By Sandra L. Brown, MA
For the unlucky women, months turn into years as they ride the roller coaster going nowhere. From heart stopping curves to death wish drops, they hate the ride but don’t know how to get off.
Interestingly, no matter how long women are in the relationship, the aftermath symptoms are the same. This means any exposure to pathology is psychologically devastating. The aftermath severity happens because the pathological uses forms of mind control. It is hard to fathom, but the pathological’s goal is to succeed in controlling and destroying a woman, not to have a successful relationship with her.
A pathological performs devious kinds of acts to try to make his woman think she is having a nervous breakdown or is mentally deficient so she relies on his “take” of reality. If mind control is psychologically damaging to prisoners of war, it is just as damaging to the intimate partners of pathologicals who will go to great lengths to inflict psychological devastation – simply because they enjoy the process.
He claims that he “knows people” who get information for him. This increases her paranoia and fear and adds to the psychopath’s mystique. He plays “nice guy” to make her doubt herself and to deflect her thoughts that there’s anything wrong with him.
He will gaslight her by agreeing to changes and then act as if they never had the conversation about those very changes. He will admit behaviors when caught and later deny he admitted them. He will get caught red-handed and later deny she ever heard or found out what he did. He will use other accomplices to validate his stories to increase her sensation that she is going crazy. Wealthy pathologicals will financially bribe others to control the outcome of situations that continue to support his mirage of lies.
Women may have PTSD symptoms resulting from mind control and coercion. All of these conditions result from a victim’s bonding and emotional connection to her captor/abuser, symptoms that are often seen in prisoners of war, hostages, and cult members.
But she is not an easy woman to take down. Self-control will hold her strong even in the face of these pathological-created delusions. Some women indicate they stayed far too long trying to figure out what was going on or to go toe-to-toe with him so he couldn’t get something else over on them. Most women say they are baffled by the strange dynamics in the relationship and stayed until they had some kind of cognitive understanding of what they had been living through.
As the emotional stress, physical, and sexual exhaustion are taking their toll, her failed reality testing continues. She begins thinking paranormal things are happening around her. The constant ups and downs of the relationship are now eroding this strong woman’s sense of self-confidence and resourcefulness – just what the pathological intended!
As she starts to psychologically decompensate, she experiences the same dynamics that are seen in Stockholm Syndrome:
- She perceives (and has already experienced) a threat to her physical or psychological survival and believes he has the ability to carry out his threats. By now, she has already lived through months of him carrying out his ability to harm her.
- Perceived small kindnesses from him set the emotional tone for her letting down her guard and. once again, seeing him as kind or even human. This also increases her relationship investment and hope in him.
- Isolation from outside perspectives other than his. She has already experienced not only isolation from others but the indoctrination of his pathological world view.
As she decompensates, she is an easier mark for continued manipulation by the pathological. It is uncertain if psychopaths have a natural ability by nature of their pathology to simply unconsciously perpetrate these types of mental set-ups, or if the set-ups are systemically planned so that just watching her psychologically melt before his very eyes is a huge power pump for him. Our guess would be the latter.
If pathologicals didn’t like the game of manipulation, they would consistently choose women who are introverted and who would be a far easier capture than taking on powerful extraverted women. But that is, in fact, exactly why most (not all) pathologicals choose the powerful extraverted woman. To that end, we have to assume that the pathological predator enjoys watching a previously high-functioning woman turn into a reality-doubting, exhausted, bundle of nerves which he finds pretty erotic.
Sadly, some of the pathological’s women only make it out of their torment through suicide. The ultimate power triumph for a psychopath, he conquered her spirit and won. He scoops up and moves on to the next woman/victim.
Every woman is harmed. “I realized I had been seduced by a con man and I spent months in shock, trying to figure out just who he really was.”
A relationship with a pathological man is not like any other failed relationship. The women who loved pathologicals are not just ‘bitter women scorned’. It is simply not possible to have a relationship with a pathological and not be harmed and damaged to a significant degree.
One woman expressed, “It has been over four years since our relationship ended and I still get anxiety attacks at the thought of dating. I am still single and have adopted a hermit lifestyle to make sure I never go through anything like this again.” The relationship with a pathological has resulted in many women living out their lives alone without a partner.
The medical side effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that many women develop from the relationship (as well as other acute stress disorders) will long manifest in her body. Medical side effects that continue on, long after the psychopath has left, include:
- Auto immune disorders
- Substance abuse
- Digestive disorders
- High blood pressure
As one survivor said, “This relationship has taken a grave physical toll on my body. I have several conditions and I look about 20 years older than I actually am.”
Many women experience sexual damage and negative effects on their sexuality. This stems from having been exposed to deviant sexual practices, humiliated about their sexual performance or bodies, compared to other women, and often sexually harmed.
Long term damage
Women who have been in relationships with pathologicals universally experience some form of acute stress. The acute stress may have evolved into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other types of stress disorders. The lingering disorders serve as reminders of past pain and are likely to cause the women symptoms for years – and maybe for 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.)