Surviving a Sociopath

Have you been the target of a sociopath?
Have you been the target of a sociopath?

It doesn't matter how old you are, how smart you are, where you come from, or what you do for a living. Anyone, anywhere, can become the victim of a sociopath. Actually, when a sociopath is involved, it's more likely you are a target.

What is a Sociopath?

The definition of a sociopath varies depending upon where you look and what expert you prefer. Sociopath is usually interchangeable with psychopath, anti-social personality disorder, and a few others. The DSM-IV Definition states that "antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules." There is a long list of diagnostic criteria, which I will not entirely list here.

Basically a sociopath has no moral compass or conscience. They are able to assimilate and charm or persuade even those with the keenest of eye. They are impulsive, reckless, talk in circles, compulsively lie about anything and everything, have a tendency toward criminal behavior, have a spotty work history, exhibit a sense of entitlement, are financially irresponsible and will often leave others financially devastated, and do not experience remorse or guilt. Most telling is their absolute need to win, no matter who they hurt in the process. They thrive on bringing others down to their level, even making them accomplices to their behavior when they can.

Are You Involved With a Sociopath?

Most of the time you don't even know you are involved with a sociopath until it's too late. What that means is you have probably lost a sense of yourself because of the covert craziness that the sociopath intentionally creates. You may even sometimes believe that it's your fault. You may be too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it because you "should have known better". You may be so devastated, or afraid, or tired, or intimidated, or angry, or lost, or any number of other things that you are just too paralyzed to try to figure it out.

Some things that might be a huge red flag are your finances. Did this person sweep into your life and create massive debt or destruction? Did this person seem so charming and 'perfect' when you first started dating? Did this person learn all of your deepest insecurities and now exploits them or uses them to harm you? Did this person slowly work themselves into a place of dominance in the relationship? Does this person compulsively lie about anything and then make you feel like you are crazy when you confront the lie? Do you feel afraid but can't quite define why? Do you feel stalked, or are you outright being stalked? Has this person harmed you or your children? Do you feel the need to protect others who come into contact with this person, knowing what they are in for if they trust him/her? Have you watched the scam/con process take place over and over again? Are you embarrassed to be involved with this person yet can't find a way out? The list goes on and on but by now you will recognize yourself if you are involved with a sociopath.

How do You Survive?

This is the toughest question to answer, particularly if you have children with a sociopath. The best way to survive is to flee the relationship as soon as you have the first inkling that something isn't right. If it's too late for that, you have a few options. You can simply stop responding to the drama and the chaos. It is hard and excruciating to be able to get to a place of inner peace and not allow the negative to affect you. In fact, I don't know if I could get there, I haven't been able to so far.

Another option is to become like a detective and try to stay one step ahead. This is difficult and exhausting and not recommended. If you have been involved or around a sociopath for a long time, you begin to see the patterns and can preempt some things, but again, this will eventually wreak havoc on your own sanity and health so I don't recommend it.

The third option, particularly if there are children involved, is to seek legal assistance with someone experienced; take the emotion out of it and separate yourself physically as much as possible. This is not easy and the legal system is not a friend in most cases. In fact, a whole article could be written on how to deal with the legal system in these situations (maybe I'll have the energy for that one soon). Many women (there are men who are in this situation as well, I do recognize that) who end up fighting for their lives and the lives of their children simply cannot afford a strong and experienced attorney to help or just can't explain the daily stress and trauma of living with a sociopath. Even if the sociopath is not in the same home, they might as well be, in most cases.

It's easy to become discouraged, paralyzed, unhealthy, depressed, etc., but that's all the more reason to reach out to any family that is still associated with you, any other people that have gone through the same experiences, any agency or legal entity that is willing to listen and help. DON'T give up and do protect your children as much as you are able.

I know this does not give you concrete answers or maybe even any hope, but I do understand and I will respond to any comments.

***Legal disclaimer - I am not a psychiatrist or legal representative. I do not claim to be an expert, nor am I giving any advice. I am simply a human being in a situation, trying to have empathy for others in similar situations.***

Are you, or do you know someone, being affected by a sociopath?

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Comments 21 comments

Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US

I've had some narrow brushes through the years. Excellent article ... may the Lord give you grace and keep you safe and sane! Voted up!

Sheila Lee profile image

Sheila Lee 4 years ago from Canada

Although Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are both characterized by manipulative behavior, sociopaths or people with Antisocial Personality Disorder are manipulative to gain profit, power, or some other material gratification, whereas BP's or people with Borderline Personality Disorder motivation is geared more towards gaining the concern of caretakers. Borderlines also feel shame, guilt, emotional distress, and emptiness; people with Antisocial Personality Disorder generally do not. So though at first glance they may appear to be the same, they are very different.

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

Thanks for the comment Sheila. I didn't mention Borderline Personality Disorder because it is very different. This is strictly about Sociopaths/Anti Social Personality Disorder.

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

Thank you very much Brett! It's hard to put it out there but too many people suffer daily, things like this should be talked about.

