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UBT: Your Cheating Spouse Is the Real Victim

Universal Bullshit Translator
The Universal Bullshit Translator

Do I ever have a heaping pile o’ mindfuckery for you today.

Introducing Reconciliation Industrial Complex therapist quack, Dr. Robert Huizenga. A chump on his mailing list sent me his super special offer to Save My Marriage from my imaginary trauma.

Chumps! The problem is you! You’ve been getting angry and upset! For $27 and a series of up-sells, learn how to “charge neutral” and eat that humiliation. Got $1418.00? He’ll counsel Schmoopie too!

Someone wrote and asked if I coach the “other person?” Yes, I do. I coach all involved parties. My style is not to impose “rightness or wrongness”, but move toward understanding, self-care and self-respect, resolution of what is not working, and finally, create a wonderful life and healthy intimate relationships that are ultimately “affair proof.”

Therapists! Get in on the action! Dr. Huize does affiliate marketing! “Great Conversion Rate and Low Refund!” Yes, for a 50% cut, he will sell this mindfuckery to you for use on your gullible clients. And isn’t that why you got into a helping profession? To lock in a profitable conversion rate?

The Universal Bullshit Translator just loves a good multilevel marketing scheme before breakfast. So without further ado.

Guess Who’s the Victim… (You may not believe this)
By Dr. Robert Huizenga

Try me. You should see the bullshit I eat.

You feel victimized.

Chlamydia is just a feeling. So are those credit card charges you just discovered. As are the years you spent investing time, money, and reproductive energies on a grifter. Just feelings! No tangible harm done! Feelings pass like fluffy clouds that dissolve into beautiful sunsets and trust issues.

Once you get this victim thing turned around your world changes.

Your trauma victim thing is very important to me. Hang on to the same loser who is defrauding you, avoid divorce, sleep in the same stained bed sheets where the Schmoopies fucked — and your whole world changes!

Sure, you’re living at the same address with the same fuckwit, but what’s changed is your attitude.

Here’s what you need to unravel…

The skein of fuckupedness! Why spend time focusing on your own self-care and freezing your credit and hiring lawyers when you could be sending me $1418! I have THEORIES. Magical, magical theories. You have a rash on your groin, sobbing children, and a paternity testing kit where trust used to be. I have an ebook.

Your Cheating Spouse is the Victim, NOT You!

Waffle sniffer blunderbuss! Acorn epiphanies are real, Margaret. Wallpaper.

(I’m sorry, the UBT seems to have malfunctioned. Too much bullshit has clogged its transponders. Giving it a hard whack now…)


This seems strange.

Sign up for my tiered mindfuckery kit and I’ll explain it.

You feel like the victim don’t you?

I bet you feel like a right idiot. Upset with the person who cheated on you, instead of asking yourself what you did to make this person craft a dating profile.

You’re losing it all, in misery and your cheating spouse is out there having a great time…floating in the emotional space of being “in love.”

Can’t you see how they suffer?

I don’t want to minimize your pain and terror. It IS real.

I don’t want to minimize that “victim thing.”

And right now you experience yourself as the victim.

Silly goose. Send me $1418.00 and you’ll doubt your experiences.

Infidelity brings up a TON of primordial feelings that at first put you on overwhelm.

Suicidal ideation. Trauma. Shock.  So primordial. Evolve like me beyond “rightness and wrongness.” Oh, did I mention I have a degree from a Bible college?

Abby spent sleepless haunting nights and resorted to Lexapro so after D-Day she could function.

Tracey could barely talk in our first session, her throat constricted by the fear and pain.

I see no victims here. Only customers.

The Truth…

But the truth remains, the cheating spouse holds the greatest danger of a downward spiral.

Infidelity is an act of temporary insanity.

Did the affair go on for a decade? Temporary insanity! The average lifespan is at least 70 years.

They know not what they do! Double lives require no executive functioning whatsoever. Crafting aliases, stealing marital funds, hooker habits… a little blip on the ol’ noggin.

The cheating spouse is the victim, is pouring their life down a dirty drain and missing out on an opportunity.

You may call Schmoopie “Dirty Drain.” I said it first.

Fact is, cheaters suffer more than you. And only YOU can save them!

Integrate these concepts into your thinking as did Abby and Tracey.

Your personal power will be magnified and you will be free to effectively address the infidelity.

Click here to learn more

I find your vulnerability very profitable.


This one ran before. I have a golden retriever birthday party to attend this morning. Monty turns one today!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Monty has the right idea. Digesting whatever has drifted to the floor after the UBT tossed it aside. Happy Birthday, Monty!

  • LOL..My cheating spouse when I was crying screamed me that she was the victim not me. Screaming makes something true you know..or $1418.

  • I have an ex-husband and two sons and did not deal with half the disrespect some of the commentators here have endured. I gave up doing my best to save other people in 2017. At 63 I cannot see any over 45 year old woman falling for this doctor’s marketing.

    • It’s so great that you wouldn’t eat the shit sandwiches. I don’t think anyone wants to but some might be forced to the trough in a sense.

      I think what this Dr. Bazinga specializes in is giving people locked in a cell with a ticking bomb a fake tool kit to supposedly defuse the bomb. What they really need to do is get out of the cell and away from the bomb which would require overcoming fear of consequences for escape. As a former advocate for domestic abuse survivors, I think of degree of disrespect as the top part of the iceberg that only hints at the depth of coercion, blackmail and threats (of consequences) happening out of sight– usually because the survivor doesn’t even recognize these things as coercion, blackmail and threats. When abusers later do things like commit violence or make false allegations of domestic violence, spread life-ruining claims about victims’ characters, fight dirty for child custody, impoverish victims or commit murder, you can bet all those potentialities were “in the air” and could be felt long before they were carried out. In other words, the more shit someone seems to eat, the bigger the knife to their back probably is.

      One thing I never really considered back when I worked as an advocate because there wasn’t much understanding of coercive control (subviolent forms of DV) are all the stories of false accusations that abusers typically make against victims to their faces throughout abuse (and FWs make against chumps– either during cheating or after getting busted for it). There’s a lot of “I had to cheat/abuse because you did/said this bad thing!”– accusations which are always decontextualized or in reverse order of events, grossly exaggerated or something that simply didn’t happen. Chumps/victims wonder “Why would s/he spout lies right to my face? Are they crazy?” Yes, like a fox. Acting “crazy” is a form of coercion in itself, a way of saying, “You can’t even imagine what I’m capable of!” But it’s the lies alone that are the threat in another sense. The point is not to brainwash the chump into believing the lies and it’s only partly to “rehearse” lies to help the abuser more deeply invest in the false narrative. The main point of the lies is to demonstrate and threaten the chump with what the abuser will be saying/intimating about the chump– and the invested, passionate, credible-seeming tone in which they’ll spout these things– to… social context, relatives, the chump’s and abuser’s coworkers, courts, dependency court judges, police or basically anyone who can help destroy the chump’s existence. The potency of the threats naturally hinges on the victims’ resources or lack of resources to ward off the threats.

      I’m becoming more interested in this idea of a kind of Dickensian level “social ruin” as a form of coercion and how viable those threats really are in today’s shitty economy, job insecurity, housing shortage, lack of survivor resources, social media scapegoating and, particularly, overuse of “parental alienation” by abusers against victims in custody disputes. Anyway, affairs are just one form of triangulation and triangulators triangulate everywhere they can. It’s kind of darkly poetic that a triangle is the basic shape of a blade or even a gun, the symbols of coercion.

      • ‘Chumps/victims wonder “Why would s/he spout lies right to my face? Are they crazy?” Yes, like a fox. Acting “crazy” is a form of coercion in itself, a way of saying, “You can’t even imagine what I’m capable of!”’

        Tactics straight out of Hamlet!

        He thinks, “I’ll just act crazy.”

        I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put an antic disposition on

        And then when/if he’s accused of hurt?

        Was ‘t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.
        If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away,
        And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes,
        Then Hamlet does it not. Hamlet denies it.
        Who does it, then? His madness.

        • What a great analogy! It’s also a great example of the “effects of infidelity on children.” I saw Ingmar Bergman’s Hamlet as a kid. Your point reminds me of it. Every production I’ve seen since pales in comparison. It was all in Swedish and I don’t speak a word but stage was Bergman’s greatest love and his stage direction, unlike his films, was so physical that it’s like a combination of mime, dance and martial arts. It was the best intro to the play and even a kid could understand the real gist, which is that Hamlet has gone rogue/suicide bomber. Not “mentally ill” but criminally disordered. Today someone might say that Bergman cast Hamlet as a vulnerable narcissist with a Madonna/whore complex who, when he finds himself losing power, musters and rallies again as an all-out psychopath and goes on a rampage taking out the guilty and innocent alike, all while (key part) making flowery, self-pitying excuses for all of it until someone finally takes him down. Sure, maybe bigger pricks created him but it was no excuse for the horrible things he does. For instance, Bergman had his Hamlet outright battering Ophelia, stomping her into the ground and spitting on her. You don’t even need to understand the indictments, just that there was nothing sympathetic or justifiable in the abuse and it makes perfect sense that she cracks from trauma and kills herself. It was a departure from the standard way of depicting that part of the plot which is pretty misogynist– that she goes mad merely from being rejected by sparkledick. Bergman’s version had a better moral: the capacity for love can become a liability when misspent on an abuser.

          I feel bad that I missed Daniel Craig as McB. Apparently the director cracked the code by figuring out the play is a black comedy, not a straight tragedy, and McB himself is a dim-witted “himbo” whose idiocy drives his climber wife to distraction. It sounded epic. I wish they’d film those productions for posterity.

