Fox in the Hen House: The Dangers of Forums

I’m often asked why I don’t have a forum on this website. The only problem in answering this question is where to begin.

I’ll start here: I don’t recommend traumatized people visit online forums because of the amount of secondary victimization that goes on at the hands of trolls or from other survivors who try to help, but who end up perpetuating victim-blaming attitudes. Some people do have positive experiences. There is tremendous value in speaking with other survivors. But in a forum situation, there is just as much potential for harm as there is for help.

Validation is vitally important and of course support is, too. But I’ve heard from several people who were re-victimized in forums, and I experienced it myself. It was the last thing I needed at that time, and it set me back. Please keep this in mind and be very cautious if you decide to participate.

Unfortunately, there are foxes in the hen house.

A Fox in Hen’s Clothing

I do my best to keep them off of this site, but every now and then one slips past me. I know that if they’re trying to gain access here, they’re doing the same elsewhere.

Traumatized people are at their most vulnerable when they turn to online forums in search of support. It can be hard to get much or any support from family, friends, or even therapists who don’t understand psychopathic victimization, but we have a real need to be heard and understood. And when we discover a forum filled with others who have experienced the same thing, we dive right in. That’s what I did.

But if we end up being re-victimized by our supposed peers, it can be devastating. Not only can it hold a person back from healing, it can add to the damage.

One of the most important aspects of healing for a former victim is to stop blaming themselves. But something I saw many, many times within the forums I participated in was victim-blaming. The people who do this may be former victims who are simply passing along their own erroneous beliefs, or they could be ‘trolls’ who do it purposely to inflict harm. It’s a moderator’s job to intervene. But if the website’s posts and pages perpetuate the idea that victims participate in their own victimization, then that attitude is going to be acceptable in the forums too.

Some forums have a group of three or four members who form a tight little ‘clique.’ They post repeatedly, in some cases for years. They seem to post every day, all day. They have constant conversations with each other. That makes me wonder.


One day back when I was participating in a forum, a ‘clique’ was present in a particular conversation. One of them said she was ‘willing to admit’ it was her fault she was victimized, and wanted to know who else was willing to ‘raise their hand’ and ‘be honest along with her.’ The first people to step forward were members of the clique as well. Then, others (who were not part of this close-knit group) began to ‘admit’ they were at fault. The clique praised them for it, telling them they could never move forward without ‘taking responsibility.’ I was stunned. How can taking responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault help you in any way? In doing so, you miss the point. You miss what will really help you.

I saw right through it, and it turned my stomach. I spoke up, reminding everyone that this was a forum on a website about victimization by psychopaths — you know, those skilled manipulators who engage the unsuspecting in pathological relationships? I was immediately attacked. I was admonished for refusing to ‘take responsibility’ and for contradicting the ‘wisdom’ of victims who had recovered and were there to help others. The moderator jumped into the fray, but only to ban me from the site because I refused to agree. This forum was one where the wayward were sadistically penalized for refusing to tow the “party line.” I was left questioning whether they were misguided victims who were, in turn, misguiding others, or if they were manipulators trying purposely to undermine the recovery of vulnerable people. It sure felt as if that were the case. I was deeply shaken.

From my own experience, and from hearing the experiences of others and from reading plenty of forums, I found that some conversations seem to follow the same pattern as pathological relationships: Idealize, devalue, discard.

It goes something like this:

A new, freshly traumatized member is welcomed and befriended by others who take an interest in her (idealization). Then, perhaps after relaying some new detail about her experience, someone will tell her she should have known better, that anyone would have seen whatever it was as a red flag, so why didn’t she? Was she really so naïve? Or she will say something ‘wrong,’ not understanding how it was perceived as wrong, and will be attacked and then shunned or ignored (devaluation). Usually, the victim will concede and agree with them, believing that they know more than she does and believing they are there to help her (they must be there to help, right? why else would they be in the forum every day for three years?). This undermining will continue intermittently in future conversations. If the victim disagrees with them she is attacked, the focus turning to her ‘problem’ with taking criticism, accepting advice, or some other way that she is impeding her own recovery. Depending on her response, she may be ‘banned’ from the site (discarded). If not, the intermittent undermining and devaluation will continue, either from direct conversation or through reading other people’s conversations on the forum.

Is this always the case? No, of course not. But it seems to happen too often, to too many people. When it does, it can be devastating. If the victim realizes what’s going on, he or she will feel victimized all over again. If they don’t recognize it and it continues, it will undermine their confidence, perceptions, self-esteem, and recovery.

I once read a forum conversation that was beyond belief.

The victim was attacked when she disclosed that she was duped into leaving her husband. She shared how regretful, traumatized, and depressed she was about what had happened. One of the clique members actually said this:

“You had an affair for a year, then you left your husband for him, and then he dumped you after you left your husband and your kids… so how the hell is HE the psychopath? Why is this guy such a scumbag when YOU dumped your husband and kids for him, when he was only telling you he loved you to get you into bed?”

HUH? This is exactly what a vulnerable, traumatized person does not need when looking for empathy, understanding, and support. The outright cruelty of a comment like this could easily devastate someone who’s on the edge.


One thing I’ve noticed about a couple of forums (and their associated websites) is a consistent undercurrent of anger.