SanXuary 4 years ago

The definition of a Socio path is Liar, deceiver, manipulator, evil and cruel. Your survival plan is correct, run like hell and kill everything they had on the way out. Then wait for judgement day and ask God if you can run hell every now and then.

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

Thank you for the comment SanXuary. I wish it didn't require running. I think he should have to run! It is soooo hard when children are involved and the legal system is just as snowed by these people as the rest of us. Run hell every now and then? Lol

SanXuary 4 years ago

In this case it's a she and do you have any idea what the world of legal harassment is like. She had to break her own restraining order to convince me to go to court last time. She never guessed that I would not challenge it and yes she looked like an idiot in court and the judge was not happy with her. Still it does not matter, all the threats that I have received of further harassment and the fact she found a new victim 3 states away you have no choice but to give up. Everything is a plot planned weeks ahead of you. While you our thinking everything is al-right then you our suddenly assaulted by everything. Every person she ever knew here has been used and has turned on her after punishing me. I have no respect for the legal system after what I have been through. In fact its nothing but a game I could write a book on it now and tell you how to destroy another persons life. In the end I had to figure out how to defeat a socio-path by thinking like one and letting them destroy them self. No matter where she goes their can be no happy ending and at some point she will be living on the street. My son will figure out what he is dealing with and all her previous children left her as well. Its just a painful waiting game.

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

I'm so sorry SanXuary. Unfortunately I know exactly what you are talking about. The legal system is a scary entity and sociopath knows exactly how to maneuver through it. You end up being scarred by both. It certainly is a painful waiting game, the kids suffer through it too.

sorrygirl 4 years ago

I spent 9 months with what I know is a sociopath. I finally figured out he lied to me the entire time.. even when I asked him straight out to just tell me if he was seeing other women.. he said there are no other women. I was concerned about STD's. Well I got one. I found receipts for jewelry for others. I confronted him. He denied any other women still. I felt like I lost my mind.. wanting to believe him, but knowing in my gut he was lying. I housed him for 9 months .. cooked for him.. I fell in love.. but he has no problem just ditching me like an old shoe. It hurts a lot. What I don't understand is why he has continued to leave his motorcycle parked on my street for the last month? Why doesn't he just move it? I mean he says "I"m crazy" after all, so I would think he would be worried about it. I am having a hard time.. moving on.. I feel like Ive been run over.. flattened. I guess I loved an illusion? I don't know how he just drops me and doesn't even miss me after all i did for him. I'm just really sad. I live alone. I have no parents. My friends are supportive.. but it's still hard. Any suggestions? Thanks.

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

Sorrygirl ~ The one thing that sticks out for me in your comment is "knowing in my gut he was lying". It is so hard, but you are giving yourself the best gift by finally listening to yourself. Rely on your supportive friends and know that you are not crazy! The sadness and pain you feel now will heal in time. Had you stayed with him, the pain would be constant and the questioning of yourself relentless. Have his motorcycle towed! Good luck and feel free to write again.

sorrygirl 4 years ago

Hi, thank you so much for responding to me so quickly.. and for reminding me I am not crazy. I wonder .. do sociopaths know what they are doing? or is it just an unconscious way of interacting with the world. Sometimes he would slip.. "I wonder how long you'll put up with this".. and when I would say "what"? He would change the subject, never elaborating on the comment. . He would never admit to anything. So he must know deep down that he is "different" from other folk? What do you think?

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

On some level they do know, they just don't care. Lying means absolutely nothing to them. Winning is what matters and they love to manipulate. There is no filter and guilt does not exist. It's complicated and very hard to explain the dynamic unless you've experienced it because you just can't believe a person would really behave "that way".

sorry girl 4 years ago

I'm having a hard time getting over this guy even though he is treating me terribly. In the beginning he was attentive, bought me a nice birthday and Christmas gifts. We had fun.. then in January, everything changed.. he became more distant, didn't spend as much time with me on weekends. He went so far as to tell me to look for other guys on line? I don't get it. Was he trying to spare me some pain or just manipulating me. He knew by the type of person he recruited in his online ad that I was loyal, honest and trustworthy. Why would I look for other guys when I was seriously taken with him? I'm like, no just tell me if you want to see other people.. cause I don't. He never said he did, but he just became more secretive and deceitful and oh yeah , he was constantly texting on his cell phone, which was off limits to me. One time I innocently turned it over and he jumped saying.. "don't touch my phone". Besides the craziness, the beginning 4 months were pretty nice. I'm having a hard time letting go and feel sad that he doesn't even miss me at all because he already has someone else. I'm 45 years old, so is he. He says "he doesn't know what he wants" and "he never has". I don't understand that mentality at 45. Maybe 25, but not 45. I don't know what I'm looking for, if I need some sort of understanding to move on. He was like a friend to me and now everything is gone. I couldn't remain friends anyway knowing he was deceiving me and sleeping with other women. Why did he pick me,, I am a good moral person. I feel cheap and used and not even remembered. Does all this sound like a sociopath. I doubt myself sometimes.. and strangely enough I still miss him. What is the best way to get over him and move on? Should I ignore him.,, try not to contact him? He is such a coward that he wont even speak to me on the phone.. only text. He said he doesn't want a relationship because it is like a noose around his neck and he doesn't want to have to answer to anybody. It's so confusing. I felt like we had great chemistry, similar interests and we had fun initially. He says now "were not capatible",, how he thinks that is beyond me. I think he's just using it as an excuse to bow out and freely pursue his other women. How come one woman is not enough for this type of personality? Help!

