The Differences Between A Sociopath And A Narcissist

For a long time I’ve considered my abuser to be a narcissist but not a sociopath. This insightful article has me asking myself whether he could, in fact, be a sociopath with high level narcissistic traits, largely because he is completely dishonest about who he really is. His motivation is definitely narcissistic supply but not necessarily the adulation a true narcissist seeks. As this blog post points out…all sociopaths are narcissists but not all narcissists are sociopaths. It’s a subtle but important (and fascinating) distinction.

Learus Ohnine - "Walls Were Made To Be Broken"

When we try to analyze the people we cross paths with in society, it is possible to misinterpret our analysis for lack of a better understanding. For those who have crossed paths with a sociopath and a narcissist on separate occasions, it may seem like there is little to no difference between the two when in fact one can be mistaken for the other. Both are considered to be social terrorists, however, there are distinguishing characteristics that would imply neither of them are one in the same. Therefore, I would like to explain briefly the differences in character between these two personality disorders…

Narcissist will let you know up front what they are about. They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake). They generally do not tell these stories for any other…

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A Reply to Lauren Southern’s “Why I’m Not a Feminist”


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This post by Jenna Christian addresses what many women perceive as an anti-feminist backlash that seems to have broken out in full force just as men’s violence against women was finally taken seriously. While I acknowledge that women can and do perpetrate domestic violence and will always be an advocate for those who are silenced by their abusers, regardless of gender, I also disagree with the underlying assumption of the One in Three Men campaign – ie that males and females are equally responsible for domestic violence against an intimate partner. Jenna Christian’s post is both articulate and backed by research and statistics.

Everyday Geopolitics Houston

Dear Lauren,

In the last couple days, I have seen your video “Why I’m Not a Feminist” pop up a few times. In the video, you describe why you are not a feminist. At the heart of your message is the assertion, “I am not a feminist because I believe both genders should be treated equally.” Setting aside for a moment the problems with your assumption that gender can be reduced to a binary of male/female (here’s a decent introduction to that if you want), I want to talk about the misinformation you offer in your video: misinformation about feminist activism and scholarship, and misinformation about domestic violence and rape. I don’t often find engaging in these types debates online to be the most fruitful use of my energies, since people that produce anti-feminist content generally are not very open to meaningful engagement with feminist thought, however I’ve been stewing over your…

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‘Once a Victim, Now a Survivor’ Award.


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Recently, I was lucky enough to encounter the beautiful Leah Griffith, author of the blog, ‘Knowing When Enough is Enough’. If you’re curious about someone with true grit, who has survived events most of us never even have nightmares about, please pop over to her page and read her story. She is a tower of strength and is the catalyst for my own ‘taking off the mask’. That is, I decided to put my photograph on my blog, after two years of anonymity, despite the possibility of being recognized by people I’d rather not deal with. We shall not be silenced!

Leah has nominated me for the ‘Once a Victim, Now a Survivor’ award!

Thank you, Leah, for the nomination, but also, most importantly, for your inspiration and encouragement.

For my part, I would like to nominate the following bloggers:

Anna Waldherr – A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse


Army of Angels


Secret Angel – The Abuse Expose

Ravencanvas – Painting A Life After Narcissistic Abuse

Kim Saeed – Let Me Reach

Image of fairy blowing butterflies into the air

Image courtesy of Miles

If your name isn’t here, it’s not because you’re not worthy. For each of us, certain personalities and circumstances simply ‘resonate’. Every blog I follow, and every blogger who follows me, has given me an irreplaceable gift.

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An abuser hides his true ‘self’.


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Disclaimer: I have used the masculine gender to describe an abuser in the title of this post for ease of writing. Throughout this post I have referred to both sexes by using the plural personal pronouns, ‘they’ ‘them’ or ‘their’ in recognition of the reality that women are also capable of abusing their loved ones.

One of the most common questions I hear is, ‘How can someone hide an abusive personality?

An abuser's mask

-1360 Schreiberfigur anagoria” by AnagoriaOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.personality?’ In other words, how do we not see it coming? If these people are truly as ugly and cruel as we describe, why wasn’t that obvious from the beginning?

The truth is, abusers are highly skilled at hiding their pathological personalities. If they weren’t, they’d never secure employment, gain friends or even negotiate the grocery store without risking a punch up. Normal people would never put up with an abuser’s ‘real self’.

