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What Can We Learn From Narcissist Sam Vaknin?

October 8th, 2012 1 comment

Can we learn something from a narcissist? The answer is a resounding yes. Massive destruction on the level created by narcissists such as Stalin, Hitler, and Mao shows us that narcissists can gain power and that some of them do horrible things with that power. By studying these people, we can see how they used charm, manipulations, and development of cults of personality to gain the power they used to do great evil.

Fortunately the lessons we can learn from narcissists do not always involve evaluating widespread societal destruction caused by them. Author Sam Vaknin is a self-identified narcissist. He was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in 1996 during the course of parole actions related to a conviction for stock fraud in Israel. Since then, he has written extensively about narcissism. His view is that many leaders in politics, finance, and religion are narcissists and that many of these narcissists are also psychopaths. His writings are intended to help others understand and protect themselves from narcissists.

Sam Vaknin is most unusual that he is willing to admit to his behavioral traits, unlike most psychopaths and sociopaths who deny there is anything wrong with them and work hard to hide proof of their behaviors. Indeed many of them project their own behaviors onto others, particularly their victims, and blame everybody but themselves for their problems.

Psychological Terminology Is Confusing

“Psychopath” is not a precise diagnostic term, at least not from the perspective of DSM-IV which is the current version of what is widely regarding as the standard for practice of mental health in the US. DSM-IV does not use “psychopath” as a label for any particular disorder.

Prior to DSM-III was was published in 1980, there was an APA (American Psychological Association) diagnostic label of “psychopath”. DSM-III changed that to Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). The current DSM-IV has continued the use of ASPD as the closest diagnostic label to what was formerly known as psychopathy. DSM-V, due out in the near future, continues to use ASPD.
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Summers And Holidays Are Seasons of Elevated Child Custody Conflict With A Psycho Ex

June 29th, 2012 No comments

Pop culture would have you believe that summer is a carefree time for kids and the holidays are a wonderful time of the year for family. But many parents suffering from the psychological warfare campaign of a psycho ex dread the summers and holidays because it is often at these times of the year that the psycho ex creates even more conflict than usual. Whether the dreaded ex best fits the label of a psycho, an alienator, a Borderline, a Narcissist, or a sociopath, the behaviors regarding summers and holidays are usually highly disruptive and destructive to both the quality and quantity of time you have with the kids.

School Schedules Help Ensure Child Time Share Consistency

When the kids are in school, there is often consistent structure and predictability to the time you can see your kids. Picking up kids from school and dropping them off there often works very well for several reasons. First and foremost, the other parent has no business being there at those times so the loyalty conflicts and emotional and verbal abuse that go hand-in-hand with the presence of the psycho are often not so severe at school. Secondly, the kids see that school pickups and dropoffs are exactly what all their other classmates are doing, too, even the ones whose families haven’t been destroyed by divorce and child custody battles. This generally means they don’t feel as stigmatized or traumatized about exchanges done at school. Finally, the school schedule tends to be rather consistent. This means the kids know what the expect. The reduced uncertainty takes a bit of their worries away and you don’t have to renegotiate your time with the kids every week.

But when school is out, you are stuck with having to find alternate pickup and dropoff locations. With a psycho ex, you may be best off hiring a professional custody exchange service or using a police station that has extensive video surveillance to help reduce the chances of being falsely accused or stalked.

Childcare Centers and Camps

Childcare centers can be convenient pickup and dropoff locations as they share some features with school exchanges. A childcare center is more likely to be neutral and safe than a private residence. Also only one parent needs to be there at a time regarding child pickups and drop-offs.

Sometimes the summers and holidays result in the whole schedule going up for grabs, even if the court orders are not written that way. Some psycho parents put their kids in childcare virtually all the time, even when the other parent volunteers to provide free childcare for the kids during weekdays and let the psycho ex have the weekends. Then the psycho ex sends the other parent the bill for the needless childcare, demanding the abused parent pay half or all of the childcare expenses. Some of these psycho parents are so mentally ill that they would prefer to have little time with the kids so they can stick it to the ex for childcare expenses.

But sometimes instead of a basic childcare center, the psycho parent instead seeks out camps that have schedules that will interfere with the other parent’s time with the kids. Psycho dumps the kids in all-day camps or even overnight away camps that make it more difficult for you to retrieve the kids. For instance, she or he may sign them up for a camp that buses the kids to some location an hour away or has them on the water or at an amusement park on rides where they cannot be readily retrieved when your time with them is supposed to start. So your regular midweek visit with the kids suddenly gets cut short an hour, two, or more because of this active interference.

