Should You Forgive the Psychopath?

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“Norms of forgiveness seem unduly to burden the oppressed.”

– Nancy A. Stanlick

Forgiveness. It’s what good people should do, right? We’re told that forgiveness is the only way to get rid of feelings of anger and animosity.  We’re told that forgiveness acknowledges our recognition and acceptance of the imperfections we and every other human being has. We’re told that if we choose not to forgive the abuser, there’s something wrong with us.

There are many arguments in favor of forgiveness, but are they valid? And I don’t mean valid to your mother or your pastor or your best friend, but to you.

I’m not advocating that you remain angry and bitter for the rest of your life. What I’m saying is forgiveness is not the only way to let go of the anger. There are other ways, and they don’t require us to pardon the abuser if we are opposed to that.

This is a good time to recall some of our basic rights, many of which we seemed to have abandoned or forgotten while involved in a pathological relationship:

• I have the right to have my needs and feelings be as important as anyone else’s.
• I have the right to experience and express my feelings, if I choose to do so.
• I have the right to express my opinions, if I choose to do so.
• I have the right to set my own priorities.

(You can read the rest on the “REBOOT” page)

In light of these basic rights, the issue of forgiveness might just be the perfect place to start putting these rights into practice.

Why do I say that? Because a large part of healing is learning to acknowledge and trust our own feelings, preferences and choices again, instead of letting others dictate to us what we ‘should’ feel and what we ‘should’ do. We’ve all had enough of that kind of manipulation. So why let it continue with the issue of forgiveness?

“In the process of recovery, most people do not mention forgiveness as part of their progress”

All quotes in this post are from the Florida Philosophical Review, Volume X, Issue 1, Summer 2010, Reconciling with Harm: An Alternative to Forgiveness and Revenge, by Nancy A. Stanlick, University of Central Florida

Now if you do choose to forgive, if that helps you heal, then of course go right ahead. This article is written for those who don’t feel the offender deserves forgiveness, or who feel pressured to forgive, or who feel like they must forgive to please others, or who feel anxiety over their ability to forgive, or who feel like they ‘should’ forgive…but just feel something is holding them back.

“Feeling miserable is compatible with forgiving someone while lamenting the fact that harm was done.”

There is a pervasive idea that we have to forgive everyone all the time, and if we don’t, there’s something wrong with us. It’s as if a victim doesn’t have enough to deal with already. We have more than enough to deal with in overcoming our victimization and the results of it, and then we are victimized yet again by the Forgiveness Brigade that wants us to believe it’s something vital that we must do, for whatever their reason.

We already let the manipulator talk us out of trusting our feelings and tell us our feelings weren’t valid; are we now going to let others tell us that our feelings are wrong and that we’re at fault for having them? I’m not buying that. My feelings at the time were “Don’t tell me how to feel, don’t tell me my feelings are unacceptable, and don’t tell me what I should do with them.” Personally, I had enough of being manipulated, and being told I should forgive just felt like more manipulation.

I believe it’s is far more therapeutic to refuse to forgive if you don’t want to — after all, we were controlled by this person who harmed us, and now we’re working toward getting our strength and our independence and our own voice back — so why should we again be controlled by others, who are now admonishing us to forgive? It seems so virtuous, so we don’t see it for what it really is.

Some things are simply beyond forgiveness, and we will each decide what that means based on our own personal experience. In time, many of us — myself included — simply became indifferent. Forgiveness was not warranted, nor was it necessary for healing to occur.

“A severely harmed person may have no interest in forgiving…she recognizes that as a harmed person she may still lack trust, feel violated, and suffer continuing harms as a result of the initial harm done to her. In such cases, there may come a time at which the perpetrator becomes irrelevant in her personal odyssey in experiencing harm, reacting to it, and finding a way to rebuild a life shattered or imperiled by harm.”

If you choose not to forgive this particular person in this particular situation, it doesn’t mean you’re an unforgiving, hard-hearted person who never forgives anyone. There are plenty of reasons you may not want to forgive the person who victimized you. Maybe you don’t feel he deserves it because of the magnitude of what he did to you, or because she didn’t feel any remorse. Maybe you’re recovering without giving forgiveness a second thought. Whatever the reason, it’s yours, and you have a right to it.

“Forgiveness fails as a reaction to severe, egregious and long-lasting harm because it does not reliably or necessarily help a harmed person regain trust simply by letting go of hostile feelings toward an offender. What the harmed person consistently experiences and that with which she must deal is harm itself and its attendant effects.”

A reader named Bel commented, “I gave myself closure about two months ago and my healing has now really escalated. After forgiving myself, all of the anger and pain dissipated – it comes back now and again – but with nowhere near the level and viciousness it hit me with for the best part of a year after separating. And I am better able to deal with it and let it go. Note: I have not forgiven him, I have forgiven myself. There is no obligation on our part to forgive someone who has deliberately gone out of their way to f**k us over, ever.”

I could not agree more. Yet there is pressure to forgive, and if it doesn’t come from others urging us to do so, it comes from ourselves, through the beliefs we’ve internalized that originate with our families, friends, religions or cultures. As Bel has shown us, forgiving the perpetrator is not necessary for healing. But many believe the persistent myth that it is necessary, and then beat themselves up for not being able to forgive or for not wanting to forgive. After what these people have done — compounded by the fact that they have no remorse for it — do they deserve our forgiveness? We already gave them far more than enough, again and again, and they kept blowing it.

