Sandra on Hay House Radio with Dr. Christiane Northrup


Sandra was recently interviewed by Dr. Christiane Northrup on her Hay House Radio show, Flourish!

Dr. Northup is a bestselling author and women’s health specialist. Her diverse lineup of guests offers insights and inspiration for how to create vibrant, healthy, pleasurable lives vs simply avoiding disease. Whether you hear someone discussing past lives, poetry, or the new research into cellular healing—you’ll hear it threaded together into the practicality, pleasure, and wellness for which Dr. Northup is renowned.

Sandra’s interview will live stream the morning of Wednesday, December 14, 2016. Check the show’s schedule for air time in your time zone. The show will also be available in the archives after it airs.

Caution: Relationship Lane Changes, Part 2

By Susan Murphy-Milano

Last week we began the story of Susan Powell, a married stockbroker and devoted mother to two young sons. Over time, Susan’s husband Josh became more and more controlling. Their marriage deteriorated. At this point in a relationship, many abusers begin to formulate a plan born of anger and desperation.

This plan remains in the abuser’s mind until they notice subtle signs of movement. Perhaps Josh walked into the room as Susan whispered into the phone. When she realized he was in the room, she quickly changed her tone or ended the phone call. Perhaps he learned Susan had set up a bank account, and decided she was hiding money so she and the kids could leave.

The signs of movement spark Josh, or any potential abuser, to think of the next level. They think to themselves, “OK, she is going to leave me. I will not let that happen”. He acts as though nothing is wrong. When she goes to sleep, however, Josh leaps into action. He may:

  • rummage through her car looking for evidence of her plan–a bank receipt or an unusual transaction or charge check
  • her cell phone for any unusual numbers he does not recognize
  • search her computer, checking to see which websites she visited

He finds something. Inwardly his anger skyrockets and his heart races. Outwardly, he remains calm and says nothing to Susan. A smile comes to his face. He “caught her,” and he figures in the future, she will pay one way or another.

Susan begins to email a trusted circle of friends about Josh’s abuse and threats. Maybe she keeps a detailed log containing dates and times of the incidents.

Next, Josh does what I label the “smell change.” Susan acts strangely. Josh, like most abusers, literally senses, or “smells” when his environment has shifted. Perhaps Susan verbalizes her unhappiness more often. Maybe she stands up for herself during a fight, where months before she would have backed down and gone to her room without incident.

Most abused women have difficulty hiding that “spark of empowerment” from a clever abuser. The abuser smells the spark, like a fox scents prey as he enters a coop full of chickens.

On December 7, 2009, Susan Powell of Utah disappeared. Law enforcement personnel consider her husband Josh a person of interest.

Susan Powell’s case appears no different from millions of cases of intimate partner violence we never hear about, until women disappear and someone finds their bodies. Often no “official documentation” of the abuse exists because the terrified women did not contact police or obtain a court order of protection. Why? Better than anyone, the victims know the court order of protection would not help. The court order of protection would only escalate the level of danger.

A Special Note from Susan…

Before you announce your thoughts about how unhappy you are or that the relationship simply is not working for you any longer, have a solid plan in place. Women often fail to plan ahead in leaving, underestimating what the abuser can and actually ends up doing.

October, 2015 update on the Susan Powell case:

  • Susan Powell, from West Valley City, was last seen in December 2009
  • Authorities focused on husband Josh who was suspected of murdering her
  • In 2012, in the middle of the investigation, Josh blew up his house while he and his two sons were locked inside
  • Susan’s sister-in-law says she believes her brother Josh and her father Steven were both involved in Susan’s death
    • She also believes her other brother Michael, who committed suicide, knew about the murder
    • With two brothers and two nephews dead, she hopes her father – who was released from jail in 2014 after servicing a sentence for possession of child porn – will come forward with the truth

Read more:

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about Pathological Love Relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)


Criminal Record Searches: “No Results” Doesn’t Mean Their Records Are Clean


by a Survivor who learned the hard way

At some point in a relationship with a pathological, a person stops and asks themselves a very basic question: “Does the person I love have a criminal record?” The question may arise as doubt about their character comes to light.

Many people then turn to online court record systems to try and answer this question. They type in the person’s name and click search. When the search brings no results, they breathe a sigh of relief. “It must be me,” they think, “I am worrying over nothing.”

The fact that the search results came back empty does not mean the person did not commit any crimes.

As convenient as it would be to type in a person’s name and retrieve a “Santa’s List” of every crime they ever committed, with the date it was committed and the location where the crime was committed, the free online systems just don’t work that way.