Psychologists use the terms ‘real self’ and ‘ideal self’ when discussing the development of personality. The real self is easy to understand – it is comprised of our actual, manifest personality traits as well as all the aspects that make up our character. The ideal self is that to which we aspire. It’s our inner concept of who we really want to be; what we want to become as we mature. If the real self is too far removed from the ideal self, we experience discomfort within our psyches. We become disappointed in who we are, and how we behave towards others and the environment. If the gap between the real self and the ideal self is too wide, it can result in significant psychopathology.

Most of us are aware when we’re not being honest with ourselves, and subsequently take action to address the imbalance. For those with high levels of narcissistic traits however, the ego is too fragile to accept the disappointing image in the mirror, so they turn away from it in order to create a false self to present to the world. In turning away from their inner reality, they deny its’ existence. In brief, they detest what they see; don’t have the courage to face and overcome it; and so construct a false self that is not only different from their real self, but also extreme in its virtue, cleverness, and sense of importance. They overcompensate for self-hate by constructing this superior facade. The mask they wear is painted with virtues like understanding, compassion, intelligence, responsibility, reliability, humour, kindness and worldly achievements. They often (though not always) walk among us as the pillars of society and our most socially responsible high achievers. Frequently, they are known as generous, benevolent souls outside their intimate circle.

When we meet them, they come highly recommended. Their bosses, coworkers and friends sing their praises. What we don’t know is that they are mentally scanning the room for their latest target, desperate for a source of narcissistic supply. After all, they can’t feel good about themselves until they can make someone else look and feel bad. That someone needs to be empathetic, compassionate, responsible and reliable – all the traits the abuser lacks. Abusers resent their victims, who are everything the abuser wants to be. That resentment quickly escalates to intense hatred.

Man flirting with woman

Image courtesy of photostock at

In the beginning, however, to hook the perfect target abusers need to be extremely careful not to let their masks slip. With an uncanny ‘nose’ for sniffing out potential sources of narcissistic supply, they can smell vulnerability the way a bloodhound tracks a scent. Through years of practice, they’ve become experts at discovering what makes you tick, what your hopes and dreams are, what you love and what you hate – the essence of who you are. They then have all the ammunition they need to hunt you down.

Where would you most like to travel to?’ ‘Really, the Netherlands? I can’t believe it – the Netherlands is next on my bucket list!

In this respect, abusers are chameleons. If you’re the unwitting victim, all you know is that suddenly you have met the one person in the world who understands you completely, who shares your hopes and dreams, and is aligned with your values. You can’t know that this person who is pursuing you so ardently is simply pretending to mirror your innermost thoughts, support your passions, love the same things you do and envision exactly the same ‘perfect’ future together. We don’t know we’ve been studied for a specific purpose and that our beloved is an expert at what he does. Dr Jekyll doesn’t have to think about becoming Mr Hyde. It happens as naturally as breathing.

During the wooing phase you’ll be ‘love-bombed’. That is, you’ll be pursued so passionately that before you know it, you’re addicted to this ‘love’. This phase is achieved by using the basic psychological principles of conditioning. You are relentlessly ‘rewarded’ at a rate that is not ‘normal’ in a normal population; and this creates an addictive emotional response within you. I will explain this process further in a subsequent post. For now, suffice to say that, once you’re successfully ‘addicted’ to abusers, then…and only then…will they drop their guard and reveal their real selves.

And you are in deep, deep water.

For an excellent and in-depth explanation of the complicated dynamics of abusive relationships, I highly recommend three books by Patrica Evans. I keep these books on my kindle and refer to them regularly. They have been extremely instrumental in my understanding and overcoming the effects of abuse. The book by Lundy Bancroft is often quoted as an extremely useful resource on numerous blogs on the topic of abuse. Click the images to take you to the Amazon store.

Vulnerability after verbal, emotional and psycholical abuse


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After my devastating experience with verbal, emotional and psychological abuse, I was absolutely convinced that no human being could ever touch my heart again. I was DONE. Over it. Had better things to do with what remained of my life. Intimacy was suddenly an alien phenomenon for me…me, who, at the age of 54, had always been so relationship-oriented. I found myself utterly repulsed by the mere thought of connecting in an intimate and sexual way with another human being. And yet…one day it happened.