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I say own your feelings, because they exist for good reason. The day will come when you go on with your life and feel peaceful and happy, no forgiveness required. In time you will feel indifferent to him or her and it won’t matter.

“With respect to harm or wrongdoing, the traditional reactive attitudes and actions are forgiveness of, revenge against, and reconciliation with a perpetrator. Most accounts of forgiveness focus on benefits of forgiving to the forgiver and others. However, forgiveness, revenge, and traditional reconciliation may be impossible, inappropriate, or morally undesirable…”

 The article I’m quoting gives an alternative to forgiveness, revenge, or reconciliation, which are the three options usually available to us. This alternative is called ‘reconciling with harm.’ It helped me quite a bit at the time. As the author says, “I wish in this paper only to consider harms that are serious, long-lasting, continuing, and perhaps even devastating for the person harmed.” If you would like to learn more about this fourth alternative, please read the paper: Reconciling with Harm: An Alternative to Forgiveness and Revenge. Clicking the link will download a PDF.

“As Solomon Schimmel notes, ‘to advocate forgiving all offenders and all offenses because everyone commits some offenses blurs all distinction between degrees of sin, evil, and crime.’ In short, Schimmel’s view is that the simple fact that we all at some point commit some offense(s) does not lead to the conclusion that we are all equally culpable and thus equally forgivable since there are offenses that are significantly different in their effects or intentions from others that are minor, short-lived, or generally insignificant… Further, even if in general all of us commit some offense(s) at some time, this is largely irrelevant to specific cases in which the harmed person did not commit any offense against the offender…”

 

See also:

FORGIVENESS: The Other F-Word

 ♥ Thank you for reading.

Comments are closed.

“I loved the author’s ability to simply and compassionately describe why, and how, I feel victim to a monster. For me, she eloquently describes the most complex, confusing, horrific experience of my life.. To the author, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“Her writing was like discovering a mentor, a friend, a sponsor, a confident who understood, who explained in detail what happened to me in my relationship with this man. I felt like something in the universe directed me to her. Her books will help you understand the hows and whys of what you went through. Your healing can begin with her writings.”

“Invaluable. Having been in a relationship with a psychopath for many years, I desperately needed some insight into what had happened and why. I have gained a tremendous amount of strength and knowledge toward healing from years of abuse by reading this book. One of the best.”

“Spot on! Everything I needed to know to gain closure! Absolutely 100% what I was searching for! I highlighted SO much of this book. It validated my feelings, spoke to my heart, opened my eyes and set me on a path to closure! So glad I read it!!”

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51 thoughts on “Should You Forgive the Psychopath?”

  1. AnnettePK

    Per many definitions of forgiveness, it’s not even possible to ‘forgive’ someone who does not: regret the harm he did, change his motivation so that he would not do the same harm to anyone again, and ask for forgiveness from the person he harmed. Even then, it is the right of the harmed party to choose not to forgive; although in most cases when the offending person has changed that much and regrets his wrong choices, it is possible to forgive.

    Forgiveness is also sometimes defines as letting go of desire for vengeance, whether the offender regrets what he did or not. This is something done for oneself, to remove the burden of anger, hatred, desire for retribution, from oneself, and turn it over to God, to the Universe. This is a personal decision that often happens in the course of recovery from being harmed. It is beneficial to the victim; but it does nothing for the perpetrator since he doesn’t regret the harm he did and is probably still harming people.

    1. Admin

      “Forgiveness is also sometimes defines as letting go of desire for vengeance” Maybe this is what happened to me. I called it ‘indifference.’ It most definitely removed the burdens you mentioned. It wasn’t a decision I made — it just happened in time. Thank you so much for your comment, Annette.

      1. D C

        I’m commenting on behalf of my daughter who went through a very traumatic divorce with a text book psychopath. She did love him very much at one point. She now despises him!

        He is still in her life as they have 2 children 8 and 6. She now lives 200 miles away from her ex who is entitled to fortnightly contact with his children. He spends one fortnight in her hometown, having the children for the weekend and the next fortnight she has to drop them on a motorway service’s half way. (A court order is in force). He is also entitled to twice weekly phone calls and Skype .

        She left him, taking the children with her. He tried to kill her whilst they were together! Unfortunately, the CPS dropped the case at the last moment, so he was never convicted. He has never forgiven her for taking the children away and involving the police and constantly and subliminally manipulates the children whenever he has them to encourage them to leave mummy and go to live with him. They are very young and absorb all his venom. He is intent on revenge and will stop at nothing. However its an impossible thing to prove. he is a lawyer and is very very clever. He knows what he is doing. Every time the children are returned to her from being with him, they are sullen and aggressive towards my daughter. He is turning them into ogers and she is finding their behaviour very difficult. She is and always has been an exceptionally good mummy. He is a vengeful father!

        People tell my daughter to appease him and he will improve his demeanour if he feels she is cooperating with him. I know, whatever she does, he will not stop until he has the children with him. Its only a matter of time. The courts will listen to a 10 yr old’s wishes. He is playing the long game.