      • You explained so well why they make crazy accusations to your face. I experienced it and never got my head around it. It’s just a form of coercion.

        • Not so crazy after all, huh? It’s exactly what cults do when members try to leave the fold. Spewing the accusations at a victim’s face is a dry run to polish the performance as well as a shot across the bow warning of the slander that’s going to be repeated to others. I think the nature of the threats of “ruin” would be much more clearly defined as coercive blackmail if abusers had even a scrap of real, provable dirt on victims– like, say, overstaying a Visa, doing illegal drugs, committing tax fraud, etc., or something genuinely cruel like outing a victim for substance addiction, an eating disorder or, say, once working in the sex industry. If there was any truth to the latter charges, evoking them when a victim threatens to leave or grills an abuser about cheating would be obvious threats to get the victim deported, arrested, pilloried in public, fired or excommunicated by their families. DV in a nutshell, crystal clear coercive control, obvious captive/captor situation.

          Where it seems more ambiguous and not-quite-DV-coercion is if the victim hasn’t done anything serious, embarrassing or punishable and the abuser is forced to cobble together vaguer character assassinations out of thin air. But that’s only accidental ambiguity due to the clean record of the target, not due to the coercive intent of the abuser.

  • I love “you may call Schmoopie dirty drain”!!!! Needed a laugh after reading these theories.
    Found out two days ago that FW is seeing a therapist (he needed to!). He mentioned how they’re discussing past traumas. I took the bait and asked what traumas (just for shits and giggles) and was told how D-Day was awful for him. Wha wha what!! FW did concede (in a five year olds whiny tone) that of course it was worse for me. The perpetual victim status infuriates me. Ugh!

    • I’ve never seen Mr. Duplicity cry so desperately as when he tried to explain to me how traumatised he was “by everything that happened” (a nebulous description taken straight from the glossary page of the cheater textbook).

      He deserved an Oscar for that performance! 🤬

      • The only time my cheating ex-wife cry during our false reconciliation was when she sobbed to me, “The best guarantee you have that I won’t do this again is knowing how much it hurts to say goodbye to him!” And of course I comforted and thanks her for her brave sacrifice. Even though, of course, she never said goodbye but only took it underground. But then maybe that hurts, too? SMDH. I think cheater tears must be a mixture of vinegar, KY, and fermented snake piss.

        • Nomar, your description of cheater tears has me in hysterics. Fermented snake piss!

          I, too, comforted that poor suffering cheating bastard. Who gave me chlamydia which scarred my fallopian tube, which caused an ectopic pregnancy to happen, that almost killed me.

          But his suffering!

          I hope this shlockster chokes.

        • Nomar, That really takes the cake, huh? I too comforted the FW when he and the OW “broke up”. Hilariously, I didn’t know that was why he was crying at the time, (I knew he cheated, I didn’t know they broke up and I thought the crying was about OUR marriage failing) so I unwittingly comforted my own husband through a break up. And of course, they didn’t stay broken up. I see so many stories with the same details that nothing truly surprises me anymore. But this scenario where the FEW wants the chump to feel bad about losing their AP is pretty high on the list of “they can’t be serious.”

          • Yep, I got this too. I had retreated to the bathroom to sob and cry my heart out, but he followed me in there to declare that he was the one who deserved to be crying because I was making him give up his amazing girlfriend

        • “I think cheater tears must be a mixture of vinegar, KY, and fermented snake piss.”

          Never heard it stated any better.

        • These cheaters are amazing, her greatest loss and regret was losing sparkledick? I hope you find (or have found) someone so much better.

        • Cheater tears are for themselves, not you.
          I’m so very sorry! That I got caught. I’ll do a better job of hiding it next time. Promise 😘

      • It’s significant that so man wrong-doers- adulterers, criminals, so often refer to their sin or crime as something that “happened”! It’s a very sneak way of minimising their wrongdoing IMO. An underhand way of distancing themselves from their guilt and shame, to avoid the pain of those emotions and to con their victims and others that they’re not really responsible for those actions!
        The truth is, it never just “happened”, they DID it!
        And what’s even worse is they wilfully CHOSE to do it!

        • Oh please. The whole sex-as-unavoidable-compulsion model ignores all the shit abusers do to evade and mitigate consequences. If they were really that irresistibly compelled, they’d be humping the legs of armed cops, farm animals, randos on the train (imagining there’s specificity involved, make it, say, blond armed cops, farm animals and randos on the train). It’s like arguing that battering is a “punching addiction.” Then why aren’t they holed up in a gym or meat packing plant pounding the crap out of bags and sides of beef twenty-four/seven? Why don’t they punch their bosses or armed bank guards?

          • “Then why aren’t they holed up in a gym or meat packing plant pounding the crap out of bags and sides of beef twenty-four/seven?”

            Possibly, and I hope I’m wrong here, it’s because nobody else gets hurt, when they just beat the meat?

            Also applies to cheating 🤮

        • CL has been crystal clear on this “happened” point, and I noticed it recently while listening to the new Serial Podcast, The Retrievals, about a large number of women who went through egg retrieval surgeries at the Yale Fertility Clinic WITHOUT anesthesia (a nurse was swapping their fentanyl with saline so she could steal the drugs). The clinic — docs, nurses, etc. — ignored the women, evidently didn’t pick up on the patterns (I’m highly suspicious) and gaslighted the patients into believing something was wrong with them. When Yale was required by the DOJ to contact the victims, the language was very FW, along the lines of, “It’s unfortunate that this event might have happened to you…” UBT would eat it for breakfast. Honestly, not just the letter, but the entire scandal, is very similar to the cheater/chump story. Abuse is abuse.

      • Reminds me of when FW on full Dday, hung his sad sack head and uttered “I am just not good at lying” This within minutes after he had disclosed that he had been “dating” behind my back for ten years. I suspect it was our entire marriage, but he only copped to ten years. Yet, he said he wasn’t a good liar. Honestly I don’t think these nut jobs can even remember what they have said from one minute to the next, they are flailing to save themselves.

        • oh my gosh Susie. I hope that someday (maybe even today) you can have a sincere, full belly laugh at that one, because it is truly absurd. “I am just not good at lying”…after at least 10 years of cheating? And the worst part? HE probably believes it “I am just a good guy, I am not even good at a little white lie….like 10 years of betrayal”

          The AP didn’t work out, and so my FW is going to be left alone….for now. He fully intends to start dating in the open as soon as we separate but he has had the audacity to imply that it may be hard for him to find someone. It took all I could do to not point out that if he could find a gf while married and living with his family, finding a gf while single with a bachelor pad should be a walk in the park. I swear, he’d let me manage his dating apps and find one for him if I offered. There is no end to the crap Chumps get thrown at them.

          • He may not be totally wrong that it’s harder to find a mate as a single divorced guy. I suspect part of the “draw” for witting AP types– the thing that might make them overlook glaring problems like big age gap, not-so-solid-finances or sagging jowls and galloping hair loss– is the compulsion to act as a proxy bully and triangulate to punish a hapless victim (in some bizarre reenactment of abusive FOO dynamics or whatever). As Velvet Hammer put it, cheating is a three legged stool which falls over when the victim leg is removed. Without being able to offer sick and twisted people a sacrificial goat for burning, it could really cut down on the viable pool of panky partners. Without the sacrificial goat in tow, all a FW has to offer is themselves which, to normal people who aren’t drooling for victims, maybe doesn’t look so hot. The remaining pool would likely be the more vicious transactional types who will roll them for their wallets and watches like drunks in the alley.

        • OMG, mine says the same thing! He’ll claim it to this day. Well, he was certainly good enough at lying to have a secret life for 30 years. lol!

        • I don’t know which is worse. FW told me — after confessing to 7 years of cheating — that “I told you I was a good liar” with a completely blank look on his face. Total sociopath. Gave me the creeps and any time I let myself remember the look and the tone of his voice I get sick again.

      • Yes, stbx said the same thing, how he was traumatized by the situation because driving past our house made him feel sad. Meanwhile, I couldn’t eat for the first two weeks, lost 40 pounds in three months, couldn’t sleep, got shaky whenever certain triggers happened, etc.

        • “It hurts me, too!” and, “I’m human, too!” and, “But what about me?!” In post-dday couples counseling, it was all about FW’s wounds. Per usual, everything revolved around FW and his chaos and needs. I sat there in his shadows as he sucked the air out of the room. “This isn’t about you, b&r.” Finally, it dawned on me that it was very much about me. A significant chunk of my existence involved carrying his wounds and molding myself around his life, but that was the crux of the problem. It was an epiphany to grasp that I mattered every bit as much as he did. And in this case, I felt for once that I mattered more! I essentially said, “It’s always about him. What about ME? What about my wounds? What about what he did to hurt me? I didn’t come here for him to do individual therapy. I’m footing half the bill (so stupid of me) and I’m at the end of my rope here as it is. If he can’t deal with his issues and pay attention to me and our relationship by now, I have nothing to work with.” I wish I’d sided with my own intuition and logic rather than FW and MC’s manipulation and gaslighting. Instead, I stuck around for nearly another year and things got pretty intense. These FWs possess zero empathy or awareness. They can eff right off, as one of you chumps likes to say.

      • Oh, the nebulous terms. “Things happened.” Whenever my xFW would say that kind of crap, I always asked him, “exactly what THINGS do you mean?” I made him define and describe the things, which made the poor FW soooo uncomfortable. He actually had to put a word on the awful “things” he had done. “I cheated on you. I lied to you. I gave you an STD. I created dating profiles. I spent a lot of money on the AP, various OW, hookers. I demanded sex from you in a coercive fashion that was flat out abusive. I treated you with contempt.” Etc.
        Thank you, CL and CN for opening my eyes to the minimization these cheaters try to give the abuse they have been dishing out.
        “Things”. Like a knick-knack on a shelf. Such BS.

