Sociopaths In Our Midst Hate the Truth and Its AdvocatesWritten by: Rob Print This Article
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What is the one thing a sociopath does not want other people to know? The truth. More specifically, sociopaths do not want the truth about them to be known as they are insecure, malicious, and devious people. Beyond being embarrassed by the truth of their behaviors and thoughts, they have a deathly fear of being exposed and rejected. That’s in large part because they use lies, manipulations, and distortions to control other people and get what they want. If others were to know about their true nature, they realize that most would want nothing to do with them. They would lose the support networks of malicious minions they control and incite to abuse other people. Therefore sociopaths have a strong motivation to attack, discredit, harass, and ruin anybody who presents arguments and facts that might tend to raise questions and doubts about their behaviors and their false statements.
Many sociopaths are so insecure and malicious that they feel similarly motivated to go on the offensive, perhaps with lesser severity, in reaction to people who might embarrass them with obviously nasty (to them) comments like “Is that lettuce stuck between your teeth?” or “Your car is filthy! There’s a $3 carwash special across the street.” If that gets them unhinged, just imagine what being exposed as a child abuser, false accuser, liar, or thief will do.
Sociopaths Experts At Blaming Others, Greatly Fear Being Blamed
Nobody likes to be blamed, but a responsible person will accept blame for something appropriate. Sociopaths don’t like to accept blame for anything, even if it is well-earned. While part of this is likely from their typically narcissistic “I’m better than you” and “rules don’t apply to me” attitudes, there’s more to it than that. They may realize that blaming is how they control others to harm the targets they viciously attack, often family members or former love interests. They understand both the destructive and defensive powers of blaming and make regular use of both.
Sociopaths may be especially cognizant of the risk that people whom they have used to abuse others might even turn against them, especially those who might be greatly angered by how they were manipulated into participating in destructive and harmful activities against others. People like to blame others. While sociopaths do it with extraordinary intensity and dishonesty, the people they manipulate are likely to do it, too. After all, a sociopath was able to manipulate them into unjustly attacking a former partner, a child’s other parent, teacher, doctor, counselor, therapist, or some other party the sociopath doesn’t like and that clearly demonstrates they are the sort of people who are into blaming others. Who is to say they won’t turn and attack the sociopath when they realize how they were used?
Sociopaths know that most people think that people like them are largely fictional, the sort of villains and criminals you see in movies or read about in the news. As Martha Stout’s book ”The Sociopath Next Door” makes clear, however, sociopaths are everywhere. Stout believes that about 4% of the US population is sociopathic.
I’ve written many five-star reviews, but never have I been so motivated to try to convince everyone to read the book. Here’s why: one in twenty-five Americans is a sociopath, a figure psychologist Martha Stout obtained from three journal articles and a U.S. government source. Assuming this premise of The Sociopath Next Door is correct, or even if the figure is say one in 50, odds are you know at least one sociopath. He or she could be an abusive partner, the person in the next cubicle at work, your landlord, or the person your teenager is dating. Even if you can’t think of sociopath you know, you have high odds of encountering one. Given the havoc even one sociopath can wreak in one’s life, this book provides a sort of insurance that you’ll be able to identify him or her and deal with that person so they don’t harm you emotionally, financially, or in any other way. This is a well-written and well-researched book that I think will benefit the 96% of you who are not sociopaths.
To gain the benefits of “sociopath insurance” there are three portions of the book I believe are crucial for you to read: (1) the discussion of what is a sociopath along with her stories illustrating the different types of sociopaths, (BTW, those stories would make fine literary short stories with Stout’s descriptive language and suspense building.) (2) Stout’s “Thirteen Rules For Dealing With Sociopaths in Everyday Life”, and (3) the discussion of how good people with consciences end up allowing sociopathic leaders to rise to power and do horrific acts. If you read just these sections and skip all the philosophical discussions about sociopaths, you will still gain a lot from this book.
One of the first topics covered is what a sociopath is. Stout gives us both the official diagnostic version from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM IV (their diagnostic manual) as well as a sort of “street guide” of what to look for. Essentially, a sociopath will glibly lie, charm and use others, without a moment’s remorse over hurting anyone. They’re often, but not always, more charismatic, charming and sexy than the average person. Take murderer Scott Peterson for example (although Stout didn’t mention him): Women found him quite attractive and charming, and were quick to believe his lies. Most sociopaths are not murderers, (soley because they don’t want to get caught and go to prison) but will still wreak havoc lying, stealing, and manipulating people.
