Friday, August 31, 2012

Total Recall: Three Things About Myself Made Me Vulnerable to a Sociopath

I am often embarrassed by how often people who know me ask, “What in the world were you thinking when you decided to have a relationship with this guy?” They expect the sociopath to be rich, or to be extremely successful. In fact, he is far from either of those things and remains unable to achieve anything without help from his supporters.

My ultimate shame is that I let this guy use me, terrify me, abuse my child and my pets, and control my life. How did this happen? I am smart, hardworking, and independent. I may not be centerfold material, but I am pretty and have a good sense of humor. So how did I fall so far, so fast?

After almost two years away from the sociopath, I have come to a painful self-realization: the personality traits that I love about myself are the same ones that led me into my nightmare. For example, my openness to other people’s opinions made me vulnerable to the sociopath’s “crazy making”.

I believe that every person has a right to his or her own feelings and thoughts. I don’t need everyone to agree with me, nor do I expect them to do so. I try to consider each person’s point of view as a counter balance to my own. The problem is that being too open allows the sociopath to use you to validate his own warped thoughts. This then leads to you constantly thinking, “Is he right? I hadn’t considered that possibility.”

Another good example of a dangerous trait is empathy. This is something that the sociopath doesn’t possess, but he is well aware of what it is. Empathy is a weakness that allows the sociopath to hone in on his target with laser precision. They feed on it.

During the process of separating from the sociopath, I would catch myself making his excuses for him. He can’t help it that he was arrested for assault again; he doesn’t know how to behave. His mother abandoned him when he was small, so of course he has issues. He is cruel to animals because no one taught him how to love. The list is endless.

The third personality trait is the ability to sacrifice personal needs for other people. Mothers do this everyday. We eat last, go to bed last, and plan our lives around our children’s needs. The sociopath feels he is entitled to the same devotion that the children receive- despite the fact that he is a grown adult. Before I ever knew what was happening, I found myself compromising my beliefs and values. It was easier than trying to hold the sociopath accountable for his own.

A very good friend of mine used the frog in boiling water analogy. If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will jump out. If you take the same frog and put him in a pot of cool water, then gradually turn up the heat, he will stay in the pot. This makes me a little sad because I love frogs, but the point is that we have trouble recognizing abuse because it has been a gradual progression.

Openness, empathy, and the ability to sacrifice are all good traits, but they can lead us astray. So when does too much of a good thing become bad? For me, it came with the realization that I was afraid in my own home. I was afraid to move any of the sociopath’s stuff when I cleaned, I was afraid of being caught if he came home and our son was playing with something that belonged to him, I was afraid that my family and friends would see how I was being treated.

In the end, I believe that it comes down to our ability to set and enforce boundaries in our personal relationships. How many times are you willing to let someone say or do something that offends you before you speak up or take action?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Defeating a Sociopath in Court

Yet another thing about co-parenting with a sociopath that drives me crazy is their love of conflict. Since my ex filed for custody in August of 2011, I have had to appear in court no less than eight times. I have two more hearings scheduled next month. His latest stunt was to sue me over his personal belongings that he left in my garage when he moved out- over a year and a half ago. I won the lawsuit, and the sociopath was ordered to pay court costs. What follows is a breakdown of what happened, how I prevailed against him, and important lessons on dealing with sociopaths.


