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How to deal with a sociopath?

(38 Posts)
NudeJude Sun 19-May-19 12:30:20

My daughter has been living with a sociopath for 3 1/2 years, how can I make her realise that his behaviour is NOT normal? Does anyone have any experience of this, and if so, what, if anything, were you able to do?

Back story: He's managed to isolate her from everyone she knew before she met him, including myself, 2 out of 3 of her children, and all of her friends. Everyone tried to warn her about what he was doing, but of course he was so clever that he was able to manipulate her into thinking that he was the only one that really loved her, and that she only needed him.

Just very occasionally she let's slip a glimpse of the person she used to be, but contact between us these days is so stilted that I got to a point recently where I almost gave up, when all she had to write to me about after 3 weeks of no contact was the weather. He reads everything she writes to me, and will make sure he hears every single word that is exchanged between us on the rare occasion that we are able to speak on the phone, so it's impossible to say anything to her that he doesn't know about.

Over time, after the vile things that she has said and done, I'd begun to think that she'd changed of her own accord, but having this morning read up on the subject of sociopathy, I realise that it's all part of his control and training of her, and now feel that I want to do something to help her see how abusive this relationship is. HELP!!!

Nonnie Sun 19-May-19 12:54:27

Coercive control is illegal but I have no idea how you get her to understand. They get away with it because they have control. I know someone like and know they are ill but they would never accept that diagnosis so I cannot see a way to help. I feel sorry for them as they have a very lonely life, superficial friends but no real ones.

jaylucy Sun 19-May-19 13:04:05

Unfortunately there is little you can do until she realises it for herself. Even if you say to the partner that you would like to speak to your daughter alone and not have him listening in to what are actually private conversations, he will only turn it round on you and put you at fault.
If you say anything against him, she won't probably believe you - he will have her so brainwashed to the point that she believes he is the only one she can count on.
I really, really hope that soon she will realise how small her world has shrunk and hope that you will still be there to help her pick up the pieces - you are her link with reality and he needs to know there is someone that doesn't believe in him and may be the chink in his armour

BradfordLass72 Mon 20-May-19 03:37:56

This is similar to the way cults brainwash people, by isolating them from normality. I do hope a time will come when your daughter realises this is extreme abuse.

I don't know if this will help and I doubt you could get her to read it without his knowing but I send it anyway.

absent Mon 20-May-19 06:17:28

I had a sociopathic partner who was massively controlling and also violent. He stole my address book, rang all my friends and told them that I was having a mental breakdown and the "doctor" said that they should not get in touch with me. He told my local friends when we met up in the pub on Sundays "not to make me laugh". Happily, they all ignored him. My family also kept in touch and, although I don't think they had any real idea of what was I was enduring behind closed doors, they were aware and caring about something not being right. I am a highly educated and intelligent woman but I allowed this man to reduce me and reduce me until I was lesser and no longer myself and didn't even believe what I knew was happening to me. Eventually the time came when I decided enough was enough and ejected him from my house and ignored his constant telephone calls, erratic visits, appearances at places/people I was visiting and his constant pleas to return.

I can only say stay in touch with your daughter any way you can – visits, phone calls, e-mails, twitter, snail mail, funny postcards, whatever works. Make it clear to her that you are there but you are not interfering. Isolation is part of the key to this man's behaviour, so get in touch with her friends, her siblings, her cousins, her neighbours – anyone who was part of her normal life. It will take her time; give her time but keep a careful watch.

I hope she is out of this horrendous situation soon and send you my love.

Iam64 Mon 20-May-19 08:13:40

absent, I expect your post will help the OP. Thank you x

sodapop Mon 20-May-19 08:53:31

Good post absent I agree the only thing NudeJude can do is to keep contact and let her daughter know she is loved and supported. When the crash comes as it will just be there for unconditional love.

inishowen Mon 20-May-19 10:23:29

My daughter's husband was a controller. He made tiny remarks all the time to put her in her place. Thankfully she found he was cheating on her last November and she made him leave. He moved straight into the new girlfriend's house and guess what, they broke up last week. Now he's staying with his parents and suddenly has started being nice to my daughter again. After he'd left, different members of the family mentioned things he'd said to my daughter. When it all added up we realised how bad her marriage had been. She has been damaged but has had support from Womens Aid. Our 7 year old granddaughter has also suffered. She is having melt downs and her teacher is concerned. All I can say, is keep being there for your daughter and let her know she always has you to keep her safe when she needs it.