Often, the blog posts are filled with rage or outrage and they seem to encourage the readers to feel this rage, too. In the comments attached to these posts and in the forums, I noticed many victims expressing rage and yet also saying the victimization had ended five or ten years ago.

Anger is appropriate for what occurred, and the energy it carries can ignite our determination to make a full recovery. After that happens, it serves no purpose and should resolve on its own. Ongoing anger means that recovery wasn’t complete. I wonder if the people who run these sites want to keep victims in a perpetual state of anger for some self-serving reason, or if they are just stuck in that state themselves and it is reflected in their writing and on the site?

I had a reader on this site who left comments that made it apparent that she was still enraged twenty years later. She became enraged at me because I wasn’t enraged. She told me off and never came back.

When someone is surrounded by other angry people and anger is fostered or encouraged,  it can keep them stuck.

There is also talk on forums about ‘real victims’ vs ‘psuedo-victims.’ One thing abusers love to do is to invalidate a person. Another thing they love is to put someone on the defensive. One way to do both of those things at once is to tell someone they’re not ‘really’ a victim.

It’s no surprise that these forums attract abusers. They choose victims whom they perceive as vulnerable in one way or another, and where else can they find hundreds of traumatized, vulnerable people in one place who can be easily hurt with a few well-chosen words?  Hit ’em when they’re down, that’s what they seem to aim for.


A recent study discovered a link between trolling and sadism in its various forms. Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was strong, and that sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. They feel sadistic glee at the distress of others, and the internet is their playground. One of the authors said she isn’t sure if this problem can be fixed. “Because the behaviors are intrinsically motivating for sadists, moderators will likely have a difficult time curbing trolling with punishments (e.g., banning users). Ultimately, the allure of trolling may be too strong for sadists to resist.”

And imagine what happens when the moderator is a sadist…

Be very careful out there.

Helpful advice from a reader named Aurora:

“I was fortunate that finding one particular forum site was the missing piece of an unsolvable puzzle late last year, and the relief, shock, knowledge and information I gained initially was literally lifesaving for me, as I was in such a dark place.

But I also found some aspects of the discussions and feedback really disturbing. Especially as people in these situations (including myself) are incredibly vulnerable, with many painful and confused emotions — and still caught in massive cognitive dissonance, denial, PTSD, and anxiety. In that head space the inappropriate or hurtful feedback — framed as ‘tough love” — from moderators can have the impact of totally annihilating you and set you back eons in recovery when you are raw. Especially where there is that need to gain peer acceptance and approval, it can almost seem like a blood sport with whichever moderators give you the toughest character assassination and make you feel like you are straight back in the very disturbing dynamic you have just lived through.

I read a lot in these forums and as I said was very grateful for the information I gained and the stories of others that helped me put into perspective what I was experiencing and ways to manage that. But although it was a significant part of my process towards recovery, it was augmented with reading books, therapy, medication, and the support of a few very close friends.

The problem is (and I found this also when initially sourcing a good therapist) — there are a lot of sharks out there in the ‘helping profession’ and because of your inherent vulnerability in these situations and the ‘life or death’ feelings of wanting to be ‘fixed,’ it is easy to get lulled into the ‘sales’ aspect of these forums – especially where there are adverts for paid support groups and constant reinforcements that this is the only way to heal. You are so desperate for help that this aspect of your desperation is played upon – which can feel a lot like re-victimisation.

On the whole I have found loads of good information and support on the internet (especially sites like this where the information is researched, considered, non-judgemental and informative).

I would caution anyone in these situations to research as much as you can, then find what feels right and safe for you.”

♥ Thank you for reading.


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78 thoughts on “Fox in the Hen House: The Dangers of Forums”

  1. Julie magowan

    So very well put. Thank you.

    1. Admin

      You’re welcome.

  2. Carol

    Thank you agsin for all you do. No matter what crap I read I know I am NOT responsible. I AM a responsible person in every single area of my life but. These monsters are pervasive. No victim of these disgusting assholes is to blame. That should be number one on the healing list. If someone out there thinks they are responsible. They just don’t get it yet. I’m still dealing with anger but no way. With blaming myself. Peace.

    1. Admin

      I agree. If we really understand what we were dealing with, we know we weren’t responsible. When someone doesn’t get that, it will hold them back. Peace.

      1. Grace

        I still feel sad about it. I can’t wait until I’m free of this relationship completely. I know it wasn’t my fault, I’m a slow learner. Just finished your book Psychopaths and Love. I have most of the vulnerabilities. I know I will get their and be free of this emotional trauma. Thanks so much! This site and your book is another turning point for me. One step closer to being free of that imagined relationship.

        1. Admin

          Good, I’m so glad to hear it! One step at a time, that’s how it happens.

  3. Only Me

    I am tremendously impressed with this post! I could not agree with you more! Wonderful post! There’s one particularly bad forum out there run by a sadist and a few adoring minions that continually idealize the moderator.

    This small tight clique feels free to jump on and attack vulnerable people who have come for help, but yet, people outside that clique had better not criticize or attack the moderator and her minions! It has a particularly nasty rep, and is well-known for this.

    To add to this shameful situation, neither the moderator nor her minions are in anyway trained or qualified to be running group, or individual therapy sessions which the moderator actually charges people for!

