Help for victims of psychopaths comes in many forms but not all these forms are equal. People who have suffered psychopathic abuse or narcissistic abuse may go to therapists of various sorts, some women end up in women's shelters for a period of time, others join online groups for support and there are some groups who hold weekly or monthly meetings where the victims can share their experiences. Others turn to friends and family for help and support or to the legal system, either through the police or through the courts, and some are just too ashamed or embarrassed to even ask for help.
To be able to help victims of psychopaths or narcissists requires having knowledge of psychopathy and narcissism as well as understanding manipulation and mind control and how the manipulators abuse and affect the victims at a fundamental level. The level of this knowledge determines the level of help that a person or group can offer the victims.
Let's look first at some of the difficulties there are when a person goes looking for help for victims of psychopaths and then we will consider things that you must keep in mind at all times if you have suffered psychopathic abuse or narcissistic abuse.
Many women end up in women's shelters as a way to get away from a psychopath but the staff's understanding of psychopathy is very limited and the staff act as if the abused wife will probably end up going back to the abusive husband and the women may be treated as if they are to blame for this. This often turns out to be devastating for the victim because they went looking for help and it feels to them like they are getting no help at all. If they do end up back with the abusive spouse, the abuse often intensifies. This may seem like an extreme situation but it is all too common. Of course, there are some people in the system who do understand psychopaths and these individuals are able to offer genuine help for victims of psychopaths.
Likewise when a victim calls the police or goes to court but the police or the lawyers and judges don't recognize the psychopath/sociopath, the result can be devastating for the victims. Keep in mind, too, that the psychopaths are often on their best behavior in front of the legal people and along with their lies, lack of fear and lack of conscience, the psychopaths can portray themselves as the victim and the real victim ends up worse off. Again, this may be soul destroying for the victim.
In the same way, family members and friends often do not understand the nature of psychopaths and narcissists and may even have been 'recruited' by the manipulator so that when the victim goes looking for help their friends and family end up siding with the manipulator. This is a horrible situation to be in and is very isolating for the victims.
Even if the family or friends are not on the side of the manipulator, their lack of understanding often causes problems for the victims. With all the best intentions in the world, saying to someone who has suffered psychopathic abuse that they should just ignore the ex, forget about what happened and carry on living their life not only does not help it actually makes it worse because the victim cannot easily do this because of the manner in which they have been abused.
There are 3 situations with therapists that people find themselves in when they go looking for help for victims of psychopaths. The first is where the individual is unaware of the fact that they were in a relationship with a psychopath. They have left the relationship and believe it is all behind them and later when they have problems they don't link it to the relationship and go for help because of the particular problem. The therapist treats the presenting problem without any reference to the mind control that the person has been subjected to and in this situation the problem often proves difficult to resolve.
The second situation is where the person knows it's an abusive relationship and may even have recognized a psychopath or narcissist but the therapist does not understand psychopathy, narcissism or mind control. What often happens here is that the therapist misdiagnoses the problem, assigns responsibility for the situation to the victim and then works with the victim to somehow change themselves or adapt to the situation. This will typically frustrate the patient because the patient knows deep down that there is something wrong with their partner but cannot put their finger on it and whatever the therapist suggests is usually unsuccessful in resolving the situation. In fact, it will typically make the patient feel worse because blaming the victim is what the psychopath does already. Many of the usual therapeutic approaches simply don't work when there is a psychopath involved because when dealing with personality disorders of this type, the rules are different.
The third situation is where the individual sees a therapist who is an expert in the field of psychological abuse. This expert understands psychopathy, narcissism and mind control and is the ideal option for the victim, allowing them to separate from the psychopath or narcissist, undo the damage and the pseudopersonality imposed by the manipulator and help the person to re-establish their own personality once again. This is the kind of help for victims of psychopaths that allow them to fully recover.
There are many types of groups around, online and off-line, that offer help for victims of psychopaths. Some of these are run by a leader who directs proceedings and some are open forum type where people can drop in to chat, share their experiences and hopefully learn from other victims.
One of the problems of these groups again is a lack of awareness of some aspects of psychopathy and mind control. Victims of psychopaths and narcissists often have beliefs and ideas that were imposed by the manipulator for the manipulator's benefit. It's all too easy for one victim to actually reinforce another victim's destructive beliefs simply because they have had the same experiences.
For example, a victim often believes that he or she has 'allowed the abuse' or somehow 'made bad decisions' about the relationship along the way. They don't realize the extent to which the psychopath influences the decision making of their victims which means that they didn't actually allow the abuse because they were actually forced to continue in the relationship. It also means that any decisions they made about the relationship (apart from maybe leaving it!) were influenced to a greater or lesser degree by the psychopath or narcissist. When one victim says that they 'allowed the abuse' or 'didn't stop it', other victims often think the same way and these mistaken (and damaging) beliefs are reinforced. The fact is that until a victim realizes just how profound the effect of the psychopath on their decision making actually was, they cannot hope to fully recover.
But that's just one issue. Of more immediate concern in these groups is the presence of psychopaths and narcissists! The support groups offer easy pickings for these predators.