4allweknow Mon 20-May-19 10:29:21

Absent, really good post. Will be reassuring to NudeJude that her DD will hopefully eventually realise how bad her situation is. Just as a matter of interest NudeJude, is this controlling rat financially well off? May well be a factor in why DD is reluctant to accept her situation is not normal.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Mon 20-May-19 10:38:53

This is a very upsetting post to read. I've suffered my fair share of bullies but not this. All I can advise is that everyone, friends and family, do not give up. Keep the lines of communication open. Keep on inviting to social events and try to make sure isolation doesn't escalate - if possible. These people are very clever I'm afraid.

Nanny123 Mon 20-May-19 10:49:57

I lived in a relationship like that for 17 years. It was a living nightmare but you get so ground down it becomes the “norm” I was isolated from having a social life, felt I was thick, ugly and fat. Best thing ever was when he found someone else and buggered off

red1 Mon 20-May-19 10:50:48

I witnessed this growing up with a similar father controlling my mother,i was powerless to act,and the shadow it has cast over mine and others lives has been damaging. My brother repeated the pattern and treats his wife the same. My mother suffered for over 65 years my sister in law over 40.It can be suffocating to be under the grip of such monsters,all they know is power and control. Try to point you daughter in the direction of understanding about sociopaths, then hopefully she will gather strength and leave.give her all the love and support you can. These people are monsters, and little can be done to change them.

Nonnie Mon 20-May-19 12:11:43

Thanks for all the above, I know this is not about me but so much resonates. Luckily I am not directly involved and have a lovely family but the person I am thinking of has children and I constantly worry about them but cannot think of anything I can do to help them.

willa45 Mon 20-May-19 12:28:35

Very few people operate in a vacuum. He's probably left a sufficient amount of wreckage behind. I would hire a private investigator to do a background check on this guy and hopefully gather enough 'intel' to open her eyes. Does he have a job to go to? When he's not around, why not invite daughter for a drive and a coffee and talk to her privately inside your car?

Is there anyone she still trusts (outside of the family circle), with sufficient credibility to be persuasive (i.e. a trusted family friend, her once best friend, etc.) that you could invite along? Hearing the right messages from the right people, may water down his sphere of influence and will make him less relevant.

allsortsofbags Mon 20-May-19 12:51:08

There is a good description of the "Charming Manipulator" in Ian Stewart and Van Joines "Personality Adaptations"

Once we accept that Sociopaths are "Charming Manipulators" we start to understand how they can and do mess with our heads but watching someone we love in a relationship with them is as hard on us as it for our loved ones in the relationship.

Hang on in there and as others have said make sure your DD knows you are there for her even if your contact is limited. If she knows you will be there when she decides to leave and then make your plans as to how to help her once she's left is about the best you can do right now.

Then pray she sees the light and leaves. No announcement that she's leaving, careful planning and then one day just leave.

May she be ready very soon. Don't push for contact, make him think he's winning but make sure she knows where to go and how to be safe.

Wishing you the best of luck with the situation and a good outcome.

Hymnbook Mon 20-May-19 13:00:20

My 2nd husband was like this. I left eventually at age 58 to start again. I do hope that her friends and family don't give up on her and believe him and his lies. I hope that eventually she is able to leave and live her life the way she wants and to be the person she's meant to be.

Nonnie Mon 20-May-19 13:11:43

willa not so sure about that, imagine if he found out?

They work by twisting what is said and making things appear to be the fault of the person they are controlling. They get very angry when proved wrong and won't admit it. They say they couldn't have done what you say because of ................... They convince their subject that they are ill/incompetent/liars or whatever so that the subject no longer knows what is true and what is not. They tell lies about their subject to friends/colleagues and then say that everyone agrees with them so the subject must be wrong. They may even call the police and say the subject has done something criminal but there will be no proof. Often they accuse others of what they have done themselves. And they always know what others are thinking which usually says more about the way their mind works than anything the subject thinks. They drive a wedge between their subject and family and friends.