    But as you indicate, I’m sure this isn’t the only unfortunate site that re-victimizes the weak, injured and vulnerable! The whole BAN option that is used to punish real victims because the moderators or don’t like what they say, is appalling! I’m not speaking of trolls, cyberpaths and other abusers…that is a whole other subject in itself!

    Thank you so much for addressing this sadder said of internet life! Who knows how many victims out there were not only re-injured by these people, but perhaps were prevented from getting real help from people actually certified and qualified to provide it!

    Thank you again! You were right on target!

    1. Admin

      I wrote this with the hope that it will prevent others from falling victim. So much of it is obvious, so it’s hard to believe that it’s allowed to continue. A stealth troll who swoops in and blindsides people is one thing, but these ongoing cases of ‘moderators and minions’ have no excuse.

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. Only Me

        I can identify with what you wrote. Yes, I had a troll sweep in on me on that site, and she repeatedly attacked, often twisting my words just to destroy me! Not only that, but the moderator Hi-5ed her approving those attacks! It’s not a safe site for anyone unless you are a member of their clique!

        1. Admin

          Do you ever wonder if sock puppets are at play? That these ‘cliques’ might be just one person?

          1. Only Me

            Not until now, but you may be onto something! Strange how they just seem to pop up when you least expect it! Also, it makes you wonder why a moderator or administrator would tolerate such obvious abuse much less blatantly above of it! IMO, that makes them more dangerous than ever!

            1. Admin

              That was the hunch I had while in the forums. Because why are these three or four people all online at the same time, all the time? And like you said, how do they pop up at just the ‘right’ time? Hmmmmm…

              They are the moderator, and the moderator is them.

              I’d be willing to bet on it.

              1. efemeris

                sorry to “interupt” your conversation but you are not so wrong about the sock puppets. it might not be the case in every forum but in many forums it might be the case, yes. if they don’t have a friend or few friends who would support them and be online at very same time, they (sock puppets) create such forums. when they join other foums (they personally do not maintenace) they still create two (or more) accounts and troll from each account. you can see that by the way they write. it takes a bit practice and experience to see that but as soon as you have this advanced experience and knowledge, you can go for it.

              2. Admin

                Feel free to interrupt…although this space may then be considered a FORUM…… :-0

              3. Admin

                I hate the way these comments get skinnier…must do something about it…

                ETA: I fixed the comment width, but now they’re all in the wrong order!

  4. janes

    this is my first blog ever (there must be a lot of rookie mistakes).
    everything i read from you & about you confirms that we are in great hands!
    vow, it seems you have been through all of the school of hard knocks about Ps :(

    1. Admin

      And thank YOU for all the LOVE-BOMBING ♥♥♥ ;-)

      I’m surprised you didn’t call me out on using the word ‘poopytalk.’

      1. janes

        with the most genuine & best intentions. Sorry!
        when i love something i behave very intensely. lol. i cant change it.
        more LOL rest of the week.

        1. Admin

          Don’t change a thing. You have obviously made a full recovery.

        2. janes

          i dont know the meaning of the Poppytalk that must be why i didnt

          1. Admin

            Me either, but it felt right so I went with it.

          2. janes

            not completely yet
            i am very close though. i see it in hailing distance with your & other teachers help (more LB). i found the glue to be their thinking, motivations, needs , strenght/weekness so when i deal with them i want to be able go into their head & see 100 steps ahead of my dealings with them. More i read, hear of the same stories of them countless times they become very predictable.
            as recent success story. A typical P recently attempted to flirt with me & got closed to me many times in about 3 months, each time he made move on me i ve just studied his behavior in a non reactionary way, then one day he silently got angry at my reactions & walked away , i never saw him after that( i am honored). SO THEY ARE ONLY LOOKING VICTIMS & USEFUL/ORGANIC KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
            last time my life was in danger for the 2nd time from a different shade of a P. I CANT AFFORD TO BE A VICTIM THAT THEY SEARCHING FOR AGAIN.
            i know i will never be 100% free. there some more nuances to how their minds works, i think.

            1. Admin

              They were in our heads long enough — now it’s our turn. Just don’t forget the hazmat suit.

              “i’ve just studied his behavior in a non reactionary way” Good for you. Plus, it’s kind of fun.

              Still more nuances…that means there’s still more work to do. I look forward to sharing my exciting discoveries here.

  5. efemeris

    yes, it is better to stay away for such forums, even those from real victims. psychopaths do take over such forums and many of them have been deserted or deleted in the past. we do have a desprate need to talk with someone who understands us and we should be very careful with whom we talk, especially in internet.

    I had one such experience when visiting a website of a victim of an NPD mother. I didn’t want to join her forum but I was curious about the experiences and conversations other than in english language. As the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat”. I left after two days.

    The sad fact is that I didn’t have the need to join forums to be victimized this way. Such trolls exist in real life too. They are not a product of the internet or one of the matrix creatures. They are bullying consultants, social workers, clinicians and psychotrists. Most of them work for the authorities too.

    Oh, had I forgotten that dragon who opened the door when I went to diabetes appointment?

    1. Admin

      You’re right, they’re everywhere. The dragon was one of them. But when a victim visits a forum, they have a mindset that they’re in a safe place, and they’re expecting support, so it’s really a nasty surprise when the opposite happens. Totally unexpected.

      Curiosity killed the cat…you just described me in 4 words. Good thing I have nine lives.