Some confuse sociopaths and psychopaths. That’s understandable as they use many of the same methods and often suffer from many of the same personality defects. Think of a sociopath as a psychopathic wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing, or as a psychopath who has learned how to act like somebody else most of the time to confuse her or his potential and actual victims.
Sociopaths Are Everywhere
I personally suspect that the 4% estimate is on the low side. The term “sociopath” is quite vague, it doesn’t have a precise diagnostic meaning in psychology. It’s more of a general reference to a broad set of behaviors suggesting that a person is so self-centered and without conscience that he or she tends to act without behavioral boundaries. But in terms of treating one of these people or better understanding their particular flavor of sociopathy, there are much more precise terms available. There is a very large overlap in actions and thoughts between sociopaths and “acting out” Borderlines, Narcissists, Antisocials, and Histrionics (the DSM-IV Axis II Cluster B personality disorders), so much so that they could be referred to as “sociopathic personality disorders” with a good degree of accuracy. Recent research suggests that BPD and NPD each can be found in around 6% of the population and that 20% of Americans suffer from personality disorders (not all of which are the cluster B disorders — some are quite benign such as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder), so there’s reason to believe that 4% might not account for all the sociopaths in our midst. Given the difficulty of diagnosing many of these personality disorders often defined in part by sociopathic behaviors, it also suggests that even experts may not be able to readily identify people with sociopathic behaviors.
Sociopaths and Borderlines and Narcissists are also often confused with one another. Not all Borderlines and Narcissists are sociopaths. The sociopathic ones who are a subset who engage in “acting out” behaviors to harm and control others, not the “acting in” type who are so traumatized by their inner demons that they mostly hurt themselves.
Since so many sociopathic abusers meet the diagnostic criteria of having one or more personality disorders, I’ve sometimes referred to them as “personality disordered abusers” (PDA for short) to emphasize that these are not just people with annoying or frustrating behaviors due to personality disorders. Merely having a personality disorder does not make one an abuser or a sociopath. The Histrionic who gets so agitated that she can’t shut up under stress or the promiscuous Borderline alcoholic might not qualify as true abusers, despite being very troubled people. But a person who does suffer from one of these Cluster B personality disorders who engages in the abusive tactics used to harm others that are discussed in this article certainly do qualify as abusers.
Blame-Shifting, Framing, and False Accusations
Blame-shifting is one of the most common means of “self-defense” used by abusers and it can readily be used for offensive purposes, too. Many budding sociopaths in the making learn to do blame-shifting with great skill from being abused themselves and wanting to escape it. Such a person who has knocked over and smashed mother’s vase and knows she’ll take out a belt and start whipping as a punishment might blame the 18 month old sibling who can’t defend himself, even engaging in framing by moving the broken vase, putting glass shards on the baby, and pretending to have been in another room when it happened all to make it more convincing.
From this starting point, sociopaths may move on to use blame-shifting, framing, and false accusations to attack and persecute people they don’t like. Don’t like the way that boy looked at you in class? Falsely accused him of sticking his hands down your pants to get him expelled. Don’t like the way your wife questioned why the car is dented yet again from yet another reckless driving episodes? Blame her for being an unreasonable bitch and that she herself dented the car and didn’t tell you.
Blame-shifting, framing, and false accusations are mainstay abuse tactics for sociopaths. If you are being subjected to any of these, it’s highly likely you’re dealing with a sociopath. That’s particularly the case when false accusations are being directed towards government authorities in order to get you in trouble with police, courts, CPS, or other agencies that often side with sociopaths.
Sociopaths generally have a strong narcissistic streak, even if they may not meet the formal definition for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As such, they feel driven to show that they are better than you and/or that you are a very bad person. Consequently, they often use verbal abuse tactics. Yelling, swearing, or insulting another person now and then is something that most people will do in an argument. But sociopaths use these tactics as means to control and dominate others, not merely as means to express their internal turmoil such as a normal person might due in a heated argument.
If you’re being verbally abused, it’s possible that your abuser might be a sociopath. But you need to look at the context and motivations. If you smashed into another person’s car after accidentally shifting into reverse at a stop light, being yelled at and insulted might not be unexpected. But if you did nothing unusual or aggressive and yet find yourself berated, demeaned, and insulted, you may be dealing with a sociopathic abuser.
Emotional abuse is often very subtle and pervasive. As such, it can escape notice until it has done a lot of damage to its victims.