Court Order Violations

Dumping the kids into camps that curtail your time with them is often a direct violation of court orders that state that parents are not to schedule activities for the kids during the other parent’s time without prior written agreement. But if you have a psycho ex, you know that these mentally damaged people interpret court orders to constrain your actions while believing court orders have no effect whatsoever on them.
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How and Why Psycho Parents Manipulate Kids to Resist Custody Exchanges

March 11th, 2012 13 comments

You’ve probably heard the term “Psycho Ex Wife” if you’ve talked with a man who has suffered from the atrocities of the family law courts manipulated by a truly malevolent ex. It was popularized in part by the illegally banned website The Psycho Ex Wife. Malicious moms are deservingly labeled as psychos quite often, hence the widespread recognition of the phrase. The reality is that both men and women can behave horribly and abusively using the children as pawns in a struggle with the other parent. Often this abusiveness starts even before the filing for a divorce.

It’s hard to find a widely accepted term for referring to the kind of maliciously manipulative parents that interfere with their children’s time with the other parent. Some call them “high conflict personalities” (HCPs), others “parental alienators”, still others “sociopaths” or “psychopaths.” Many refer to Borderlines, Narcissists, Histrionics, Antisocials, Paranoids, or other personality disorder diagnoses to explain the behaviors and label the abusers. The problem is huge and really encompasses multiple groups of people with severely messed up behaviors as parents. For this article, I’ll simply be referring to them as “psycho parents” and not try to more precisely label them.

In this article, I’ll be describing some of the tactics that psycho parents use to manipulate kids to participate in resisting child custody exchanges. This is part of the overall problem of parental alienation. The psycho parent is often successful at causing children to resist custody exchanges even in cases in which the children do not actually hate the parent being attacked and still enjoy spending time with that parent.

Anybody faced with a psycho parent is likely to benefit from reading about Borderlines and Narcissists and their interactions with children. However, don’t let this mislead you into trying to diagnose one of these people and use such as a diagnosis in court. Even if you are absolutely correct in your assessment, judges almost uniformly lack the understanding of what it means and will attack you for putting a reasonable label on the bizarre and destructive behaviors because you’re not a licensed psychologist. Unfortunately, many if not most licensed psychologists are not capable of diagnosing these kinds of disorders accurately because they lack the time with the person and also, in some cases, have their own agendas and biases that make them easy targets for a psycho parent to manipulate.

Motivations of the Psycho Parent

If there’s anything truly common to all psycho parents, it’s hard to find. Although many of them were abused by one or both parents as kids, not all were. And not all abused kids grow up to be psycho parents. Many psycho parents are Borderlines or Narcissists, but not all are. Even if they do meet the criteria for BPD, NPD, or some other personality disorder, few are formally diagnosed and fewer still ever voluntarily seek treatment or honestly work on fixing their problems. So the formal name for whatever ails them is somewhat besides the point, although it is sometimes handy as an abbreviation for describing their overall behavior patterns.

What I find to be reasonably frequent features of psycho parents are the following:

  • A history of insecurity during childhood. This often stems from child abuse or neglect in the home, but can also arise from other situations such as severe poverty or living in a unsafe environment such as a neighborhood with frequent violence from crime or war.
  • Pervading sense of insecurity about one’s self as an adult. This flows from the childhood insecurities that were never resolved. Some might say that Narcissists don’t act like this, often touting their own superiority. But when you think about it, they really do have intense insecurities and their Narcissitic behaviors are the means to make themselves feel better or to hide their self-doubts.
  • Extreme focus on self. Inside their adult bodies they are still hurt little insecure children. Consequently, they are usually unable to focus on anybody but themselves because they are so badly damaged they never learned how to do so. This shows up via narcissistic traits such as selfishness, even if the person does not meet the criteria for NPD.
  • Little or no empathy for others. These people are usually unable to put themselves in another’s shoes, or to consider how their words and actions harm others. They probably don’t care. Sometimes you may see them pretend to care, but usually this is a means to manipulate others. Other times, it is simply they are following behavior patterns they have seen other more healthy people follow often without actually having any genuine empathy themselves.
  • Frequent manipulations of others as a means to meet their emotional needs. Often such manipulations involve lying and distorting about the actions of others, particular the ex or the kids, in an attempt to win allies or sympathy or battles in court. But these people also play at being victims in many other venues. In a workplace, for instance, you may see them pretend to be loaded up with unfair amounts of work, that other people are taking credit for their work, or that they are being sexually harassed.