        He is trapping her again and she is very worried about what he is doing to the children, purely for his own benefit. Nothing to do with doing what’s right for the children. She tried involving a child psychologist to try to give the children some sense of balance but the clever psychopathic father made contact with the psychologist (he got the name from the children) trying to influence him. He also manipulated the children and coached them into what they they should say.

        If anyone has had similar experiences and can offer some advice, I would be appreciative.

        1. Admin

          What he’s doing to the children is known as ‘parental alienation.’ This is very serious, as you know, and in my book one of the worse things these heartless people do. Using children as pawns to seek revenge is despicable. I have had no experience with it myself, so I will point you in the direction of some resources I’ve come across:

          The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201304/the-impact-parental-alienation-children

          Mom’s Hearts Unsilenced: http://momsheartsunsilenced.com/2014/02/

          The website of HG Beverly (she’s the author of “The Other Side of Charm: Your Memoir,” and psychotherapist who is going through a similar situation):

          Telling Your Kids the Truth About a Sociopath: http://hgbeverly.com/telling-your-kids-the-truth-about-a-sociopath/

          Parental Alienation Awareness Organization: http://www.paawareness.org/

          What Can a Court Do About PAS? (UK): http://www.sfla.co.uk/pasincourt.htm

          1. D C

            Many thanks,

            I will pass your suggested resources on to my daughter

            kind regards

            1. Admin

              I hope she’ll find something helpful. Best wishes.

  2. Sam

    I absolutely agree with this. I think the culture of ‘forgiveness ‘ like that of relentless ‘positivity’ is very damaging to those who have been so destroyed at the hands of another.

    I know I will never forgive my ex. He knows that too.

    1. Admin

      I agree. Relentless positivity is a bunch of soul-killing BS that invalidates people and their experiences.

      Not only are we supposed to forgive…but ‘forget,’ too. And those who can’t or won’t are vilified by those who think they ‘should.’ Whenever I hear the word ‘should’ anymore, it sets alarm bells off for me.

  3. Corey

    I have forgiven but will never forget. I barely survived. Had me believing that I was going crazy. Moved to another state to escape the insanity….stalking…belittling…..and etc. Worst. nightmare
    of my life!!!!

    1. Admin

      I understand, and I’m happy to hear you got away. I hope things are getting better for you.

    2. toni

      when does it stop? I cant seem to find myself at all. I keep looking for a happy ending somehow that I survived. but I just read a book called the seducer, and now I think the offender is going to try to kill me. I keep looking over my shoulder.

      1. Admin

        I had the same fear after it was over. I still think about it from time to time.

        If you really think the offender is going to kill you, you need to do something about it. In my case, there was nothing solid to back up my fear so I didn’t take any action; he had never been violent, etc. Sometimes I would get up at night (lots of insomnia at that time) and I would be too terrified to open my bedroom door. I would stand there with my hand on the knob for a few minutes while I worked up the courage. Looking back, I understand it was a reaction to the trauma, along with other reactions I was having. I will never forget that fear. It became less intense and finally subsided as time went on, but as I said I still sometimes wonder if he will eventually try to harm me. I hope your fear will subside, and that you will keep yourself safe if you believe you are in danger. Also, please see a therapist, preferably one who is familiar with PTSD and abusive relationships. Best wishes to you.

        1. toni

          thankyou, the fear and panic I feel when I wake up in the morning is so great. I wonder if anyone else feels that. its just that my heart races and its like a panic attack. my psychopath is textbook and more. I never would have known without these blogs and books I was reading. I was married and the psychopath was an affair. double regret! I was blackmailed for the whole time and still went on with this strange charade. I felt trapped in a web of fear.

          1. Admin

            When I was feeling that fear, books and blogs were simply not enough. A compassionate therapist and a couple of weeks of ativan helped me get through it. I hope you’ll find a qualified therapist as soon as possible, because I know how distressing it is to feel that way. I hope you will find your way out of that web very soon.

          2. Tina

            Thank you for your honesty about being involved in an affair with a psychopath. I was too. It’s been such an agonizing journey grieving the psychopath and trying to repair my marriage. I’ve felt pressure to forgive the psychopath for ripping me and my life to shreds. Because of this article I feel justified in not doing so. Forgiving myself is what I’m after. I hope to get there someday.

  4. markus liendo

    You can forgive them but you dont have to stay in the situsion anymore. Or you can be aware and learn all the tactics of this perticular person and it cant hurt you no more. But a spiritual conciousness and training in maintaining awareness is the only stage capable of forgivness. If you are not there you wont be able to let go or live in the hostile enviroment without getting psycological or physical damagde. What i am trying to say is become spiritual you are a soul having a human experince. The answers will come. The psycopats and their foot soldiers will push you to enlightenment , win, win situasion, unless you become one of them . If you forgive , you take away their power and control. and psycopats are all about power and control.

    1. Admin

      “The psycopats and their foot soldiers will push you to enlightenment.” They certainly do…although I don’t think it’s quite what they had in mind!

      I think you may mean “forgive’ in a more encompassing way than it is usually defined. Whatever gets someone to a place of peace is good. I never ‘forgave’ the psychopath, but my feelings of animosity resolved anyway. In another comment, a reader said that letting go of vengeance is sometimes also defined as forgiveness. Although I didn’t do it on purpose, it happened as I healed. That’s something I consider a broader idea of the concept.

