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6 Thoughts on Character Assassination

liesfabricationsA lot of my Chump Lady mail can be divided into two categories, “I got chumped… what are people going to think?” and “I got chumped… and my cheater is telling people terrible things about me.” Both followed with “And what can I do about that?

Nothing. Sorry, chumps. You can’t do anything about what people think of you, and what people say about you.

Look, I know it’s unjust having your cheater telling bald-faced lies about how controlling, sexless, abusive, hairy-legged, and insane you are. Worse, I know some people whom you once thought cared about you (such as your in-laws) are inclined to believe it. This infidelity crap is a one-two punch — betrayal, and then more lies.

Okay, maybe it’s more like a continuous thug-kicking by a motorcycle gang than a one-two punch. Betrayal, lies, character assassination, gaslighting, alienation, and alimony. Anyway, my point is, leave the impression management to the crazies. You just keep being your mighty self.

Some pointers:

1.) Never let what people might think of you get in the way of protecting yourself. That especially goes for what the cheater thinks. Oh, I might antagonize him if I see a lawyer/move half the money/run a credit report. Hey, your cheater didn’t worry about antagonizing you when he/she cheated on you, so just go ahead and protect yourself. Stop caring about how you’ll be perceived (i.e., bitter, vindictive, selfish, churlish, hasty, etc.) Start caring about reality (i.e., this person is fucking me over).

2.) Speak the truth, but stop at defensiveness. There’s no good way to answer set-up questions like “How long have you been beating your wife?” I don’t beat my wife. “Oh you would say that. Six months? A year? Ever since you met?” The temptation is to raise your voice and really get stroppy. I DON’T BEAT MY WIFE! Stop. You just missed an important clue — your questioner is fully invested in that narrative. You answered the question. They either believe it, or they don’t believe it. In the case of infidelity (and not fictitious wife-beating), the truth is you were chumped. That’s what happened. You don’t need to defend yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong here. Frankly, you don’t have to answer any personal question you don’t want to.

3.) Speak the truth, and realize that your cheater probably got to the narrative first. One way chumps get chumped is when they agree to the “we just grew apart” story, and keeping “private matters private,” they think the cheater is going to play by the same set of rules. You won’t talk smack about them, they won’t talk smack about you. Oh chumps, your cheater has probably been talking smack about you all along. Shaming you into being quiet ensures that their narrative stays on top. That’s why cheaters get so ugly when you do start speaking up — you’re tilting at that balance of power. Disordered people need their impression management so their manipulations (and Sad Sausage story lines) keep working on everyone.

4.) People who believe the worst about you don’t know you. Not really. This might be one of the single most awful things about life post-discovery. People who you thought knew you, really don’t. Their attachments were shallow. It’s hard enough to realize this about a spouse or partner, it’s even more gobsmacking to realize it about your social circle. Well, of course Dorothy got cheated on. She’s frigid. Unlike me. I have sex with my husband! This person doesn’t know the inner workings of your bedroom. Maybe the lie makes them feel superior. Maybe the lie gives them some weird false comfort. Who knows? What matters are the people who do know you, and have your back. Invest your energies there.

5.) People who believe the worst about you probably have a vested interest in believing that crap. You don’t control that. Your in-laws turned on you? Better you be the monster than believe their son or daughter is a lousy person. Not their special Pookykins! Maybe they’ve been believing all the crap said about you for years, and now that the affair has been revealed, they’d have to admit they were mistaken. Why be wrong? Who are you again?

6.) Character is revealed over time. Who we are is revealed every day in every little action and decision. No one is perfect, but the arc of someone’s character — how giving they are of themselves, how considerate, how reciprocal — is perceptible. The people who matter aren’t swayed by your ex’s gossip and trash talk. The shallow people who are? Please, stop caring what they think today.

This is a rerun, but I would add a 7th — if you’re going through any kind of litigation or custody matter, be careful with the truth-telling and social media. You don’t want to appear antagonistic. I know that’s a shit sandwich. But it’s finite. 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Whenever I am tempted to blast STBX on social media I hear this in my mind, “Mr. Chump Lady says if it feels good, don’t do it.” Then I remember my lawyer telling me not to post publicly on Social Media. Then I remember that he doesn’t care what I say and my words can’t fix him.

    I don’t know what anyone is saying about me. I went on a blocking spree about a month after I left him. I gave friends and in-laws plenty of time to reach out to me. They didn’t and I blocked them.

    Because of No Contact I don’t know anything about his narrative, how his friends, family and all black motorcycle club perceive me. I truly do not care.

    • I was complimented about my self control on social media. I posted one neutral post on being separated and one on the day of my divorce. Only way my outer friends knew I was going through a divorce was my now ex wife disappeared from my posts and my ex started posting stuff 🙄🙄🙄. My ex wife went on a smear campaign of World War 2 proportions. Contacted EVERY one of my friends telling them I was controlling, abusive, and a horrible person. THAT pain was devastating as I lost a lot of friends.

      • “THAT pain was devastating as I lost a lot of friends.”

        No you didn’t. You lost a lot of shallow wankers. *Real* friends know you and stand by you. Let cruella have the shallow wankers!

        But I know it hurts to find out people you thought were your friends really weren’t. ((hugs)).

      • Sirchumpalot, they don’t deserve to be your friends if they believe lies about you. I know it was painful, but you’re better off without those people.

        • Sirchumpalot. re-read item #4 above.
          Those were not “ friends “, only low level acquaintances.
          They only hang around because they like the benefits you provide.
          Good riddance to them.

      • The friends you lost? Good riddance. Who needs gullible halfwits for friends? Or people that are smart but are more than happy to buy into a narrative that trashes your character? Look at it as your ex doing you a favor of weeding out people you do not need in your life.

      • This has happened to me a mess of times and I saw it happening to others when I worked in a very competitive industry with a lot of harassment and a lot of narcissists. Perpetrators and bullies typically preemptively launch into manic PR campaigns to isolate and discredit victims from the second the perps do something terrible, usually before their victims have time to react.