    • Yeah, when my ex tried to claim “mutual abuse” and wanted us to move past everything—water under the bridge—because “we’ve both done horrible things to each other,” I asked: “Like what? Exactly what horrible things have I done to you? Name one.” I could give examples of countless selfless, loving kindnesses and sacrifices I’d offered him; I could think of times I’d been shocked and upset and had understandably reacted in anger, sadness and fear—but even then, I’d never resorted to cruelty or lies. Nothing qualified as horrible. By contrast, his record of horrible things was a daily practice that went back years, with too many examples to keep track of. Literally thousands. I realized that in any given day, my ex had done worse things to me than I had over the course of our entire relationship. I think these kinds of comparisons are eye-opening to chumps in the thick of it, who’ve been gaslighted for years into accepting responsibility for their “partner’s” poor character and behavior.

      • Yeah, when my ex tried to claim “mutual abuse” and wanted us to move past everything—water under the bridge—because “we’ve both done horrible things to each other,” I asked: “Like what? Exactly what horrible things have I done to you? Name one.”

        This is brilliant. Call them on the false equivalency BS.

        I’m NC with FW, and it’s been 3.5 years since D-Day, so I won’t re-hash any of this with him. But in the immediate aftermath of D-Day, I wish I’d asked your question. Instead I just listened to him say that I (Spinach) am not perfect either and that it “take two.”🙄

        • Spinach, The end of my marriage would probably win the prize for “slowest moving”. DDAy was 3 years ago and we are only now close to physically separating. The pandemic was an initial delay. But more so I was terrified of what divorce would mean for my life moving forward as well as terrified of my FW. he initially had some insane idea that we could stay married while he pursued a new love life with the AP. Anyway, my point is that things progressed so slowly with us that I have seen every stage. FW initially wanted to blame me, all my shortcomings led to his unmet needs. (And I was just screwed up enough to believe that drivel for a long time) Then it morphed to it “takes two”, he admitted to some fault, but still kept on pointing out my blame in his affair. Well things didn’t work out with the AP, and we are still splitting up and now he fully admits that this was entirely his fault and he realizes how badly he screwed up his own life. (Mine too,obv) I think if things had progressed differently, he might not ever have reached the point of recognizing his own fault in this. If things had worked out with AP, he’d be happily living his new life with her by now. Or even if they had not worked out, if the separation was quicker, he would have been living alone and found a gf and wouldn’t have had so much time to reflect. Instead, he remained living with me, AP didn’t work out, and he will be moving out on his own… and currently doesn’t have another love interest to distract him. I guess I just wonder if he is unique in eventually seeing the truth and that HE caused this….or if more FWs would perhaps come to that realization giving enough time alone. I have to say, it should feel gratifying to have him recognize the error of his ways,. but I just feel sadder for both of us.

          • Usually when the FW admits to culpability and hints at remorse it is just a change in strategy. Don’t take the bait.

            • I stayed with my FW for years. He did show remorse but you know what, he was still an entitled a$$ who took more and more from me. I wish CL had been around during my many DDays and that I hadn’t gotten sucked into RIC.

              While he took responsibility when I decided to stay, after I finally left it was all about my negativity causing his wandering d!ck. Just nope.

              Bruno is right, it’s just strategy.

            • This exactly. OW left him. He’s now “taking full responsibility” for what happened. Coincidence? Dude doesn’t have a female appliance left to his name. DO NOT TAKE THE BAIT.

              My FW didn’t even have the fortitude to show the “sorry” beyond the initial words. Sneaky behavior continued and likely escalated beyond the tip of the iceberg I did see. When you have to explain to FW how what he continued to do post-DDay is hurtful, there was no justifying it anymore — this guy was not going to change.

            • Agreed. They only do things like that when they want something or feel like it will garner enough sympathy for you to make concessions for them. Snakes in the grass, all of them!

          • Glad you’ll be free soon, SortofOverit.

            Do you think he really saw “the truth”? I don’t know you’re situation, but, from what I’ve gleaned from this site, a lot of FWs may cop to initiating the affair all by themselves and “allowing it to blossom” (the expression my ex used 🤮). But I think a lot of the sadness and remorse they express is really regret that the affair ended and/or that they have to live with unpleasant (and often unforeseen) consequences of their actions.

            In the early days, my ex wrote to me that he was filled with “regret and remorse,” but I think those were simply words he used to soften me for the divorce. And he undercut the fauxpology by adding some qualifications about how I wasn’t perfect either and it takes two. Also, if he really felt so sorry, he would have not tried to screw me in the divorce. Judge them by their actions.

            And you speculate that time might cause these FWs to see the error of their ways, that maybe after a few years they realize they fucked up. That would require self-awareness. Also, I would guess that had your STBX’s relationship with the AP worked out, he might be whistling a different tune. IDK.
            My ex’s relationship with AP “blossomed” into a marriage. Are they happy? Does he have occasional moments when he thinks, “Oh, shit! What have I done?” I would imagine so. But I still think it would be more about self-pity than how he was at fault for everything. Even if he says the right words, I wager that he will always believe that Spinach shares in the blame. [Note: I hope it goes without saying that I am absolutely far from perfect. I’m human. I’ve made mistakes, as all of us have. But I didn’t cause that man to cheat.]

            Bottom line: They may express remorse, but I just don’t trust a thing these lying liars say.

            Good luck! Better days lie ahead.

          • Sortofoverit–

            I think the reprieve is only temporary. If you stuck around long enough he’s shift back to a persona with the same old victim-blaming perspective. The only upside is that, in rounds #3, 4#, #10 of the abuse cycle, you’d be less bamboozled by all the confabulated, made up accusations and his faux-victim posturing. But then you’d also lose your advantage because, in the meantime, he will have been secretly building a deeper and more twisted, fabricated case against you, one that might even spill over into serious social or financial consequences for you or even legal consequences. So your upgraded ability to see through and reject the false accusations will be moot in the case he can make bystanders or legal authorities believe the bs. He’ll simply have had more time to rehearse his Oscar winning performance and more time to study you for chinks in your armor.

            The takeaway is that we should never think the bs blame FWs spouted are cases of temporary insanity, affair fog or whatever. On the one hand, a renewed round of blaming/abuse can be triggered– sort of like a Manchurian candidate and solitaire– by a new hunt for supply. But I think the blameshifting tapes are always running under the surface. When they start flinging blame and playing victim, they’re really demonstrating what they’re going to tell other people in order to wreck their victims lives. It’s a stealth form of entrapment: “See what I can do to your life if I feel like it? You ain’t going anywhere, bitch, not unless I tell you to.” Sometimes those threats aren’t idle. Like I said earlier, affairs are just one form of triangulated bullying and triangulators triangulate anywhere they can.

            In the research on abuser psych we read while training as advocates for survivors of domestic violence and then from the stories of survivors, it seems even the most violent abusers can “run out of alibis” and go through what seems like a come-to-Jesus moment where they concede the depth of their abuse and responsibility for it. It fools a lot of people, even therapists and legal authorities, not just victims. But think of it like that scene in Schindler’s list where psychopathic Goethe (played by Ralph Fiennes) plays “Jesus in the mirror.” As if he’s trying on a “merciful persona” for size, he makes a Jesusy gesture at the mirror and says, “I pardon you. I pardon you.” But, eh, that’s fucking boring and silly so, in the next second, he grabs a rifle and shoots the poor little child prisoner who stained the bathtub.

            Like that– maybe in slower motion but pretty much the same. Abusers might “try on” honesty and accountability like a cosplay costume. They can deeply invest in it and believe their own stance (which makes it seem all the more credible. Google “cubing” and “serial killers”). But that “guise” will ultimately get too suffocating and tight in the crotch when they find it gets in the way of exercising delicious control and aggression against partners or getting kibble from randos (all batterers cheat so the two things go hand in hand in varying degrees). Recidivism rates of domestic abusers is about 98.5% even with therapy and jail time. I can’t imagine it’s any better for abusers with the discipline to never cross criminal lines and who are skilled at emotional and psychological abuse– probably worse.

          • He is NOT going to sustain any recognition of error, believe me. He is NOT reflecting that much, believe me.
            Be on the lookout for the utter bullshlt that’s coming next, and godspeed on the divorce.

          • He is only admitting his fault to prevent the separation because now he has no safety net. Don’t buy it. He’s not sorry. He doesn’t want consequences.

            That’s the reason that when the OW “apologized” to me in an email, I completely ignored it. She was only apologizing because she and FW didn’t work out (she found out he was abusive – I could have told her that, and that he had lied to her – I could have told her that too). Had their “fairytale” continued, she would never have apologized for her actions. It’s not remorse, nor any empathy for YOU and the pain they caused you. It’s because THEY have suffered because of their actions, or because they stand to lose something, or they are trying to have YOU make THEM feel better. I am not responsible for soothing OW’s conscience.

          • They may see that they were wrong… but only briefly. I don’t believe their egos will allow them to experience the full reckoning they need to. And even if they did? I don’t believe they have the skills not to keep being shitty partners.

            • Reading all the like comments in this thread, it hits me that chumps are the real experts in personality disorders. We can spot it and call it like no one else. Too bad everyone else, including non-chump allies, see us as paranoid, cynical and “hysterical.”

        • When I finally left, years after multiple ddays, the sad sausage FW said, “I’ve had to live with the pain and guilt for years!!” Boo hoo hoo

          • To quote CL, if he didn’t want to go to Chicago, why’d he buy a ticket and get on the train? If he didn’t want his tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole, why did he try to lick it?