Emotional abusers tend to be domineering, controlling, and refuse to consider the opinions or feelings of others. Many would describe them as being incapable of empathy. They seldom admit to making mistakes, rarely or never apologize for anything, and may resort to blame-shifting when in a situation in which it is very clear they did make a mistake and owe somebody else an apology. A list of common behaviors of emotional abusers may help you determine if you’re suffering from this kind of abuse.
A quiz on emotionally abusive relationships might help you determine if you are being subjected to emotional abuse in the context of a close relationships. Often, the best signs are your own feelings. Are you feeling depressed and anxious, particularly when you think about your relationship with a possible abuser? Do you feel afraid of this other person due to what they may or do say to you? Do you feel like you must avoid this person? Do you have generally have anxious and uneasy feelings and trouble sleeping, but find these go away when you are on a business trip or vacation away from the person you suspect may be emotionally abusing you? All of these are signs of emotional abuse.
Many people besides full-blown sociopaths engage in emotional abuse at times, so again you have to consider the overall context and general nature of interactions with a person.
Parental alienators, people who aim to destroy relationships between children and a parent and other relatives, are often guilty of engaging in far more emotional abuse than just the harm they are doing to the children. If you understand that somebody is perpetrating moderate to severe parental alienation, you should be willing to strongly consider that such a person has also engaged in emotional abuse against other people, too, and may be a sociopath.
Complicating matters even more, somebody who has been emotionally abused is likely to view any attempt to control, influence, or criticize them as further emotional abuse no matter how well-intentioned it may be. For instance, a child who was severely abused emotionally may grow up to have trouble in all close relationships. A girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse who criticizes them in some way may be perceived as being emotionally abusive because it triggers the same kinds of anxieties, fears, and insecurities triggered by the original sociopath abuser.
Recovering from emotional abuse is a hugely complicated and time-consuming task, in my estimation far worse than most cases of physical abuse. Therapist Beverly Engel contends that people who have been emotionally abused are likely to repeatedly enmesh themselves in future emotionally abusive relationships in which they may function as both victim and abuser.
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.
Physical violence is another tactic that sociopaths may use to control others, but again it is not always a strong indicator of a sociopathic personality on its own. As with the general categories of verbal and emotional abuse, context and motivation are important to evaluating the full meaning of violence. In particular, cultural considerations are very important to considering whether physical violence is abuse or not, particularly in regards to parent/child relationships. It’s considered “normal behavior” in many cultures to physically punish a child via striking, hitting, confining, or starving a child to the point of discomfort or pain in response to perceived serious misbehavior. While this doesn’t make it right, it does mean that somebody who doesn’t violate these cultural norms is less likely to be a sociopath than somebody who does.
Economic and Legal Abuse
Economic and legal abuse go hand in hand. That’s often because the people who are engaging in these abuses are using the courts to aid them. Many good people who are not harming anybody else end up being hauled into court over and over based upon false allegations and overreactions with the intent of badgering them, financially damaging them, and breaking them psychologically by using the court system to do it. The courts most commonly involved in this are family law courts as they excel as tools of abuse. As some experts such as William Eddy have suggested, nearly half of the litigation in these courts is being driven by “high conflict personalities”, many of whom are often evident sociopaths to the people who truly know them.
Personality disorders are a growing problem in the United States. Recent NIH studies indicate that 20% or more of Americans suffer from one or more personality disorders. Author Bill Eddy points out that in his experience about half of “High Conflict Personalities” (or HCPs) involved in destructive divorce and child custody battles probably do have one or more full-blown personality disorders. The other half may not meet all the criteria for a full-blown personality disorder yet still show many traits consistent with troublesome personality disorders such as BPD and NPD.
Not only do family law courts facilitate economic and legal abuse, they usually add more of their own. No surprise here as many of the judges sitting in these courts are sociopaths themselves as evidenced by their biased and malicious conduct and consistently rewarding abusive tactics. You see case after case of parents being falsely accused of drug abuse, alcoholism, child abuse, pornography, physical violence, etc. and judges acting “cautiously” by stripping the falsely accused parents of their rights and banning their children from seeing them. When months or years later these parents manage to conclusively demonstrate that the accusations were false, the sociopathic judges in such cases will often side with the false accuser and do little to correct the wrongs done. They don’t want to admit having made a mistake, another sign of a sociopath.