      1. markus liendo

        Ofcourse the psycopats are stupid robots soldiers of the matrix, they dont know you are getting smarter and stronger. In reality you forgive your selve and love your selve and respect your selve. this will hurt the psycopat and it is no longer need for forgivnes it need to forgive it selve.

        1. Admin

          “Robot Soldiers of the Matrix”…it has a certain ring to it. Do they really not know we’re getting smarter and stronger?

          “In reality you forgive your selve and love your selve and respect your selve.” Yes, that’s exactly who needs forgiveness — ourselves. That’s a big, important step in healing and growing stronger. I’ll have to address that in another post. Thank you for your comment!

  5. Carol

    I love the reconciling with harm article…it is so helpful…I have no intention of ever forgiving the monster who almost ruined my life and my family….This does not mean I am incapable of forgiveness. Some people do not deserve forgiveness.

    1. Admin

      I know it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of forgiveness. Glad you found the “Reconciling from Harm” paper helpful. That article really is helpful — it made a big difference for me. It’s long, but it’s captivating.

  6. JS Victim

    OMG, Im not carrying a poisonous attitude against Spathtard because I want to,,,,,,it’s part of the abuse! It’s what they contaminate you with. Regardless, I will NEVER forgive Spathtard for what he did to me. I don’t care if his brain is broken or his father fondled him or what EVER!! He will NEVER feel one ounce of remorse for his entitled, arrogant, self righteous trashing of the most severe betrayal i have ever experienced. He not only raped me on every concievable level but relished in it. My heart is shattered not hardened, hardened to him yes, may he rot in the hell of his Mommy’s basement. I’ve never in my 55 years even MET a person who deserves my hate and distain in the way he does. But just because I feel these feelings towards him does not mean I am incapable of feeling love and joy about other things and toward other people.

    1. Admin

      Exactly. Just because you have a “poisonous attitude” for the ‘spathtard,’ it doesn’t mean you have it for anyone else. You may find that in time that poisonous attitude resolves, and it will feel good.

  7. aurora

    Forgiveness is such an intensely personal and individual choice. There are so many conflicting feelings and situations involved. For me I knew I was finally on the road to healing from traumatic experience when I could forgive myself. For not seeing all the red flags, for being duped by his bs, for trusting him blindly. I felt so stupid and ashamed. Once I worked through all of those painful feelings and truly forgave myself, (basically for being human), it released me from any connection to him at all. I’m nowhere near indifference just yet, but forgiving myself

    1. aurora

      Oops, pressed send button before finishing. What I wanted to say was that forgiving myself has been one of the most significant steps in my journey back to wholeness, but for each of us it will be a unique process. I can’t wait to read the PDF attachment. Thanks for posting on such a challenging subject.

      1. Admin

        I pressed send before I was finished writing this post, and sent a rough draft to hundreds of people! oops

    2. Admin

      I blamed myself for all the same things you did, and when that self-blame finally came to an end, it was a huge relief and a giant step forward. Forgiving oneself is a big part of healing. I need to write a post on that very soon. In fact, I think I’ll move it to the top of the list.

  8. efemeris

    forgiviness is only appeal for pitty and appeal to emotion insteed the appeal to reason. so big NO from me. psychopaths and other human predators prey on forgiviness. it doesn´t benefit them, it doesn´t benefit victims.

    1. Admin

      Good point, efemeris. They do prey on forgiveness. We forgave them many times over during the relationship, and they counted on it.

  9. Nearlybel

    I had tried many times to read the full paper by Nancy A Stanlick, I got the gist of it, and decided that reconciling with harm was best suited to how I felt and I could live with it but without really understanding it. Your blog just cuts straight to the ‘important’ bits, you explain so well, I now understand :) And the comments as illuminating as ever. I love this site, thank you xx

    1. Admin

      The author of that paper came up with a great alternative. It worked for me, too. I only touched on it briefly without really explaining it, so maybe I’ll write more about it specifically in the future. My list of blog post ideas grows ever longer……
      I’m glad you love the site. Thank you, Nearlybel. I’m happy to have you here reading it.

      1. Reality

        Hi admin.
        i like very much this post of yours and i have to say that i deffinetely agree that there is no need at all to forgive the pdycopath. Why to do this? He never made the effort in the first place to ask for real forgiveness as he never really felt any remorse or guilt for his outrageous behavior. Someone deserves to be forgived when he first acknowledges the harm that he inflicted, then he validates the feelings of sorrow and pain for the one he harmed and he tries never to repeat the harmful behavior and he makes every amend necessary to shooth the pain he caused. Andafter this remorseful behavior is stable and consistent then and only then he should hope for forgiveness and not demand it as always the one harmed has the right not to forgive if he considers the damage done too deep. I am completely opposite to the culture of ‘forgive and forget’ that all this silly new age wave tries to impose as the ultimate way to hapiness. This is what enforces the cycle of abuse and keeps the good people willing victims to all kind of toxic behavior. I will never forgive the psycopath for what he did . Never. He is a disgusting creature with no real human value. Why to want to forgive such a man? If i forgive him it is like i acknowledge that things could not end up differently, hell no… he could act very differently but he had chosen to do the repulsive things he did. What i want is to reach the level of total indifference to him . Especially today as i had to have some contact due to professional reasons i feel anger and disgust plus some anxiety and sadness, all outcomes of encountered him even as i was as gray rock as possible. His sickness is so palpable and it is like i have to detox my existense after any contact. I always need some days to recover myself. Well, forgiveness ? No… does it make me this a bad person? I dont think so, i am good with the ones that deserve it. And one of my motos in life is that i do not take credit only from my friends but also from my enemies. So, if it is to have enemies i want to have the right ones. If a psycopath deslikes me , it means that he cannot manipulate me anymore. So i am in the right place of the fence. And personally i think that somebody is free inside not when he is able to forgive the one who abused him but when he stays true to himself, his values and his needs and surrounds himself with good and valuable people who do not challenge his self respect.lots of love to you and everyone who had to deal with this kind of ugliness that a psycopath can bring in life.

