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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

I Married 4 Sociopaths

I Married 4 Sociopaths

February 1. 2001 

Dr. Irene,

I found your site while in the midst of learning the truth about my spouse, and it encouraged and helped me so much that I was able to leave.  I would like to share my story in the hopes that other women can learn from it.  I have shared it personally with a few women in similar circumstances, and it helped them to get the help and support they needed to get rid of these men.  My story is long, but it is a catharsis for me to actually admit in writing what I have known all along deep in my heart.

I have been married 4 times, and I only just turned 40!  I am happily single, and learning that I am a really good person with a kind and sincere heart.  I am not stupid, and do a great job for my employer.  I only screw up when it comes to a relationship with someone of the opposite sex!  I have wonderful children who have turned out well thus far despite my messed up relationships. They apparently modeled after their mother and developed empathy vs. contempt in response to their hardship. 

I married at 20, and had my first child the same year.  My husband was 18, and immature.  We divorced after a few years, but have remained close friends since that time.  Our only problem was maturity.  He has been diagnosed now with bipolar disorder, and his medication only recently was properly ordered, so it was a rough couple of years for him.  After our divorce, I married a friend of his.  My first ex thought this guy would love me the way he loved my son, and so encouraged the relationship.  No. 2 would be sociopath no. 1 for me.  (Actually, I had one boyfriend in high school that was a sociopath who nearly killed me, but I really thought I was better at picking them by this time!).  No. 2 was a womanizer.  He liked them young and not so bright.   He wanted to get married so we could have a child, and told me the womanizing was in his past, that he would treat his wife as special.  He charmed me with gifts, flowers, trips.  I believed him, sort of.  I did believe my son needed a whole family, not a broken one, so I married No. 2.  

Almost immediately, the changes started.  He was very attentive (or so I thought) while I was pregnant, and he did not mistreat my son.  He even adopted my son, and No. 1 agreed because we all thought it best for my son that he have a complete family (we were all young).  I learned, however, of the infidelities after my daughter was born.  I began to confront him, and that started the emotional/verbal abuse followed shortly thereafter by the physical abuse.   The other women were taken in by his charm, and people kept telling me how lucky I was to have married such a wonderful man.  Only it was a front.  He threatened to leave me every time I spoke up, so soon I quit speaking up as I did not want another failed marriage.  I did not tell people what he was doing or how I was feeling because I was so ashamed.  I thought if I became nicer, so would he.  He escalated to having affairs with his boss and another married woman.  We were already in counseling and the psychologist had us take personality tests (MMPI and others) and other tests to determine what our goals were, etc.  I could not list a single goal, except that I wanted to help him in his career.  

He had a five page, single spaced outline of what he wanted, and not one page included me or the children!  I got a call after the results of one of the tests.  The psychologist was calling to warn me that No. 2 was showing homicidal ideations directed at me!  Oh boy... He said that No. 2 felt that I was everything he wasn't, and he hated it.  He thought I was too moral and too quick to do the right thing.  At the time, it didn't strike me as bizarre; I was concerned that this husband was going to leave, too.  Then, I got pregnant again, and this time he pushed hard for an abortion.  I stood up to him for the first time and said, "NO!"  We argued for three weeks, but I miscarried at 14 weeks, and learned for the first time that he was glad the baby was gone.  I learned about the married woman and learned she was stalking me at work!  Ulp!

I went to my boss, a remarkably strong woman, who helped me move to another state.  My friends came through for me, and helped me that first difficult year. Good stuff!  He was well connected, and used his influence to make me come to court in his state every Monday for several months.  I finally got mad (I had trouble expressing my feelings then, you know Yeah...), and hired a top-notch divorce lawyer, who went after him. Excellent! Finally, I got a little child support and he left me alone, temporarily.  

Only the wacko married the woman he had moved in with and started interfering with my life and my children.  I finally asked her why she was bothering me.  Didn't she have the man she wanted, or what?  I learned from my children that he wore my wedding rings around his neck and had a picture of me next to his bed.  I went to court and got an order forbidding her to contact me and making him responsible for dealing with me when it came to the children. Good!

Well, I was now single.  Poor, but happy.  I became a new career and worked hard at rebuilding my life.  A new man appeared, and I told him I was not interested in a relationship.  He said that was great, but three weeks later, he decided he wanted an exclusive relationship.  Not wanting to hurt his feelings because he seemed laid back and sweet, I said okay.  He was moving to another state in about six months, so I thought it would end then, and I could go back to my happy single state.  About three months into the relationship, his house was broken into, and he announced he was moving in with me.  I was stunned, but didn't know how to say no.  (I know it is hard to believe I'm not stupid, but I'm really not! Giggle! You are just a sweetie, too much perhaps...)  He left for the other state, and I resumed my happy life.  The kids and I were really involved with the community, the school, and our church.  My job was great, I was appreciated there.  My church was great, I was active on various committees.  My kids were doing wonderfully in school, winning awards and choosing good kids as friends.