When you think about it, the groups are full of people who have already been manipulated, they are programmed to expose their thoughts and feelings by the previous manipulator, they are looking for help and advice and they never suspect that the person sitting next to them might be a psychopath. When it's their turn to speak or 'share', or however it's framed, they often reveal a huge amount about themselves. If there is a manipulator in the room, they are literally giving those sociopaths and narcissists all the information needed to simply step in and take over the manipulation.
And then, of course, there are the groups where the person directing the group is a psychopath themselves. There are people who have been going to groups like these for 10 and 15 years, where the leader collects their money, says very little and just encourages everyone to just talk about their experiences, over and over, for years on end... This means that they just relive the bad experiences over and over again without getting input that would help them recover in any meaningful way.
So watch out for groups that are offering help for victims of psychopaths because some of the group members end up as victims of psychopaths all over again.
Here is a list of significant and important ideas in no particular order. If you have been a victim of a psychopath or a narcissist and you think that these things might not apply in your case, they do actually apply!
Psychopaths and narcissists don't change. Stop hoping that they might, it's a waste of your time and your life. It doesn't matter how much they promise to change, it's all lies. If you thought you were superior to others, that you were always right and that anything that goes wrong is always the fault of others, you wouldn't see any reason to change yourself either!
A normal feeling person in a relationship with a psychopath or a narcissist loses. It doesn't matter what you think the benefit may be, the price you pay for that is too high.
You are better off out of the relationship and away from the psychopath and the sooner the better. Not one of my clients has ever told me, "You should have left me there 6 months longer!"
Getting out is not easy because of the dependency that the manipulator creates in you. It does not mean that you are codependent. Don't believe anyone who says that you are. (They shouldn't be making diagnoses about you while you have a pseudopersonality anyway, because they are looking at the symptoms of the pseudopersonality and not your real personality.) Once the effects of the mind control are removed any dependency disappears along with them. The dependency occurs as a direct result of the actions of the manipulator, it does not mean that you have a dependent or addictive personality or anything like that.
Getting out of the relationship is not enough. You really need to undo the effects of the mind control if you are serious about reversing the distortions in your thinking and decision making and taking full control of your own life again.
Psychopaths and narcissists change people at a fundamental level, they impose a false personality on them. This pseudopersonality is created with very strong influence techniques and because of that if doesn't just disappear when someone leaves the relationship or the cult. It persists and causes all sorts of problems. You have to work at getting rid of it and the bad effects of the manipulation. I know it's not fair, that the nasty piece of work you were with carries on as if nothing happened and you have to struggle to sort yourself out, but life is not fair anyway.
There are evil people in the world.
Bad things happen to good people.
There are people in the world who don't have normal emotions. The psychopath or narcissist that caught you is one of them. It can be incredibly hard to accept that, but accept it you must.
The psychopaths and narcissists know what they are doing. It's not random that if anything goes wrong it's always your fault, they are never responsible for anything bad, they forget only things that they have said or done but have a perfect memory for things that you did or said that they didn't like, they know exactly how to kick you when you are down and they remember to play nice in public and act like a tyrant behind closed doors.
Psychopaths and narcissists care about their power and sometimes their image. They don't care about you, about the relationship, about being caught out in lies or about future consequences. They are aware of them but they really don't care about these things.
You cannot trust a word out of the psychopaths mouths unless you have third party evidence that what they are saying is true. This is one of the difficulties of dealing with a sociopath, they mix lies and truth so that it is often very difficult to discern which is which. So if you have realized that you are in a relationship with a sociopath, a good general rule is to not accept anything they say at face value unless you have outside proof of it.
Having realized your situation you will also quickly realize that most people have no clue about psychopaths and mind control. They just don't get what it's like for you. And it's not possible to educate each and every person around you about them either. So don’t waste your time trying. It's much better to pick a few important people (preferably a few who are willing to learn!) and give them information about psychopaths and what was done to you. At least this way you have a much better chance of getting some people around you to a level of understanding where they can help and support you. For example, relevant people might include your spouse, a family member, your children, your lawyer or one or two close friends.
I know that many of the ideas I have written about here may go against what you think or feel or believe. However, as you start to recover from the psychopathic relationship these things will start to make more and more sense.
This area is very specialized and unless a helper or therapist understands mind control, there is a very real possibility that they won't actually help and in many cases, they make things worse. For example, starting out with how the victim came to be in the situation and what their vulnerabilities are puts the responsibility on the shoulders of the victim and places the onus on them to change in some way.
The fact is that people are tricked into having a relationship with the psychopaths and narcissists and there are things done to them behind their back that they literally have no knowledge of. Therefore the responsibility for what happened lies with the manipulators and not with the victims. The sequence of events should be to educate the person about mind control in order to undo the damage and only then should any vulnerabilities be considered. Not all vulnerabilities are weaknesses that need to be changed or dealt with!
For example, changing a job or moving to another town can be a vulnerability that is exploited by a psychopath, but that doesn't mean that people should never change jobs or move home. Instead it's important to recognize these times as potential vulnerabilities and to learn the patterns that the manipulators use to manipulate so that if someone does try to take advantage of you during these times you recognize what is going on and take steps to protect yourself.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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