      1. efemeris

        lol that’s good. I don’t know if i have nine lives but i feel better these days. I had a good sleep and have spent most of the time in bad, not while being lazy, just needed that. last night i felt also some sort of vibrations in my belly, as if my nerves would relax and heal. :)
        we have autumn fair these days and i’m going to take few shots and taste my fave chocolate fruit kebab. shhhhhhh, don’t tell my doctor that i ate sweets. hihi :P

        1. Admin

          Have fun at the fair, but I think the best thing to do is send me the chocolate fruit kebab since you really shouldn’t have it…

          1. efemeris

            lol, ok i’ll send you one too :)

            btw, i just noticed the garlic and it made me so laugh :D

            1. Admin

              You can blame janes for the garlic. She manipulated me into putting it there. She’s really good at that kind of stuff.

          2. efemeris

            ok. :)
            btw, (i hope I’m not getting annoying while writing so much)
            i was reading about the thought-terminating chliché and it would lead me to the page (on Wiki) about the thought reform and the psychology of totalism, a book by Robert Jay Lifton. it is about brainwashing and mind control. one of it’s forms or “the eight criterias for thought reform is confession. He defines confession as follows: “Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.” Doctrine over person and Dispensing of existence can also explain these forum cliques actions.

            1. Admin

              I hadn’t thought of that, but it fits. That’s exactly what happens in the forums. But what are they being brainwashed into? Is the purpose to harm them, or is it something else?

              Where’s my kebab?

              1. efemeris

                I was not reading the book yet but it is about politics or religion (mostly about religious sects, unification church and so on). They are brainwashed into the doctrines of the leader of these groups or politicians in certain countries (like China for example). In the forums you have experienced is the victim blaming the doctrine the way you have described it in your article. here is the link to the short article in Wikipedia (the article I had the information from). The article about thought-terminating chlichée is deleted by Wikipedia in August 2013. But you can still find some definitions in this article (at the end of it) too. <a href="" title=" Thought Reform" I’m not sure if the HTML works. I will send you a copy of the link on FB.

              2. Admin

                I had never heard of the ‘thought-terminating cliche’ before.

                A thought-terminating cliché is a short, definitive-sounding expression thrown into a debate to end all discussion or thought about the topic of that debate. It is used in totalitarian societies to quell dissent and more generally to mask the fact that the person using it cannot mount an effective argument or effectively address the counter-argument.

                A thought-terminating cliche is something that stops the person who thinks it from thinking further. It’s not a debate tactic. It’s a brainwashing tactic. It’s a cliche that you’ve heard 10,000 times, so now you no longer question it.

                A good example of a thought-stopping cliche is “conspiracy theory.” For many people, anything involving a conspiracy can be called a “conspiracy theory” and therefore dismissed — even if it’s well-established conspiracy fact. So the moment you consider something a conspiracy theory, you will dismiss it and not look into it more deeply.

                Very interesting…thanks, efemeris. I’m going to be on the lookout for my own thought-stopping cliches.

    2. Only Me

      You know, I was just thinking a forum that I am a semi-active member of that was taken over in its early months by a “celebrity” psychopath.

      He was very well thought of as an expert meaning well,, but early on, I started picking up strange vibes from him.

      Realizing I was figuring him and his pathology out – he had me banned from the forum which was okay, although it did hurt somewhat.

      I did tell others I was friends with (at the time they doubted my suspicions about this guy!) to watch out for tas he was not to be trusted!

      Something was very wrong with him my instincts were screaming!

      Months later down the road, when he and some of the founding members got together, the psychopath finally revealed his pathology in all its glory! He was nasty bugger! Sad thing is, that he is still spoken of highly on some sites by trusting people who have yet to pick up on his true nature!

      Unfortunately, I have had admiring minions of my ex psychopath stalk me all over the Internet. I have learned to cover my real identity with various aliases to maintain my privacy and to be left alone in peace!

      It’s sad to have to do that, but there are people out there who will hurt you without a second thought!

      Yes, I’ve been chased off a couple of forums by cliques, trolls and psychopaths calling the shots on them, and other assorted miseries.

      So, it’s always important that seek to protect yourself from all times from toxic people who are up to no good out there! :>(

  6. janes

    i must admit it was fun. i am very happy with the my handling of this situation.
    i am not angry at Ps genetics/ brain chemistry(Explorer- according to Helen Fisher). i know it is not personal, they cant be any other way But i am very angry at the experiences i have been through. I DONT WANT TO PICK UP THE TAB FOR THEM ANYMORE.
    i should let you enjoy your weekend
    Until next time of no MSG added insights LOL!

  7. depressedempath

    Very true, I totally agree. I met my psycho on a forum. He engineered a face to face meeting and the rest is history. When we broke up he used the same forum to “expose the truth about me”. I got him banned and posts deleted because I appealled to the moderator. Forums can bring out the worst in people. They hide behind their words and annonymously bully people. Thanks for your insight Admin.

    1. Admin

      Good thing you were able to get his comments deleted!

      Anonymity can bring out the worst in some people. It’s really bad in the comments section of online news articles! And I’ve heard all types of forums are prone to abusers — bible forums, photography forums, all kinds of forums. It’s a jungle out there, and we have to be careful to protect ourselves. I get my share of annoying and ridiculous mail here, but those comments never see the light of day. That’s why I can’t let comments be published automatically.