Well, this guy calls one day (we'd talked periodically) about 10 tens later and announces he is coming back to my state.  He is happy I am involved with the church, and he wants to join my church and wants us to get married.  He says he realized that he wants me for a wife and says he is willing to accept the whole package and raise my children with me.  I don't know how to tell him no without hurting his feelings because he seems to be a nice guy and I don't believe you ever deliberately hurt anyone, so I say okay. Ooops! He tells me he is not good at planning, and has me plan the wedding and honeymoon.  I learn on the honeymoon how tight fisted he is with money when it comes to me and the kids, and how free he is with it when it comes to himself, the same thing as No. 2.  No. 3 also has a serious drinking problem.  He is and an alcoholic driven to verbal rages, spewing the worst things at me once he had a few drinks in him.  He breaks furniture, and threatens to leave me when I am pregnant with his child because I can't have sex with him because I am so ill that I have to be hospitalized several times.  He announces that we are buying a house, but I have to provide the down payment.  He says we can't live in a rental house any longer, that it is beneath him.  He pressures me so much, I give in.  He then announces he will only be working part-time as he is going to go back to college for a second degree.  I begin working a lot of overtime, and managing a house with three children.  

Again, I don't tell anyone what is happening codependent shame, I think..., but my new boss, another remarkable woman, suspects anyway.  She begins talking to me about my childhood, and learns that I, like her, have a lot of blank spots in it.  I really have just a few memories of things before I was ten.  I don't remember teachers or schools, but lately a few things have surfaced, and they have caused such pain that I can see why I couldn't remember before.  

My mother is an alcoholic.  Verbally abusive.  Emotionally damaging to me in so many ways.  She absolutely did not love me, and I believe the knowledge of that and the inability to accept it drove me into relationships where I was treated the same way.  But, I digress. No, not really. This makes more sense now.

Anyway, my boss gets another job offer in another city, and I agree to move, too.  No. 3 is already thinking of leaving because he is nearing graduation (it has been six years since I had been paying for his schooling).   He is gone every night until 11:00 or so, and gone much of the weekends.  He has nothing to do with me or the kids, and the strain is unbearable.  We try counseling, but he refuses to listen to the counselor.  She gives me some ideas, and I use them, but they don't work.  He tells me he wants to have sex with me, but it is a physical release for him, and I have to learn that this is how men are.  Yuk. So now I feel worthless, and feel that I am a prostitute. Ouchhh...

Meanwhile, my friends are worried about him.  They've never liked him.  My boss is concerned, and tries to help me, but I am blind.  I am sure that he will change because this marriage is important to him.  Then, our daughter is diagnosed with a rare disorder, and it is devastating.   I read up on the disease, and he buries his head in the sand.  He screams at me that he is tired of my wanting to do the right thing and having to be organized about everything.  He can't stand that I do everything depending on whether it feels right, and he can't stand that I know how to take care of everything.  

He announces he is leaving, that it is too hard, and that he never loved me.  He doesn't say goodbye to the kids, and they all fall apart. He doesn't pay child support the first year (like No. 2).  No. 2, by the way, had stopped  seeing his kids that year, and although we called him several times, he refused to call the kids.  The kids had a very rough year.  They lost their dad and step dad in the space of weeks!  

No. 3 moves into a lovely cottage and immediately begins bragging about how much fun it is to be free and how much he likes having the cottage.  In the meantime, I have fallen apart, seen a new counselor who is very worried about me.  I admit to her that I am feeling suicidal, that I can't go on because I feel that I am going to die.  She sends me to a doctor, who takes one look at me and puts me on Remoran, a wonderful anti-depressant. Yes!  It lifts the black cloud I've been living under, and my friends and boss become my support system.  I feel better in a few weeks, and resume my church activities (new church, since we had moved a year before).  As I am healing, I try to be No. 3's friend (he didn't have any others, much like No. 2).  I am rebuffed constantly, but feel it is in the best interest of our child if we manage to get along for her sake.  