            I think it’s because abuse is all about trying to forcibly alter the natural order of cause and effect, action and reaction. If you look at abusive behaviors as a kind of atomic experiment, abusers speculate that exerting certain pressures on the “chump element” in the experiment can alter the physics. Squish us enough or shoot lasers at us and it will change our atoms which will then react to the other elements (double standards, the stream of randos, threat of STDs, emotional or physical or financial abuse, neglect, etc.) in some desirable way. We are the piece that has to be– on a fundamental, cellular, atomic level– bent, changed, fucked up beyond recognition so that we’re no longer elementally human. That way, buying a ticket to Chicago ends up in, say, Disneyworld! And tongues don’t get stuck to frozen flagpoles!

        • Spinach, thanks for your moral support (I appreciate your wisdom and kindness here, so I’m flattered), but it actually wasn’t brilliant! I used logic like this on my ex repeatedly — basically all of the things I later encountered and felt validated by here with CL/CN — but it all boiled down to engagement with an abuser, and it kept me trapped in the cycle of abuse and nearly drove me mad. I might calmly say something like that and walk out of the room, only to be accused by FW of “stomping away” as he followed me around and harassed me until I eventually lost my cool (which still paled in comparison to FW’s frequent outbursts). It was like arguing with a toddler, and I realized that there was no way to have reasonable, considerate conversations. I was forced to lowering myself to his level, and I wanted to communicate authentically, in a way I could respect. (I actually thought and journaled about all of this at the time.) I also came to see how when hoovering, FW used what I’d said in earnest to trick me into believing he’d changed and he finally got it; it was all I’d ever wanted from him, really, and it felt so good, but it was all a manipulative act. When he was at a total loss and felt out of control — for example, when he was confronted with evidence, when I eventually stopped believing his lies and tricks, or when I tried to physically remove myself — he became increasingly physically abusive (HOAC’s writing about this very much describes my experiences). Engaging at those times was out of the question, and that’s when I began to develop real contempt. He wasn’t worthy of a response from me, and I had to hold myself to that standard.

          Bottom line, anything you say or do is lost on a cheater. They don’t understand and they don’t care. More importantly, they’re beneath us. Whenever I’m tempted to send FW a dose of reality — two years 100% NC now! — this more than anything stops me. I come back to those insane cyclical heartfelt pleas for love and understanding that turned into fights that were all my fault, which reminds me that it is beyond futile. I also still have nightmares where these exact kinds of interactions from my past play out: FW is next level asshole, I face massive consequences as a result, I try to defend myself or get some kind of acknowledgement of reality, and he turns it against me and “wins,” every time. I know this story by heart.

      • When I asked mine why he slept with prostitutes, like what I had done to deserve this. He said that, “You don’t load the dishwasher perfectly.” That was my crime, LOL.

        • I just saw some article in a clickbait publication about “Biker Rules that Women Must Abide By.” Caveman stuff– really ridiculous. So little did you know you had to abide by criminal gang “ho rules.” I’m sure these stipulations weren’t in your wedding vows. I’m sure he virtue-signals feminism at work.

    • Piggy’s pity party knows no bounds. Cry me a river that you lost your job, your wife, your home and your carefully crafted image. Hope the hookers, web camming, cruising for male hookups in the neighborhood, and new OW were worth it. La vida loca mfer!

    • The perpetual victim status is also spooky and menacing since what might a victim be “forced” to do to “defend” themselves? Sky’s the limit, right? Grab all the money, alienate the kids, destroy the victim’s reputation and job standing– or worse. The victim stance makes almost anything “justifiable.” Playing victim in itself is a threat. I think we can accurately measure hostile intent and aggressive fantasy just by how intensely and loudly they play victim.

      • This 💯. All day long.

        The greater the victim cosplay a cheater indulges in, the more menace they intend the actual victim.

        And often its narcissistic collapse disguised as faux remorse, regret, the dog ate my homework… whatever.

        Just varied forms of “hoovering”, which is to say the more palatable face of “cubing” and voila: the victim is back on the cycle of abuse, prime pumped for another round. And the next round is always a bit worse. Be alert chumps!

      • I can relate to this, HOAC, and it’s one of the reasons I ate a lot of shit sandwiches and quietly backed away from what used to be my entire world. Any potential contested person or place, I avoid or am NC with. I know what FW is capable of in the name of defending his conscience, narrative and reputation; I understand his psychology and tactics too well; and I know how low he will stoop. It’s not worth it.

        After I left, FW’s story of “mutual abuse” morphed and he quickly became the victim, and I am quite certain he believes it now, at least in part of his compartmentalized, disordered mind. It’s so disappointing that people so easily pity and “support” sad sausage abusers. Do they realize they’re buying the abuser cliche of “she made me do it,” hook line and sinker? It must’ve been really bad for such a nice guy to do that; it was a really hard relationship (yeah, no shit… try being in it).

        • I have a feeling people who buy the abuser cliche of “she made me do it” extend it just about everywhere. To their evil bosses who harass interns and cleaning staff (they wore lipstick!), to their parent companies that dump carcinogens near schools (teen vaping caused the cancer and seizure spikes!) or drain water out of drought-ridden areas (who needs potable tap water?), government administrations that fund coups and death squads in third world countries to control resources (we brought them democracy!), you name it. It’s all purpose apologism. I’d disinfect a chair they just perched on before sitting on it.

  • Sadly, there are many people who will do anything and pay any amount of $$ to stay married, save the cheater, even save the schmoopie, whatever it takes to just keep the family together. When you are willing to do anything to save your family, you can’t even fathom the perspective of a FW who just doesn’t have enough self-respect or dignity to do the right thing. Sigh. The FW gambles away their family and the chump has to pay to clean it all up. Well, some of us reach our limits sooner or later and say no more! I’d rather be alone than live with a liar. I’d rather be honest and divorced than married and suicidal.

    • “When you are willing to do anything to save your family, you can’t even fathom the perspective …” of a so-called counselor who would EXPLOIT that desperate willingness. It’s truly awful.

      • Kind of like when you’re an honest person you can’t imagine your cheating spouse lying to you about where and how s/he’s spending time.

  • Had I found this ‘therapist’ in my extreme pain, I probably would have been one of those dishing out $1418.00 to save my marriage. I was desperate. Thank God I was dumped! I would have spent the rest of my life trying to make that loser happy. He did me the biggest favor by forcing me to get divorced.

    • “Thank God I was dumped! I would have spent the rest of my life trying to make that loser happy. He did me the biggest favor by forcing me to get divorced.”

      Same here AC. My sweet Dad kept telling me, Susie you can’t go back, you will spend the rest of your life unhappy if you do. It took me a while to believe it, about 3 to 4 months, but I finally did.

      My Dad was living states away from me, and I can’t even imagine his phone bills as he kept calling and encouraging me to be strong, that I would be able to take care of myself better than FW ever did, etc.

      It took me letting the snake crawl back into my house for me to finally get it. It lasted less than a week and the scales dropped from my eyes, his ugly conniving face was on full view.

      • Same for me. I thought I could repair the damage. My mom said no, it will only get worse.

        I finally had to see it with my own eyes. Once I saw his true disgusting self, I couldn’t unsee it. That’s when everything in me changed.

        • Right? Had my ex not left, I’d have wasted more time & money on therapists desperate for billable hours, sacrificing precious self-worth and sanity to keep my marriage “intact.” I hate to think what it would have taken for me to actually leave.
          I know I was getting closer when I asked him to stay somewhere else for a night after catching him in yet another lie, (which was an unforgiveable sin according to him) but had he come home and not asked for a separation instead? Easily would have wasted another year or more (and who knows how much $$) trying to make things work.

    • thank you for this! I’m still hurting and praying each day for grace and gratitude that I left even when feeling abandoned and discarded. thank you for giving me hope.

    • Yes, Amazon, this is true for me too. I posted a really long comment with backstory… but the cliffs notes is that DDay happened 3 years ago, he said he wanted to leave me for AP, but everything has dragged on so long that AP is now out of the picture. We are still separating. But the point is, in the early days, I was lacking “mighty” big time. I was paralyzed with fear and I think if he wasn’t looking to leave to be with FW, I would not have made the moves myself. Ironically, now that she is out of the picture, he wants to rec, but I have had the time to find CN, and found some “mighty” and the split is still going to happen. But that may not have been the case if this didn’t drag on for so long.

      • AP left FW a few weeks (weeks!) after they moved in together. By then I was far, far past wanting FW back (D-Day had been 4 years earlier). He put out feelers to see if I was still receptive (???!?!?) but I shut that down. I’m still amazed he had the audacity to try.

    • I spent way more than that trying to save my marriage. What I wouldn’t give to have those $$$$ back now!

    • ” Thank God I was dumped! I would have spent the rest of my life trying to make that loser happy. He did me the biggest favor by forcing me to get divorced.”

      Amen to that. I feel the same. Him dumping me FREED me.

  • That kind of money is better spent on a lawyer.


  • I don’t discount at all that many cheaters at some point go through their own trauma. However, it is not the same as the blindsided BS, and it is a trauma of their own making. Yes they need counseling, but not to be told they are the victim, but that they are the perp and they are the problem, not every one else. Guess how many therapists are going to rake in the dough and sell books stating that theory.

    No it is the humiliated, scared, confused BS who will shell out the money for that tripe. At least until she/he gets a bit stronger.

    I am so glad I could not afford counseling, even in 1989, they were out there raking in the bucks to sell false hope.