        1. Admin

          Hi Reality. Thanks for your comment. Lots of good points, including ~

          “Someone deserves to be forgived when he first acknowledges the harm that he inflicted, then he validates the feelings of sorrow and pain for the one he harmed and he tries never to repeat the harmful behavior and he makes every amend necessary to shooth the pain he caused. Andafter this remorseful behavior is stable and consistent then and only then he should hope for forgiveness…”

          I feel the same way — if someone who hurt me has no remorse, then they haven’t qualified for forgiveness. ESPECIALLY when the harm is so egregious (outstandingly bad, shockingly bad). Over the course of the relationship, I forgave him over and over…I would feel like a fool to do it again. Not forgiving him was an important way I regained my dignity.

          “I think that somebody is free inside not when he is able to forgive the one who abused him but when he stays true to himself, his values and his needs and surrounds himself with good and valuable people who do not challenge his self respect.”

          I agree with this. Personally, forgiving the psychopath who harmed me would feel very……masochistic. But not wanting or needing to forgive him actually helped me to regain my self-respect and it felt like a turning point. It felt like I was taking a stand for myself, like I had returned to a place of honoring my own values and needs again.

          Indifference is very freeing. I haven’t seen him once in a year and a half, and this makes it easier. I know if I were to run into him someplace, I’d most likely feel something, and only ACT indifferent. So I understand that it’s hard for you, and for other people, who have to see these abusers, either at work or while raising children or somewhere. I hope you regain your equilibrium quickly afterward.

  10. laura

    I don’t understand why victims should forgive themselves,as if they were the guilty ones,not the abuser.In my case,my parents are emotionally abusive.Unlike victims of abusive husbands or boyfriends,i did not choose my parents,so there’s nothing to forgive myself for.

    1. Admin

      “I don’t understand why victims should forgive themselves,as if they were the guilty ones”

      Many of us go through a lot of self-blame. We ask ourselves how we didn’t see the signs, or why we put up with all the lies or with the whole thing in general, after things became obviously bad. That’s what we forgive ourselves for. It happens when we finally understand that we were the victims of manipulators, abusers.

      “Unlike victims of abusive husbands or boyfriends, I did not choose my parents”

      None of us chose our abusers, or chose to be abused.

      Thanks for your comment.

  11. dav

    I have been trying to forgive for many years now. From all the books I have read and blogs. It has been said it is a final way to heal. I have read so much of the Bible and have talked about forgiveness in church,( but I did not say any thing about a Sociopath harm.) God does want us to for give each other the way God forgives us. I have been trying to let go of the anger I have, but I can’t. The years of therapy I have been in and all the years of wasted time, to wind up with nothing and really nothing. This still gets to me. It is a circle I cant get out of. I want to forgive for me and God. This is hard.

    1. Admin

      I may not be the best person to ask, but I’ll give it a try anyway.

      It sounds like being able to forgive is very important to you, for a couple of reasons: You’ve been angry for years, and you’re tired of it. After all, anger is not a pleasant emotion. Also, forgiveness is important to you because of your religious beliefs.

      First, let’s talk about your anger. I imagine you have a really good reason to be angry. You’ve been angry for many years, and that doesn’t happen for nothing. Before you can let go of your anger, you may need to acknowledge that you have a right to be angry. It is a normal reaction to what was done to you. You’re outraged, and rightfully so, about the way this person treated you. He showed no regard for you as a person, as a human being. I think it’s safe to say everyone here has experienced intense anger. Acknowledge your anger by accepting that you have a sound reason for it, that you have a right to be angry, and that you’re completely normal for feeling angry.

      Now what? You’ve acknowledged and accepted your anger, but now you want to be free from it, free from the abuser, free from the past. A big part of your anger is most likely because you never got any justice. It’s not fair that you got beat up (emotionally, physically, in whatever way) and he didn’t suffer at all, even though he was the abuser and he deserved it, not you. He (or she) never expressed any remorse, never even felt any, so you never got an apology. In fact, you never got any acknowledgement at all from this person that conveys he knows or understands how seriously he harmed you. After you acknowledge these things, and recognize they are normal and appropriate ways to feel in such a situation, you have to accept (this is hard) that you will never get any justice, accept that this person will never understand the harm you experienced, and accept that he will never feel any remorse for it. You will never get these things that you feel you are owed.

      It certainly isn’t right. It isn’t fair at all. It shouldn’t be this way — you’re a good person and you haven’t harmed anyone, after all. But when you accept that you will never get the justice you deserve or the apology you’re owed, you will simply be accepting reality. Nothing makes us unhappier than fighting against what is while we hang on to how it should be.