I own my home and property. When I finally got up the courage to throw the sociopath out, I gave him thirty days to remove his belongings. Of course, he never did. I was expected to continue feeding his horse and dogs, and to store his belongings in my garage. By May of 2011, I had made repeated requests for him to clean out his junk. Some of the items he took, most of it he left behind.
 The main problem was that almost everything he owned was garbage. The whole lot was at least twenty years old, and dry rotted or rusted. He was too lazy to take the stuff to the landfill. In October of 2011, he asked me to deliver some of his belongings to the supervised visitation site. I spent my own time and gas doing this. When I got there, he tried to refuse to take the items. I unloaded it beside his truck, and he told me it was all trash.
That was the last I heard from him on the subject until January of 2012, when he gave me a list that had about 5 items on it that he wanted from my garage. I responded with a certified letter advising him that everything had been disposed of except for a few items. I let him know that I would leave those items at a designated location on February 11 of 2012. I packed them up, delivered them, and took pictures of the items.
The sociopath drove up beside them, stopped, and then drove on down the road- leaving his belongings sitting there. I called him and asked why he didn’t pick up his stuff. He says he didn’t see it. Fast forward to August of 2012 when he drives by my house and notices his old grey (cracked) water trough sitting beside my garage. At the next exchange, he hands me a new list of belongings he left at my home. There are about ten items on the new list.
By this time, I am sick to death of being harassed about his stuff that he abandoned. I tell him that I have made multiple attempts to return it and he keeps refusing. He responds by calling me a whore and a thief in front of our son. Then he drives to the sheriff’s department to try to have me charged with theft of his property. They advise him that it is a civil matter, so the next morning at 9 AM he files a lawsuit pro se asking for $4,600 in damages.
My local attorney accompanied me to the hearing. She advised the judge of the situation and asked him to order the sociopath to pick up his belongings or pay to dispose of them. He does, and resets a hearing on the items that I no longer have for the following day. By now, the sociopathic father of my child and his girlfriend have compiled a two-page list of items that he left behind. The judge asked for proof from both of us.
My ex submits, as evidence, the certified letter that I sent him regarding his belongings (duh!). I submit the photographs of the items, and photo copies of the first two lists. We both testified. My attorney cites appellate case law that says that after a year and a half, he is not entitled to recover anything. The judge rules in my favor. The following items are some pointers that may help you if you are ever in a similar situation:

1. Document EVERYTHING! Send all correspondence through certified mail. Record telephone conversations and in person contact. Use a video camera if you have access to one, and keep it on file. You cannot go into court and expect to win in a he said / she said situation. You must have solid proof against the sociopath.
2. Use appellate or supreme court case law for your state in your argument. These cases typically spell out exactly how the law is to be interpreted. If you don’t have an attorney, research the state court website. Opinions are published online and searchable by keywords.
3. Use the sociopath’s attempts at litigation against him if you can. Look at this as an opportunity to put it in the judge’s mind that you are being harassed. Do not make unsubstantiated claims, but let it be known that the sociopath has an ulterior motive: revenge.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sociopaths and Parental Alienation Cases

The movement to end domestic violence started when women began to speak to each other about their experiences of spousal abuse, which had always been considered a private matter. These discussions led to the realization that domestic violence was far more common then generally believed. This discovery was necessary in order to begin the work to end domestic violence.

Today, disturbingly, in thousands of custody-visitation cases all over the country, abused women and children are being revictimized rather than protected. Some of the cases have been publicized, but most have been hidden from public view. Often the media is reluctant to feature such cases, because they don’t have the resources to determine which side is telling the truth or out of fear of lawsuits. As a result, only the victims and genuine experts are aware of the pattern and frequency of such cases.

When women first started to learn about the extent to which men were abusing their female partners, there was no term to describe such behavior. Only later was the term domestic violence invented. This was an important step, because it gave us common language to describe an all too common and harmful behavior pattern. I believe we now need a term that describes cases in which women and children are further abused by the courts instead of being protected. I suggest using the term CUSTODY-VISITATION SCANDAL CASES, which would help us to better detect and understand the pattern and frequency of such atrocities, so that we can stop such abuse in the future.