    • I’m glad you didn’t either!
      One thing I know now is therapists are not supposed to tell you what to do OR give advice. I’ve been taking social work classes in hopes to help people one day-
      When I asked my mom(because she’s shocked we aren’t “better by now”) mother why would you expect your daughter to just accept this and her reply was- “I guess because I did” and all I could do was shake my head and then nod in anger hurt and disgust. My mother has been so abused and so codependent on men that I don’t even think she LIKES females very much. Or me.
      She loves me but doesn’t like me I think -if that makes sense.
      After divorcing my dad she made even worse choices REPEATEDLY
      It’s been hard to watch
      I just want to be a better example for my daughter and my nieces

      • Painful to watch one’s own mom self-sabotage. But we are all on our own paths. You may be experiencing insights that mom cannot. Keep going. You are already a great example for the next generation.

  • Monty Is so gorgeous!!! Happy birthday boy!!
    I have two golden-doodles :)they’re the boys I never had!
    Last night I was told that I’ve been giving “it” way too much power and that it wasn’t what I think.
    My main Christian friend says adultery is one of the main JUSTIFIABLE reasons for divorce. Some of these “religious” people are ruining Jesus for many people and I am so sorry
    Do you think Jesus would want you abused?
    Forgiving is one thing- reconciliation another
    I may be here in the same home
    I may have not filed for divorce
    I may pay bills with this person and eat some dinners-
    But I never lost sight of the reality…
    I’m taking the therapy sessions
    I’m listening to the Word
    I am attending classes and going to work
    I’m doing what I can to dig my way out and find my next step that isn’t easy to take
    The reality. That this wasn’t part of the plan but I have to deal with “it” and that it’s never ok to betray someone
    And 3 years later while you watch them struggle- turn your cheek and say you’re giving “it” too much power

    • Living with integrity is a hard road. Good for you for doing that work.

    • If we think about it Shann, God Himself only forgives us if we’re sincerely repentant, and if we die in unrepented Mortal sin, we aren’t saved and go downstairs!
      We can’t be bigger nor better than God, and so we should never even dare to try! That’d be the Deadly Sin of Pride, the Devil’s Sin!
      All that’s required of Christians is to forgo revenge, which is God’s alone to take and will be perfect Justice ( and look how man unrepentant adulterers lives spiral downwards and how miserable they end up!), and to be prepared to forgive when true repentance is shown to us! And forgiveness just means letting go of the debt they owe us, though we are entitled to justice!
      And you’re right, forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation and it doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to stop being angry either. We can’t force our emotions and the anger only truly goes once the pain of the offence against us is gone and the wounds healed. That takes a long time after such a grave betrayal as adultery!
      I haven’t had so much as a fake apology off my cheat ( he seems to have developed actual sociopathic traits, which is disturbing to say the least!), and I’ve handed him over to God to deal with. All I’m obliged to do is show Christian Charity in the form of praying for his soul! Otherwise, I refuse to have anything to do with him until the time comes for divorce and annulment!

    • Listen to your friend!
      An excellant book on divorce from a Christian perspective is “Life Saving Divorce” by Gretchen Baskerville. Very well researched from someone with lots of experience in recovery. She also lists Chump Lady as a resource.

  • HBD Monty! no left over bitch cookies for you, today you shall snack on the Tuw Luv of your adoring family!

    Pondering RIC, how long has this nonsense been around? I guess its as old as snake oil vendors, maybe modern technology has offered these “vendors” a greater platform to sell their wares . I have been lured into a few too-good-to-be-true purchasing situations recently (its hard for chumps NOT to believe its true, its on the internet right??) and thankfully there was an easy escape (thanks PayPal, you have earned my respect when I dont have any for my late night decisions shopping during insomnia). What is the recourse for the other 15% of couples who dont affair-proof their marriages? Can they contact the BBB and file a complaint? Small claims court?

    My mom was a chump, 3 marriages, twice to my dad. He and his brother both cheated on their wives (my mom and aunt), they spent a fair amount of their middle age running around like grown idiots (‘do what I say, not what I do’) and when shish-gets-real both wander back to the chump ex wives and these women took them back! I had my dad on a short leash in my mind and should he step over the line I drew in my 15 yo head I gave him my version of the Riot Act. Ha! Laughable now 40+ years later and a profound chump myself, but between the time of his collapse and ultimate demise we had 10 great years getting to know each other again. I miss that but it doesnt excuse his wandering. Did my mom and aunt feel the RIC was their only option? Was RIC so prolific that is was the unspoken truth? Seems my siblings and myself (all adopted from different families spanning 3 decades -50s, 60s, 70s- all results of illegitimate unions) stand in the face of typical American family, but we were family. Seeing as my two siblings have become repeat cheaters and I the chump, now we arent family. Was it worth it RIC, history tells us another story; do what you say not what you do, and I call BS!

    • Turquelle,

      You ask “Was it worth it RIC”. And I have to say, I just have zero faith in reconciliation. I know that some amount of couples do reconcile post affair. There have to be some people that do so successfully. I don’t think that I know so much that I can say NONE do. But I really just can’t see how.

      I just assume that the bulk of them split up later, when it happens again. Or the FW hides things better and the Chump never catches them again. Or some that stay married forever are just settling. If some Chump wants to stay with a cheater because for example, the idea of losing their house feels worse than being married to a cheater, so be it. I don’t judge them. But I don’t know that we can consider that a successful reconciliation.

      Maybe I am so sure because I know myself so well. I know that if I rec’d, I would spend the rest of my life worrying about him doing it again. Even if he never did, the quality of my life would suffer for worrying about it.

      I also think that I would spend the rest of my life triggered by silly things. I know so little about AP. I know what she looks like from the neck up. I know her profession. Where she is from. That she likes octopi. Currently, if I see her home state mentioned in a news article, or a pic of an octopus on social media, I am triggered. (I also used to like octopi!) And those are the most mundane things that I associate with this painful situation. There are also all the things he said to me. That they were soul mates. That he was no longer attracted to me. Etc etc. He can’t just say he is sorry and that he was wrong and make that go away. Even if he meant it with every fiber of his body, the fibers of MY body are still stinging from all the painful things I endured during this mess.

      And I don’t want to spend my life trying to drown that stuff out of my head. Ironically, I still WILL be triggered by those things even though we aren’t reconciling. But my hope is that I can tune them out with time if I am not with him. I want those things to be in the past, not part of my every day life.

      I guess I just cannot understand how any chump can rec. I understand being too scared to leave, I don’t judge any chumps for their choices, but I just find it hard to understand.

  • Monty’s a beaut!!
    As for FWs being the victims, not all of them are! Some of them are psychopaths or malignant narcs who have no real emotions except anger and rage. Those who do suffer only have themselves to blame; they’re only ever victims of their own degeneracy, selfishness, badness, grave sinfulness and malevolence, because adultery all of these things!
    The FWs deserve to suffer! Chumps don’t! That’s the difference and that’s what matters!

  • I laughed at this one. Charlie Brown’s teacher makes more sense. Waa waa waa waa waa.

    This guy can fuck right off.

    • As for FW’s being the real victims, my FW ex would likely agree with that.

      Take that for what it’s worth. Lol

  • I can see cheaters all over the world saying to their chumps: “Mistakes were made. Here’s exactly what we need . . .” Wonder if Huizenga gets a piece of the action for every chump that’s brought into the fold by a cheater.

  • Unfortunately the mental health industry has become quite the racket. Of course there are some fantastic therapists that honestly want to help but the industry is being overrun with charlatans.

  • It seems to me that this all click bait or an attempt to shock to attract attention. Say the opposite of what people normally say, and people will be curious.

    So here this quack says that the cheater is the real victim to entice eyeballs to his site/article/scam.

    Similarly, Andrew Marshall attracted attention by writing that we should apologize to our cheaters.

    I can see cheaters copying these links and sending them to their partners. “Even the experts agree!”

    Such BS. I hate these people. They prey on the desperate and they give cover to the perpetrators of abuse.

  • XW had to book herself multiple spa days to cope with the extreme stress of upgrading her husband.

    Since there are nontrivial logistical hurdles involved in nuking a marriage, XW’s her sister flew in help her out. I’m sure they bonded while discussing their respective affairs (ex-SIL had an affair with her own BIL, so I guess by the standards of my in-laws my XW’s affair with her married colleague was pretty tame)

    • In the aftermath of my ex’s multiyear affair, he wrote to me that he “just (sob, sob) HAD to move on” from the pain of the divorce as if he himself hadn’t caused all the pain. It’s like burning down a house and then complaining that you are now stuck with having to find a new place to live.

      While shacking up with AP after D-Day, he had the nerve to complain to me, his abandoned wife who was now very much alone because of what he’d done, that he’d lost everything. Say what? #zeroempathy #sadsack

    • “… ex-SIL had an affair with her own BIL, so I guess by the standards of my in-laws my XW’s affair with her married colleague was pretty tame)”

      Idk why it took me so long to process that. Like as in who did what to who.

      Was ex-SIL’s AP her chumped husband’s brother?
      Or another sister’s husband?
      Are there other applicable options I’m overlooking?

      Feel free to ignore the questions, it’s really not any of my business.

      I’m just glad I found it helpful, being confused about your story. Helps me to clear up a possible reason people don’t seem to comprehend my story at first.

      Simply too many moving parts to keep up with, on top of the incredulity

      • XW’s sister (my ex-SIL) lived with her husband in an apartment owned by his family. His sister (and her husband, my xSIL’s then-brother-in law (BIL) lived in the adjacent apartment, also owned by his family, across the landing. Not so uncommon a situation in Italy.
        xSIL’s husband turned out to be in deep with the mafia (in the worst possible way. as in: he owed lots of money to the mafia so they “owned” him (their words, overheard by an informant, translated from Italian of course) and forced him to collect bribes, falsify real estate records, fake accidents, steal money from xSIL’s business, etc.
        xSIL kicks out her husband.
        BIL starts visiting her, nominally acting as go-between between SIL and her estranged husband out of concern for her disintegrating marriage. We can all see where this is going…
        Within a week or two SIL starts sleeping with BIL. Literally while the wife (her husband’s sister) and two kids are two doors away in the apartment cattycorner across the landing.
        SIL regularly calls my then-wife to tell her all about it, which is how I know.