        It always astounded me that anyone would believe the bullies. They kind of give themselves away. I’d had the experience of workplace bullies trying to draft me into campaigns against some target or other but I didn’t find the bullies credible. But some bystanders automatically fall for the bully spin. Why? I came to realize that the world is full of subclinically disordered adults who, like Manchurian candidates, will click into their tranced-out dysfunctional childhood survival mode of defending perps– any perp (no matter how sketchy or skeazy or not-credible)– and castigating and silencing victims– any victim (no matter how stable or decent, etc.). All these damaged people know from their “kill or be killed” childhoods is that abusers win and victims lose and it’s safer to land on the winning side. When possible, I always found it fun to disabuse negative bystanders of their presumptions by making sure the victims won.

        I’m not a church-type, but to paraphrase the bible, “Thou runneth neither hot nor cold but lukewarm and I will spit thee out.” Even if snowballing betrayals by the “lukewarm” faction following some acute bullying incident are traumatic and grueling, in the end I was always glad to be rid of people like that and glad to find out who *wasn’t* like that. The latter are keepers and the kind I want in my lifeboat.

        • “All these damaged people know from their “kill or be killed” childhoods is that abusers win and victims lose and it’s safer to land on the winning side.”

          Great post. The damaged people will side with abusers, do anything so not to be a target. The sad part is, if these people only knew how liberating it is to give it to bullies/abusers with both barrels. I get it can be difficult in a work situation but that is when you need to learn or take strategic measures to bring the abusers down. Abusers and bullies count on everyone else being civil and playing by the rules.

          • I think it’s the people who internalize abuse from childhood. That’s why they couldn’t side with the victim. Too dirty and too compromised. They might seem totally normal until some victim or other speaks up or some bully or other starts the sacred dance of all bullies– playing victim to their victim and giving off that bully pheromone smell or whatever. Then suddenly the bystanders go into a trance, cuddle up madly to the bully and begin to punish the target.

            I did something very strange when I was up against a dangerous freak at work. I actually interviewed the flying monkeys, some of whom hadn’t even particularly liked the creep until he began his dance. What I discovered is that literally every person who knee-jerkedly sided with the bully grew up with domestic violence or some form of traumatic abuse. It was odd how they just vomited up the stories on request.

            Some of my allies had also grown up with abuse but the difference seemed to be they didn’t internalize it. It just made them more determined to trounce abusers and they used their knowledge of bully MOs to help me.

            The twain shall not meet. You can’t turn the former into the latter. The shit thinking is baked in.

        • Excellent comment. In society narcissists get away with so so much. It even seems the way to go. So much harm can be done perfectly legally.
          I’d vote for a redefinition of the word “loser”!

      • Sir – those people were not your friends. This is such a hard life lesson.

        I bent over backwards for so many people. Like me! Like me!!!

        I was a Minister’s wife. Biggest non paying Chump role there is. Filling in for Sunday school teachers, cleaning up after supers, grunt work galore.

        No good deed goes unpunished. He did a sermon about how we just grew apart. Meanwhile, Miss Piggy – a fellow Minister was at his side helping with Youth Ministries.

        He made me out to be crazy ( I was headed that way because of him ), and all those couples that we socialized with, the women who called me to volunteer my precious time and the ones I felt were my friends…the slammed the door on me !!!

        I get it. Losing the cheater is tough – but for the best. Finding out that no one really cares about you in the end is just as lonely.

        It’s the gift that keeps on giving!!!

        • I am in the middle of this right this very moment. I am leaving after kids’ camp and after my house sells, at the end of the summer. My husband plans to get up and tell the church that we had a bad marriage from the very beginning and that we never should have gotten married in the first place. That we’ve had tough times and I’ve just had enough and I’m leaving. He is leaving out the fact that he has been sleeping with the worship leader for the past 8 years.
          I don’t really care what he tells people – I’m just waiting until the moment I can get me and my dog on the airplane and get out of here.

    • Absolutely, I did the same, and I’m so glad I did.

      I haven’t the faintest idea what fucktard said about me, I blocked his family and ‘friends’ everywhere, and I don’t give a flying fuck what goes on in their heads or what comes out of their mouths. Pffft. 😂😊😂

      • I agree. People who who know me, know me. The rest can suck it.

        I am pretty sure he and the whore didn’t say too much negative about me in our town, they shit all over themselves so bad; they likely wouldn’t dare. It was all pretty public, once the dime was dropped.

        I am betting though when they moved to their new state, they spun some yarns about their “love story” which is fine anyone who is or was around them long enough and has a working brain, will figure it out.

        And who cares if they don’t.

    • Oh they care plenty about what’s posted on social media, my former husband goes crazy and tries to hack my FB!🥶

    • Thirtythreeyearsachump, I also went on a blocking spree. Anyone who was still FB friends with her I blocked, people who I had bent over backwards to help but said nothing to me, I blocked. Eventually I quit social media altogether. It was amazing how people’s character was revealed. People I had known decades and whom I had volunteered my time to couldn’t muster something as simple as “Wow, that sucks! I’m sorry this has happened to you.”

      • Same – it was stunning to me that mutuals couldn’t even bother checking in to see if I was okay.

        My hat’s off to you for your impressive blocking and for quitting social media. #goals

  • Oh boy, I am in a hospital in New Jersey. After evil cheater pants convinced my kid to go live with him two weeks later my son is on life support in a coma. Yes, I am currently going through this nightmare. I share this to warn all of you to cross your T’s and dot your i’s. Because I did not have a medical directive I cannot be alone with my son, cannot spend the night with him, etc. Obviously, he is a sociopath and no sane person would do this. The hospital staff is dumbfounded and I am just gobsmacked. He got in front of the narrative, yes, but I will tell you people can smell when something is not right. Protect yourself from these character disordered evil people. I wish I had done due diligence, but I never imagined I would be sitting in a hospital room with my 17-year-old son watching him on life support. DO NOT post anything on social media, Chump lady is right, they will use all they can to make you look like the wack job. My other two children have turned against me. HE is a SICK and creepy man. Anyway, godspeed and protect your babies from these monsters. IF others will believe the bad about you without giving you the benefit of the doubt, then just remember that others who have character will see this and support you. At least that has been my experience. Right now I am making friends with hospital staff, and talking to social workers. Sometimes you have to back door this stuff.

    • In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you~ I am praying for you and hoping for peace and love to embrace you right now Xoxo sweet

    • I am praying for you and your son. The collateral (and continued) damage done by these assholes knows no bounds. Yes, they are sick, creepy and spineless.