If the video fails to load, please follow this link to my YouTube page:

Vulnerability After Abuse

Disclaimer:   This video is based on my phenomenological experience. That is, it is subjective, told from my unique world view and the authentic expression of my feelings. As any decent therapist will assert, feelings are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad. Feelings just are. Negative emotions tell us something needs to be addressed and healed in our lives. They can be examined for rationality and adjusted if found to be unreasonable; and they can be used to change our outer circumstances, should those feelings prove to be trustworthy.

At times during this video, I speak of my very real distress and emotional pain, which also impacted on my neurological condition, as stress invariably does. I have drawn my own conclusions as to its cause. We are each our own experts when it comes to what we feel, how we react and what we need to do to improve our lives.

In brief, the intent of this video is not to point the finger of blame or seek revenge, but rather to enlighten those who are struggling with similar issues and offer a ray of hope. I am ever grateful to each and every human being who has shared part of my life’s journey. Each one, no matter how painful the experience, has been my teacher and I have faith and hope that their own journeys, though we have parted, may continue to expand their horizons. Each is a precious soul with the potential for greatness, and to this day, I believe each and every one of them to be good people at their core, doing their best to learn and grow as life leads.


The Legal System Enables Abusers – Part 2: Defamation Laws

I currently struggle, as do a number of my fellow bloggers who write about the topic of abuse, with the desire to ‘come out’, so to speak.

One of the most important criteria for successful blogging is the creation of a very personal identity for readers to connect with and relate to. That means having a face and a name clearly positioned on the page. This is not an ego trip and I’m not chasing ‘numbers’, but I’m absolutely passionate about spreading awareness and reaching out to those who are still suffering from the long-standing effects of verbal and emotional abuse, as well as those who have escaped their abusive situation and are still drowning in a sea of confusion. I’m unable, at this point, to even share my writing with my facebook friends, because they will …quite simply…know who I am, and therefore, recognize my abuser. God forbid that he should be exposed. And so…one of the most effective means of spreading the word – social networking – is unable to be accessed. I can be sued, pure and simple, for telling the truth.

And so, I find myself silenced yet again; and am experiencing all the fury and frustration I went through while being silenced by my abuser. I am rendered voiceless. Unable to be heard; prevented from being me; stopped from being real about my own reality; repressed and suppressed; blocked from making a difference in people’s lives. Why?

Because of the law.

The laws surrounding libel and slander are murky at best, and strike fear into the hearts of writers the world over. The advent of the internet has opened this Pandora’s box even  wider; so wide, in fact, that many of us are afraid to move the pen across the page, or our fingers across the keyboard, lest we offend those who have never experienced a moment’s qualm about offending us to the very core.

Where does it all end? In the too-hard basket, perhaps? That would definitely play into the hands of our abusers. So, what next?

I’m unsure…except that I’m determined to find a way around this particular obstacle…this thorn in my side…this potential arrow in the hands of my abuser. He will not ‘win’. Evil will not have its way.

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” British politician, Sir Edmund Burke

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” British philosopher, John Stuart Mill.

This requires a courageous, collective effort. That is, TRUE JUSTICE requires a courageous, collective effort.

I’m considering including a strong disclaimer on my blog…and possibly for every post. That is, something that reads along the lines of: ‘All entries in this blog are the subjective view of the writer; my phenomenological experience; my personal opinion; my unique interpretation of events and people.’ Accompanied by my legal name and my photograph. I then propose sharing it publicly.

Your thoughts, fellow bloggers and followers?

The Legal System Enables Abusers and punishes Abuse Victims

Image of hammer and gavel

Courtesy of

You’d think the world would ‘get’ the message about victim bashing by now, wouldn’t you? But let me assure you…it does not. If you believe you’ll be able to stand tall in a court of law, tell the truth and be both vindicated and compensated because you have suffered what amounts to psychological torture, I must persuade you to think again.

Our justice system is not set up to pursue justice or truth. It is set up to reward those with the most resources, those who have no scruples, those who already believe they’re entitled to everything they want; those who assume their own superiority. In other words, the justice system is tailor-made for stroking the egos of abusers, falling for their lies, and handing their on a platter, the outcome they fully believes is their due.