  8. efemeris

    i also never heard before about TTC untill 2011, when I was learning about dissonances. That’s the purpose of TTC to cause dissonances when someone is holding two or more conflicting ideas, beliefs and so on. It is a commonly used phrase or folks wisdom like:

    – everything happens for a reason
    .. it’s a matter of opinion
    – we all have to do things we don’t like
    – don’t judge
    – only God can judge (me)
    – the Lord works in misterious ways
    – God never gives you more sufferings than you can bear
    – you only live once

    1. Admin

      In response to efemeris, 10/27/14:

      From what I understand, a thought-stopping cliche is not something said TO someone, but something we say to ourselves; something we have heard over and over, and then internalized.

      I didn’t have the words for it at the time, but I did take notice of it over the past few days in regards to ‘Ebola hysteria’ here in the US —- People are actually in favor of violating each others civil rights because, as they say, “BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY.” As soon as they say that, ALL CRITICAL THOUGHT STOPS. End of story, right there. Never mind the evidence-based facts about how the disease is transmitted — ‘better safe than sorry!’

      With that thought, it makes it OK to take a person not infected with anything, and relive them of their rights and their freedom, and forcibly detain them without cause or due process. The nurse who was quarantined was denied access to an attorney, until it was brought to the attention of the media.

  9. Nearlybel

    Hey, how do I love ye Admin, janes and efemeris :)…And all the others that contribute to this site. And how lucky I was to meet real ( as opposed to virtual) people ( other victims/ survivors of abuse ) and didn’t experience those horrific trolls in forums.
    One of 20 years is enough :)
    No matter what the media, on/off line, the ‘truth’ can always be ‘seen’ But the lies tell better stories. And the bigger the numbers, it is still psychopathic ‘beings’ telling and men/women/ trans ‘contaminated’ ( too much to lose) by these lies. And continue to perpetrate these very same lies. Only when we say STOP does it change. No matter the media WE choose, good luck to all of us battling against our biggest threat to humanity xxx

    1. Admin

      Sounded kind of like a modern Shakespeare there for a moment…

      Yes, good luck to all of us, and to you, too, Nearlybel! xxx

  10. janes

    i love reading about others experiences & insights as well.
    THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN US TO ME MORE NOURISHING & REWARDING then my most connections up to now.
    great finding/debate Efemeris & Admin !

    i taught about it all night last night the things that you wrote aboum Forum requests.
    it is nice the way you explained to us your taught process behind decision not to have the forum.
    i am constantly aware of your unceasing kindness , loving support & protectiveness towards us.

    i think if i had this support & understanding & VALIDATION for my feelings earlier i would have less terrible experiences with Ps. I would have learned faster. No body understands , supports & VALIDATES us & we get abused by a lot of people because of our extremely humane personality.

    i’ve realized that some of my tough comments about my situations with Ps come from subconsciously i blame myself what Ps have done to me all those years. Admin you had gone through everything by yourself without any support , Validation now you are enlightening us.

    you handle challenges on your way about Ps like a Guardian Leader in this Holy Crusade for a P Free life! you are gifted , dedicated, brave. it is healing to have this kind of support & guidance

    Garlic comments made me :))

    1. Admin

      “Admin you had gone through everything by yourself without any support or validation”

      That’s why I created this site — to try to give people some of the support and validation they need, but might not be getting. But as I’ve said many times, I’ve gotten much more from you than you’ve ever gotten from me. It’s truly amazing what can be created from nothing.

      “Guardian Leader in this Holy Crusade for a P Free life” (AIR RAID SIRENS BLARE AS LOVE BOMBS DROP) LOL

      ‘it is healing to have this kind of support & guidance’ DITTO

      Thank you, Janes. Thanks a million, billion, zillion. xo

      ♥ < love bombs

      X < admin

  11. aurora

    Hi there
    this is a very valuable topic for those who are vulnerable and seeking confirmation/validation of the traumatic experience they have been through and are desperately searching for support and comfort.

    I was fortunate that finding one particular forum site was the missing piece of an unsolvable puzzle late last year, and the relief, shock, knowledge and information I gained initially was literally lifesaving for me, as I was in such a dark place.

    But I also found some aspects of the discussions and feedback really disturbing. Especially as people in these situations (including myself) are incredibly vulnerable, with many painful and confused emotions – and still caught in massive cognitive dissonance, denial, ptsd and anxiety. In that head space the inappropriate or hurtful feedback (framed as ‘tough love) from moderators can have the impact of totally annihilating you and set you back eons in recovery when you are raw. Especially where there is that need to gain peer acceptance and approval, it can almost seem like a blood sport with whichever moderators give you the toughest character assassination and make you feel like you are straight back in the very disturbing dynamic you have just lived through.

    I read a lot in these forums and as I said was very grateful for the information I gained and the stories of others that helped me put into perspective what I was experiencing and ways to manage that. But although it was a significant part of my process towards recovery, it was augmented with reading books, therapy, medication and the support of a few very close friends.

    The problem is (and I found this also when initially sourcing a good therapist) – there are a lot of sharks out there in the ‘helping profession’ and because of your inherent vulnerability in these situations and the ‘life or death’ feelings of wanting to be ‘fixed’, it is easy to get lulled into the ‘sales’ aspect of these forums – especially where there are adverts for paid support groups and constant reinforcements that this is the only way to heal. You are so desperate for help that this aspect of your desperation is played upon – which can feel a lot like revictimisation.
    On the whole I have found loads of good information and support on the internet (especially sites like this where the information is is researched, considered, non-judgemental and informative).

