Families and spouses of psychopaths are often left picking up the pieces of their financial shortcomings. Psychopathic individuals have been known to let homes foreclose, simply because they felt it was time to move on or, even worse, specifically so that their victims had no place to live. Children are often left without the support they need to grow and thrive. Although not an absolute, often, psychopathic individuals do not work consistently and are let go from many jobs. This may also add to victims’ financial devastation.
“Psychopaths don’t just hurt those around them. They build them up first, so that the fall will be more painful and, preferably, shatter them. The higher a psychopath takes you during the idealization phase of the relationship (when he showers you with flattery, gifts and declarations of eternal love), the lower you can expect to fall in his eyes during the devaluation phase, when he isolates you from loved ones, undermines your confidence and criticizes you both to your face and to others.
I’ll offer an analogy to illustrate the underlying cruelty of psychopathic behavior. Imagine the following scenario: a boy who gets a puppy for Christmas. He pets him, feeds him, cuddles him, plays with him and even sleeps next to him at night. Then, six months later, after the puppy has bonded most with him and expects only nurture and affection from him, the boy takes a knife and slaughters him just for fun. That’s exactly what a psychopath does, at the very least on a psychological level, to every person who becomes intimately involved with him. He carefully nurtures expectations of mutual honesty and love. Then he sticks a knife into her back through a pattern of intentional deception and abuse.
Let me now offer a second, even more poignant, example. I remember many years ago being horrified when I read in the news about the rapes of Bosnian women by ethnically Serbian men. What troubled me most was a true story about a Serbian soldier who “saved” a Bosnian girl from gang rape by fellow Serbs. He removed her from the dangerous situation, fed her, protected her and talked to her reassuringly and tenderly for several days. Once he secured her trust, gratitude and devotion, he raped and killed her himself. Afterwards, he boasted about his exploits on the international news.
This degree of psychological sadism exceeds that of the brutes who raped and killed women without initially faking niceness and caring. What he did to her was more insidious, duplicitous and perverse. All psychopaths behave this way towards their partners, at the very least on an emotional level. They gain your love and trust only to take sadistic pleasure in harming you. Each time you forgive their behavior and take them back, they enjoy the thrill of having regained your confidence so that they can hurt you again. Psychopaths engage in psychological torture for the same reason that totalitarian regimes do: to crush you body and spirit; to have you entirely at their mercy and under their control.”
Why Do Smart Women Date Abusive Men?
Certain family members continuously asked me why someone like myself, a person with a seemingly high IQ, would allow themselves to be treated this way? How could a smart person end up in this situation? Every time I was asked this question, I cringed. The inference that I was stupid or ignorant because of my poor relationship choices did not help make my already out-of-control situation any better.
Anyone who is familiar with the dynamics of an abusive relationship knows that falling prey to one has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence or even their socio-economic status; rather their vulnerability.
Vulnerability leaves a person wide open to falling prey to an abuser. When I fell prey to my abuser, I was at a very mentally and emotionally weakened state because of all things I’d been through. In addition, I had just been dumped by a guy after confiding in him that I’d been raped. I had never felt lower. This vulnerability allowed for easy manipulation and I was inevitably sucked into a relationship by a man who made himself out to be my Knight in Shining Armor. In retrospect, there were many things I could’ve done differently to prevent this situation.
Four Tips and Warning Signs to Help You Avoid an Abusive Relationship
1. When You Are Vulnerable, Dating Is a Bad Idea Period. In war, soldiers must fortify their base before carrying out any other tasks. You too must “fortify your base” if you are feeling vulnerable. Until you have secured your base and found healthy emotional ground, it is not a good idea to date.
2. Always Follow Your Gut With the aforementioned man, I had a hunch that his kind gestures in the beginning were just an act and that he might really be a psychopath. At the time, I thought this was such a ridiculous assumption that I blew it off. He had done nothing up to that point in time to prove my hunch correct; little did I know that one day I would be shocked by the accuracy of my gut instinct.
3. Don’t Be Vulnerable I cannot stress enough that you should not bother to date if you are vulnerable. A lot of people will ignore this suggestion because when you are vulnerable you often become needy and want to find another person to fill this void. Very bad idea.
4. Depend on Yourself The only person you can truly depend on is yourself. You must cultivate this self-assurance and independence to avoid falling prey to abusive relationships in the future. No one else can save you. If you end up in one of these rescue types of relationships, where a white knight proclaims to take all your tears away, brace yourself. Often when we allow these types of people in our lives, we give away our power without ever realizing it.
Falling prey to an abuser has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence. Do not let anyone make you feel stupid for ending up in an abusive situation. Vulnerability and self-esteem issues that often stem from childhood are common reasons people fall into these relationships. Even after leaving an abusive relationship, until you are able to understand more about your own weaknesses and fortify your base, you might still fall prey to abusers. Counseling is one indispensable tool that can help you build your self-worth and cultivate ways to avoid falling prey to abusive relationships and unhealthy friendships in your future.
If you or someone you know is trapped in an abusive relationship and needs help, you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline. It is open 24-hours a day.