There are many reasons the online criminal court records can present an incomplete picture of their history. They include, but are not limited to:

  • The person committed a crime under an alias, or a different derivation or spelling of their name, e.g. Mike vs. Michael, Jack vs. John, Pat vs. Patricia.
  • The records exist under another jurisdiction than the one you are looking at – e.g. city vs. town vs. county, county sheriff vs. state police, federal agency (FBI, DEA, IRS), military, or tribal court. To further complicate matters, sometimes charges start out with one agency and are transferred to another.
  • The jurisdiction in which you are searching does not participate in an online records system or may have stopped participating at some point.
  • The record system you are searching is incomplete because original paper records were destroyed (fire, flood, mold), or due to budgetary constraints, all records were not computerized.
  • Local politics regarding open records laws.
  • The person was charged as a juvenile and the records were sealed when they turned 18 or the court record was sealed for other reasons.
  • Failure to Prosecute – The person is wealthy, their parents are wealthy, or well-connected, and charges were dropped.
  • The victim, police, or the District Attorney’s office chose not to press charges.
  • Someone (defense or prosecution) missed a filing deadline.
  • Plea Bargains – A deal was cut in place of sentencing, e.g. the defendant chose to join a branch of the military.
  • Concern over people (and employers) jumping to the wrong conclusion over online court records has led some states to add disclaimers or even limit or remove records from their online records systems.

Any or all of these, among other things, can lead to an incomplete picture of someone’s background. The results may only represent partial information taken out of its original context, and that can be a dangerous thing.

And that’s just the criminal court part of the picture. Other parts that bear on someone’s character may include:

  • Family court records – failure to pay spousal or child support
  • Marriage records – often not available online
  • Civil records – mortgage foreclosures, small claims verdicts for debts, car repossessions, maliciously and repeatedly suing others, etc.

The bottom line is that the average online court records available to the public may not give you a complete picture of a person’s past. The person is the only one with that. As a pathological, they will most likely lie about their past, editing out events that make them look bad, or provide you with excuses that seem plausible.

If you can’t get a complete and accurate picture of their past, but you suspect something may be wrong, what can you do? Change the questions you ask yourself. Rather than asking, “Do they have a criminal record in the past?” ask, “Do they demonstrate any of the “red flags” in the present?” and “Should I get out of this relationship?”

You can find a basic list of red flag warnings in Sandra’s book “How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved”.  And her book, “Women Who Love Psychopaths” will help you learn about your own traits and behaviors and how they play into your being targeted and getting involved with a dangerous man.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about Pathological Love Relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)


When a Divorce is Unexpected

By Susan Murphy-Milano

 You are now in a position where all your decisions will most assuredly impact your future. You must think logically and strategically while going through this period. If you feel you don’t know which way to turn and need advice, you may want to consult a relationship strategist or divorce planning expert before you take the first steps and consult an attorney. Be sure that the professional is someone who has your best interests at the forefront and represents you well. They should be able to advise you on a number of things, especially how to choose the right attorney and how to prepare yourself for your first consultation.

Follow these steps to keep on track:

  • Consult a lawyer immediately (consultation for the first half hour or so is usually free).
  • Bring with you to the lawyer a list of prepared questions to ask.
  • Try not to spend that free time crying or talking about your marriage. A lawyer is not there to be your therapist. Stick to only the facts as it pertains to children, finances and property. You are there to interview and possibly hire them.
  • Copy or scan all documents including wills, car titles, etc., and anything you find on the computer.
  • If you have an iPod, video camera or camera, take two pictures of everything including appliances, cars, artwork, antiques, jewelry, furniture etc.
  • Whatever you do, do not pack up and move out until the divorce is final (consult a lawyer first).
  • If you have never had a credit card in your own name, start applying now to establish a credit history of your own.
  • Try to remain as calm as possible when you tell the children. Do not speak negatively of or badmouth the other parent.
  • Do not use your children as a confidant. Do not involve your children in divorce preparation.
  • Try to keep the kid’s regularly scheduled activities and routines as normal as possible.

Consulting with a legal professional before you are served with divorce papers will better prepare you in the days and months that follow. A good attorney will be able to provide you with a clear understanding of your legal rights.

For more information refer to “Moving Out, Moving On.” You can order the e­book from

Important Note: If you have been in an abusive marriage you should inquire as to the lawyer’s expertise as it relates to domestic violence, orders of protection, stalking, and whether or not s/he has represented women who have been abused.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about Pathological Love Relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)


From Terror to Triumph

Jenna* had been embroiled in litigation with her ex-husband for years. Every so often he would bring some trivial matter to the court, painting Jenna as a bad parent, and always keeping her on edge.