    • Holy crap, Bobeanie. I hope your son will be ok. I find that unbelievable even though I’ve been reading CL for over a year, now. They truly are monsters.

    • Bobeanie –
      I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through right now. I wish you and your son the very best.

    • I’m so sorry to read about what you are going through. Yes, a VERY SICK AND CREEPY MAN.

      Just pure evil!

    • Did your son’s health crisis have anything to do with the actions of your ex? Whether or not this is so, I’m incredibly sorry that you and your son are going through this.

      And thank you for the heads up. Your cautionary tale has come at such a huge price so you deserve all credit for sharing. I wanted to add that warning too because I’ve been in a situation (workplace stalking) where I could not let the perpetrator’s character assassinations and blame-reversals stand unchallenged. Instead of trying to convince doubters individually, I sued after the criminal process to make sure the real story was permanently on the record. I did this because the perp plead out in the criminal process and his criminal record was basically expunged, yet the story of the “scandal” spread through the entire industry. Naturally, the perp’s version of events spread faster.

      The general rule is, the worse the perp’s offense against you, the worse will be their attempts at character assassination. I must assume your ex was bordering on criminal in his behavior towards you.

      Being branded as a prevaricator who “frames” poor innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit could have effectively put a bulls-eye on my back for further harassment or assault, could have prevented me from working or even followed me for years and been used against me in seemingly unrelated ways. But anyone trying to do deep background checks on me for nefarious reasons would find out “Oops, she wins lawsuits and mops the floor with opponents. A jury of peers believed her. Better move on the next target and leave this one alone.” That’s why I did it.

      It’s one of the reasons I hired a PI, got rock solid proof and retained an attorney before even confronting FW about his extramarital antics and spending. From past experience, I prepared for the worst and my first thought was that custody of my children might be at risk. There are just too many confused bystanders in the world who automatically go into “boxer’s hugs” with bullies and liars. It’s a way for bystanders to grovel for amnesty from the most dangerous monkey in the room. The result can be a total disaster.

      Sending thoughts and prayers for you and your boy.

    • Bobeanie, I’m so sorry you are going through this. What an awful situation.

      There is a special circle in Hell for people like your ex who would abuse their own children.

      I hope your son has a full recovery and you are through these dark days soon.

    • So so sorry, this is every sane parent’s biggest fear. I pray your baby recovers. Nurses and social workers can report suspected abuse, and those hospital records may become useful to you in the future.

  • The X started with the character assassinations as soon as we were married. So many of our so called friends asking me why I was so mean to him. Why I went to bed so early (because I was working full-time and taking care of two kids basically alone). All of the bad talk about me was to excuse his behavior. When I finally decided to divorce him, I came to terms with how bad the talk about me would get. I knew him by then and what he would do. I have no control on what he says or what people believe. I can only control myself and believe in myself. It’s worked out fine. I’m happy and he can tell his tales to anyone who listens, they aren’t my friends anyway.

  • Re: social media. Years ago a friend of a friend’s son had a child with a woman whose personality changed overnight. Basically she turned into a younger version of her crazy mother (seriously – her beloved in-laws who supported her, paid for additional schooling, etc. were suddenly evil incarnate).

    I told them she was torn because she desperately wanted HER mother to treat her as nicely as the woman who treated her well (MIL). She was quite young (20?) and emotional.

    Anyway, friends to them and their son posted words of support AND blasted young mother on FB. I suggested shutting it down – post a notice saying you loved the young couple, your grandson, everyone wants the best for him and comments were turned off. And find a lawyer on Monday.

    Their lawyer was quite happy with the advice and that they took it.

    Young mother was posting crap all over the place. Made it easier to retain more time with young father who was/is the Sane Parent, with Sane Grandparents to guide and support the young family.

    Things settled down. I don’t know if she was dead with PPD, treated and they stayed married or not. Last I heard they were separated but adjusting well.

    Fewer harsh words said or written, the less you give them to twist.

    Always look for the advantage to the CHUMP.

  • I don’t know what my ex wife has said about me and nor do I care. As my psychiatrist said that they simply don’t matter at all. They are flying monkeys and anyway during the evidence from her phone we found she had been asking one of her friends if she wanted to join her and some guy in a threesome and how his cum tasted good. Keep in mind this friend had twins who were toddlers and a partner. My ex wife was willing to drag this girl into her sordid world and wreck that little family. That truly says it all.

    of course non of these “friends” of hers even thought to tell me that my ex wife was fucking everything around her. The other friend was giving her her own contraception pills. As our family doctor would not give her the pill as I had gotten a vasectomy. I believe the doctor probably had suspicions and maybe sees this often.

    So yes, my ex wife painted me as a domestic abuser despite years and years of telling her friends in front of me and to them (confirmed) that I was a good husband, good father, supportive and NOT abusive but suddenly she gets caught cheating with dozens of men and I’m suddenly an abuser who hit her. How convenient.

    Anyway, they don’t pay my bills, they don’t help me, they don’t even really know me so absolutely 1000% they can go fuck themselves and their judgements of me whatever they may be.

    And as for the ex wife, she is in the rear view as I’m speeding towards Meh-village.

    • I’ve said this before– One thing I find very chilling is that the very few times I’ve encountered women who blatantly fabricated stories of abuse and assault, they were instantly and enthusiastically believed by the bystander mob and had many defenders. Meanwhile, the many actual victims I’ve encountered– people who I knew firsthand were telling the truth– were castigated for speaking out and discredited by bystanders.

      I’m not sure whether it’s because liars know how to cry more prettily than actual victims or if it’s just that crappy, weak human bystander instinct to side with the most dangerous person in a stand-off. Obviously it’s safer to side with the more dangerous person lest one become the next victim.

      Oh, and the two women who I knew fabricated stories of abuse were both– quite interestingly– chronic side chicks and had violent tendencies themselves which isn’t all that common in women. I didn’t put that equation together until many years after the events.

      • It’s weird, isn’t it? People don’t believe me but then they’ll post shit on social media like “Believe all women!”