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“I Want The Litigation To End” May Be A Warning You Are Being Manipulated By A Sociopath

February 28th, 2012 19 comments

There has been much mainstream media coverage of the controversy over the illegal banning of the The Psyco Ex Wife website. Many of the mainstream media writers pump up sympathy-evoking statements, particularly those coming from Allison Morelli who is the woman reputed to be the PEW (Psycho Ex Wife) character discussed on the site. As an example, I’ve seen variations of this statement reported by UPI and other publications:

Quoted from Man’s divorce blog starts free speech dispute:

Allison Morelli said she just wants the legal battle to end.

A person who has not had experience interacting with sociopaths is easily led into feeling sympathy by statements like this.

But anybody who is familiar with the workings of the mind of the devious sociopathic liars who pervade family law courts must ask, what does such a statement really mean? In my experience, statements such as “I just want the litigation to end” are warning flags. You should stop to think long and hard about what they really mean.

Healthy people certainly would have a reason for making such a statement. When they say something like this, they mean they want to stay out of court, or that they want some fair resolution to the dispute and then to be done with it and put it behind them.

But sociopaths mean something completely different. They often make such comments not for honest reasons but to manipulate you and to gain allies.
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Judge Diane E. Gibbons Confirms Herself An Enemy of Free Speech and Supporter of Abuse By Silencing The Psycho Ex Wife Website

February 25th, 2012 66 comments

In June 2011, Judge Diane E. Gibbons of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, illegally ordered an excellent web site called The Psycho Ex Wife to be taken down in violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment. The site is reportedly owned by a Pennsylvania woman named Misty Weaver-Ostinato whose partner for the last several years has been a man named Anthony Morelli. On the site, they identified themselves as DW and “Mister M” never using their real names or identifying information, nor the real name or identifying information of Morelli’s ex who allegedly inspired the site with her behaviors.

First Amendment rights expert Eugene Volokh writes that he believes this order is blatantly unconstitutional, especially because of its expansiveness:

from “Father Shall Take Down That Web Site and Shall Never on Any Public Media Make Any Reference to Mother At All,”

If the father says anything about the mother in public, he could be sent to jail for contempt of court. The order isn’t limited to banning libelous statements (though I think even such a much narrower ban would itself pose constitutional problems, especially under Pennsylvania law), nor is it even limited to statements about minor children (though even that sort of order strikes me as constitutionally impermissible). Rather, the court order categorically orders the removal of a Web site, and prohibits all public statements — factually accurate or not — by one person about another person.

Allison Morelli apparently claims that PEW (the abbreviation for “Psycho Ex Wife”, one of the main characters discussed on the site) is her, even though nobody is ever identified or named on the site. According to reports in other publications, PEW served as the source for around a quarter of the articles describing bizarre and abusive behaviors on the banned website.

Allison, for reasons that don’t make any sense to me at all, wants us all to believe that PEW is her and therefore the whole site is an attack on her. She claims the site is about her without naming or identifying her or anybody else. She simultaneously implies or maintains that she didn’t behave as the PEW character behaved but somehow she knows they were writing the site about her to attack her. This makes no sense to me, nor does it to much of anybody else except apparently Allison Morelli, her supporters, and Judge Gibbons.

The PEW character may not be meant to be literally interpreted. The words and actions appear to be what you could see as a synthesis of behaviors and conduct of more than one troubled ex-spouse. Certainly describing a person as looking like “Jabba the Hut” (a description used for PEW) is obviously figurative speech that no rational person is going to believe is a literal statement. Yet Allison Morelli claims the site is about her and is an attack on her, all the while trying to imply or claim she didn’t write the emails or do the actions described. But somehow she “knows” it is all about her.

However much literary license may have been taken with PEW’s words and actions and no matter what victimhood badge Allison is trying to win with her weird assertions, it is clear that “PEW” as used on the site often does not even refer to Allison Morelli even if you believe it sometimes does.

PEW is used to refer not just to the PEW character but also as a generic abbreviation throughout the site’s content. It means different things in different places. This abbreviation is often used to refer to any generic “psycho ex wife” or at times even more broadly any “psycho ex” regardless of gender or marital status.

Even the readers of the site used such terms to describe their own conflicts. “PEW” is frequently used to generically refer to a “psycho ex wife” or to some other unnamed specific ex-wife that could not be Allison Morelli, unless of course she wants to claim she has been married to dozens or hundreds of the readers and they are all writing about her, too.