The results of their own bad judicial decisions are then used as justification to continue the abuse. Having ripped children away from a good parent for years on false accusations, such judges will then rule that the severely lopsided child contact/custody arrangement will change little because the children are “doing fine” with the false accuser. Yet often these false accusers are also abusing the children via parental alienation child abuse, a form of emotional abuse designed to destroy the bonds between children and a parent and relatives on that parent’s side of the family.
Judges are some of the most dangerous sociopaths in our midst for reasons like this. Juries could help counteract these judicial sociopaths, but in the realms where they are most common (family law courts) there are no juries.
Abusers Create More Abusers
Regardless of whether an abuser is a full-blown sociopath, as abusers proceed to abuse others, they can incite such fear, anxiety, and confusion in their victims that the victims may start to act very poorly themselves. After hearing how you are a worthless son (or daughter) of a bitch, cheater, deadbeat, etc. every day for years, have your comings and goings tightly monitored, criticized, and controlled, and always wondering if you’re about to be attacked again, it’s not uncommon for such a person to eventually reach the breaking point and either retaliate or try to get the aggressor to go after somebody else.
It doesn’t require a history of child abuse to reach this point. Some of the folks who fall into this abyss were never abused until they met the sociopath they married. They may have thought they would help this person, needed to be with her or him, and felt very attached only to slowly succumb to the destruction of their personalities by abuse that started subtly at first. Over the years, the abuse grew into something that they would have recognized as abusive if they had openly encountered these behaviors prior to their personalities being damaged by years of living with an abuser. But by then, they are so confused into being highly self-critical or desensitized to the onslaught that being called a bastard good-for-nothing liar, slapped on the face, and having a food thrown at them in front of their children may evoke feelings of relief, for at least it wasn’t worse and didn’t involve a kitchen knife, frying pan, baseball bat, or gun. Some of them may believe they deserved worse and be thankful for the abuser being “kind” by attacking with a verbal barrage rather than a fist or foot in the face. These people are so traumatized that they feel truly helpless and hopeless, unable to defend themselves or afraid to do so until the beatings, whether physical or emotional or verbal, become so intense that they break and retaliate. You could describe them as potential future abusers struggling to escape from their emotionally devastation by any means they can. The longer they are subjected to ongoing abuse, the higher the risk of this break from their normal behaviors becoming something enduring, perhaps even a personality disorder in and of itself. This is how children so often develop personality disorders, but the same could happen with adults subjected to severe long-term abuse.
A lot of people’s foremost abusers are sociopaths. If their abusers were full-blown psychopaths, the odds are they would have been long ago caught and arrested due to the psychopath’s typical difficulty hiding their behaviors and thoughts. No matter how they try to withdraw and stay away from these people, the abuse continues. What happens in divorces with sociopaths is a prime example. The victim and the abuser have children together and courts often side with sociopaths. There is little the victim can do to defend himself or herself and the children from years, even decades, of abuse instigated by the sociopathic ex-partner and enabled by the courts and government.
The divorcing or divorced sociopath may not even directly do a lot of the worst abuse any more. These people tend to build communities of people they control and manipulate to lie, perjure, attack, harass, steal, and solicit others to do the same. If the victim speaks up in self-defense, often that is viewed as evidence that he or she is some kind of monster. Psychologists often refer to this as an example of “confirmatory bias” on the part of the community of abusers. The sociopath quickly rallies the evil minions to escalate the abuse in retaliation as victim engaging in self-defense is intolerable.
Even if the victim does nothing, it is often only a matter of time before the sociopath feels the need to attack yet again. Sociopaths get nervous when other people are not hurting, suffering, and reeling from their evil deeds.
Why Sociopaths Get Away With Abuse
Not only have I been through experiences like this myself, I’ve seen and heard of what has happened to many others at the hands of sociopathic abusers who are not punished or stopped. Many of them are both encouraged and rewarded for their abuses, often by family law courts. This seems to happen for a few reasons.
One of the foremost reasons is that the general public is so completely uneducated about the full scope of the abuse problem and the psychological origins, nature, and tactics of abusers that they have trouble believing that the doctor, clerk, housewife, or soccer mom they know and have seen weekly for years is an abuser. Anybody can be an abuser, regardless of age, gender, occupation, religious orientation, sexual orientation, or social status. Most people do not understand this. They have an inkling of understanding of con artists, school bullies, and malicious bosses as being abusive, but they do not understand that those sorts of people are often the most easily detected sociopaths because they engage in their sociopathic behaviors outside the confines of a family.