        Oh, except for me, right? Why is that? Like did I say it too matter of factly and not cry prettily enough for them? Maybe I’m just not a woman to them for whatever reason. I feel like I learned the hard way a lot of my “friends” don’t really seem to see me as a human being, just a practice dummy for my gross ex.

        Oh well though, they’re all out of my life. If he does something to them or their children maybe they’ll look back and say “oh shit, she was right. Maybe I should have listened before someone I actually care about got hurt!” I tried to warn people. My conscience is clear. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

        • “It’s weird, isn’t it? People don’t believe me but then they’ll post shit on social media like “Believe all women!””

          It is a kick in the head isn’t it.

          First of all the premise is flawed because of course you should not believe all women, anymore than you should all men. Some of those women are cheaters and liars themselves.

          To me the real issue in terms of betrayal, is that you should give the benefit of the doubt to the betrayed; (don’t blame the victim) whether it is infidelity, white collar crime, or a bank robbery.

          Now I get that the B of D (presumed innocence) is to the accused in a court of law, but nope not in cases of mutual friends/acquaintances. At the very least any bystander with half a brain should consider that the cheater has ample reason to lie and deceive because he/she has in fact already lied and deceived.

          Only one set of mutual friends of ours came to check on me. They knew me well, and knew him (man was cheaters high school friend)

          He told me that he had talked to him, and he did tell him he was going to regret this, but it had no impact at the time. He and she also offered me any help they could if I needed a loan signature for a car or something like that. He knew I could be trusted, or he would not have offered that. (I didn’t need the help, fortunately I was able to get my car loan on my own) Up to that point, my ex and I had good credit, and I had full access to that same credit. It was not long after that, he started gambling and ended up in bankruptcy, so whew, I got out of that situation in the nick of time.

          • “At the very least any bystander with half a brain should consider that the cheater has ample reason to lie and deceive because he/she has in fact already lied and deceived.”

            Absolutely spot on Susie. More people should consider the source.

  • I’m going to go off for a bit. I had a friend who had glommed onto me and told everyone we were best friends. Within a couple of months of getting to know her I began to see her misquoting me and I would correct her and we go on about our business. A group of us go out to lunch once a week and at one of those luncheons she did misquote me five times. I got angry at her in the middle of a restaurant and told her to stop it. She kept claiming I did say it I did say it I did say it. I went home and ask my husband if I was losing my mind. His comment was to consider the source. That didn’t explain it to me but Tracy’s did. I eventually left the friendship and have no idea what she says, or doesn’t say, about me. She was toxic and I needed to be away from her. It really is that simple even in cases of cheating. Your ex enjoys the attention. The people who will not believe you are invested in the ex’s narrative. If they want to believe him/herself to they will. Out of 8 billion people on this planet some of them can be your friends. You don’t need the other.
    This is not political it’s an observation. People who are so invested in something can actually lie to themselves. Witness the last two elections for presidency of the United States. There was screaming and mayhem on both sides and I don’t think very many people moved one way or the other. Once you invest emotionally in something it’s nearly impossible to change your mind. Fortunately a few did this time

    • They do love the attention, especially the truly personality disordered. I had asked my lawyer during my divorce hearing why exactly do these people do this to us and she simply told me that these types just love the drama and love for it and so do their flying monkeys.

  • What’s true and false in cheater world is all a matter of their perspective.

    My cheater’s opening moves were first to tell several friends quietly a year or even more before that “things weren’t going that well” with us (Not true). He was keeping his affair on the down low. No one knew.
    One night he simply bailed, after 16 years together and for no good reason. (True).
    Everyone, (especially the people he had not pre-loaded the false narrative into) was shocked. (True).
    Then the story quickly became that it had been terrible for ages, unhappy bla bla. (Not true).
    Friends were told it was “sad” that I “couldn’t accept it”. (Not true).
    I then moved my queen across the chess board for the big reveal in the form of evidence (straight from Schmoopie herself) of his affair that he never saw coming. (True).
    Now he had a new problem: The Actual Fucking Truth. He is a cheater, liar, betrayer and abuser. (True).
    Cheater squirmed in the harsh glare of judgement. (True).
    Then came cheater’s new attempt at the knockout punch: I was controlling and abusive. (Not true).
    I punched back to my In Laws with the dirty laundry reality check that he was an alcoholic and drug addict and needed to go to rehab. (True).
    And so his counter move to that was to play sad chorizo sausage, uber-victim of me and now suicidal. (Not true).
    When that didn’t get him off the hook, cheater doubled down and wiped the board of all pieces by telling people horrendous outrageous completely fabricated defamations. (Not true).
    I walked away from the game I can never win. (True).

    The cheater is always way ahead in planning the set up for their new life. In whichever form: smear campaign, false narrative, maligning, character assassination, false accusations etc, it is all planned and set up to be intentional harm to the chump. The goal posts will move to whichever direction suits the cheater most for their impression management and/or the outcome they require for themselves to come out smelling of roses and winning the game whilst destroying the chump. It’s sadistic and they know it.

    I also now know there was not one thing I could do about any of it.

      • Haha Attie, quelle surprise that I found out about his New And Very Shiny Schmoopie…
        When I blew his shit up, I really stuffed it up for him♟#QueensGambit 🖤

    • “The cheater is always way ahead in planning the set up for their new life. In whichever form: smear campaign, false narrative, maligning, character assassination, false accusations etc, it is all planned and set up to be intentional harm to the chump.” YES! My ex had been doing this for over a year before D-Day. I had a suspicion something was up, but didn’t know what. It served a double purpose. Not only was it image management for her, it was legal blackmail material for her in divorce court to get what she wanted, lying that I was an abusive drunk who had no memory of the abuse because I always blacked out, and she is so concerned about the safety of the kids around such a man. Well, she got the house, all the stuff, I took all the debt, and suddenly the safety of the kids wasn’t an issue anymore. No problem with 50/50 parenting time and sending them to me when she “felt overwhelmed.”

    • The judge in our custody trial said to him, “Sir, you create chaos and act as the aggrieved party”. I won, big time!

      That pretty much sums up what you’ll are saying.