        The only “redeeming” fact is that the BIL already had a secret second family (with two more kids) in Milan so it’s not like my SIL was disturbing an otherwise faithful marriage.

        There’s a lot more to it (kids sworn to secrecy but accidentally blabbing to grandparents; people chopped up and dumped in the woods in garbage bags; late-night phone calls from random people demanding money from SIL; BIL’s parents bankrupting themselves to pay off a string of people claiming their son owed them a total of a million-ish euros) but that’s the short version. It would make a good novel.

  • Lol, the only thing you need to “effectively address the infidelity” is your book. Thanks for giving me the perspective to shut down the bullshit.

  • I nearly spit out my coffee, laughing so hard over this. The never-ending weird thinking remains shocking.

    The puppy is darling. I got my first dog during separation and absolutely think they are the best.

    My ex felt that he was the victim and kept heaping it on me that I had to fix the marriage. I was the key. I discussed that extensively with our mutual therapist after he decided to live in another state and do whatever with whomever. It was almost magical thinking that I had something that would fix his manipulation and bad behavior.

    Even his family said that I held the keys to fixing the marriage. In their eyes, it was the old “godly” submission that was the answer, but I had tried being a world-class doormat, and had the scars and holes to show how that went. It was like he was the boss, and I was the employee that was ruining the business. Kind of a loose analogy, but if the business is going down, the boss needs to consider all factors and not just blame an employee. And marriages aren’t at all a boss/employee relationship anyway.

  • There was no feeling, no remorse, nothing. Just coldness from her. Such a victim.

    • Yep. I only wish I could have been a fly on the wall when he was told by the mayor and his union rep that he was being “organizationally” demoted and put back out on the street. I would have done my little fly happy dance, and said to him; “sucks to lose what’s important to you, and have no power to stop it, doesn’t it?”

  • $1418.00 is way cheaper than the 80k in Attorney/Divorce fees maybe I should have tried this first!

    Nope the 80k was so worth it!

    • Lawyers didn’t cosst as much (not even considering inflation) back when I went through it, but once I could stand up straight; I remember saying to myself “if I have to take ten years to pay a lawyer, that is what I will do” I knew darn well I was not going to work with my snake fw and his snake lawyer. They had a perfect plan worked out for me where I would take the marital house, and the house his mother was living in and I would rent to her for a small rent. My lawyer laughed at that one. He said NO, that will not happen, and if that is what you want you need to get another lawyer.

      Can you imagine having to spend the next 20 years of my life tied to those serpents. (Not his mother but fw and the whore).

      I am so glad I woke up and hired a lawyer. All I wanted was to get out of the marriage without having to pay the debt he ran up on what he wanted. I got that and a small house free and clear. He could have bought me out, but he refused. So his mother had to move into the marital house. I wasn’t happy about her getting tossed out of her house but I had to save me, and that was on him not me.
      I sold the house a couple years later for 40 thousand dollars. If he hadn’t been so stubborn, I would have settled for just ten thousand dollars to get out of the marriage debt free. he would have been so much better off that way, but nope, he fucked his mother over instead.

  • I detest this man because he is capable of writing that something can “put you on overwhelm.”

    Just hideous.

  • Temporary insanity or acts of exuberant defiance? Either way, it’s snake oil.

    Next up, investment advice from Bernie Madoff.

    • You see Perel is lately promoting her snake oil in the podcast world? With Doogie Howser, M.D. Yes, Esther, where do we begin? Mortifying that I grasped at that BS like a lifeline in the early days of discovery.

  • My FWs “temporary insanity” lasted thirty years. But yeah sure, he’s the real victim. What the fuck am I complaining about? He drained our bank accounts paying sex workers, stalked neighbors and family members, fucked his married, lesbian ho-worker, took courses in how to better cheat on me and kept me in the dark about all of it, but sure, yeah I can totally see where he’s the victim, not me. How have I been so silly as to blame him? I’ve seen the light! Somebody send this douchecanoe a big bag of dicks to suck please.

    • Yours was fucking lesbians too? My ex fucked at least two “lesbians.” I got called a bigot at one point for saying, “Oh, so she likes women but she made an exception to fuck my male husband and expose me to her vaginal juices without my consent. That’s lovely.” I stand by what I said. If it makes me a bigot, consider me a proud one. LOL

  • It was so weird to me how he wanted to be the victim so badly but then I read the psychopath next door and that’s completely normal with personality disordered people. It’s standard behavior for them to make people feel sorry for them. There is power in pity.

    It was such a mind fuck at the time though. I get brutally dumped, the person I saw as my partner and best friend laughs in my face about his plans to murder me, and nearly everybody I knew was “Oh, that poor man. This must be so hard on him.” What? Dumping me? Not getting to actually kill me? I’ve no idea what he said to people since the few people I asked told me it was none of my business and his happiness mattered. He painted it on thick though, everybody saw him as a poor abused victim and me as a monster.

    I tried really hard not to interact with him during the divorce proceedings since I like being alive and all but at one point I lost it and yelled at him, “Do you seriously expect me to high five you and say cool prank bro because you faked a 20 year marriage?” And he hung his head, all sad, and said, “But isn’t it really a prank I played on myself?” At one point I was crying quietly while I took clothes out of the dryer. He came around the corner, saw me and became enraged. I was crouched down in front of the dryer and I’m 5’4″, he is 6’1″. He was towering over me screaming, “This is how you abuse me! You weaponize your tears! THIS IS ABUSE! YOU ARE ABUSING ME! YOU ARE ABUSING ME!” This was especially strange because my ex husband was a cryer. He would cry through folger’s commercials like a pregnant woman. It used to make me uncomfortable sometimes that he would cry so much. I would think, “why is he crying now?” and then I would feel guilty for being judgy about all the feelings he had. I was terrified while he was screaming at me but in that moment I also realized that he was telling me what he’d been doing for 20 years. He didn’t even understand that tears could be genuine because his own never were. Crying is pure manipulation to him.

    Another time he randomly screamed at me “Poor Katie! Always the victim!” Just out of nowhere. He’s very committed to his victim thing. He’s currently claiming he’s the victim of the feds who caught him trying to meet an 11 year old for sex in a park. He’ll always be the victim in his mind. I do agree with this RC asshole that the FWs are pouring their lives down a dirty drain. They are doing that. But they chose that. That doesn’t make them victims.

    • “He painted it on thick though, everybody saw him as a poor abused victim and me as a monster.”

      I have no idea what FW told our friends, but it must have been quite awful, because EVERYONE cut me off completely. Some even stalked my social media (where he was blocked) and sent him screenshots. Others pretended to be friendly, and then went and told FW lies about me painting me as a mental case.

      FW always saw himself as the victim. Even his suicide letter was “poor me, why is everyone trying to ruin my life?” Not one bit of personal responsibility.

      It’s interesting about your FW and the crying. I had a really hard time believing my husband was a narcissist because he cried at things like sad movies. It was all a performance, I think. That’s where people were “supposed” to cry. If he cried in real life, it was for HIMSELF. Never for others. Even crying about someone who died. I remember he cried at the death of a friend/colleague, and I think it was because it made him think about his OWN death. His biggest fear was being forgotten after he died. I finally noticed the pattern after someone else pointed that out to me (it might have been my therapist, but I don’t remember).

      • ISTL, my ex’s frequent crying and what I mistook for his empathy and emotional sensitivity was a huge red herring. It threw a lot of other people off, as well, and I’m sure it continues to. I became immune to it by the end.

        I don’t believe crying is always a red flag, but taken with some of the other signs I know to look for, it certainly can be.

      • Sounds like the are all flying monkeys, in your FW’s thrall! Feck ’em but it’s horrible for chumps and victims of abuse to be surrounded b FMs and have no one on their side! WE’RE on our side though, bless you!
        I’ve just come back from town and was going into the library then then adjacent supermarket when I saw FW’S mother getting out of a car b the main entrance, then his youngest sister driving the car away! Oh ‘eck! I decided to swerve her and go to another supermarket after the library, even though t was less convenient BUT….. I got stuck in traffic on the wa home and who was across the road only his nephew and didn’t he spot me and I stuck for long enough for him to say something about “The Other Fella” FW, which I missed and was that why I threw him out of my house? Then he said that HE was trying to get FW out of their house too ( FW’s mother’s house where nephew lives as well) and FW’s out drinking every night ( I thought “And the rest! Drinkin’, sniffin’ and whorin’!”) That the Mother has told him, his sisters had told him, EVERBODY’S told him but he carries on! Of course he does, he’s an addict!
        This was NOT what I was expecting but shows that some of them, many of them, do indeed spiral downwards once we put a stop to their abuse of us!
        I didn’t say much, only that he needs professional help and no one can help him unless he helps himself, then the traffic started moving, thanks be to God, and thanks be to God I’m in quite good form today, and it hasn’t upset me!

        • Yes, they were all his cheerleaders and acolytes. Unfortunately we were very involved with the arts community, and most of our “friends” were actors, writers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, etc. Most of them had latched onto FW for their own personal gain because they thought he’d help advance their careers. I had nothing to offer them. They were acting like friends to me because I was attached to FW as his wife. But when accepting OW became more expedient for them, they switched camps and welcomed her. I was the hated ex and would have imperiled their ability to use FW.