    I would caution anyone in these situations to research as much as you can, then find what feels right and safe for you.

    thanks as always for posting such interesting, thought provoking material, I always get excited when I see there is a new topic posted by you.

    1. Admin

      Thanks for describing your forum experience so well, and for all of the very good advice. In fact, I think I will put it in the article so others are sure to see it.

      Yes, even a therapist can turn out to be an abuser in disguise. And a claim that a paid forum, or anything, is the “only” way to heal is a Red Flag for sure (I don’t remember seeing any of those adverts) but when someone is vulnerable and desperate for help it’s all too easy to be re-victimized. No one should put all of their ‘eggs of recovery’ in one basket.

      Thanks, Aurora! xx

  12. janes

    it is so nice that the feelings are mutual
    all the hearts /LBs are accepted :)))))

  13. efemeris

    much love and peace, good health and recovery to all of you! :)
    together we are stronger!
    we can make it! :)

    1. Admin

      Much love, peace, good health and recovery to you too, efemeris!

      Thank you for being you!

  14. Rubi

    I applaud your insight. Thank you.

    1. Admin

      Thank you, Rubi :)

  15. janes

    Aurora, i agree with you on importance of great, pure content & pure intentions from the people who creates those site when we follow them
    i like to emphasis on the necessity of having adverts.
    ultimately, it is our all giving & not getting anything us that hurts us the most.
    i wouldn’t participate in anything if the others are not fully compensated for the effort & talent that they put in. if they dont get compensated they will be forced to stop delivering the goods that they have been, due to bills, expenses, life ect. i like to contribute to a worthy cause especially when it improves so many & my life & protects my sanity. i think this keeping Ps away subject is like building muscles if we dont regularly exercise muscles that keeps Ps away will be forgotten(or maybe i am more susceptible) . there is one in every corner. since they work so professionally & diligently get in to one of our lives of the humane & trusting people.
    Altruism in the end turns into the biggest evil that we commit against ourselves. we tie our on arm with it !
    i am passionate supporter of anyone who improves so many peoples lives like Oprah & become fabulously wealthy along the way. More power to them!
    all i am focused on the content of the site even though pictures are really nice as well. it puts a :) on my face when i see adds.
    we all cheer for your commercial success which seems inevitable!

    1. Admin

      “we all cheer for your commercial success which seems inevitable!”

      LOL I don’t want any commercial success! When someone says ‘thanks, your blog made a difference in my life,’ that is all the success I could ever need.

  16. janes

    i taught what was meant by Advert is Advertisements
    my previous comment meant Advertisement for every Advert !

    1. Admin

      Yes, I believe advert meant advertisements.

  17. janes

    i am a business owner. Before i met the most dangerous P it was a decent size biz & growing rapidly. Since it ended i have been working on a building a new system (P free). Ps are still some where in the picture & i havent been able structure them yet. i’ve been going back & forth with them, without them. Tough !
    i respect your comment & i strongly disagree with it!!!
    it is wonderful that you get great joy out of it & i do know it keeps your life P free & sane as well , working on this site.
    i will always be look forward to seeing more business supporters.
    i have been travailing lately when i can i will order all the Admin Approved books on this site. i was going to order them from amazon anyway.

    1. Admin

      @Janes ~

      Consider purging all the Ps from your biz. They’re only good for short-term gain. Eventually, they’ll send your business down the drain and maybe even drag you through the mud from some unethical behavior of theirs.

      “i respect your comment & i strongly disagree with it!!!”

      I’m guessing this relates to your comment about commercial success.

      “it is wonderful that you get great joy out of it & i do know it keeps your life P free & sane as well , working on this site.
      i will always be look forward to seeing more business supporters. ONLY BY HAVING SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF RESOURCES YOU CAN REACH OUT & ENLIGHTEN MORE OF OUR KIND as you know they need your help desperately.”

      Honestly, Janes, I’m doing all I can do and all I want to do right here on this site. But thank you for your wonderful vote of confidence! As far as ‘resources’ go, I make enough from book sales to keep the site up and online, and secure and spam-free. Around 2,000 people come here every day, and I’m happy about that.

      It’s kind of like “Feild of Dreams”…’If you build it, they will come.’

      I built it. You came. That’s great. I’m satisfied :-)

  18. janes

    Question to everyone
    Someone i started to work with a female started to give me small gifts all food related stuff like chocolate.
    i feel very uncomfortable taking them & i dont want to hurt her feelings.
    when i am sure of a person & her intention i dont mind exchanging some authentic food items or a book, never more than that. My most dangerous P used to suffocate me with gifts. when some gives me non food or book related gift i feel traumatized all over again.
    could anyone write about pro & cons of receiving/rejecting gifts. best/kindest/effective way to handle it when we dont accept it.
    more i spend time with this new female more i realize i think she one of us:)
    i still want to know your insights. i googled the subject & checked wikihow nothing came up.

    1. Admin

      @Janes ~

      In my ‘Boundaries’ book (shameless plug), one of the many signs of weak boundaries is accepting gifts that you don’t want, even though you feel uncomfortable about it. I’m not saying you have weak boundaries — obviously, you recognize it and just want to know what to do about it.

