BPD. I would not do so unless you see some strong evidence the judge is competent because the risks of it back-firing against you are really high.

    If you dare to bring up the issues, you should subpoena her medical and mental health records to get a written diagnosis by a doctor or psychologist. She may try to block the subpoena, so you may have to fight that. Without a formal diagnosis that you can prove, it is almost certain bringing up the BPD will backfire against you.

    Why would she be diagnosed with PTSD and BPD? That is actually not an uncommon pattern. PTSD is one of the results you get when you subject a person to severe or chronic psychological trauma. When this happens to a child, often the result is the child develops not only the PTSD but also a personality disorder such as BPD. BPD can in some ways be viewed as an adaptation to help survive a nightmarish childhood. That said, there are some people who develop BPD without any obvious abuse as children. It is possible there is a neurological, biochemical, or genetic set of factors at work that makes some people more susceptible to personality disorders and that in some cases they can occur even without any obvious abuse.

    The risk to the PTSD diagnosis is that she could turn around and blame you for traumatizing her. Ideally you should have evidence that she was abused as a kid by people other than you to help reduce this threat.

    You would probably be a lot safer on discussing particular provable examples and patterns of abusive and destructive behavior related to the BPD without bringing it up yourself.

    Please read Personality Disordered Abusers in Family Law Courts for some more thoughts on these problems of discussing abusive personality disorders in family law cases.

    From what you say, your youngest child is 16 and the older two who are adults want nothing to do with their Borderline mother. I would suggest that you should sit down with all your kids and discuss their mother, letting the older two do most of the talking about what they themselves saw themselves. This will help prevent it from looking like you just being an angry jerk (which may result in the 16 year old not just ignoring you but actively turning against you and aligning with a person who is prone to abuse) and make it more clear to the 16 year old that mom has some real problems.

    If you know about a past history of abuse during her childhood, sharing some of this with the kids may help them understand why she has the problems she does. It can also show you can have some empathy for her, despite how badly she has treated you.

    I am not entirely against kids spending time with personality disordered parents. The fact is that our society is filled with these kinds of people. This is especially the case for leaders in governments and corporations. Many people with personality disorders such as NPD are sociopaths who tend to rise to the top because they feel the only way they can be “safe” is by bullying, controlling, and dominating everybody around them.

    If you can help your kids understand that a person with BPD, NPD, or just sociopathic behaviors without any diagnosed personality disorder is not the kind of person who it is safe or pleasant to be around, it might help them from falling into a relationship with such a person themselves. The statistics seem to show that kids who grow up being abused by such people often fall into romantic relationships with people having similar problems. The difference here is that you and your adult kids know about BPD and can help the 16 year old frame mom’s behaviors in the context of the BPD and learn strategies to protect against these behaviors.

    What kind of personality does your 16 year old have? Do you think you get him or her to do some reading on the topic of BPD and emotionally abusive relationships? If you think it is possible, this plus actual experience dealing with BPD mom knowing what is going on may be a big win for the 16 year old in the long run even though it may cause a lot of pain at times in the short term.

  14. Anthony
    November 4th, 2012 at 01:56 | #17

    I’m not real clear on how these chatrooms/blogs work. I would like to give you some clarity on the points you make and questions you posed. I am reluctant to post anything that if read by her would be discoverable… You seem educated on the topic, at the very least a therapist or an attorney… I have read up on BPD and have some hands on training and I am speaking with a psychologist that is aware of the background but doesn’t specialize in BPD patients. Is there anyway of talking outside of this blog?@ Rob

  15. November 4th, 2012 at 21:48 | #18

    @ Anthony

    I’ll make some arrangements to be able to communicate non-publicly as your concerns are certainly valid. By the way, other sites like Shrink4Men and BPD Family often advise people not to use their real names, locations, or other identifying information due to the the exact concerns you have.

  16. melanie
    December 15th, 2012 at 03:43 | #19

    my story goes to everyone out there that are in the situation that i have also being through. and how i was saved.
    I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address [email protected] have help a woman to get back her husband. and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband.
    his email : [email protected]

  17. Rachel
    April 28th, 2013 at 14:43 | #20

    @The nice wife
    My partner and his ex wife are currently in divorce and custody proceedings and she has thrown everything she can at us. Any advice you have would help me greatly at this time. She is diagnosed as bipolar however I don't think its an accurate diagnosis and BLPD sounds like a definite possibility (we have never met and im not a doctor, just have to live with the constant dramas of this woman and the neverending accusations and the legal fees that ensue with each new claim dragging out the situation) Will it ever end?

  18. Jnet
    August 26th, 2013 at 04:38 | #21

    @ Miranda Morillo
    Miranda, my heart goes out to you and your family. I just had to say that to you and hope you can find healing for you and your daughter. Have faith he is in a better place than your Ed’s house now. Jnet

  19. Chad
    September 30th, 2013 at 02:57 | #22

    Thank you for taking the time to pull this article together and for everyone’s detailed comments. I am just starting the process of divorce but have spent the last 12 years married to a BPD and it was not until the last year I finally came to the reality that things will never get any better. call me naive or gullible but the denial I had that I could fix this blows me away as I write this comment.

    I also found a lot of help reading Patricia Evans Verbally Abusive Spouse books and highly recommend the Verbally Abusive relationship and Recovering from Verbal Abuse. They really helped me put a new reality to my situation and helped me understand why this is happening and why my BPD spouse reacts and acts the way she does.

    Good Luck to all whom have to go through this incredibly hard journey.

  20. David
    February 12th, 2014 at 20:21 | #23

    @ JDuffy

    They are masters of manipulation

  21. Jason
    April 21st, 2014 at 06:03 | #24

    Ann Moore,
    Comment by “that guy” was totally unfounded,insensitive,& inappropriate.It seems obvious to me that he is the one with the problem.
    Support from those you can trust is imperative for you to get through this difficult time,I’m going through it myself,after 39 years of marriage.These people are evil,they won’t change,and if anyone of you are as naive as I was,think about it.I learned to live with her problem,& always knew that she could be gone at anytime,but never would have believed what she’s doing to me now.
    Ann,I believe you,and I’m praying for you.

  22. Bia Domari
    June 25th, 2014 at 12:18 | #25

    Hello everyone, I believe my husband has bpd. Later I found out his former wife required him to do a bipolar analysis and that the result was negative. Obviously this was the wrong diagnosis and I also didn’t know he was mentally ill when I married him. His parents deny their son may have any mental illness and I don’t know what to do besides put all my faith, strength and hope in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I have nobody to talk about it. All this is hard for me and for many people because BPD is more common than we think and I also believe many, like my husband, don’t know they have this disease. The Word of God says “love your brother as yourself, cry with those who cry, rejoice with those who rejoice, help one another”. So please if anybody out there is suffering like me for having a loved one with BPD and need to talk or vent email me at [email protected]. I want to help someone and maybe get some help as well. Thanks, GBU all, love you all in Jesus!

  1. July 23rd, 2010 at 14:40 | #1
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  3. July 23rd, 2010 at 21:28 | #3
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