          The funny (sad?) thing was, FW once said to me that he didn’t know who his real friends were and who was just using him. Turns out they were ALL using him, even OW (an “author”). When push came to shove, they were nowhere to be found and he ended up very alone. Even the two people he talked to about his suicide attempts didn’t do ANYTHING to help him. They certainly didn’t reach out to me, the mother of FW’s child. It was, I don’t know, maybe something I should have been told. I was sending my son over to his dad’s and later found out that some of the times were the morning after his attempts, and he was pretty much out of his mind with a hangover from the pills. There was one time I didn’t send my kid over because FW had called me panicking at 7:30 am because he couldn’t find our kid. My son was sleeping upstairs in my house at the time. FW was also home and not at work, which was so weird (I could hear the neighbor’s dog barking in the background). I told FW that he should rest and I’d bring our son the next day (after frantically talking to my lawyer). FW said he had started a new medication and it had bad side effects, but the truth was he’d taken a ton of drugs the night before in an attempt to end his life and was completely out of it and hallucinating. Another time he called and said our kid had locked him out of the house and he didn’t know what to do. Our kid was sitting on my couch watching TV. I told him I couldn’t help and to call a locksmith. Found out later, same deal. Hallucinating from an attempt. All in all he attempted 12 times before he completed. I would NEVER have let my child go over there had I known. But not a single “friend” ever said a word. They did show up to FW’s funeral in droves. I think I was the only person who cared about FW apart from him professional achievements (except maybe his family, but FW wasn’t speaking to them at all). He wanted flying monkeys around him to flatter him and boost his ego, and pushed away everyone who actually cared. OW had left because he started treating her like crap, too. He had this strange idea that he could treat people however he wanted and they’d stick around, but he was wrong. He tried to get me back after OW left, and was probably very surprised that I didn’t jump at the chance. By then he’d killed every bit of love I might have had for him, and I’d realized how much better my life was without him.

  • When I got serious with my now-ex, I had talked openly about my #MeToo events, my drunk cheating mom, my angry dad, being parentified by both, growing up in chaos, and the therapy insights I picked up to understand why I “over-react” to certain situations. Understanding the “why” helped me learn better coping tactics. I did the work, on my own, so that I would be healthier and happier.

    After I caught him cheating, he told me that he was too embarrassed to share his own #MeToo stories, his mom’s inappropriate sexual behavior, his own childhood chaos, and a bunch of other sad sausage stories. He really thought that I’d be understanding and hold his hand through therapy because “I know what it’s like”. I was disgusted. He was weaponizing my trauma to keep me invested and stuck in an abusive relationship.

    There was a time when I’d have nursed this poor timid forest creature back to health, but the discard stage prior to DDay had long since killed any regard I had for him. I wished him luck and sent him on his journey of healing and growth alone.

    • I’d be willing to bet, based on my experience with my ex, that your ex wasn’t just weaponizing your trauma–he was echoing it and appropriating it–mirroring it, in narc terms–as if it were his own, for his own manipulative purposes.

  • I do agree with these parts (except the <>) and wish there had been a way for me to grasp them and believe them when I was in my worst days. I see it so clearly now that I’ve joined this group and read so many stories of survival and betrayed parents overcoming huge obstacles among so many of Tracy’s mighty, mighty friends. I’m beginning to think this mightiness might be contagious.

    But let me add to the good therapist’s words:

    “The Truth
    But the truth remains, the cheating spouse holds the greatest danger of a downward spiral.
    Me: the betrayed spouse holds the greatest promise of an upward spiral.

    Infidelity is an act of temporary insanity.
    Me: faithfulness is an act of permanent courage, morals, ethics and mightiness.

    The cheating spouse is pouring their life down a dirty drain and missing out on an opportunity.”
    Me: the betrayed spouse is lifting themself out of a sewer toward whatever a life filled with endless opportunities.

    • Jo P, I love love love this comment. If it can be destroyed by the truth, then it deserves to be destroyed by the truth☝️

  • Happy birthday 🎉 Monty😍. He looks like a sweet dog.

    I had to say goodbye to my 11 year old Irish water spaniel last Friday. I cried so much my face hurt. She got me through many FW divorce crying 😭 sessions. She’d just come to me and just lay her paw on my knee.

    What was I thinking? FW was the real victim, not me, having to file after 36 years. 🙄. Oh brother 🤬

    • You mentioned your beloved dog in some of your past posts and sounded so proud of her and so grateful for her presence. I’m so sorry for your loss, Sandyfeet.

    • I’m so sorry. Dogs are the best. Mine is twelve, and I truly try to treasure every day with her.

  • I get so angry about this kind of mental torture snake oil, empty promises sold at extortionate prices to vulnerable people. It should seriously be made illegal.

    I also am still dealing with how angry I feel at myself for falling for a variety of this mindfuckery which caused me to miss out on having a family of my own and waste many precious years of my life – not to mention all my money – trying to “make” the FW happy. Mission bloody impossible, as every Chump here knows.

    The special variety of “FW is the victim” which I experienced was due to a lot of different people in my environment back then who intimidated me with complex stories of how his FOO issues needed healing, so I should be understanding about his victimhood, his childhood traumas, etc and endlessly patient, of course, not to mention being willing to pay for everything to “end his suffering”. This, combined with promises that it would all work out because some or other pseudo-psychological/esoteric/spiritual method would fix the lot, and of course, because we were m-e-a-n-t to be together. At no point was my own suffering even considered, but that mirrored my own FOO to a T, the irony of it.

    If you are still at the stage where you have not recognised the reptilian pupils in your FW’s eyes, the icy, black-eyed glare if you dare to oppose him (her), the smooth, conniving expression revealed once the mask has fallen – well then you still think that what you experienced in the love-bombing stage was the real deal (specially before the internet and minimal info available) and you are d-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e to find that person again. If you are not at all conscious that there is NO ONE to find, then you are very vulnerable to believing that kind of tripe. Add severe childhood neglect in FOO and your desperation to feel someone loves you is even greater. You think you are Gerda and “just” have to rescue Kai from The Snow Queen’s poisonous clutches, and then it’s back to Fairytale Happy Ever After Land.

    Instead you get multiple visits by the bailliff, lose all your “friends” as FW bad-mouthed about you being such a manic controller/whatever, lose your home, your savings, your pension savings, all your hopes of belonging to a family, nearly your mind … I suppose you could say that would be a big experience factor for “only” 1418 dollars” – one I would have gladly missed out on – and I paid a LOT more too.

    I had a very satisfying experience recently though, as I came across this type of snake oil seller again. I was again told that I need to stop believing I am a victim, that I should be learning how to grow spiritually and emotionally, not closing myself down (she also told the FW that we are destined to be together and I am the one sadly hindering this dweam) So I asked her if she could see the prostitutes FW is “friends” with on his FB page (she is “friends” with him), but then, probably not, as he is so good at lying and hiding his true nature. Then I asked who the hell she thinks she is and told her to F’ off and never dare contact me again. It felt really good 😉 I just wish I’d said that to all those know-it-all morons back then who intimidated me into such humiliating, expensive, nightmarish years.

    Happy Birthday Monty, so cute!

    • The “dweam”– perfect, lol.

      You’re so right that bystanders clustering around calling abusers “victims” is a form of intimidation (as in coercion, threat, etc.). It heralds a lot of the punishments that you experienced– loss of friends, finances, opportunities, etc. But rather than seeing you as a cautionary tale who “shoulda known better,” I think that what happened to you proves that that that intimidation isn’t always idle. Abusers weaponize bystanders in very serious ways. I don’t necessarily assume that if victims had “gotten out earlier” that it might have reduced the eventual fallout and consequences to them. Sometimes but not always. Who’s to say that when abusers don’t have the means to simply wreck the social and financial lives and happiness of victims, the abuser won’t resort to violence instead? In any event, I think the final “consequences” and losses that victims suffer should be seen as a measure of what the abuser was threatening all along in order to entrap their victims. It may not have been so easy to escape as bystanders assume. No one has a crystal ball and people under threat are at a disadvantage in gauging long term outcomes, especially when they’ve got packs of denialists shouting “Don’t overreact! It’s not that bad! S/he’s a sad sausage victim! We’re all going to hate you and punish you and engineer your downfall if you punish the abuser!” in their ears.

      • “Abusers weaponize bystanders in very serious ways.” Thank you for that. I discovered many years later that FW’s therapist was a misogynist who fuelled his “punishment” of me all the more. Also doctors, just seemingly everyone.

        I have recently seen that FW is trying to get closer to where I am living again in order to control the dialogue, but I give a damn. I have a good relationship with the local priest (I’m not of his religion, he’s just a very kind man and the only person I have to speak to) and he knows who I am, that’s enough for me.

        Idk if I’m right, but my understanding today is that I was subconsciously re-positioning myself within the relationship and social environment to play the same role as in my childhood, as my needs were consistently ignored as a child, I had to pay my way from very young, and everything revolved around my sibling. So perhaps those FOO issues set me up to be a victim of a FW, though not any more, specially thanks to finding Chump Lady and reading all the experiences of CN. That really clears away the fog fast.

        I don’t know if abusers will always resort to violence if all else fails. I think it depends on too many possible circumstances, what kind of kibbles they are after, whether someone else turns up on their radar as a possible victim, etc. Also if a poor Chump is dealing with any kind of PTSD and easily triggered, then the narcissist FW will quickly assess what triggers you and use that to keep you in a state of terror/confusion/nightmare, without having to lift a finger. A very difficult place to get out of.