Custody-Visitation Scandal Cases can be defined as having many but not all of the following attributes:

1. Allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse made by the mother and/or child(ren)
2. A failure or refusal by court agents (attorneys, law guardians, forensic evaluator, therapists, and/or judge) to take such allegations seriously.
3. An outcome that places the children at serious risk
4. An outcome that appears to be 180 degrees from what it should be.
5. An outcome that gives custody to the alleged abuser and restricted visitation to the protective mother.
6. The use by the abusive father and his attorney of “standard abuser tactics” (i.e. seeking custody to punish the mother or maintain control; using visitation or custody to harass mother; claiming that unfounded child protective claims were made falsely and maliciously by the mother; attempting to manipulate the children etc.)
7. The propogation of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence (i.e. that mothers and children frequently make false allegations of abuse to gain an advantage in litigation) by the court and its agents.
8. Using “experts” with little or no training and understanding of domestic violence.
9. Gender bias and double standards (mothers being held to a higher standard than fathers)
10. Failure to consider and use up-to-date domestic violence research.
11. Approaches that blame the victim.
12. Use of biased or unsupported theories (i.e. Parental Alienation Syndrome; “Angry women”; “Vindictive women”; alienation; masochism etc.)
13. Extreme penalties against protective mothers.
14. Outcomes that make it appear like the judge was bribed even though that is usually not the cause of the judicial abuse.

I am not saying that every case that fits many of the above criteria has to have been improperly decided, but I believe research will find that 98% or more of such cases have been tragically mishandled. Custody-Visitation Scandal Cases should be identified, examined. and corrected when necessary. Even more important, society must create a system to prevent such cases from happening.

By Barry Goldstein

Reprinted from: Custody and Visitation Scandal

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Blame Game: It’s All Your Fault, You Are Alienating the Child

A sociopath possesses two traits that make it particularly difficult to co parent: his sense of entitlement and his failure to take responsibility for his own actions. Last week, I got a big dose of both of these. Unfortunately, our son is the one who has to pay the price.

Most people know that little boys are especially attached to their mommas. This is especially true when she has always been the primary caregiver and there was domestic abuse in the home. Some children seek emotional security by attaching to special blanket or teddy bear. I have always been our son’s “attachment object.” He has always resisted separations from me, and the custody arrangement has only made it worse.

Most parents know that young children don’t adapt to change very well. A good parent deals with separation issues by introducing changes gradually, and fostering a child’s sense of security by ensuring frequent and close contact with the parent the child is attached to.

The sociopath refuses to acknowledge this. He considers our son’s attachment to me as a rejection of him as a father. He refuses to consider that what our son feels is healthy and appropriate for a four (now five) year old child. In his mind, it is a competition between us- one that he loses… and it makes him very angry.

The sociopath does his best to refuse our son contact with me during his week. He plays games with telephone contact, denies any requests the child or I may make to see him during “his week”, and rejects the child if he says anything about me. The sociopath father threatens the child by saying he is going to kill me, tells him that my lifestyle is bad, that he is no longer a baby and needs to toughen up, that his mommy makes him do girl things and will make him a sissy, and that his mommy uses him.

So am I an alienated parent? Well, that was the sociopath’s goal. What happened instead is that his strategy has backfired miserably on him. The sociopath can’t break my bond with my child, no matter how hard he tries, because it is built on a solid foundation.

The child now refuses to acknowledge the father if he is with me. He tells him to go away, that he doesn’t want to see him. The truth is that children are not stupid. Our son knows that when he is with mommy, he is safe. Mommy lets him call or see his dad anytime he wants. He gets to come home to the house, bedroom, and pets that he has known since birth. He resents his father for making him leave.

Who is responsible for this turn of events? Well, of course I am. At the most recent exchange, he tells our son that he has been brainwashed by mommy and that mommy is using him. Then the sociopath tells our child that I wasted HIS life and that I am having an affair! Now the threat: the judge is going to find out about my lifestyle and what I “am doing” to our child very, very soon.

Of course, the real kicker to this is that he has completely fabricated all of it. I tell our child that his daddy loves him and that he can’t say hurtful things about people. I encourage our son to call his dad and to say hello to him when we see him. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my lifestyle… I AM NOT involved in a romantic relationship with anyone, so there are no boyfriends or sex in my home. I spend my days writing, researching, cleaning house, taking care of the animals, cutting the grass, and going to church.

My life is, and always has been, about caring for the wonderful child I was blessed with. Parental Alienation is a serious charge that is almost always leveled at mothers in the context of domestic violence issues. Stay tuned for more on this in the next post.