      Now that you’ve accepted that you aren’t going to get what you deserve, what you’re owed, you can cancel the debt. Tear it up, and throw it away. That doesn’t mean you condone what this person did to you. It doesn’t change what he is. It can’t change the past. Cancelling the debt has to do with the future, not the past. It frees you from those ties of anger, and so it frees you from the abuser, once and for all.

      Cancelling the debt changes the future, because you get to live it without letting anger from the past rob you of the joy you could feel today. And THAT’S what you deserve, more than anything.

      I hope that helps you.

  12. This is a great blog. I went through all of this. It was every bit as terrible as your posts say. It’s amazing when you actually read about it and say “whoa!!! That was exactly what was done to me!” I slowly came around and figured out what was happening. After I was able to crawl out of the deep dark hole I was in, the first sane and healing thought that came to me was that it wasn’t about forgiving him and it never was. It was about forgiving myself for being so naieve and allowing that. I was so angry for so long but mostly at myself. I have forgiven myself and feel free and happy. As far as forgiving him, I could care or less. They are not human so why does it matter anyway. I’m not angry nor sad nor do I pity. I literally am neutral and am thankful that skank is out of my life. I vow to never let it happen again and that’s why I come back to places like this to read and refresh myself and the dangers of what other seemingly nice humans are capable of. My best wishes to all people out there recovering from one of these monsters. It will get better.

    1. Admin

      “I have forgiven myself and feel free and happy. As far as forgiving him, I could care or less.” My feelings, exactly. When we get to the point where we forgive ourselves (or, actually, to the point when we realize we don’t need to forgive ourselves), it’s a giant step forward.
      Best wishes to you, too.

  13. Sunshine

    Here is a part of a letter I wrote to my ex but never mailed. This is how I feel about forgiving the abuser.

    Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I really appreciate you. You saved my life. You gave me hope. You protected me. You became my best friend. You broke my heart. If you hadn’t hurt me so bad, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you for opening my eyes so I could get back to the real me. I needed to go through that pain one more time. Because of you, I’ve done so much reading and research. I am learning more and more how to heal myself and reprogram my thinking on love and relationships. Out of every terrible thing that happens in our life, is a blessing waiting on us. We just need to make it past all of the hurt and the pain. You have truly been a blessing to me. I don’t hate you. I am no longer angry. I forgive you. I have to forgive you. If I sat around holding grudges, hurt and anger for your actions, then you won. You would win because I would’ve allowed you to have a hold on me and my life.

    1. Admin

      I’m so glad you were able to find good things out of what happened! I did the same. When I tell someone that, I always add “I’m not going to send him a thank you card or anything, because he certainly didn’t mean to have a positive affect on my life. His intentions were quite the opposite.” Although I don’t walk around angry at him and what he did anymore, I will always feel that what he did was outrageous and such a disgrace. It was ME who took his lemons and made lemonade. Likewise, you were the one who who suffered his abuse and was able to find blessings in it. Best wishes.

  14. repentant

    i found this site yesterday. while i can understand that the victims need help. one must realise that the psychopaths need the help even more!! you see, between the two of you, they are the ones who are most fragile. they have built strong circular walls around them and imagine them standing right in the centre there — all alone. the more protection one needs the more weak that person is. manipulation and all that sorts being the person’s protection.

    i never saw myself as a psychopath nor have i really sat down and analysed, summarised what i did. but reading the things on this website had me feeling guilty and i came to know that yes i did do some of those things. i still cant bring to call myself a psychopath, its too much of a strong negative evil word, makes me feel like a horrible monster. but i am the one in the wrong here, the guilty one so let me call myself that. think of this as part of my punishment if it makes u feel any better.

    being an ex female ”psychopath” i can tell you from MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE that one did not become a psychopath overnight, nor was one born that way. NO NO. one thing i found common among the psychopaths that i have come across is that these guys had to grow up young, and at a young age they had to be adults, their chilhoods weren’t much… it was non exixtent. Like mine. let me explain to you in a metaphor the world of a psychopath as a child.

    i have NEVERRR told this story to anyone before and i dont think i ever will. but since u people are strangers i dont mind and i also want you to understand the immense pain and distrust that a psychopath harbours.At a very young age i personally felt like a sheep in a world full of WOLVES.. full of them, and i saw myself as being the one and only sheep in that world (remember this was at a very young age that i saw the world this way). the people who were supposed to protect me (my parents)… put me in danger, ignored my cries for help. time and time again this happened to me. having people outside of your family destroy your innocence and then having you parents do nothing about it and be against you. this all happened at around 5 years of age. to my parents image, reputation meant a LOT. they would never put it in jeopardy. even if it meant compromising me. they could have saved me. but to them i wasnt that precious. it took me some time then after 3 -4 yrs i came to the conclusion my parents in my eyes would never be able to protect me — i came to this sinking realisation late one night alone in bed crying. having your dear own parents,not on your side, to a child.. translates into having the world against you. i thought that the world must be even worse if parents are this way. so that’s when i knew i had to wear a wolf’s clothing to SURVIVE.. but the abuse still took place now and again, the only thing different this time (after my realisation) was i didnt tell my parents, knowing it would have no effect. and that was the beginning of everything. i was helpless in the area of being abused. but telling your parents and having them ignore you would have turned anyone insane. so i guess being a psychopath in the early stages of development is knowing what not to do in order to keep your frail sanity intact. i am trying my best here i don’t know how to fully explain it. i knew from a young age when to keep my mouth shut. i had no trust in people. they were never on my side. there was one abuser who was a mastertmind at fooling people around him and there was no way i could escape from him. when i told someone about what was happening to me, that person looked at me like i was scum and treated me like garbage after that. seeing that no one would help me, i knew it was upto me to get myself out of situations with my abuser. from then on i started to tell lies, deceive, manipulate.. and so on. this abuser was smart to check into my lies and check through my stories. so i stared to tell fantastic lies to everyone involved that in no time i was fooling him, and becoming manipulative deceiving became second nature to me. i would go to great lengths to avoid spending even one second with the scumbag.