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

Well, it's hard to say if he's truly a sociopath or not. There are more criteria that would have to be looked at. At the very least he sounds like a jerk. I know it's hard to move forward sometimes, but you have to. Keep yourself busy, read an engrossing book, start walking, reach out to your family and friends, etc. I would not suggest having any more contact. In that respect you are actually lucky, because no contact is best.

sorrygirl 4 years ago

Well, he advertised on line for a relationship built on loyalty, honesty and trust. Said "never been married" "perfectly open to having children". All the right buzz words to snag a girl. When I reminded him of what he wrote, he said "I don't remember what I put on there. WHAT!

Anyway, he did lie constantly, manipulated me into thinking I was the bad guy instead of coming clean on his cheating. He even denies giving me an STD, even though I have the test results to prove it. I know he's a jerk, I'm moving on. I don't wish this guy on anyone as he is a USER. Once you are on to his game ... he dumps you, seems like he has the next one lined up before he makes the jump. I do think he's a sociopath, cause he takes no responsibility for his own actions, blames every ex he's every had for "stalking" him and being crazy and he has such a defense mechanism that he is never wrong that he can never say he's sorry or even admit doing anything wrong. THank you for all your help.. moving on.. 2 steps forward.. one back.. but i'm staying on the road out of this..

Missy moos 4 years ago

Hi Sorrygirl,

I have gone through exactly what you have gone through, but I was married to him, had 4 kids to him, and gave him all my love and believed he was my soul mate. I am nearly the same age as you, as he is. But he moved on with a 22year old initially, and I felt like you did! Everything you have said, about the online dating, the lies EVERYTHING is exactly the same!!! I have found a great website called "LOVEFRAUD" which encourages you to have absoletley "NO CONTACT" definitely no texting, phone calls, or seeing them. Not even giving them space in your head, by thinking of them!! This is what I have done, and it really works!!! I don't even care anymore how he could have just moved on, I don't take it personally, because they are incapable of love or any feelings. That is why they can move on so easily. It would not matter what you did or did not do, the end result would be the same!! Believe it or not, NO CONTACT is what they hate the most. They can't understand how YOU can move on without them!!! They can't understand why you don't need them. You said: "He knew by the type of person he recruited in his online ad that I was loyal, honest and trustworthy." That is exactly why he chose you. There is nothing wrong with being the way you are, but they target this quality in women. I have learnt a lot from Lovefraud.


In the Moment 21 4 years ago

I have a question, I think my husband may be a sociopath. My situation is very simliar. Do You think you can have, what I like to call "seasons" ? He will be fine for different amounts of time..sometimes 4-6 months sometimes shorter? What do you think. I at times feel on top of the world like OK things have changed. But something always comes up and it's the same excuse about me. I feel crazy at times. I am open to any help or suggestions.

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

Sorry Missy Moos, I didn't realize I had a comment on here to approve! You are spot on with your response to Sorrygirl. I learned a lot from as well. These situations are so difficult, especially with kids, so supporting each other is so important!

In This Moment profile image

In This Moment 4 years ago from United States Author

In the Moment 21 - Well, I can only speak from my own experience and am not qualified to give advice but I will offer support and thoughts that I hope will be helpful. It sounds like you are dealing with something a little different, maybe an abusive or mental health issue. The only reason I say this is because a sociopath is consistent and constant. There is no truth, no break. It may be that you just haven't discovered that yet. I understand completely the feeling crazy aspect and the hope that things will finally be "good" and stay good. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen unless the other party can acknowledge the issue (without blaming you!) and get help on his own and for his own self interest. It can't be because you insist or offer ultimatum, etc. If you can separate yourself to get perspective, I highly recommend it. Best of luck and feel free to come back for support whenever you need to.

bulama2 profile image

bulama2 4 years ago

Thankyou. Iam not on my own. I did try to leave but he would not let me leave with the kids. I didn't investigate because I thought it was a waste of time as it will not stop, Using the legal system I think it's a waste of time especially in an undeveloped country. I have now decided to go quiet. Prayed to GOD and am hoping that he will leave sooner or I get a break to run.

Lisa 6 months ago


I'm so glad your post is still up!

I was looking through old photos and came across a screen shot picture of your socio description that I took 2 yrs ago, which described him to tea! I am now on my 12th year dealing w the trauma and destruction that this man created in our life. And it's sick. No one understands unless they have experienced this kind of torture! They are so good at twisting facts, never admitting any wrongdoing. I am finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, but having children w this man means years of manipulation and mind games. It has taken years to gain strength but the average person doesn't understand why I still live in fear and I am still haunted by his past behavior and the uncertainty of when he will strike again if I am not careful.


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