      You’ve already started accepting gifts, so that makes it a bit trickier.

      You could say something like, “Mary, thank you. I appreciate it. But to be honest, I have a policy against accepting gifts until I know someone well.”

      Stating that something is your “POLICY” works great and is useful for many situations. If someone asks you how much you make, for instance, you could just say “I’m sorry, I have a policy against discussing salary.” You can even leave out the ‘i’m sorry’ part, since many of us say it too much. It ends the conversation quickly. People respect “policies.”

      Oh, an idea: If you want to help me spread the word, the BEST thing you can do is leave reviews for my books on Amazon.

      So few people actually leave a review. Lots of people have come here and told me they love one of the books, but only a small fraction do so on Amazon (a big thank you to all of you who have!). In order for a book to sell well and get out there where it can help people, it needs plenty of reviews. The trolls are more than happy to do so…

      Thanks everyone

  19. janes

    i ll comment on your replies in the evening

  20. janes

    you are wrong about my weak boundaries , i have NO boundaries. i dont know if I should lol or cry about my statement. ;) i should master your Building Boundaries book this weekend & i am planning to be a tough critic of your book on review section. heads up to you.
    You have done it again with one sentence you teach us how to fish (POLICY) statement. a good one !
    your take on working with Ps is SPOT ON 100%. they fix one issue on SHORT TERM QUICKLY then they create 100 more problems then they turn everything upside down, that they touch :(( i ‘ve experience it already just like in dating. they are the consummate MIDDLE MAN of the world. for now i have no choice but to work with their services until i can buy one of their companies.
    it is one of my favorite saying. you build it they will come & they always do WHEN YOU BUILD GREAT THINGS!

    1. Admin

      No BOUNDARIES?! You may not know whether to laugh or cry, but I’m crying. Please read the Boundaries book. I think it’s $2.99 well spent.

      I figured if Ps on Wall Street could destroy the entire economy in 2008, they could do the same to your business. And they’re the ones who laugh all the way to the bank. Yes, it’s just like they do in relationships and everything else. It’s just a lot of hocus-pocus. When the magic dust settles, there’s nothing there.

      Thanks, Janes!

  21. The Plummer

    This article has sparked a long forgotten issue I had with a support forum, early in my recognizing I was entangled with a high conflict personality disordered woman.

    I was on a men’s help forum, that was invaded by the same half a dozen women posters. They had all but taken over the forum.

    Now I really don’t like having to bring gender differences into every comment I make here, however I do feel strongly that there are MAJOR differences in the way the masculine heals than from the way the feminine heals.

    It appears that the current psychology training models completely ignor the biological differences and don’t even have a clue about how a man heals.

    While both genders need validation when they are in a place of deep hurting, it appears that males respond better to “actionable” advice, rather than validation support.

    After about a month on this forum, I began to notice a pattern. It appeared that everyone had a problem, talked about it, then like a horde, all the same people would jump in and give emotional validation. It was like they were having a competition in writing about who was in the worse relationship. And all the group seemed to be nothing more than a bunch of “psychopants”, perpetuating the painful circumstances that each one was in, while never uttering ANY actionable advice on how to remedy their delimma.

    Once I began to speak up and offer logical alternatives to their behavioral patterns, I got demonized and promptly banned for life.

    This really hurt me at the time, because I wasn’t in such a good place myself, and I found it really cathartic to be able to offer thoughts that would lead to potential better outcomes for my fellow victims. That was my “actionable” therapy and I was denied that by the same type of disordered control freaks that were major posters on that forum. It’s like they really didn’t want anyone to ever heal and be able to move on with their lives, hopefully without the need for the support forum in the first place.

    1. Admin

      I would hope the moderators would stop that from happening, but then again, who knows who the moderators are? Forums are dangerous for people in the early stages. We go there expecting support and thinking it’s a safe place, and instead we’re blindsided once again. It can really set someone back. It’s hard to describe how I felt when it happened to me. It was really traumatic; I had this sense that no place was safe and no one was trustworthy. My state of mind wasn’t good at that point in time, and I was truly shaken by it.

      Men do want actionable advice. This is the cause of the problems that arise when a female goes to a male friend or partner for advice. He tells her three things he thinks she should do about the problem when what she needs is to talk about her feelings. There is definitely a difference in styles of communication.

  22. Katydid

    I was recently “discarded” from the Psychopath Free forum. I’m fortunate that I’m far enough along in my healing process that this doesn’t really affect me; however, looking at reviews of the Psychopath Free book on Amazon, it’s readily obvious that something fishy is going on in those forums. It’s a McCarthyist witch hunt over there.

    1. Admin

      I’m sorry to hear that, Katydid. You are indeed lucky you were far enough along, because it can really add to the trauma. Support forums are last place we expect something like that to happen, but it’s actually not uncommon. For everyone that speaks up about it, I’ll bet there are many more who never say a word.

    2. Moon Princess

      I left the Psychopath Free forum 2 or 3 days ago. I had been on there about a year and had many bad experiences. The first one was getting both my boyfriend and I banned just because we had the same IP. I had told him to sign up because he has disordered parents and I thought the forum would help him(I was there for an ex boyfriend). Instead they banned both accounts. I got it reinstated after I emailed to explain the situation.
      Then they basically told him they couldn’t help him and maybe he should look somewhere else.