  • The character assassination thing is something I carry a lot of self-doubt about, because after D-day, I completely cut cheater out of my life. Of course, a month after D-day, fuckwit started posting pictures of himself with new person on social media and talking about how in love they were – I know about this through mutual “friends”…so I had to delete and block them too. This hurt so so much…it’s as if I never mattered because of how quickly he moved on literally after telling me how in love with me he was…

    But my self-doubt lies in the character assassination piece. I am the one who talked SO MUCH SMACK after D-day. No to anyone and everyone and not on social media…but to all my friends about what he did to me and how awful it was…how he was a cheat and a liar and a narcissist and a complete dick.

    I read a lot of articles about narcissist and smear campaigns…but I’m kind of the one who committed the smear campaign becasue I was hurt and angry.

    What are your thoughts on this everyone? Have you all assassinated the cheater’s character and do you feel bad/guilty about it?

    • It’s not a smear campaign if it’s true! I told anyone who asked and I NEVER kept his secrets. AND I have no regrets at all!

    • Chumpenhearted,
      To me, it is a smear campaign or character assassination when the cheater is fabricating or manufacturing deliberate falsehoods about the chump to “poison the well”. I do not feel any guilt about telling the TRUTH of what the cheater did to me. That is not a character assassination, rather that is a character revelation. It is MY story, so I do not feel guilty at all. If the cheater did not want to have negative things said, he should have made better choices. He had many options to be honourable. He never was.

    • As Attie and Samsara say, it’s not a smear campaign if it’s true.

      I told anyone who asked ex fucktard cheated, lied, gaslit me, and stole from me. All true.

      I have no idea what if anything *he* said because I blocked him, his family and ‘friends’ everywhere, and went totally NC from the beginning.

      Funnily enough, the first thing out of his pie hole, in an aggrieved tone, was “I suppose you’ve told everyone!”

      You betcha, Fuckwit. 🙄😂

      • Same here Chumpnomore6, for years ex while gaslighting, tried to convince me I was the crazy one. Now to lose friends and family due to things they have said to and about me is gut wrenching and lonely. To quote author Judith Lewis Herman, ” Over time, as most people fail the survivors exacting test of trustworthiness, she tends to withdraw from relationships. The isolation of the survivor, thus persists even after she is free.”

      • I wish I had been more open in real time. I was in shock and humiliated. I think I just didn’t want anyone to know how he had treated me. Now I realize, I should have just said a simple sentence of: “He cheated, lied, verbally, emotionally and financially abused me.” as a response to why we divorced.

        But, really most folks in our town knew it anyway.

        I am one of the lucky ones that got to see him get run down by the “Karma” train pretty quickly. I mean it hit the local news paper.

        • Oh wow, if it hit the local news paper it must have been quite a thing…

          Indeed I agree that we could be more open about it. One of the worst things, after going through the disorientating hell, is living with it all by yourself. There is also the shame. I cannot believe I ever engaged with this type of person in the first place and feel stupid for it. Perhaps many feel the same and there is a lot more pain out there than we imagine.

          • What hit the papers was his demotion, which was right at a year after he was promoted.

            (right after the promotion, was when he started the discard process with me) Of course I didn’t know what was going on when it was happening, I just thought he was under stress, because well… that was what he told me when I asked what was going on. He evidently needed to keep me in place for the next year to present the honorable family man image to in his head secure his promotion.

            The news article was how I knew he got his Karma, as I had gone no contact by then. That promotion was everything to him, and we had both worked for it. Honestly, I thought he deserved it; he had evidently been lying to me and others for years.

            The adultery itself didn’t hit the news, but everyone who knew us knew exactly what happened and why he got demoted, though the mayor framed it as an “organizational change” rather than any other reason, which is understandable; since he was likely scrambling to avoid publicity and even a lawsuit if cheater didn’t marry the whore. (she was his direct report) and during that time lawsuits were popping up all over the country filed by women against police officers.

            While I have no illusions that the mayor was a perfect specimen himself, I don’t think for a minute that he knew about the cheater and his whore. Had he known there was no way he would have promoted him.

            Timeline just does not add up.

            But someone knew, and they dropped a dime to the city counsel; and the rest was history. (no it wasn’t me) I had no idea, I was busy buying the stress excuse.

          • Oh and your second paragraph is spot on.

            The pain and humiliation and horror is almost unbearable. I believe with all my heart the only way I survived without having a nervous break down was the shock, a really supportive brother and father, who had to do all the supporting via phone, as they lived a thousand miles away. And this was pre cell phone era, you can imagine their phone bills.

            I also, had a amazing dr. who put me on light dose anti depressants. I took them for about a year, then was able to go on and never take them again. They really brought back my focus, which was my job. I hung on to that and worked like a dog to do well.

            • Oh wow, so brave you went through all that! Seriously, once you know these things can happen ‘brave” takes a whole new meaning. Growing up I thought “brave” was about being a war hero etc (which is definitely brave), but surviving these kind of people is an invisible kind of bravery. It’s a mindfuck and only other people that have been through similar things will understand.

    • “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

      ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

      • This past weekend was spent with my new husbands family and I told some of my story to my husbands niece (who seems very similar to me) and afterwords, I had some regret that maybe it was too revealing, but it is my story and it effects who I am as a person right now and to not know some of it makes me more of a mystery and I want to be authentic, not a mystery.

        I do try (as best I can) to not share any stories that would get back to my kids or my inlaws… Cheater is dead and isn’t here to tell his shitty side of the story. Inflicting pain on people (by letting them know he was an abuser) who loved him doesn’t help anything. He blamed me for everything so (even though or relationship was toxic) his other relationships were ostensibly healthy.

        One of the oddest smear campaigns that Cheater seemed to have was a stash of HORRIBLE photos of me. I found them on a hard drive from an old computer after he died. He had saved 6 or 8 photos of me that were all awkwardly unflattering. I am not an ugly gal, sort of cute in some ways but I wonder if he looked at those photos (or showed them to people who didn’t know me) to justify his need to betray.

    • Hi Chumpenhearted

      To me it seems normal to be super angry, I think everyone who has been through this must have felt like that! I guess the important thing is to only talk about it with people you trust and who seem wise enough to understand.

      As for myself, I told my friends about it, but as they had never been through something similar, they did not seem to understand how deeply this all felt and my best buddy was my 50 yo neighbour (I’m in my late 30s).