    it was this way at school too. even though there was no visible danger. in a psychopaths mind there is danger everywhere !!! paranoia u call it i guess. so they think ahead, create what if’s situations in their heads and carry out a counteractive attack to diffuse the situation in advance that could or could not have been. in this process i ‘accquired’ many friends. in my mind they were resources i could use ,not really friends. i saw them as people who could turn against me at any moment. what i did not realise was that they were nice people and i needed to learn to trust them and let go. i constantly felt like i could be attacked at any moment. i was flawed not them. the abusers in my life were good at first then they suddenly changed. this made me feel like people only pretend to be good underneath they are the same. not knowing who would show their true self next, i was always always looking over my shoulder, pretending to people, lying and all the shameful disguisting things i did.

    it was divine intervention that saved me. it happened during my first ”relationship”. if i was a cat he looked like catnip to me. you must understand there are stages to the development to a psychopath. a person becomes this way initially, its to protect oneself , survive, defend. Next, they want to accquire a full armour they practice their skillls on friends family.. they want to be better equipped. This is the most dangerous part, having skills like…..pulling stories out of thin air, lying with a straight face to friends family etc makes them ADMIRE themselves and the longer a psychopath stays in this stage the more difficult for them to change and repent. they become narcissitic and what previously made them sad to realise they were the only one who was a sheep in a world of wolves now they become proud of being the sheep who can fool wolves. and this is when if ignored, and not corrected these psychopaths change from sheep in wolf’s clothing to a real wolf. these wolves now are so full of themselves. they become bored and want to play. they need stimulation. so, a psychopath comes into full force when with a lover, not with friends or family. it doesnt work 100% with them but with a lover it does (there are reasons for this but im afraid it will be long). back to my story, i tried out all the things i learnt on this guy, i feel ashamed when i come to writing this part. because the rest i did when i felt weak vulnerable wanting to protect myself. but to this guy i did them intentionally. when i was over him. it left him broken into pieces , he was a very sane, nice person. afterwards he turned into a wreck lost a lot, many other things took place which i dont want to write here. thats when divine intervention saved me. i was proud of what i did previously, but now i felt like a monster and realised how low i was to do such things to him and others. there was one thing that scared me the most ..i never wanted to be seen as a monster by God. all those times i felt i was the victim and god would be on my side, but that incident shook me to my core. i could have the whole world despise me but i could never bear God hating me. the first step was learning to not be full of myself as foolish as that may sound to some of you. it helped me a lot. i started to learn to love. and most of all the thing that helped me most was forgiving those abusers. (all except one) but i am working hard to let go of my grudge against that person. yesterday i was reading the tactics written on this site and i wished for a brief second that i met some man like that who would inflict the same pain that i inflicted on my ex. and we would be even then. but yikes i dont want that ever. i dont wish such people (psychopaths) even on my worst enemies. u can write any negative thing you want against me. i deserve it. but remeber they need the help too. they are lonely and in pain. if u cant help them move on, dont get mixed up with them. if u have any questions pls ask.

    this is what i have learnt from the psychopaths i have met and from my experience.
    from some stories i have read on here they seem really dangerous but they arent its just that u couldnt see through it that makes them look dangerous. i havent met one yet but a really deadly one is someone who is fully aware of the monster they have become and continue doing it. most psychopaths are not like that its just that they have become lost in the process of defending themselves to survive and didnt realise the transition that took place within them. thanks and God bless… and hope u all find loving people in your lives. :)

    1. Admin

      You’re not a psychopath. How do I know? The first clue is when you say “psychopaths need the help even more.” If you were psychopathic, you certainly wouldn’t feel you needed any help. Second, by your use of the words ‘fragile’ ‘guilt’ ‘lonely’ ‘in pain’ ‘weak’ and ‘vulnerable’ to describe yourself. Also. psychopaths don’t feel guilt and remorse like you say you do. I suggest you reach out to a good psychotherapist who can help you figure yourself out.

      By the way, have you given a heartfelt apology to that man you “wrecked”? Conveying your remorse could help you both.

      I hope you continue on your new path. Best wishes.