The site and its readers also use “PEH” to refer to “psycho ex husband” which can’t be about her. Or can it? If she were to claim she was a man named Alfred in some past life and therefore any references to “PEH” are about her, too, from her actions to date it looks like Judge Gibbons would be convinced by that argument.

The generic “psycho ex” content and discussion included all the kinds of things you’d expect to see discussed about malicious Borderlines, Narcissists, Antisocials, and other personality disorders that are typically seen in sociopaths. These include drug abuse, alcohol abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, manipulation, projection, gaslighting, pathological lying, distortion campaigns, and more. They even discussed at times how these people get to be their malicious selves, often from a history of abuse as children. All of that is very generic and helpful information that doesn’t specifically pertain to Allison Morelli. Some of it may not have been written to have anything to do with her. Yet Judge Gibbons, in her infinite stupidity, sought to silence all of that content, too, because she apparently is unable or unwilling to differentiate between content that is widely and generally applicable and not specific to any one person and content (be it information or misinformation) that has to do with the Morelli dispute in particular.

Unfortunately for the operators of the site and its readers, Judge Gibbons does not seem able to ask basic questions about how an anonymous site naming and identifying nobody but quoting bizarre and abusive emails and describing similar behaviors could be about a person unless that person is also in effect admitting she is behind those words and actions.

Gibbons must also have failed her Constitutional Law classes on the First Amendment, nor does she understand that even if there was some defamatory or harassing statement on the site that this does not justify banning all the content. She evidently can’t comprehend or doesn’t care that roughly 2/3 or more of the material on the site wasn’t even about the PEW character and therefore could not have been about the Morelli dispute, even if Allison wants people to believe she is the PEW character.

Did Gibbons even review the site? By the appearance of the alleged transcripts I’ve seen so far, it looks like she just took Allison’s word for it when she moved to ban the site.

Take Down the Site Or Go To Prison

The judge stated among other things that if the site was not taken down, she would imprison Anthony and take away his kids. Here’s a direct quote from the alleged June 6, 2011 transcript:

THE COURT:
Father shall take down that website and shall never on any public media make any reference to the mother at all, nor any reference to the the relationship between mother and children, nor shall he make any reference to his children other than “happy birthday” or other significant school events. The father’s girlfriend shall not be referred to as mother and father shall not in any way interfere with mother’s relationship with her children.

Mother will not consume any alcohol at all and will continue in alcohol treatment.

This matter is continued for a period of four months.

By her words in the alleged transcript, Judge Gibbons indicates that Allison Morelli is an alcoholic. Later you see:

NAME REDACTED: You know, in the course of having custody evaluation, it was discovered that I had developed a drinking problem as a result of gastric bypass surgery that I had in March of ’09. And that after that point, you know, I suffered from addiction transference and, you know, it — I am certainly not going to minimize that today, that of course it impacted the children. But the children saw me intoxicated four times in the course of two years. And I am in treatment. I attend AA meetings.

To date I have not seen anybody disputing the legitimacy of this transcript. There’s also a second alleged transcript of a June 14, 2011 hearing available. I’d like to have some reasonably easy way to quickly authenticate such documents with court records, but apparently the Pennsylvania courts don’t publish such court records online.

The website had a lot to say about the “PEW” character over the years. “PEW” was alleged to be an emotional child abuser, harasser, abusive litigator, perjurer, frequent violator of court orders, and was suspected by Anthony and Misty of suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.

If Allison Morelli didn’t do such things, then why on earth would she be arguing that the site is about her? And if she did so such things, why on earth would she want the public to hear about it by publicly claiming the site is about her?

If Anthony and Misty believe that PEW behaved so abusively, regardless of who PEW is, those familiar with such destructive situations should be able to understand why they would have been motivated to write anonymously about such conflicts.

Later in the transcript, Gibbons talks about incarcerating the father if he does not follow her orders, apparently including the ones regarding the illegal restrictions on his free speech rights and the illegal orders made regarding his partner’s website:
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Sociopaths In Our Midst Hate the Truth and Its Advocates

November 12th, 2010 64 comments

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?
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Telling Your Nasty Ex About BPD or NPD May Hurt You

September 25th, 2010 9 comments

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.

(from Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce)

I believe that about half of HCPs have a personality disorder and about half have some of these traits, but not a full personality disorder. This means that they are still difficult, but may respond more easily to approaches designed for people with personality disorders.