      Do be careful of posting things on social media, and sharing with people that aren’t as close to you, that could be Switzerland friends. Your painful experience is the truth, but for these people the fuckwit’s trueth may be just as credible. The FWs do cover their character quite well, generally.

      My mistake was to post stuff on Facebook that was completely unrelated to the relationship, but could be seen as “me moving on with life”. I realised later my ex was probably still stalking me there (although he moved on so quickly??) so I ended up blocking him and changing names. (I now get strange telephone calls from weird numbers, I hope this is unrelated, by the way..)

      I am sure that, if my ex-FW ever happens to speak about me, he will say I am hysteric and whatsoever. But I don’t care. I know I’m quite ok and I am surrounded by people who know me and love me that can validate my reality.

      Hugs to you!

  • My heart breaks when I think of the narrative my X and his GFs (take your pick of which one during the timeline of his cheating; it doesn’t matter which one) told about me when all I did during the mess he created was to be clueless, in love, and on my knees begging him to stay in the marriage. I cringe at that last part but, let’s be real, my knees got a lot of rug burn from all that begging.

    I felt like an ambushed victim (still in love) so why would my H and his GF be telling these stories about me? After the first D-Day, I tried to get ahead of his narrative and I spent a day phoning our mutual friends and telling them (between sobs) my side of the story: “No, we didn’t drift apart!!! We just had a baby and I found out he’s been sneaking out with this girl for months!!!”

    I wince when I remember my initial attempts to “get ahead of the narrative.” I didn’t really need to do that and it didn’t make me feel better. People would have figured it out on their own anyway (well… the smart ones anyway). I didn’t do it again after the other D-Days because it kept me embroiled in my own trauma up to my waist and it felt like a useless venture because my H had a head start! He had been planning his “escape” (and all the stories and logistics) for months and months (maybe years) ahead of time. He had a head start on this so why was I struggling to catch up? What a useless race to run; I dropped out of that marathon of pain (he said, I counter, he said, I counter again) and stopped talking about it. And that felt so good. Let him marinate in his fabrications (his new fantasy life, anything he has to say about me); I’ve got a life to build and children to raise.

    I don’t talk about him, them, or “it” very much these days (out there in the real world) and, while I don’t know if it’s true or not, I’d like to think that my silence on the subject of him speaks for me.

  • Part of my journey to Meh was learning to “unload” my bag. By the this I mean, I realized the burden of my anger and how it was slowing me down.

    I can have my boundaries and I can watch relationships closer; some are worth my effort, some are NOT worth my effort (a tough lesson to learn for this guy).

    I also can control how angry I get and how my own emotions get in my own way.

    So, I’d offer this; if you are newly Chumped or in the divorce process, keep your guard up and fight for what’s your’s.

    But after the rumble settles, continue with CL’s list above, protect your heart and space. Let those who don’t make “the grade” fade away. Make choices that start to put down the pain — keep your pack light.

  • Sometimes the fallout from the lies can cause you problems. Ask me how I know….

    After cheater ex murdered my son and then killed himself, his family continued the lies, and I might add embellished them. They had the homicide cops convinced that I was a hooker, because I worked nights (as a psych nurse, I might add.) The police of that big city never bothered to ask me about my employment, they just assumed. And treated me as such. Even when cheater ex was deemed the murderer by every police department involved, it made no difference, the lie persisted.

    I found out 18 months later when his family paid someone to burn my house down. The first arson investigator I talked to was very interested in my story and sympathetic towards me. Then he talked to the homicide detectives. Suddenly I couldn’t get any information, and he wasn’t taking my calls, only investigated me, and when he figured out I couldn’t have done it, then dropped the case. Essentially they decided that a person like me (a hooker in their mind) didn’t deserve any help.

    The sad thing is we can do nothing about the lies but live our best lives and do what we can to mitigate the harm.

    I moved away from that city a few years later, and warn people about their shitty police department, which has been brought to light and borne out by the events of the last year.

    To this day however I have a really hard time trusting the police. I know intellectually all police aren’t the same but my gut reaction is distrust.

    • So sorry the in-laws and the police added to your pain. Really sorry.
      And I’m really glad you’re in a new city away from them.

    • Tessie, I know of your tragic story from past posts, but this is the first I’ve heard of the horrible aftermath of your poor son’s death. I hope your inlaws burn in Hell and they do not deserve to call themselves grandparents, aunts or uncles.

    • Tessie you have a hard earned doctorate in resiliency.
      In terms of the police, look what happened to the “Gone Girl” couple in Vallejo CA.

  • I’ve talked about this before but when I found out that my husband was telling his drinking buddies in the ho bar that I used to beat him up when he came home from work I burst out laughing ‘cos I was so shocked. I think that was the best reaction actually. It certainly helped my case when Schmoopie cheated on him 3 years later and told EVERYONE that she had to leave him because she was afraid he’d kill her! Then one of the drinking buddies (alias Motor Mouth) asked me out – ew yuck – so I couldn’t have been that bad after all could I? So I guess the truth came out eventually!

  • I have a cousin that is married to a real piece of work. She comes off as so accommodating and is the first to reach out to help out be it a party or funeral but it is all about being in control. She trashes everyone behind their back, or at least all the relatives of my cousin, but is your best friend to your face. We all have her number and no one pays her any mind. However, no one calls her out either, basically to keep the peace. My point is people are going to trash no matter what and just because they are not called out doesn’t mean they are taken seriously.

  • According to my FW, I’m a sexless, controlling, money spending bi#ch who is addicted to plastic surgery. 🏆🏅🤣

    • Oooo! Post a picture! Inquiring minds want to know! /end snark

      God, what story will they come up with next.

  • Well, I was in the hospital overnight with cardiac issues. The first of my life. Two very distinguished cardiologists agree the cause of the onset of atrial fibrillation is stress…betrayal, infidelity, abandonment, gaslighting, ongoing lies, deception…in short, abuse.

    Evidently the fight or flight response floods the body with catecholamine. Prolonged, sustained fight or flight response, which is all too familiar to many if not all chumps, overloads the system with catecholamine which can result in physical damage. In my case, the onset of atrial fibrillation. The joint opinion of both the cardiologists assigned to my case.
    My ultrasound and treadmill tests were completely normal, with zero indicators which would cause atrial fibrillation. That means stress is the culprit.

