Portrait of Sandra Sandra L. Brown, MA

Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education. She holds a Masters degree in Counseling and is a program development specialist, lecturer and community educator on pathological love relationships and domestic violence, and is an award-winning author. Her books include the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists as well as How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, and Counseling Victims of Violence: A Handbook for Helping Professionals.

Sandra is recognized for her pioneering work on women’s issues related to relational harm with Cluster B/Axis II/Sociopathy/Pyschopathy disordered partners. She specializes in the development of Pathological Love Relationship training for professionals and survivor support services based on her books. Her books, CD’s, DVD’s, and other training materials have been used as curriculum in drug rehabs, women’s organizations and shelters, women’s jail and prison programs, school and college-based programs, inner city projects, and various psychology and sociology programs and distributed in almost every country of the world.

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

by Sandra L. Brown, MA

Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 12:03 pm


Happy 4th of July! With all that flag waving and potato salad, I can’t help but think about ‘Independence Day’—the day that women cut the cords of dependency and exit dangerous and Pathological Love Relationships.

We frequently talk about Living the Gentle Life and why that’s important for people recovering from pathological attachments to dangerous relationships. The Gentle Life is a path choice after the too-much-drama of dangerous men. (Our Gentle Life 8 part series will run soon.)

Independence Day begins the Gentle Life for a lot of women. It’s the day that you ‘come to’ and say:

  • How did I get here?
  • Is this REALLY my life?
  • Where did the real me go?
  • Look how much this has cost me to be with him!
  • Look what it’s done to my friends/family/children!
  • You know what? I’m not CRAZY!
  • I don’t believe his lies any more!
  • I’m sick of feeling this way!
  • I am tired of hearing about how everything is my fault!
  • I am sickened by my own staying!

Independence Day is the day you pick up How to Spot a Dangerous Man or any other insight-oriented material that makes you snap out of the trance you have been in within the relationship. It’s the day you read a book, listen to an audio, call a counselor, or pack your bags. It’s the day you pray, “God help me get out,” change the locks on your door, or leave his bags at the curb. It’s the day you book a retreat, go back to church/temple, and confess your sick relationship to others.

Independence Day symbolizes freedom… not only in this country but in ourselves. The freedom to heal, the freedom to choose differently. The freedom to gain insight from someone other than the pathological individual we have been involved with. The freedom to end what is unhealthy!

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is Living the Gentle Life—aspects of a healthy life that can’t occur within pathological and dangerous relationships. There is no life in that! It has all been sucked out of you by the pathological personality that is needy, defiant, deviant, or insatiable. There is no Liberty—he runs the show, your thoughts, your needs, your dreams. There is no Pursuit of Happiness—only his. All pathologicals have an agenda that includes their own perverted entitlement. Your happiness is only an accident if it happens while he is pursuing his own.

People fight to keep us free. Shouldn’t you fight to keep yourself free? Independence isn’t the opposite of dependency. It’s the absence of self-negation where you respect your own uniqueness, self, and life path and that you live first for these values. Independence isn’t selfishness. It isn’t some prescription for aloneness. It’s the foundation of boundaries, self-care, emotional and relational health.

Independence allows and builds interdependence—the structure that allows us to mutually care for one another without pathological suffocation. Independence is most assuredly, Living the Gentle Life.

(**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.)

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.


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This year The Institute is running two support groups - one on Pathological Love Relationships, held several times this year, and one on Adult Children of Pathological Parents, held for only one month. Support groups run for 4 weeks. To learn more visit this webpage.