Even worse is the fact that the legal system is also set up to punish those who

Image of a woman as a target.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

have the least resources; those who speak the truth and nothing but the truth, so help them God; those who assume every human being has equal value and the right to fair play. These, the victims, are putty in the hands of ruthless legal eagles, just as they were putty in the hands of their tormentors.

Believe me, I have walked the walk. There is  nothing pretty on that particular catwalk. Prepare to leave your dignity at the courtroom door, to suffer more humiliation as you hear lies and accusations leveled at you with such overwhelming confidence you can’t think straight – just as you couldn’t think straight during all those crazy-making conversations with your accuser; manipulated into believing you are both ‘bad’ and ‘mad’ by relentless gaslighting. (For an explanation of gaslighting, see my post on crazy-making behaviour here.)

The legal profession has a very high percentage of psychopathology among its ranks, far higher than in the normal population. They like nothing better than to band together with fellow ego-maniacs with the aim of screwing the little people. In court-cases in which abusers are involved, the victim is always ‘the little people’. Insignificant. Just listen to your abuser expound about all those years he worked towards putting his ‘wealth’ together and how you, his victim, are a money-grubbing gold digger who is mentally unhinged.

Abusers won’t bat an eye at the idea of lying under oath or signing their names to an affidavit that tears you, once-beloved, to utter shreds. You will be astounded at the number of lies that can be fitted on one page and at the manipulative spin put on every ‘story’ told. After all, it’s a divorce or property settlement case. Abusers can say whatever they want. No one is prosecuted for perjury under the family law act. It’s a free-for-all and your ex-partner will take full advantage of it; there are no external restraints on behaviour and abusers see no need to restrain themselves.

The only thing abusers can’t bear is being exposed for who they really are. Remove that possibility and place them in a courtroom where they are prepared to say and do anything to get what they want (to decimate you publicly and ensure you get nothing), fueled by their financial advantage and the status they’ve fabricated for the benefit of wooing the legal team, and you stand no chance.

I heard accusations from the registrar that had me reeling and it was only in retrospect that I was able to comprehend what had happened. My nemesis had spun such a convincing story of sacrificial martyrdom with a ‘hard few years’ behind him, who’d tried to give me everything I ever wanted only to be repaid by my ‘insanity’, using every trick of emotional blackmail in his repertoire. He said he was still devastated by the death of his first wife. For four years I had heard him say nothing but derogatory and defamatory things about her. She was psycho, he told me – a nutjob; crazy; frankly mad; controlling; without empathy; manipulative and a drug addict. He would sneer and snarl with every word. When I saw his head in his hands, his shoulders slumped, convincing the registrar of his sincerity by using his first wife’s suicide to garner sympathy, I knew I was beaten. The best I could do was exit with dignity.

My lawyer assured me I had the moral victory and that my ex-husband would always resent me for it.

Cold comfort. Cold, cold comfort as I sit here with my future in tatters.

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Image courtesy of worradmu at


Help for abuse victims


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Abuse victims share a myriad experiences. One of the most insidious is isolation – from friends, family, interest groups, churches and sometimes, even from social media. Nothing is surer than that your abusive partner has alienated you emotionally from himself, the only person left to lean on. Abuse victims who have nowhere to turn for help are at high risk for substance abuse (to dull the pain), severe depression and other mental illnesses – even the ultimate escape – suicide.

Abuse, whether physical, psychological, emotional or verbal, invariably shatters your self-belief. You no longer trust your own thoughts, feelings and perceptions. This completes the feeling of desolation. You believe no one cares, and if they did, what could they do? If you’re reading this and silently asking, ‘Is there help for abuse victims? Is there help for me?‘ – I want to assure you, you are not alone. There are people who care deeply.



Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program by Melanie Tonia Evans

The internet is awash with information, support and resources from fellow sufferers, as well as from experts in the field. I’ve mentioned Melanie Tonia Evans’ abuse recovery program in previous posts and it remains, in my mind, one of the most powerful resources for healing from narcissistic abuse. The author has personally experienced abuse at the hands of ex partners and is now, as a therapist herself, a recognized expert in the field. She examines the dynamics of abuse from a holistic perspective, looking at every aspect of your being; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The added spiritual dimension sets her work apart  and is the reason I latched onto her website like a life-raft. Her program takes considerable emotional work, and may cause you some pain, but it’s the path to freedom. You can find her Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program here.