  15. Claire

    Hey, I’ve recently came across this website and it has helped me alot understand better what had been going on in the relationship i had with my ex boyfriend. I wanted to comment on another post you had but unfortunately i couldn’t. But i really would like your help on this issue. My ex boyfriend and I had been going through alot these past I made some bad choices during our relationship as I hid from him certain things i had done. I obviously felt guilty for what i did and he wanted to stay with me but as time passed by we started having alot of fights mainly about him not liking certain characteristics in me. He used to get angry alot at me for being the way i was and for the way i used to talk to him he used to say and i felt so bad and i used to tell him i would change, but i ende up showing him that i didnt. Bsically throughout this whole situation i felt exactly how you described in your other post about emotional manipulation. What i wanted to ask you is, that my boyfriend had pointed it out to me that he was brainwashing me and testing me to play with my mind. He told me he was doing this for me to become stronger and to see with what he s putting himself with. He told me that he always tried to help me and that his intentions were good to become a better person, and said how he alwyas looked out for my happiness. I obviously believed that at the time. I just wanted to ask you if it can happen that someone does that with good intentions ? and can they not know how bad it is affecting the other person ? After he told me that he still continued doing it. I feel hopeless and don’t know what to do. i still feel as if i want him back if only he would understand what he was doing to me. But he told me how he doesn’t want anything to do with me as i make him a different person which get very angry when i talk to him.
    Would you be able to answer via a private message ? Thanks.

    1. Admin

      First of all, this guy made you feel terrible about yourself. After all, here was this person you loved telling you that you had so many intolerable flaws! Then he tells you he was “trying to help you change” by “brainwashing you and testing you and playing with your mind.” This is never a good thing. Then, he tells you he never wants anything to do with you again because of all these “flaws” you have.

      This is classic, Claire. The psychopath ‘creates’ flaws through manipulation, and can’t tolerate normal human behavior he sees as weaknesses, either. He then embarks on a stealthy campaign to make us feel horrible about ourselves, and then concludes that we’re just so flawed that he can’t stand us at all anymore. That cycle is known as “Idealize, Devalue, Discard.” This is what’s been making you so miserable and hopeless. Please read the pages on this site titled “stages of the psychopathic bond” and “emotional rape.”

      Warm wishes too you.

      1. Claire

        I read your articles, I dont’t know if that’s the case. I’m just really confused, I feel really bad for him and feel the need to contact him. Can he not know what he was doing to my psychologically ? and think he was doing it for good intentions ? and should i talk to him about it even though we re not together right now ? i’m sorry to bother you but im just so confused.

        1. Admin

          Hi Claire. If you’re confused, give it time before contacting him. When someone is searching for answers and they end up on a website like this one, there’s a reason for it. His intentions don’t matter — what he “did to you psychologically” is what matters. I have a feeling talking to him will only confuse you more. Time away from him will give you the room you need to think more clearly. Best wishes.

  16. Debbie

    I’m not able to forgive them at this point in my life. Maybe some day in my future; just not now.

  17. yz gurl

    I am grateful to have come across this site. My journey has just begun with regard to figuring out what direction to take in my healing process. The folks that have left comments seem to have a better grip on acknowledging there is someone other than themselves to consider in their break up from their partners. I have been separated for a year. The biggest part of my situation is that I have 2 daughters (15, and 16) that have made a “choice” to live with him, and refuse to speak to me because he has convinced them (and me too for a number of years) that it is Me who is all about Myself. I have not (until recently) considered that they could be wrong. I agreed to all that they have generously pointed out as being my “flaws.” It wasn’t until my youngest (15) said to me that I “didn’t deserve” the title of “Mother” and that if I wanted any respect from her that I would have to “earn it.” It was that particular moment in time when I realized just how very right she was. Of course, her father being there at the time, encouraged and supported her words at the time by saying “I have no trouble with them respecting me, my life is good.”

    Right now I have all the above mentioned emotions, but am discouraged greatly because it seems that in order to detach from him, I also have to walk away from my children. It is a package deal. My heart is torn. I have had thoughts of ending my life, but haven’t, because I still have a small hope that I can somehow find a way to teach my daughters about compassion and empathy. For many years I have allowed them to watch while I apologized for everything that was wrong quickly, to save myself the experience of the exhausting longer conclusion that I would end up being wrong about anyway.. No matter what. I have no problem leaving him behind, (he has made it clear that I am garbage), it is just so very hard to walk away from my girls..I really would appreciate any suggestions..

    1. Admin

      YZ girl, I’m very sorry to hear about your ordeal. It’s so hard when we realize the truth about what was really going on…but the alternative of believing the lies is much worse. Of course you have the issue of his disgraceful, unconscionable alienation of your daughters to deal with. But as long as you are still living, there is the chance of reconciliation. Honestly, I don’t have any words of wisdom for you, although I wish I did. There are so many parents who have been and are going through the same thing.

      Parental alienation is an especially heinous form of psychological abuse, and you need to seek the support of others who are going through it, and counseling from someone who understands it, as well as someone who can advise you on legal matters.

      Here are a few resources that might offer some help:

      Mom’s Hearts Unsilenced: http://momsheartsunsilenced.com/2014/02/

      The website of HG Beverly (she’s an author and psychotherapist who is going through a similar situation):

      Telling Your Kids the Truth About a Sociopath http://hgbeverly.com/telling-your-kids-the-truth-about-a-sociopath/

      Warmest Wishes

      1. Admin

        Another resource:

        Parental Alienation
        Awareness Organization

        http://paawareness.org/

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