    So there is very real physical damage, as well as emotional and psychological and spiritual and sexual damage.

    Which is why TRUE No Contact is essential. As No Contact as you can go. If you have children, there are limits that have to be managed.

    Otherwise, someone who uses your heart and your children’s hearts and your marriage certificate as toilet paper (as my dear friend comedian Michael
    Pritchard put it to me the other day) are Kryptonite, poison, radioactive, very real and seriously hazardous to your literal
    health.

    You would never drink battery acid. Going anywhere near a cheater, virtually, mentally, physically, should be regarded with the same extreme caution. Or antifreeze….maybe it tastes sweet but it will kill you. Possibly literally.

    I am now on heart medication most likely for life. Because they were “having fun”. My daughter could be without a mother right now (my dad died of a heart attack at 55; I will be 58 in September).

    • I have another friend who was chumped, tried to reconcile in therapy for over a year, then found out he had continued to lie and had multiple Schmoopies, still continued to try to reconcile, and has now asked cheater to leave…was also put on heart medication after the initial DDay.

      This is seriously Hazardous to your Health. Serious as a heart attack.

      Go as hard core No Contact as you possibly can. Your life may literally depend on it.

      • I experienced an irregular heartbeat months before Dday when I thought I was happily married. The body knows!!!

        VH, I’m sorry you suffer from a heart problem as a result of that bastard. People who say “it’s just infidelity,” “it happens all the time,” or “get over it” ignore/minimize the serious mental AND (potential) physical impacts of this kind of abuse.

        I wish you and your ❤️well. ((hugs))

    • Those circulating catecholamines are potentially lethal! During my time Mr. Sparkly Pants, I developed obesity, insomnia, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, diabetes and cancer — all stress-induced. My blood pressure is under control now, but I will always have diabetes and I will always be prone to a recurrence of the cancer.

      My body was trying to tell me what my brain could not hear — that marriage was killing me!

      • Diabetes Type II is a metabolic disorder and is reversible. I know because I was able to reverse my diabetes through keto. I too gained weight and comfort ate through the overwhelming stress I was under. Please know that you can help many conditions through clean keto. Look up Dr. Berg, he’s amazing!

        • The disease is reversible, which is a good thing.

          However nerve damage caused by long term disease is not reversible to a large degree. though PT can help some. So yes it is very wise to get it under control as quickly as possible.

          I now wonder if my high sugar issues kicked in when I was going through the couple years of yell during my year of discard and subsequent year of legal separation. I think it is highly possible. In subsequent years, I gained some weight and had trouble getting it off. Had I been diagnosed with it during that time, likely awareness would have helped me get on a proper diet. I always exercised, so hopefully that helped some.

          I have some nerve damage in my feet, though not nearly as bad as it could be at my age. (71). I stick to my diet and exercise a lot.

          When I was having issues with my weight (I had gained about 20 pounds and could not shed it) I just chalked it up to work stress, which was valid as my work was stressful.

          See, that is the difference between cheaters and normal folks. I thought I had work stress, so I ate too much, I didn’t go fuck other people. Never even occurred to me.

  • I left my controlling abusive ex after almost 20 years, and when he attempted suicide and nearly succeeded, everyone blamed me. “How could you leave him??” “Didn’t you know this would happen??”

    What I wanted to say was “Well, Sharon, he stole my identity, ruined my credit, hid all finances from me, hid insurance cards and info so I couldn’t get medical or dental treatment and now live in constant pain because of untreated chronic illnesses” etc etc (that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what he did to me)

    What I’ve actually told them was… well, nothing. It’s none of their damn business why I left him.

    He, of course, hasn’t bothered to correct the horrible rumors of why I’ve left him and hasn’t taken responsibility for anything.

    Anyways, thanks Chump Lady for reminding me to keep my head up. ✌️

  • “You won’t talk smack about them, they won’t talk smack about you. Oh chumps, your cheater has probably been talking smack about you all along. Shaming you into being quiet ensures that their narrative stays on top.” #truth

    Cheaters have a head start on this and are invested in looking good. Truth is the enemy to this cheater goal.

    • Yep, I remember one of the few things I asked my fw when he told me what he was doing was “did you complain to her about me?” He said, “what was I supposed to say, oh my wife is great, that is why I am here with you”

      Of course he had to talk smack about me, he had to justify himself and gain sympathy.

      I don’t know why that came to my mind, I mean the man had just told me he had been committing adultery for half our marriage and the first thing I though of was, what did you say to her.

      I guess in hindsight it proved what they say, the betrayal and lies hurt worse than the sex.

      It had to be mostly lies, because I know and he knew I was pretty darn good to him.

  • This has hands down been one of the hardest lessons i have had to learn! My inlaws have deemed me *unsafe* because i know things. Ive been around since i was 16. I know. They hold the OW in higb esteem because she is friends with MIL. They all hide behind the *They didnt have sex so it wasnt an affair* meanwhile i have 3000 texts in one month with porn and other sexting going on. I initially tried to stand up for myself. Then i realized its a brick wall. So i stopped. My daughter has no relationship with her dads family because they tried to convince her i was lying about everything. Since i have set boundaries, stopped trying to please them…i am much happier. The truth is too hard to face. I am the truth.

  • American astronomer, Carl Sagan quote ” IF TT CAN BE DESTROYED BY THE TRUTH IT DESERVES TO BE DESTROYED BY THE TRUTH “

  • When he took off long-distance, we were supposedly going to work on the relationship and reconcile. The separation was just to take a break. Immediately though I realized that he had gone tell-all with his relatives, and it wasn’t pretty. They discussed EVERYTHING — sex, parenting, conflict resolution, etc. etc. and decided TOGETHER that I was horribly flawed. Looking back, I never had a chance. It was always me against him and his family after that. They had been invited into the deepest parts of our relationship without me present.

    At that point I was only sharing the deepest parts with my therapist and a spiritual life coach. I didn’t feel like our friends needed to know anything other than the basics. I did the same with our college kids, my relatives, and our church leadership. To naïve me, if you plan to reconcile, you are thoughtful about what you share. Not him. His family seemed to eat up the details, which seemed sick and made me wonder if they had ever truly cared or only cared as long as I met their criteria.