      I was pretty mad, but stuck around. I felt disrespected many times after that simply because they would twist what I said around or shame me(because I would peek at his or the NS’s facebooks). It felt like they didn’t even read what I wrote. Which again was what happened this last time and I was attacked by multiple people and I was very polite and gave examples of why I said what I said(I expressed feeling bad for Hitler…)

      The post are likely still up if anyone wants to read them. I just left and don’t have any plans on going back.

      1. Adelyn Birch

        I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience when you were looking for support, Moon Princess. I hope you will find whatever help you need, and that your BF will, too. Best wishes to you.

        1. Moon Princess

          Thank you, I am thankfully far enough along in my healing that it only really upset me at the time, which being attacked and accused can do to a person. I only posted to let others know what they may expect before they join.

          I read some negative things about the forum before I joined and was cautious about how much I shared.

          I did get some healing from the site and it was hit and miss on the forum.

          Thank you on behalf of my BF, he is doing much better. I have been doing my best to help him however I can and he is doing so well. ?

          1. Adelyn Birch

            Being attacked and accused—when you’re looking for help!—certainly doesn’t help anything. I’m so glad you’re coming along, and your BF too.

  23. Thanks so much for that warning! I am the kind of person who tends to blame myself for things, and it took a long while for me to realize that I am a victim. He successfully turned all of my friends and some of his family against me and I am now a single mother with his child. I considered going to one of those sites seeing as I no longer have anyone to talk to, but now I will avoid them like the plague!

    1. Admin

      You’re welcome. I’m so sorry he turned your friends against you and left you without support! It is important that you get it somewhere, though. Do you have a therapist? If it’s possible for you to get one, find someone who has expertise in emotional abuse and trauma. You might also want to try a support group. Local domestic violence organizations often have one, and I’ve heard some good reviews from people who’ve attended. You may also be able to find a group for single parents and at least get some support with that. I’m sure it’s not easy to go it alone! All the best to you, JF.

  24. lisa

    I had a huge setback in my healing after joining a support forum. In fact I do feel that I was re-victimized. I said something to support another member who was being reprimanded by two of the moderators and in doing that they associated me with her. They began to watch everything I wrote thereafter and one day they banned me. There was no private warning. I was just banned. I won’t go into the details of what I did wrong and to be honest I still don’t think that I did anything wrong. I had certainly read many comments on that forum that were above and beyond my one sentence they did not like. They were just watching me so closely after I challenged them and they did not like being contradicted so they found something to pick on.

    Last Friday night I had a severe anxiety attack that lasted all night long and I felt suicidal. Many times the shame that I have felt for being discarded by that site went through my head and heart. Thank you again for writing this post that you have written. I thought I was the only one who had experienced this: yet again. Now I know that I am not crazy or bad or worthless or whatever that act has caused me to doubt in myself.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry to hear that, Lisa! The same thing happened to me, and it was really traumatizing in my state of mind at the time. It doesn’t take much to get banned, all it takes it to disagree with the ideas of whomever does the banning. There are many of us who’ve been re-victimized like that. We reached out for support in a place we believed was safe, and experienced another shock and betrayal. I felt like nowhere was safe, that I’d never get the support I needed. That wasn’t true, but in that state of mind that’s the way it seemed. I’m glad finding out you’re not the only one helps. It helped me, too.

      1. lisa

        Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry you experienced it as well. I think Sandra L. Brown has warned about this happening. It is incredibly shocking to me.
        I am having such a hard time finding the place to go now to get the validation I so desperately need in my healing process. It seems smaller cities do not have the specialized understanding and my therapist does not seem well equipped to understand and support me in what I’ve gone through. She is not trained in anything to do with psychopathy. So online is just about all i have.

        I’ve read many of your posts and I cannot tell you how healing they are for me. Thank you so much again.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          I experienced the same thing with my therapist. You should look for a new one, one who specializes in abuse and trauma. There have to be a few who do in any city. Also, try your local domestic violence organization. I didn’t do that at the time because I didn’t think my situation fit because I wasn’t physically abused, but that wasn’t a good assumption. I’ve heard from several people who said it was very helpful. They attended support groups, and a few had individual counseling as well. It’s worth a try.

          I’m happy to hear you’re finding more posts that are helping you.

  25. Evangeline

    This is my first time on this site and I’m very unsure about being here, but I needed to know that I’m not the only one. I truly appreciated those of you who have shared your experiences. The relationship I had lasted 10 years. I believe I have recovered, which took at least 5 years give or take a little, now when I think of him the anger, hatred and blame is no longer there, but what I have found is that, it is affecting potential relationships. At the beginning of every relationship if I sense anything that resembles what I been through I immediately end it. This has been going on since that relationship ended. I really desire a new and real love in my life like so many others I’m sure. I would love to hear about survivors who recovered and found the love of their lives/success love stories that would be therapeutic.

    Love and Blessings

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Hi, Evangeline. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble trusting new potential mates. I think it comes down to what it is you’re sensing; some things do warrant ending things immediately. but others might be just enough to tell you to stay alert. Could you give some examples?

      I’m not sure if you will get replies from other readers who can answer your question and tell their success stories (I wish they would, though). When people do move on successfully, most of them don’t visit sites like this anymore :-)

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