It helps to understand some of these traits, but it is important to not tell someone you think they have a personality disorder. They may become very defensive and angry with you, as defensiveness is a common characteristic of those with personality disorders and those just with traits.

I fully agree with Eddy’s advice about not telling a person they may have a personality disorder. To be clear, this is not because it is better for them but primarily because hearing this news seems to turn them into even more destructive abusers than they were in the first place. Even if you are only trying to help, they will probably interpret your words as dire threats and redouble their efforts to destroy you. There is also a substantial risk that you will be ridiculed for your reasonable beliefs by divorce industry “professionals” who have an agenda that does not make room for unpleasant truths unless they are stated by an expensive paid expert.
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Borderline Personality Disorder and Parental Alienation Involve Similar Abusive Behaviors

September 25th, 2010 15 comments

While the old research on BPD reflected in the DSM-IV indicates that females Borderlines far outnumber male Borderlines, newer research indicates that is not so. Yet there has still been a strong focus on BPD being an illness affecting primarily women. We’ve previously shared a video produced showing the emotionally manipulative conversations some Borderline females have in about a minute and a half. A year later, it’s still a popular article as it resonates with folks who have had relationships with Borderlines.

Recently I ran across a set of three videos about a Borderline male made with the XtraNormal animation tools that have been popular with many of those trying to explain what it is like interacting with personality disordered emotionally abusive people. After watching them, I’d say the conversations are quite plausible representations of how these people reason and speak. The guy in these videos, represented by a cuddly looking teddy bear, seems to engage in the “magical thinking” sometimes seen in Borderlines. In particular, he seems to believe that his girlfriend is inhabited by demons because she doesn’t do what he wants. This sort of twisted thinking is typical of Borderlines. If you don’t do what they want in every way, something must be wrong with you. And they are not afraid to tell you that and to make threats, such as the “withdrawal of affection” threat seen in these videos, to get you to comply with their demands.


The Borderline Male, Part 1: Date Night

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Welcome Back Pluto is Dr. Warshak’s New Parental Alienation Video for Kids and Parents

September 2nd, 2010 4 comments

Dr. Richard Warshak is a widely known psychologist who has focused his career on the impact of divorce on children. As the author of the 5-star reviewed book Divorce Poison New and Updated Edition: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing, he’s built a wide following among parents, grandparents, and relatives of children suffering from parental alienation child abuse.

While Divorce Poison does a great job explaining parental alienation and some of the possible countermeasures to it. But it is written for adults. While adult children suffering from the fallout of parental alienation might benefit from it, it’s not intended for reading by younger children.

There is a dire need for educational material for children to help them fight the destructive brainwashing coming from an emotionally abusive parent out to make them hate the other parent. Aside from Dr. Amy Baker’s book for middle school kids and teens that I discussed last year in my article Kids’ Parental Alienation Book: “I Don’t Want to Choose!”, there has been little material for kids available.

Helping Kids and Adults Understand Parental Alienation

Into this void arrives the Welcome Back Pluto video. Dr. Warshak teamed up with Trace Productions to create a video for everybody in the family about parental alienation, including kids. Possibly the only people who won’t benefit from it are some of the alienating parents and their allies who cannot accept that children need both their parents. Even kids who are not experiencing alienation themselves may benefit because they may become better able to help their friends and classmates cope with the abuse coming from an alienating parent.
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Escaping Sociopathic Abuse Almost Impossible When Children Are Involved

August 20th, 2010 14 comments

In my previous article Extreme BPD / NPD Behaviors Are Internally Triggered, I discussed the puzzling ways in which normal circumstances seem to trigger abusive behaviors from Borderlines, Narcissists, and other personality disordered abusers. My advice to those who can do so is to get away and stay away from these people as they are a serious danger to your own mental health, even your freedom and your life, if you continue to have anything to do with them.

Unfortunately, not everybody can easily extricate themselves from the abuse without severe consequences. This is particularly true for parents of children whose other parent is a Borderline or Narcissist. Staying in the children’s lives means staying in the line of fire of the abuser. Leaving is likely to subject the children to even more abuse. Often the abuser has focused most of her or his rage against their former partner or spouse. But if that parent leaves, the rages, abuses, and emotional manipulations are not going to stop. They will probably be redirected at somebody else close to the abuser as loved-ones are the tops targets for these sick people. The children are a likely target for even more abuse than they have already received. This chronic abuse with no escape (as the healthy parent has disappeared) is likely to create severe psychological damage, even personality disorders, in these children as they have even less means to defend themselves against one of these sociopaths than an adult does.
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