Thursday, January 24, 2013

Child Custody and The Sociopath: Common Case Traits

Note: This post refers to sociopaths and abusers as men and fathers. I apologize if this offends any of you. It is not my intention to discriminate against men on this issue. However, statistically men make up the majority of abusers and those diagnosed as sociopaths. For this reason, most studies focus on the male gender when compiling data. It is not personal.

I came across an interesting report today that I want to share. The study, by the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Family Violence, asks a hard question: Do abusive fathers have an equal right to child custody when the relationship with the mother ends?

Make no mistake, if you are involved with a sociopath your relationship is abusive. He (or she) doesn't have to punch you or break bones to be a terrorist. Psychological abuse is every bit as valid as physical abuse.

Along with identifying the dynamics that are common in abusive relationships, the study identifies three critically important elements that all of these cases have in common.

  1. Sociopaths and other abusive ex-spouses will try to alienate your child from you. They accomplish this by telling the child negative things about you and restricting your telephone access with your child.
  2. Almost always, the parent now seeking custody was NOT involved in raising your child prior to you splitting up.
  3. They may have a history of threatening to abduct (or actually do abduct) your child if you leave them.
“Fathers that are abusive in a relationship can be EXPECTED to use abusive power and control techniques to continue to exert control over the mother and child”

Yet, courts often don't consider how abusive behaviors are relevant in child custody issues. Why? Public opinion dictates that fathers should have equal access to a child. The obvious flaw is that this opinion is based on an assumption that the father is a mentally healthy individual and will act in the best interest of the child.

Clearly, a sociopath NEVER acts in the child's best interest. He acts in his own. If it gets him what he wants, it is okay regardless of who gets hurt. Barry Goldstien, a tireless domestic violence advocate, has this to say about custody issues:

A standard abuser tactic is for him to tell the mother she will lose custody if she leaves because of some real or imagined charge. Too often, women stay with an abuser because she is afraid she will lose custody over an issue that he can't prove or is not important.

Another common abuser tactic is seeking joint custody. Such a request seems benign (too often to the courts), but is often misunderstood. Joint custody is not about visitation. A father can have normal visitation without custody. Instead, it is used to control his ex-partner. Joint custody is generally a bad idea and should never be considered where the father has been abusive. Many decisions affect the parent living with the children more, but joint custody requires equal rights in decision-making. “

Other things a sociopath will do:

Encourage the child to disrespect to the mother by interfering in her attempts to create structure for the child, contradicts her rules, and ridicules her in front of the child. He may also permit activities prohibited by the mother (such as watching violent tv shows) and seek custody for vengeance.

Interfering in the relationship between the mother and child by refusing to let the mother comfort a distressed child and/or encouraging the child to be abusive to the mother. A sociopath sees a child distressed at being separated from the mother as a direct attack on him personally. He will often counter by convincing the child that it is the mother's fault.

Use the child as a weapon against the mother by neglecting abusing, and endangering the child to hurt the mother, threatening to harm or kidnap the child, and refusing to buy the child anything because he knows the mother won't let the child go without.
 The Presidential Task Force study summerizes this issue by stating that it is better for a child's development to have limited contact with an abuser. These behaviors are harmful and a very valid reason to fight the sociopath for custody.

Wheel of Abuse for Children:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Celebrating 3 Months of Freedom From The Sociopath's Stalking

After 2 years, I think the stalker finally gets it!

As I am gearing up for the depositions in my contempt and custody modification hearing, I have been organizing all of my documentation into a nifty binder for my new attorney. I came across my old stalking logs and realized an astonishing fact: I have been free from the sociopaths stalking for 3 whole months now. Whoop!

I am so excited to be able to stand in my own front yard without fear. I no longer have to plan how I am going to deal with his intense scrutiny of my daily life. I can breathe again. I don't know from day to day if my peace will last, but for now I am in a stalker free zone!

It is a victory but quite ironic how, after 2 years of ruthlessly exploring every avenue to combat his relentless stalking, the win came completely by accident. Before I tell you what happened, I want to share what I tried and what did not work.

  1. I visited every online resource for stalking that I could find. There was some useful information about how to document the behavior, but very little real advice on how to stop it.
  2. I talked to someone at the local domestic violence shelter. She could offer a lot of sympathy, but no help. She did offer to let me stay at the shelter in order to hide from him, but this would have accomplished nothing. I couldn't stay there forever.
  3. I visited a stalking resource task force website that recommended moving and changing my name. This is not possible because I have forced shared parenting with the sociopath. I will never leave my son behind.
  4. I had my attorney complain to his attorney. Ya right.
  5. I called the police. They dismissed my complaints and refused to fill out incident reports, telling me there was no law against watching someone from a public place- call back if he tresspasses onto my property.
  6. I had my attorney write a letter to the sheriff outlining the state stalking statute and requiring the deputies to fill out incident reports (at a cost of $250).
  7. I filed another official complaint with the sheriff’s department during the next incident. I had an eye witness who included a verbal and written statement.
  8. I had 4 friends and neighbor write letters to the sheriff’s department stating that they knew both of us and are concerned for my safety.
  9. I wrote out my own statement chronicling the events, abuse, threats and stalking. I included audio recordings, videos, and photographs to back up my statement. Copies of everything went on file and to a trusted outside source in the event that something happened to me.
  10. I vented to my own therapist when the frustration was too much to bear. She also expressed great concern about the sociopath's potential for violence, but couldn't do much more than refer me to the domestic violence office.

