BETHESDA, Maryland, October 25, 2014 — Zoe* is a survivor of domestic violence living, recovering and raising her family in the United Kingdom.
Before the relationship, I was a very outgoing 17-year-old, I had just ventured into an adult life of being independent and becoming somewhat responsible for my own future, having finished with college and beginning my working life. I was vibrant, and outgoing and considered an attractive young woman. I had a very solid and loving relationship with immediate family, best friends, a brother and cousins.
During the relationship, I did not realize that I had changed and that my sociopath was grooming me. The relationship absorbed me; I was hypnotised by it. Every waking minute was spent with my sociopath and put a strain on my relationships with loved ones, mum, brothers, one of my friends and a cousin.
I experienced loneliness for the first time, isolation and deep sadness expertly blended without realization of manipulated adoration. My sociopath had a knack for mixing together fact, fiction and truth, some of which I have been able to piece together by the grace of courage and strength.
I am encouraged to believe my sociopath experienced trauma with a very turmoiled childhood, which I assume may play a part in the personality flaws he has. These include early poverty and detachment from parents through immature parenting.
When we met, he was living in a empty apartment having left home early. We moved in together into my apartment, which was fully functioning and much more palatable to my sociopath’s standard of living.
After just three months of dating, I was given an ultimatum to end the relationship by him; at four months, I was pregnant. I was only 18.
The relationship developed after a chance meeting on a bus and firmly encouraged by a family member I had been out with that day. Coincidentally, he resembled another guy I had been attracted to. My cousin accelerated an exchange of contact numbers, but he did not contact me until three months later. I ignored the messages at first, but they kept coming. Having just ended a relationship, I took the bait.
I remember the first phone call well. I was on my way home from work when we spoke. His voice and accent were very charming. I was taken with something different; this was nothing like any other. It was Christmas Eve. From claiming that I sounded unlike the typical girl he usually encountered, to my beauty, figure, eyes and my name; he paid me many compliments. He even added, “Now I have another gift to buy.” I was hooked after that first call. Two days later, the relationship became physical. We became inseparable.
Gifts, cards, perfume and cozy nights in for the most part at my place became frequent; my relationships with everyone else withered. I stopped going out. My life became work and home. When he had enough of me for the moment, usually around pay day, I would be manipulated or passed off to my mother for the duration of his absence.
He often spoke about family and his disdain for his mother and siblings. As our relationship developed, he made many excuses to keep me out of that part of his life. I was all he needed, he would say.
When pushed about his family, the emotional abusing began. He would share hurtful comments made by his mother about my physical appearance and claimed she said that I was not good enough but that his choice was me over them. The isolation from certain areas of his life, family and friends continued for three to four years.
He depicted me as a depressive, narcissistic and controlling person, who was malicious and jealous and blamed me for the withholding of our first child from his side of family.
On and off for seven years, I felt as if I was losing myself and my mind. I considered suicide; I was unable to give up my sociopath and felt killing myself was the only way out. I lost jobs, I lost friends and it permanently changed and damaged close relationships.
I now suffer with paranoia and distrust from being rejected by family members when trying to speak out and get help from those close to me. I was dismissed by family and told I was obsessive and out of control and needed to just stop being a bully to my ex.
I even exhausted those who did believe me with my constant need for reassurance. I knew I was not going mad or creating thoughts in my mind. I knew these things were actually happening, including an affair with a female in my immediate family.
I was told that I had changed into a misery from my past bubbly, vibrant and outgoing self. I felt lost and had lost the respect and love of those around me at the hands of my sociopath.
I had difficulty bonding with my baby. I had become consumed with so much hate and self-doubt. I could not make sense of what was happening and did not know what to do about it. I felt powerless to protect myself and be a good mother.
I isolated myself. My only relationships were with work when I had a job. I pretended a lot to get through my days at work and then would crumble into a wreck once I was behind my own door. My friends were few, two at the most. I had a school friend and a work colleague – the latter has severed all contact and there remains very intermittent contact with the school friend. I have no family involvement with the exception of my mother.
I tried counselling for two sessions but was advised that I needed my ex, the sociopath monster I was running from, to engage for the therapist to be able to rehabilitate me. Hence, a fail there.
After my second child was born, food became my addiction and my weight increased significantly. I think this was part rebellion, as I knew my sociopath was very superficial and that I was a representation of him in public. I had always kept myself as he liked prior to the second child whom he rejected.
I had cosmetic surgery to try and fix some of the ugliness I felt as a result of the rejection, hurt and pain I experienced. I had unmeaningful physical relationships, where I lost confidence in myself and the trust in others.
My biggest challenges have been trying to rebuild relationships within my family, understanding why I made certain choices and dealing with the rejection and aftermath. I am learning to trust females, new and old that are in my life. I am very reluctant to become friends with females.
Managing my anger is challenging too. Anger has become my normal disposition. Socializing is difficult, as I feel I am unable to communicate effectively/normally with other people. My self esteem and confidence is virtually non-existent. I feel like I am emotionally inept where men are concerned. I have not been able to engage in another meaningful relationship, as I find trusting and becoming emotionally involved challenging.
I have moved 5 times in 14 years. I have changed telephone numbers and emails. I have withheld addresses, controlled contact with our children, and have suggested therapy together in hopes of understanding the events that occurred between us. I often reach out to friends to relieve my insanity.
My best advice to anyone struggling with recovering from something similar is to read – read literature on sociopaths and healing, join forums and seek therapy if one can afford it. Understand why closure is not something a sociopath is able to give. I struggle daily with why my sociopath chose me. To this day, I struggle.
Each day during the month of October, column author Paula Carrasquillo will feature a story written by a survivor of domestic violence. At the end of October, a compilation of all stories will be available for free as an e-book.
*All names have been changed to protect the survivor and the survivor’s family and friends.