Many may have inaccurate beliefs like “lesbians cannot be abusers” because they have bought into the false domestic violence dogma popularized by irresponsible and selfish organizations that claim only men are abusers. Yet there are actually studies of violence in same-sex and bisexual couples that strongly show that female-on-female abuse is quite common.
Secondly, these people often mistake the reaction of the abuse victims (or people trying to help them) as an indication of the victims being abusers and the abusers being victims. While “battered wife syndrome” in which the abused wife kills the abusive husband in desperation has been popularized, the fact is that many victims engage in similar attempts to defend themselves from abusers and never reach the point of physical violence. They may file a police report regarding a crime, create a website refuting the lies being spread about them, or simply try to get others to stop attacking them by explaining reality as they see it.
What happens next is that often the victim will be falsely painted as the abuser or aggressor. After all, the ignorant public reasons, isn’t it so horrible that somebody would accuse that doctor, clerk, housewife, or soccer mom of being a liar who threatens, berates, and physically attacks another person? Why it must be all lies! Let’s gang up on that person for lying! The sociopath is happy to help fire up their misguided malicious sheep into a fury to further attack the victim. This is easy to do as the sheep are too ignorant and biased to understand how they are being used, even if substantive evidence is put right in front of their faces and explained to them.
Thirdly, sociopathic abusers often engage in distortion campaigns to control and manipulate others to prejudice them into having false beliefs about the victim. By the time the victim of the campaign is aware of it, he or she may have been routinely trashed and lied about for several years to the point that anything he or she says or does will somehow be interpreted as evidence of them being the problem. They may find they have been falsely accused of having affairs, committing crimes, engaging in abuse, etc. for years and try to defend themselves, only to be told that nobody believes them and that nobody will even listen. The most effective sociopaths are often even able to turn parents and siblings against an abused spouse, or at least to so thoroughly confuse them that they will not take sides to protect the actual victim.
Sociopaths often use projection to hide their actions. They will scream bloody murder about all sorts of “crimes” and “ethical violations” that their victim has not done to hide that they themselves have been doing such things. Yet getting the sociopath’s minions to understand this is a Herculean task. Even if the target of abuse shows proof that it was actually the sociopathic false accuser who was having the affairs, committing crimes, and engaging in abuse and shares that proof that with parties who are being lied by the actual abuser, they will generally be brushed off, told to go away, or threatened and attacked further. This is a common pattern with friends and family of the abuser who might naturally be expected to take sides without regard to facts. But it also is common with church people, courts, custody evaluators, psychologists, therapists, and others who should know better.
Defenders Against Sociopathy
Many psychologists, victims, and others who have seen the devastation sociopaths can inflict upon others feel a strong moral obligation to help both aggrieved victims and potential victims alike. They reason that teaching people about how common sociopaths are, how they think and operate, and the type of damage they cause can be of tremendous help. As Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Education and awareness is one form of prevention as well as being a tremendous comfort to those who have suffered from sociopaths and felt very much alone because they didn’t understand how common the abusive tactics used by sociopaths are.
This is where people like Dr. Tara Palmatier come into the picture. Somewhat like Erin Pizzey, a domestic violence activist who got her start in women’s shelters and quickly learned that so many of her clients were as or more abusive than the men whom they blamed and railed against, Palmatier also worked with female victims of domestic violence. This is not a coincidence. Domestic violence is not gender-specific, contrary to the inaccurate dogma promulgated by organizations that have something to gain from lying about the nature of domestic violence. When you spend time around people who are engaging in it and/or claim to be victims of it, one thing you often notice is that these people typically share a history of being abused during their childhoods. Some of them do not even understand they were abused. They think mind games, verbal attacks, and emotional manipulation are normal behaviors and that child abuse is strictly physical or sexual abuse. The abused tend to become abusers at a much higher rate, even if they realize they were abused. They were conditioned to live in an environment of fear and unjust threats and manipulations and were amply shown how to control other people with abusive tactics. It is no wonder they try to do this to others. It is second nature to them. For most, their childhoods featured prominent home-schooling for sociopaths.