Glammy57 Mon 20-May-19 14:14:10

Nudejune - Sociopathy is a personality disorder also referred to as antisocial personality disorder. It is a psychiatric ailment which is treatable but incurable. It is considered one of the most dangerous personality disorders. Your post is incredibly sad and you have my upmost sympathy. Absent has offered some good advice which I hope has helped you.
As others say, please try to keep all lines of communication, with your daughter, open. I know three women who are in similar controlling relationships. Each of these ladies has been isolated from friends and family for between fifteen and thirty years.
Know that I empathise and keep you and your family in my thoughts.

willa45 Mon 20-May-19 14:30:31

Nonnie....but don't you think he's already driven a serious wedge between her family and friends?

Consider too that fear is a prime weapon of choice when it comes to controlling someone.

I agree that there's a risk in trying to see daughter without him around, but how about the risk of doing nothing? Can we come up with a safer way to talk to daughter in private? As long as he doesn't know what they talked about, what's the worse he could do? Accuse MIL of taking wife out for a coffee?

moggie Mon 20-May-19 14:35:37

Nonnie an accurate description of their behaviour, very sad Ruins all relationships I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve tried to help my sister & support her, very tricky as it’s her youngest daughter in her 20’s who is doing this.

Rosina Mon 20-May-19 14:35:39

Please keep the lines of communication open between you and your DD; as time goes on you will be her lifeline. We had a vile person like this in our family many years ago; it started subtly by his arranging nice little 'surprise' weekend breaks for our youngest DD or outings that always managed to be on family birthdays so that we didn't all get together any more. Then pressure on her to spend Christmas abroad with him, another family tradition sidelined, then he couldn't come to any family events at all due to 'work commitments' but would ring and text her constantly while she was with us. All the while he was friendly, concerned, joking and pleasant - until I was told by a person he didn't know was a family friend about his plans, and they were not pleasant. He is long in the past, but the memory lingers. Take care; luckily for us the person concerned got over confident and started to reveal his true self and everything fell apart between him and our DD, but unfortunately this won't always happen and the damage goes on.

NannaR Mon 20-May-19 14:59:20

I totally recognise that behaviour, NudeJude. I was married to a Sociopath for 20 years. It took me that long to escape. All became well after that, and I can analyse the situation with a calm resolve. The sad thing is, I now recognise the same behaviour in my own adult Son. I'm trying to understand if it's learned behaviour or a genetic disposition. He suddenly became s-o hostile to his Family that I needed to protect my DDiL and children. As a result I have now become estranged from my dearly beloved, mentally ill Son, although he would never accept that description. My DDiL has moved on, and we maintain a comfortable relationship, but I can't help but worry about the children, who pass from pillar to post, culture to culture. I am struggling to find any hope of restitution for my Son. Our Relationship has become the collateral damage of his illness. The fact is - both parties need help. It isn't enough to protect just one Partner. The offending Partner, without help, will continue to offend other relationships. I wonder NudeJude … is there anyone who could help Counsel your Daughter's Partner? If anyone knows of any way to help the offender I would desperately love to know. sad

Nonnie Mon 20-May-19 15:13:26

willa I'm concerned how he might react to her if he finds out.

Lots of good advice on here.

NannaR so sorry to hear about your son. No idea how it all starts though.

May I just add that women do it to men as well? So far this all seems one way but women use their children as a way to control men and we have seen on here how often a dil will make the man choose her or his family.

123coco Mon 20-May-19 17:05:09

I don’t know about sociopath but it is definitely classic Coercive Control. And it can be v v dangerous.

Smileless2012 Mon 20-May-19 17:14:59

I am so sorry Nudejude.

A lot of your OP could have been written about our son and his wife. We have been estranged from him and our only GC for more than 6 years.

We had no idea what was going on until it was too late.

As others have suggested, do what ever you can to keep the lines of communication open with your DD. Once our ES refused any and all contact, he was lost to us.