    Well, we didn’t reconcile. The divorce was awful, and I can only imagine how he cast it to make him the hero. Of course the attorneys and I know the truth. I gave up on any kind of meaningful interaction with his family and took everything out of the agreement that required ongoing interaction with my ex.

  • I am just 6 months from finalized divorce and very much in limbo.

    I have been no contact with ex for over a year even though we continue to live in the same small town (as does his family). I have decades of friendships and community involvement here, but am considering moving 50+ miles away to be closer to my extended family. I’m even thinking about a move across the state to an intentional community. If I knew – instead of guessing – what he’s told his family about his plans with OW, it might inform my decision. I had been close with his family for 30 years, but have kept away for my own healing.

    Is it worth contacting them?

    • NO. Move for the sake of moving–because that’s a new adventure you want. Or don’t move and stop letting your ex live rent free in your head. Make your choice, independent of the actions of others. Be the protagonist in your own life story.

      So what, you run into him at the coffee shop?! The point of meh is that such a run-in would be blip. I live in the same small town as my ex and his very young girlfriend, it was a little tough at first, but now I don’t care. If I see them out and about, I just nod my head and move on. Blankness. And, there’s an emotional blankness too…because I worked for meh. In fact, sometimes I think having to regularly see them has helped me reach meh…like acceptance through inundation.

      In either case, move or don’t move based on what YOU WANT. If the thought of running into your ex is too much to bear, then move. It doesn’t really matter what his family says about his OW. You’re courting trouble by contacting them about that Pandora’s box, and you’re also giving him a roadmap of your vulnerabilities. It violates no contact and gray rock. Contacting his family IS THE SAME THING as contacting him.

  • I learned alot about who were my true friends throughout my ordeal. It was a little painful for a while but now I feel so free and authentic–surrounded by a small group of true and loyal friends. It’s a kind of blessing when this happens. Living an authentic life is one of the most important things you can do for true contentment and happiness, and having inauthentic friendships damages that.

  • Two things:

    1) Silence IS an answer all by itself. Just like the word ‘No’ can be an answer all by itself. No explanation is sometimes the best explanation.

    I read recently that ‘you can’t really convince anyone of anything’, and I thought there was a lot of wisdom in that.

    2) The just world fallacy is an unacknowledged cause of a lot of the misunderstanding and atavistic fear that Chumps have to endure.

    All of us fall into this fallacy sometimes – that people get what they deserve; that the world is naturally just and fair, and balances itself accordingly.

    It drives the Pick Me Dance and the entire RIC, as well as other maladaptive Chump behaviours.

    The same fallacy underpins why people get conned by con artists, and why people get sexually abused by predators who work slowly and carefully to position them for abuse.

    We think we’re good – and often we are – and we also think that bad things don’t usually happen to good people.

    But there are bad people out there, and they don’t play by those rules. It’s really good to learn how to identify them early on.

    It’s also good to learn that no amount of magical thinking or behaving can necessarily protect you from a bad person – someone with poor character, or a personality disorder, including a colossal sense of entitlement.

  • I’m still struggling with the amount of loss this infidelity brought. My entire community is gone – some are playing Switzerland, others are flying monkeys and some have shown zero concern for my well-being in the midst of this incredible trauma. It’s just loss after loss.

    That’s also the blessing. Now I know none of these people were actually my friends – ouch – but better to know than not know. I’m in the process of totally reshaping my social life to only include people with integrity, who love and support me fully, know who I am and believe me. It’s a smaller circle but it’s a really good one.

    • Skeeter – I have done that, well mostly.
      My ex after the divorce immediately became extremely busy in the parent’s association of our kids school. She has turned all the school mums against me and plays the role of the hard done single mum .
      Unfortunately , my kids are of course friends with some of her flying monkeys and so I cant avoid interactions.
      But outside those circles – I have got my own friends and that has been so important for healing.
      I hope you achieve the same.

    • This is a good thing! And sometimes, those who make it into the smaller circle are note exactly the ones we thought.

  • Sorry this is late. I’ve been laid up ill for several days. But I wanted to get this onto the forum because I thought someone else might have experienced what I did, and might need the validation of seeing it in print.

    Character assassination has its covert as well as its overt forms. My marriage, unfortunately, was tied up in my work life. (We went to grad school together, got PhDs together, were both hired on tenure track lines in the same department at the same university, etc). My ex, a covert narc, would never outright badmouth me to our colleagues. But over thirty years, while master of the secret life, he cultivated an image of himself as the ethically upright, trustworthy professor. And I played right into that image of him. I supported him in a number of ways, and made sure that each time I achieved something–chairing a committee or a department, applying and being accepted for an NEH seminar, winning an internal grant, giving faculty lectures to the entire faculty, etc–that he also had that opportunity. I even spearheaded a move, while I was department chair, to have him named as the teacher of the year. He won, and fed off the subsequent lectures he gave to push the narrative of “high standards for students.”
    It took me a long time to see how he carefully curated his image: in faculty meetings, he would always hold back until someone else had raised objections with the administration (often me, as I was outspoken) before he spoke, but when he spoke, he was listened to (the “man says what woman has just said” factor). It was all calibrated to win him maximum respect. When we did separate, he projected an image I refer to as “wounded noble savage,” and I was amazed to see just how many of our colleagues fell for it. I shouldn’t have been–I’d been helping him cultivate his image for years, and no one but me knew about his secret life.

    • “But over thirty years, while master of the secret life, he cultivated an image of himself as the ethically upright, trustworthy professor. ”

      I also backed him, volunteered for his civic club, and later on politically for the mayor he was trying to get elected. (I still think that mayour was the best choice).

      The difference was when he got outed, he pretty much ducked his head and just tried to hang on to his job and latest promotion. He kept his job, but was busted. (she was his direct report).

      While I can never know for sure, I doubt he tried to play the wounded party too much, as he had shit all over himself so bad, and not just with me, and also he knows no one would believe him; as they knew me very well. He lied to the mayor, and also put him in a really bad position. He lied to our preacher, who did not take it lightly.

      He retired a couple years early and he and the whore slunk away to another county. Now once he got into a new church, and community who knows what crap he or she said. Since they were asked to leave that church, for other reasons; I doubt anyone believed them even if they did lie about me.

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