Many of the sociopaths recruit others to help them, typically using lies, distortions, and other people’s own experiences to convince them that they should help ruin another person’s life. Bill Eddy calls them “negative advocates” in many of his writings. I’ve often called them the “minions” of the sociopath. Some of these minions later realize that they were used to harm innocent people and end up feeling very bad about their own actions. A recent comment on Dr. Tara Palmatier’s article Why Some High-Conflict Personality Women Kill paints a fairly typical picture of how narcissistic sociopaths can recruit others to become negative advocates and join in their terrorism:
(from Comment by artemis)
I was an NA!! I am a female – 41 years old – divorced 4.5 years. I developed a friendship with another female (we had both just left our husbands when we met) who is clearly (it’s clear to me now) a BPD/NPD. I was her NA. I believed EVERYTHING she told me about her “abusive” ex so I assisted her (the things I did were not things that she felt herself capable of doing (the learned helplessness thing)). I explained all her (GOBS!) of legal paperwork to her because she kept taking her poor hapless ex to court (he has money) to fight about the kids. I dumped her about 3 months ago when she started stalking (terrorizing is more like it) her ex BF. Her texts and emails were sick and revolting and really abusive. I realize now (when I step back and look at all the behavior) that she is an abuser (she was abused as a kid). Dr. Tara’s blog has been very helpful to me in seeing her behavior. I did apologize to her ex….he also admitted to being an emotionally battered husband (he said that he never realized it until I asked).
I can also comment to how to deal with a NPD ex and not lash out. My ex is likely NPD. He blows up, rages, flips out on the kids (my youngest coined it: when daddy’s head blows on fire). You have to go at them sideways….you can’t lead a full on frontal assault (calling them narcissistic etc…) or they will rage and freak out on you (which is the last thing you want). No doubt, women NPDs are a little different (more driven by emotions?), but not that much different. you have to draw some line of (fake) understanding with them (“I get why you think that but….”) in order to get them on board with whatever it is you need for the kids. Plus, I have learned that educating older kids is imperative so that they can understand that it’s not them (the reason their parent’s head blows on fire and they get blamed for some dumb transgression against the perfection of that parent’s vision for them). My oldest is a brilliant, beautiful, talented, honors student who can’t do anything right in his eyes (unless of course we are in front of other people in which case he tells her how proud he is).
Oh, and I get no spousal or child support of any kind. We are middle class and each “pay our own way” post divorce. He is a very “stand up” guy in public, but he drinks too much and blows up in private. He is the most arrogant, self aggrandizing blow hard I’ve ever known (but was super sweet and attentive when we first got together). He insists on perfection from his family and yet carries around 80 extra pounds. He tells me how he “brags about how I’m the best ex wife ever” and then tells our girls what an irresponsible parent I am….His last GF (1 year) also dumped him saying he was a condescending jerk to her constantly. I could deal with him except for how he treats our amazing daughter. every time I am around him I want to just get away from him.
I am a scientist, but want to go back to school (law) to become a men’s family court advocate. I’m disgusted at how poorly men get treated in the family court system.
Unlike “artemis”, most minions probably never understand how wrong they were. If they do, they are probably too embarrassed to dare apologize to their victims. But she’s now aware enough to realize that she wants to become part of the solution by helping in the fight against sociopaths and the harm they do to others.
To be clear, not everybody who was abused as a child becomes an abuser or turns other people into abusers. Indeed I know several people who were abused as children who have not become abusive adults themselves. But it is a major risk factor. To hide or deny this is a huge mistake. Even if they don’t become abusers, these people often are very damaged and need a great deal of help and time to recover. They often have trouble trusting others or themselves and knowing how to set boundaries on the behaviors of others and themselves. While the adaptations very greatly from person to person, some may have simply learned to tolerate any abuse, perhaps even justifying it by intense self-blame, and therefore fail to put boundaries on the actions of others. These former abuse victims become easy targets for future abusers, but are not likely to engage in sociopathic behaviors that harm others. When put into abusive or intensely uncomfortable situations, such people can be triggered into emotional turmoil that may bring out counterproductive behaviors. Some such behaviors may have a flavor of the abuse they themselves endured or behaviors their abused siblings used to escape the abuse, perhaps by self-deprecating or even physically harming themselves to forestall even worse abuse they fear would be forthcoming otherwise.
You may not be sufficiently motivated or have enough time or skills to write books, deliver speeches, run websites, and fight for reforms to stop the sociopaths abusers in out midst as Dr. Tara Palmatier and Erin Pizzey have done. But what you can easily do is to share information with your family and friends to help protect them against these people. Just like you warn your children about the dangers of talking with strangers and your family and friends about shady businesspeople who ripped you off, you should also be warning them about sociopaths, how common they are, and how they operate. The best defense against these people is awareness and education. Please take a minute to share articles on sociopathic abuse, personality disorders, parental alienation, and other related problems in society with your family and friends via your Facebook account, email, or other means.
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