One day, a man shows up in my Sunday school and choir.  He sings like an angel, and one night asks me to dinner after practice.  My teenage daughter thinks he is great looking, sweet and charming, and begs me to say "yes."   Dinner is okay, but I notice he doesn't share much information.  I ask about it, and he tells me he is shy, that he hasn't had a date in over two years, and he has admired me for many weeks now and is floored that I said yes at all.  The next day, I call him and tell him I'm not interested in dating.  He says okay, then says he wants to be my friend.  We hang up, and I go to church.  He is there, but I just wave.  After church, I am at home with the kids, fixing lunch, when he arrives with a truckload of firewood.  He says he noticed when he picked me up the night before that I didn't have any.  I am charmed, but cautious.  He brings me Hershey's Hugs and some coffee, saying
everyone needs a hug and a little warmth in their lives.  I am more charmed.   He tells me that he has needed a friend like me, and he is so happy that I allow him into my life.

BTW, he is the little brother of my best friend, and she doesn't tell me
anything about him, except to say he is a changed person.  He substitute teaches in my Sunday School class, and he even preaches one Sunday night.  I relax my guard, and my pastor encourages the relationship.  One day, after he had me finance a car for him because he was fighting some bogus judgment against him, he asks for a loan to pay off the attorney helping him with this judgment.  I give it to him.  He begins asking for more money, and I give it to him (as I would give it to anyone).  He promises to pay it back.  Then, he tells me he was laid off.  He says that he knows I would never marry him now.  I respond with, "That's not true."  He says, "You wouldn't go out with me unless I had a job, but you would marry me while I'm unemployed?"  I tell him it is different, I know him now.  I am not implying I want to get married, I am thinking it is a hypothetical.  He tells me he is losing his house because he can't pay the rent.  Well, he can't move in with me, so he proposes and says we can get married quickly by a jp and have the church wedding at Christmas.  I agree, and once again learn about his real personality once married.  Oh boy...again.

He is paranoid and secretive.  He begins stealing money from my bank account and getting loans in my name.  He is gone every evening and weekend.  He promises things, but reneges.  When confronted, he explodes both verbally and physically.   I become ill from the stress, losing a lot of weight, and my friends are concerned.  He is charming and loving in public, and a monster in private.  He can't have sex with me because he is "turned off" by being touched.  He drinks all night without showing the effects.  One weekend, I discover long distance calls to Haiti.  I talk to one of my friends, a U.S. attorney, who tells me those are drug calls.  I find out at the same time that my savings account is drained, the payments on his two cars (in my name) haven't been made for months, the car insurance (State Farm, no less!!) is overdue three months and has been cancelled, and he has been hiding his paychecks from me.  This happens in the space of a few days, while I am packing some stuff to move to the storage room outside.  While packing, I come across two notebooks of his.  As I read through them, I am terrified.   He is a criminal, a drug abuser of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, and has been a courier.  He has a page with his description of his "perfect" woman.   I fit her characteristics to a tee.  I find references to a prior girlfriend and notes about his holding a gun to his head.  I begin praying and crying at the same time.  Believe it or not, God answers my prayer and tells me to get him out of the house (it's a weekend, so he isn't there yet anyway) because he has a gun.  

I go to the sheriff's office and tell them he is bringing home a gun with the intention of killing me if I don't quit confronting him about his activities and whereabouts.  It's in the notebook, along with his stalking of the ex-girlfriend.  The sheriff's office doesn't believe me, but they do find outstanding warrants on him, and say they will arrest him when he gets home.   I do more digging, find the number to the ex-girlfriend's uncle.  He directs me to the mother, but tells me to get out, that the notebook is dangerous and my life is going to be in danger when No. 4 finds out.  I finally reach the ex-girlfriend (M) who is so glad to hear from me.  She repeats the warning to get out, and she fills me in on No. 4's horrid past (and present).  She gives me the number to the ex-wife.  He had told me he couldn't pay child support because she had left the state, only she lived down the road from me.  Both of these women agree to meet with me in a public place.  They are still afraid of him, and they tell me about other women, too.  I find two of the other women, and they can't talk to me because they are terrified.  M and the ex-wife (T) meet with me, one bringing her mother, and the other in touch with her mother by phone.  Our stories are identical.  I am chilled, and shaken.  I go to my Sunday School teacher, and when he opens the door, he says, "Oh, thank God, you have finally come to see me."  He said he had been praying for me and had a really bad feeling come over him and had tried to contact me all weekend.  Only I've been in hiding, so he couldn't find me.   He tells me how to get a restraining order, and he tells me he had only learned about No. 4's true personality/identity in the past week, and was frantic for my safety.  I place the kids in safe places, explain a little of what's going on, and go into true hiding for the next week.  He is arrested, and they do find him with a brand new gun and ammunition.  While he is kept overnight in jail, I change the locks on my house, get the restraining order, and have his car repossessed.  He is furious when he gets out, and comes looking for me.  He breaks the TRO immediately, and I call the sheriff.  He is picked up, and does 5 days for this.  T and M go to court with me to explain why the TRO needs to be made permanent.  They, along with two others, had TRO's against him that didn't work because he was well connected.  By now, I have become better connected, too, having worked in the legal field for years.  I am also angry that he deceived me and wiped me out financially, and I am determined that he will not scare me any more, or scare the other women.  T and M and I have become close (after all, we share the same personalities!).  They are much younger than me, and my friends say that is what made me able to finally stand up and do something.  I gave the notebooks to the DEA and FBI, and the DA is bringing him up on fraud for signing my name to checks.  He is being investigated for the drug stuff and the threats, too.

