It's amazing to me that even now—after having escaped sociopathic abuse over a year and a half ago—I'm still recognizing that what I endured was not specific to me. I'm one of thousands (probably millions) who endured the same type of abuse in the same sequence. I've joked with other survivors (those related to my ex and those who were targeted by other toxic people) that there must be some kind of playbook handed out when it's decided the abuser is going to play the role of the psychopath/sociopath in this life.
To that point, another target of my ex let me know via a comment on my blog that she "dodged a bullet" with him after reading my blog posts. I'm assuming the same tactics and ploys were used to the point that when she read my blog, she recognized all of them as all-star "plays" that he used on woman after woman. Same lines. Same songs. Same promises. Same poor me stories. Same lies. Same "my ex is crazy and sick" stories. Turns out, he's not the only sociopathic Casanova running around executing these plays with the precision of an NFL quarterback—it's a common thread among ALL psychopaths. I can say first hand, when I watched Bravo's true story miniseries, Dirty John, my jaw hit the floor multiple times through much of the story that ended in death. So. Many. Similarities.
I recently read Psychopath Free, one of the best books on the subject of psychologically abusive relationships ever printed, and was struck by the validation it provided with regards to the playbook of social media tactics, manipulation of "the following", and retaliation after the relationship is over.
Jackson MacKenzie, author of Psychopath Free, writes, "Technology makes it so much easier for the psychopath to manipulate through triangulation....and they will strategically post ambiguous statuses, songs, and videos that suggest you might be "losing" them. They will share things that are intentionally meant to lure in the new and old targets."
Towards the end, I started to notice that the once lovey-dovey, romantic posts published about me were being replaced with passive aggressive memes aimed to do two things: suggest to "the following" and new targets I didn't know were targets that we were going down in flames and it was all my fault AND to ensure I saw that others were supporting him, i.e., triangulation. The man who once posted how much he loved that I used my mediumship skills to help grieving parents was now insinuating that I was choosing the afterlife over him...and asking others how they felt about that. You can imagine the support he got from "the following" when he posted it. I didn't recognize what it was at the time, I just went on the defensive like I had to keep explaining why I do what I do (and have done long before him), which was no different from when he met me. But now, somehow, it was wrong. After working with many survivors of this type of psychological abuse, I understand that what is praised and valued in the beginning (i.e., what makes you who you are) will be berated in the middle and publicly questioned in the end. And it's all part of the game. Systematically applauding who you are then tearing at the very fabric of your soul is at the sick heart of this type of abuse.
To quote Psychopath Free, "No matter how much they abuse their partners, toxic people will always have a loyal following of fans cheering for everything they do. These people are blinded by shallow flattery that the manipulators use to control them. Fan clubs change often, as psychopaths' friendships are neither deep nor meaningful in any way. All that matters is constant attention and adoration. Anyone who fails to provide this mindless reinforcement will promptly be replaced with someone who can."
The minute the fan recognizes inconsistencies and questions something, they're out. Unless the abuser feels he or she can get something of value from the person. I've seen it over and over again. The irony is the same person who claims to "not like drama" is constantly causing drama and upheaval within friendship circles. Fans, investors, clients, and family: everyone is at risk of being blocked and discarded. Blindly supporting (the majority of fans) or acting like you're a fan because the abuser owes you money or something like that is a mode of operation for some characters playing the role of the flying monkeys. The latter would say keep your enemies closer. I don't subscribe to that thought model because I feel it is anything but authentic and lacks integrity, but I see why some do this in the name of hope. Hope that they aren't eternally burned by the psychopath despite knowing the reality of the situation.
I shared the truth of what the relationship was after it ended. It wasn't something I was particularly keen on doing but I also knew that the only way to combat the calculated lies that were being shared about me was to tell the whole, ugly, embarrassing truth. I fell for a psychopath while I was married. I had to come clean about how and why, and all the mistakes I made along the journey. I'm not proud, but I know my story is not unique, and it's one that's helping others related and unrelated to him.
With that said, I knew retaliation was coming the moment I pressed PUBLISH on my blog. And boy did it come. Publicly and privately. I'm not going to rehash it here—all of the legal documents are posted on this blog . What I am going to do is again share a passage from Psychopath Free: "When the psychopath is the one who's discarded, you should prepare yourself for months (if not years) of harassment. Until they find another victim, they will pour all they're rage into ruining your life through intimidation and scare tactics. THEY WILL INVENT ONLINE PERSONAS TO CYBERSTALK YOU. This gives them the illusion of control..."
That happened to me, too. Fake FB personas writing to me telling me to stop talking about what I endured. Harassment of others involved in helping me tell my truth and theirs, as it pertained to him. The list goes on.
Again, another go-to play for psychopaths. Keep your mouth shut and you're spared. Be open about the reality and you face the covert and overt firing squad.
I'm grateful for authors like Jackson Mackenzie who are writing about this type of abuse. In this digital age, we have to be vigilant about who and what we trust. I wasn't at all. I trusted others opinions who were just as snowed as I was, in the beginning.
Also, look for signs that the play book is being used daily, and the new friend you met online (and possibly even through friends) might be anything but authentic. He or she might just be a well-practiced psychopath looking for the next target.
Most of us who have gotten to the other side of an abusive relationship know Shannon Thomas and her work with abuse survivors. She's instrumental in helping millions with her book Healing from Hidden Abuse, and this blog post (below) that she wrote for survivors' family and friends in 2015.
As a therapist, she recognized how difficult it can be for family and friends to understand what their loved one is/was going through. I was no exception. The expectation is that getting out of a relationship with a narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath is like any other break up. It's not. I recently read somewhere that survivors can expect to spend 18-24 months recovering. And I believe that in my soul.
From Shannon Thomas:
Family and Friends: Your Loved One Isn't Crazy
From reading the title, you might be wondering what this post is going to be about. I am writing this for the family and friends of survivors of psychological abuse. Why? Because I hear from many survivors who say that it is incredibly hard for them to describe the insidiousness of the abuse they experienced and many family and friends just don’t know how to support their loved one through the steps of recovery. There is so much to be said on this topic but I am going to try and just hit the highlights.....