Melanie maintains that abusers share narcissistic traits, although not all have full-blown narcissistic personality disorder, an opinion shared by other notable experts like Patricia Evans (not related to Melanie ), and by many who blog bout their personal experience of abuse.



I’m not an Amazon affiliate so gain no remuneration from promoting Patricia’s work; Product Detailsbut in all conscience, I need to commend her books to you. Some are available for kindle for very little cost. She explains the dynamics at play in the minds and backgrounds of verbal abusers so profoundly that I believe her teachings offer you the greatest hope for understanding what has happened and why. You will finally stop blaming yourself. I recommend starting with ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship‘, ‘The Verbally Abusive Man,’ and ‘Controlling People’. If you purchase these books and find them helpful, I’d appreciate your feedback. Contact me here.



I have formed strong ties with fellow bloggers who write about abuse  and I urge you to visit their writings. Absorb what is there. Feel – perhaps for the first time – that you’re not alone. You have sisters and brothers all over the world, united by a common bond.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the writers of the following blogs, all precious souls:



Never be too shy to approach a qualified counselor. These trained therapists are there to validate your experience, listen to your story, help you develop strengths that rebuild your sense of self, and assist in your recovery. There is also guidance should you decide to leave your abuser and rebuild the optimistic future you so richly deserve. A future filled with love and light.

For a word of caution on traditional couples’ counseling however, please visit my post, ‘Why Couples’ Counseling Doesn’t Work.’

Not long ago, I contemplated my future and longed for death. Today, I long for morning to come so that I might seize the day… again…and again. I’ve been where you are, and I am an ordinary human being. Nothing special. That means you too, have hope for an exuberant future. You are NOT alone.


If you have any questions or feedback, or are confused about what to do next, please contact me here:

Compassion and confidentiality are assured.

Recovery from Abuse: Be the tortoise and not the hare

Comic image of the tortoise and the hare

Be the tortoise: Image courtesy of

It’s been over 18 months now since I’ve been removed from an emotionally, psychologically and verbally abusive marriage; and I now inhabit a much happier and more peaceful personal space. Where once I would have crawled over cut glass to be reconciled with my ex-husband, I would now run over it in the opposite direction should he ever raise the possibility of rekindling our relationship. My answer would be an emphatic and very loud ‘No!’ – the word victims of abuse need to become very, very comfortable with.

I’ve received some mild criticism lately from a couple of friends who believe I’m dwelling on the past and not ‘letting go’ by continuing to blog on the topic of abuse after so much time has passed. I should ‘move on’, they say.

The truth is I have moved on. In the early days following my separation, writing about the pain was cathartic and helped me to heal, but it also put me in touch with a number of people in the blogging community whose words of wisdom and insight, gleaned from their personal experience at the hands of abusive partners, broadened my knowledge of the dynamics at play in virtually every abusive relationship. For me, knowledge is power, and the ability to understand how this had happened to me – when I considered myself reasonably stable, intelligent and independent – was the biggest key to finding myself again. For that reason I continue to tell my story and reach out to others who are still hurting. I humbly hope that someone, somewhere, will have an ‘aha!’ moment; that something within my writing can help them understand and forgive themselves; and to slowly but surely rebuild their lives.

It is a long, slow process; one that mustn’t be rushed. Trying to be stoic and rushing towards the finish line ie total recovery from abuse, will exhaust you long before you’re ready to embrace your new life of freedom. Like the hare from Aesop’s old fable, ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, you’ll find yourself asleep at several points along the way, while unexpected events happen that ensure you never reach the finish line in time to claim a true victory. You will be ambushed by painful emotions triggered by events beyond your control. And you’ll find yourself dragged straight back down the rabbit hole – that desperate, crazy place that makes you doubt your sanity all over again.

And so I write…though not often enough these days. Some people affectionately say I ‘meander’ through life. One of my daughters insist I warp the space-time continuum…that I seem to take so much longer to do things than most people, yet when she checks her watch,

time seems to have stood still. 🙂

Perhaps I have ‘become’ the tortoise. I hope to meet you at the finish line.