This time, Jenna’s ex had filed a motion, complaining that Jenna was making decisions about their children’s after-school activities without consulting him. Jenna had been to the courtroom rodeo enough times to know that this motion was not a terribly serious matter, but could not be ignored.

Unfortunately, Jenna could no longer afford to pay her lawyer. She decided that, this time, she would have to handle the matter herself.

It all seemed well and good and easy at first. The hearing on the motion was set for four months later, so she had plenty of time to prepare.

But then came those wee small hours, in the middle of the night, when all was quiet and there was no activity, no voices, nothing to distract her from the imaginings that appeared and then paraded through the theater of her closed eyes: The hearing would be a disaster; the humiliating loss would be like the first falling domino in her ex-husband’s game that was calculated to take her children away from her; she would lose everything.

Suddenly her chest constricted, she couldn’t breathe, she bolted upright and jumped out of bed, the rooms swaying as she made her way to the kitchen. She gulped down a glass of water, cold enough to slice through the panic.

When Jenna first told me about the anxiety that threatened to cripple her, I seriously doubted whether self-representation was the best decision. But my thoughts, and Jenna’s own similar doubts, were meaningless. Jenna had no choice but to represent herself.

Fortunately, Jenna went on to achieve great success in her case.

I was deeply impressed by Jenna and how she overcame her anxiety so that she could focus so well on the task. I asked whether she had used some meditation technique, deep breathing, chanting, Xanax, Chardonnay, chocolate, something, anything that might help you.

But she said she hadn’t used anything specific to handle her fear. Instead, it was the process of preparing for the hearing that, over time, eventually alleviated the anxiety.

Jenna had quickly developed a technique for dispelling those midnight panic attacks. After drinking some water, she would straighten her back, lift her chin, look straight into the beady eyes of the teddy bear she had squished between two books on the shelf, and say, “Your Honor, my ex-husband is full of kaka!” or something along those lines.

Here are some other thoughts that Jenna has shared with me:

  1. She faced the fact that no one was going to do this for her. She was it. I was coaching her, but she had to do the work. The upside was that she did not have to rely on anyone else to understand her ex-husband’s mind-set.
  1. She took control. In the past, Jenna merely had reacted to and defended against her ex-husband’s motions and accusations, always being restricted by the legal fees she would have to pay. Once she began representing herself, she realized that she was free of that limitation. So she opted to take an offensive tack against her ex-husband. Not only did this strategy alter the dynamic of the case, it also made Jenna feel stronger, more empowered, and more confident.
  1. She worked on her case every day. Preparing for the hearing became another job. Jenna unexpectedly found herself drawing from training she had received years before as a cross-country runner, which included the adage, “Slow and steady wins the race.” The more she worked on her case, the more able she became. With ability came confidence. As her confidence grew, her anxiety abated proportionally.
  1. She organized her file. Jenna corralled every document she could find that concerned the case, and organized them so that she could find them in an instant. She read and re-read until she had memorized every motion, every order, every email, every text message, everything.
  1. She practiced out loud. At first the sound of her voice making legal arguments was foreign and strange, but soon Jenna advanced from making speeches to stuffed animals to trying out arguments on friends and family, who would give her valuable feedback. She even acted out mock cross-examinations of her ex on the stand.
  1. She researched. Jenna spent hours on the internet, reading articles and blog posts written by lawyers for other lawyers, until she understood how to organize the arguments she would make to the judge.

Finally, the hearing day arrived. Jenna started out early, calmly found a parking space, and made her way to the high floor of the cold courthouse.

She stood in the corridor outside the courtroom, and looked out the massive windows that faced east to the ocean, which sparkled under the morning sun. In that moment, that very moment in which even the most seasoned litigators’ nerves sizzle and urge flight, Jenna knew she was more than prepared for whatever would happen in that courtroom.

Then a spiritual conviction washed over her, and Jenna knew, without a doubt, that she would prevail in the hearing. And she did.

Now that you’ve read about the connection between handling anxiety and preparing for court, stay tuned because next month we will discuss how evidence, not emotion, drives judges’ decisions.


* “Jenna” is not an actual client, but rather is a composite of several people, both male and female, for illustrative purposes and to protect privacy. Jenna’s story is not intended to be, and is not a substitute for, psychological counseling, which can be beneficial or even vital for people in situations similar to Jenna’s.

© 2016 by LawYou America, LLC

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