I had been videotaping the sociopath driving past my house multiple times per day and laying in wait at various locations. I also kept a detailed log of dates, times, which vehicle he was driving, and if anyone was with him. I photographed his friends vehicles driving by my house and breaking their necks to try to see who and what were at my house. I planned on using this evidence to show the judge how unreasonably obsessed this thing is.

During the time that all of this was going on, the sociopath was also facing criminal charges for assaulting a witness (who lives 2 houses down from mine) in the custody case. The District Attorney agreed to retire the case for a year, with the provision that the sociopath stay off of the road. Of course, he didn't and the DA pulled the case out of retirement due to a violation of the court order.

They asked me for the video tapes and logs of the sociopath driving on the road. I declined to give them the evidence... at which time I was told that it would be subject to subpena anyway. Fine by me, but I was frustrated. I had done all this work for MY custody case- not someone else's case. The sociopath didn't know this evidence existed! I had been collecting it in secret (except for close friends and family).

The sociopath enters another agreement with the DA and the criminal case is returned to retirement, with the explicit instructions that it will be immediately placed on the active docket if “any further credible evidence arises” that indicate the sociopath violated the judge's order.

All of this time, I have been holding my breath, waiting for him to violate the new agreement. He hasn't. I was confused by his sudden compliance... until a telephone conversation two weeks ago.

I can't trust you... you are sneaky. You have been taping me the whole time and you were going to give it to the judge and put me in jail!”

(Skin- Walker lingo for:: I can no longer count on you to be my victim. How dare you prove that I am a liar and hold me accountable for my behavior!)

It turns out that the DA told Nimrod (who represented the sociopath on this matter too) that there was videotape evidence proving he continued to drive on my road. And, it turns out that discovering he was being video taped proved to be the best deterrent EVER against stalking by a sociopath. If I had only known....

Build Your Own Sociopath: Influencing Nature with Nurture

Having a child with a sociopath puts my son at risk.

Ever heard of the Build a Bear Workshop? You know, where you get to pick different animal parts and then sew it all together. The result is a cute, cuddly little creature that is unique to each builder. Well, here's a twist on that idea I would like to avoid having to face: sociopaths are built by their parents.
Like most mental disorders, sociopathy develops from one of two areas: nature and nurture. A child can be genetically predisposed to the disease or they can develop it through their environment. Kids born with a sociopathic parent get hit with a double whammy: they are are at risk for inheriting the genes and from exposure to cluster B behaviors.
These facts have caused me to lose a lot of sleep since finding out my ex was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Like any good parent, I worry about my child. I want him to have a healthy future. I also want him to be a leader, but not at the cost of sacrificing his humanity. It is a topic I have discussed in depth with child psychologists. Here is what I have learned:
  1. While sociopathy is genetically inherited, it doesn't necessarily mean your child will develop the disorder. Ted Bundy's kids didn't become serial killers. 
  2. While research in this area is limited, scientists have identified two distinct sets of genetic markers that contribute to the condition. In the majority of cases, both of the following personality traits were noted in at least one parent:

  3. Aggressive Disregard- a refusal to recognize another person's basic human rights, usually expressed in a style that exhibits uninhibited aggression.
    Dis-inhibition- a loss of restraint that results in an individual not conforming to the rules and expectations of society.
  4. Nurture can overcome nature. Environment plays a huge role in making a sociopath. In addition to the sociopath actively seeking to corrupt a child, a history of abuse increases the likelihood of the disorder.
  5. Parenting style can also increase or decrease a child's risk of becoming a sociopath. The best prevention method is to look closely at the characteristics of ASPD and develop strategies to prevent these traits from taking hold.

    For example, sociopaths can't accept responsibility for their behaviors. Therefore, you need to have firm limits on what you rescue them from. If my son trashes his bedroom during a tantrum, he doesn't get to do anything other than sit in timeout until he cleans it up. Mommy is not going to do it for him. The result is that he stopped doing that because it has a negative consequence he can't get out of.

While either parent can be a sociopath, the condition is far more prevalent in men. One significant study focuses on the effects of boys with antisocial fathers. The results show that the longer the child is exposed to a sociopath father, the worse off he is. In other words, a boy is better off with no father at all than he is with one with ASPD. You can find the study here:

This proves how harmful these skin-walkers are to our kids. I wish more people out there understood this condition, especially family court. More importantly, I wish someone had told me this two years ago. I would have never been so determined to keep my son's father in his life. If you are trying to co-parent with a sociopath, what strategies have you developed to protect your kids from this risk?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Arizona Supreme Court Prtoects Man Who Murdered 2-year-old Child by Dousing Her with Gasoline and Setting Her on Fire.

January 9, 2013

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Supreme Court has concluded that a man was mentally disabled and cannot be executed for murdering his 2-year-old daughter by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.

The state Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Wednesday overturns Shawn Ryan Grell's death sentence by reducing it to natural life in prison.

Grell was convicted of the Dec 2, 1999 murder of the Kristen Grell in the desert near Mesa.

The court's ruling say the killing was "horrific" and devastating to the family but that Grell's sentence must be reduced.

The justices say that's because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it would be constitutionally prohibited cruel and unusual punishment to execute someone with mental retardation