I stayed with friends for about a week, then moved to a suburb and an apartment.  A gated apartment.  One of my friends, concerned for my safety, had begun sleeping on my couch most nights in order to protect me as No. 4 was still harassing me.  When we looked at the criminal history of No. 4, we were worried he would assault me or even kill me.  Why else would he bring a .357 Magnum into my house after telling me this was the last weekend we were going to fight, that it was no longer going to happen?  

Well, I got a job offer, a really great one, in another state.  My friend, who had been my bodyguard, had become my fishing buddy by this time.  We started spending time together with my little girl.  (My other two were now grown and moved away, so it was just my daughter with the medical problems still at home.)  We realized that we had become close, and hadn't even dated yet, so we started dating.  I decided to accept the job offer, and asked him to come with me.  He said yes, found a job immediately, a promotion from what he was doing, and we moved.  It has been heaven!  He said he thought my self-esteem had been damaged since early childhood, that I was a bright and vibrant woman who didn't know how to say no or stand up for myself, and that he was going to make it safe for me to express myself.  

He said I had involved myself with "morons and psychopaths" and it was time to learn how to have a normal adult relationship with a grownup man.  He does treat me very well, and his money goes to us.  He treats my children with respect, and obviously loves them.  He loves me, too.  I have never been treated as an equal, and my opinions never counted until now.  Where I had been hesitant to say anything, and where I wouldn't criticize for fear of a blowup, he has encouraged me to say what I want, and even have bad moods if I want!  He encouraged me to use my experience to help other women in similar predicaments, and I have helped three thus far, not including T and M!  I  didn't know I had it in me, but he says there is even more in me that I haven't tapped into.  He encouraged me to write a book, so I have my outline ready and he is going to help me find a publisher!  The working title is, "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing -- How to spot a Predator."  I think you are well qualified to author this volume...

So, my story ends like this.  I am feeling more and more like me every day.   I feel safe and able to express my feelings, my wants, my needs, and I like knowing they will be met.  I have learned that I am special, that I can be a partner in a relationship.  I have learned there are men out there who are not out to steal from you, demean you, or hurt you in any way.  I have learned there is such a thing as a trustworthy man, only he may be where you least expect him.  I have learned that love doesn't involve mind-searing pain and that you don't have to contemplate suicide in order to get out of a bad situation.  I have learned I have much to offer other women feeling just as worthless, just as demeaned, just as stupid.  I have learned what attracted those men to me, and I have learned why I was attracted to them. Excellent.

My children are doing well, too.  They have learned from my experiences that you can't judge a person by first impressions or appearances.  They have learned you have a right to your own opinions, and you have the right to be treated as a person.  My two grown (well, one is almost fully grown, but acts as if she were grown already!) children told me they admire me for what I've done, that I am a strong and caring person and they are glad I raised them to be the same way.  Isn't that a wonderful gift to receive from your children? Yes, it certainly is. Your kids did not grow up in an environment that was care-free, as childhood ideally is. Now you can gift them with emotional security. Finally. My youngest, my darling heart, said she feels like the three of us are a real family and she just loves to be with us.  She said she feels better that there are no much screaming fights and she doesn't have to worry if I am okay now. Do you see how codependent traits can develop in children who have to worry about a parent?   Help them learn what you could not teach them before, and are still learning: that love does not demand they love other more than they respect the Self...

So, Dr. Irene, thank you for your web site.  I found it the weekend I found out about No.4's activities No such thing as coincidence, is there..., and your definitions fit my situation perfectly.  For the first time, I understood what Nos. 2, 3, and 4 were to me.   Antisocial personalities.  I saw myself clearly that day, and knew I couldn't stay that way because it was going to kill me.  Thank you for helping to save my life! Thank you for using my information the way it was intended...


Dear, dear Kadie, I don't know what to say... I'm glad you finally found your way. You are a very lucky woman despite the unfortunate choices you made. But there is always a silver lining to every cloud: As a result of the nightmare you have been through, you have much to teach others.  Best of luck on your book; I look forward to reading it one day.    

Thank you for writing - and forgive me for not notifying you of this post. I can't find your email address!  My very best wishes, Dr. Irene

I want to read the posts.