        For me, Chump Lady’s common sense approach is key: abuse in any form has no place in my life. And so we should be educating ourselves and one another to recognise this and nip it in the bud, because you are right, however massive the gruesome fallout after years of suffering, the abuser’s vendetta against the Chump contained the power of total destruction from the first “hello”. Abuse contains total destruction in it’s seed, so we need to help ourselves and others recognise the tiniest abuse seeds. And revealing abuse support for what it is – aka the RIC and all the vampires trying to fill their financial coffers from Chumps.

        • Sunnyside–

          Brilliant– that “seed” is definitely going to grow into a certain kind of “tree” and the thorns and poisonous fruit only get deadlier time. That’s where the bs artists and abuse apologists (and abusers themselves) come in to scuttle the facts and confuse everyone with disinformation and misidentifications about the nature of that kind of seed. “Oh no! That seed is not Abusorificus Souldestroyicus! You’re wrong! That’s just a rare Syrian rose bulb. The multicolored sparkly flowers will be so beautiful! Here’s some plant food!”

          It kind of reminds me of Body Snatchers. Remember how the humans fighting back were able to save a few people by stopping the soul-sucking process before it went too far? It would cause injury but they could save souls. By that analogy, RIC assholes are like pod people always trying to get remaining humans to accept cute little plant gifts and instructing the dupes how to water the things. Because if you wait long enough and the thing grows big enough, it gets harder and harder to keep from losing everything. But even if you stop it early, it’s going to cause pain and loss. And that’s what fucks everyone up. Pain now or pain later? We– under considerable pressure from denialists and exploiters– might fall for the lie that there’s no pain later.

          I don’t want to argue with your view that you were doing you’re own reenacting if this is helpful in moving forward. We’ve all got pickers to fix even if the things that influenced the original faulty picking was naivete, cultural myths of just the incredibly skilled and carefully bespoke manipulations and fakery of the abusers who entrapped us. But I have this really stubborn intuition that it’s really mainly perpetrators who compulsively reenact past trauma to the degree that what creates adult abusers in the first place is that they internalize the worst of what was done to them by emulating their own abusers. They need victims. They seek victims. They set the ball of abuse rolling in the first place. They are the active agents and their entire campaign is to remove agency from victims.

          For non-abusive adults who find themselves being entrapped by abusers, I suspect that any past trauma the former endured, if anything, probably forms an intrinsic knowledge (realistic fear) that abusers mean business (once bitten, twice shy) and don’t just make idle threats. In other words, the previously traumatized know there’s a bark behind that bite, fire behind the smoke. Experience isn’t always helpful. It can be as an early warning system but– again– abusers tend to tailor approaches to get past the defenses of particular victims. Once you’re in the snare, recognition that you’re dealing with a bonafide abuser may be data but it’s terrifying and potentially paralyzing data. Someone might almost be better off without it so that they’d bust out sooner simply because they didn’t know they couldn’t– and then face whatever consequences struck after the fact. In any event, previously traumatized people who find themselves being victimized again may react as they had in the past for survival (and by the fact they made it to adulthood, those strategies might have been at least somewhat effective).

          I don’t know that I’d call the latter reenactment per se on the part of victims because this also implies that they may have also “sought out” future abusers. Statistically this doesn’t add up because victims of abuse come from all walks and there’s no common denominator regarding background, psychology, level of or lack of self esteem, etc., that would point to such a trend. In fact, DV expert Lenore Walker even found evidence that victims may skew to higher than average pre-abuse self esteem, suggesting that some abusers are actually seeking “big game,” not easy pickings. Tiger skin rugs have bigger bragging rights. Hackers pride themselves on getting past the amped up security systems of frequently targeted organizations.

          • HOAC, “Abusorificus Souldestroyicus”, LOL!! This is the Chump’s version of Japanese Knotweed: strangles and overtakes a garden almost overnight. And yet it is still sold by some garden centres and seed growers who vastly under-describe its character, just like abuse apologists deny the real nature of FW abuse. I love it that Chump Lady is saying it like it is.

            Thank you for taking the time to explain your take on abusers/perpetrators, I am very interested to see it from a different point of view. I find it helpful that you remind me how lacking in conscience abusers are: “the incredibly skilled and carefully bespoke manipulations and fakery of the abusers who entrapped us”. Yes, they had a planned agenda, we did not become Chumps by accident. It has been like trying to train my eyes to be able to see around a corner though, this getting it into my head that the FW literally picked on me from the start, with his agenda to hand. It is frightening, but it is so necessary to keep in mind at all times.

            I honestly don’t know how exactly my FOO situation contributed to my life experiences, or if we can even generalise about who is going to become an abuse victim. I have never read data on DV victims’ backgrounds. Though reading about the FW’s known to the CN, it is astonishing how similar they all are!

            Maybe abusers are re-enacting childhood experiences of powerlessness and trying to “heal” by reversing the situation, but it is a total lie: injuring and damaging others does not make you greater, it reveals poor character and lack of morals.

            I can very much agree, due to personal experience with several abusive FWs, that ego boosting is a major value factor for abusers, and I have come to realise in retrospect that part of my appeal to those types was to boost their image and social standing in some way. But I also feel that the ultimate kick for abusers, like killing the tiger, is to have reduced that magnificent, wild and free beauty to a piece of skin. Then they are the big guy, and you cower beneath them, they succeeded in “removing agency”, as you wrote.

            In times of deepest despair I often thought of the story “Sealskin-Soulskin” from “Women who run with the wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It is based upon the Scottish legends of Selkies, which say that seals can turn in to women and make the best wives, but the man has to steal her discarded sealskin and hide it so she can’t return to the wild. I felt more and more like my skin had been stolen, and that I was being reduced to nothing. And FW actually said to some friends once that he had tamed me. But like in the story, the longing to return to the wild never died within me, so, no FW, you didn’t tame me.

            In some ways I find it cathartic to write here, and very enlightening to read other’s experiences and views, yet reading what I’ve written has a slightly unreal feeling to it, like: hell, was that really my life, like, for real ?!! I’m still figuring out what happened to me.

            • It’s really only recently in history that we hear anything about domestic abuse experiences from the perspectives of survivors or have any idea how common it is. That really began in my lifetime and, relatively speaking, it’s probably only moved a few inches in the meantime. Early days as they say. As the scope of “victimology” expands to include the horrors of sub-violent coercive control– the psychological and emotional abuse and coercion that most victims of domestic violence cite as the most devastating and paralyzing aspect of abuse, even beyond physical violence– our eyes are being opened even more.

              At this rate, eventually no one’s going to ask themselves what’s “odd” or “different” or “wrong” about them that “caused” abuse to happen because it happens way too often. The focus will simply be how to stop a common crime. If you ever read the little self help book “Friedman’s Fables,” there’s one fable about a village trying to deal with a dangerous tiger that keeps eating all the lambs. To contain the problem, various village elders exhort the lambs to defend themselves better, check their psyches for death wishes, whatever (I don’t remember, something like that). Then finally someone has the bright idea of caging the tiger. That about sums up the traditional approach to domestic abuse. Finally the UK is criminalizing coercive control and containing offenders before they progress– as they statistically tend to– to all-out domestic violence or even murder. Certain US states are providing civil protections for CC victims. Cage the tiger and quit psychobabbling at the lambs and lecturing them about how their “low self esteem” (what a superpower!) acts like Voodoo tractor beams to draw in abusers.

              The Selkies fable reminds me of Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass– how all the people in this imaginary realm have an animal familiar that represents their spirit and, to kill that spirit in order to create a race of soulless automatons, the villains devise a way to amputate children from their souls/familiars. It’s described in the most heart-breaking way in the book (not so effectively done in the film). I imagine the author must understand the analogy to abuse, torture and traumatic experience.

              • HOAC, I have experienced both physical violence (childhood and FW’s) and also coercive control. I remember the exact moment when I first realised I was a victim of DV in the mid 1980’s. I was watching TV whilst doing the ironing and the subject of DV was on a morning chat show. I was utterly shocked to realise “this is me, this is my life!” yet it felt simultaneously very unreal because, as you say, the further back you go, the less this was generally spoken about. And I think we humans have problems really comprehending what is happening to us if it’s not part of the conscious daily communication field we live in. (Think of how dictatorships go to great pains with censorship, leaving people unsure of whether the rumours could be true or real, and are rendered thus paralysed and do not take remedial action.) For me, this is the blessing of Chump Lady and the CN, because we are confirming to one another the reality of our experiences, so we are expanding the communication field and this is a fundamental part of changing societal norms.

                There is a therapy form called “Narrative Therapy” which I am trying out for myself, and which basically states that our minds have to have words for our experiences in order to be able to process those experiences at all, and in order for us to be able to realise they are real = differentiated from the many worlds of fantasy in our minds.

                I think this is where, certainly in my own experience, it becomes even more difficult when you are a victim of coercive control. The feeling I had then was of being caught up in all kinds of surreal inner worlds, with no tangible proof of them in the outer world, nor available vocabulary within the communication field with others. In my case it was further complicated because PTSD was also triggered. I eventually realised that I was being triggered because my body was sensing and reporting a threat to me, which, as I’ve written above, my conscious mind was lacking all “normal” evidence in order to process and recognise the existence of such a thing. So you think you are losing your marbles.

                I spent some years thinking I must be getting Alzheimer’s, but I was perplexed because I knew that I used to have a very sharp mind, so I kept researching and was gradually able to fit the pieces together. I didn’t dare speak to anyone about how I was feeling back then though, it was a terrible nightmare to be living through, such an abyss of self-doubt and confusion.

                It was so helpful for me to read this: “At this rate, eventually no one’s going to ask themselves what’s “odd” or “different” or “wrong” about them that “caused” abuse to happen because it happens way too often. The focus will simply be how to stop a common crime. “

                This really helps me to keep peeling off the layers of habitual thinking, because you really nailed it: abuse is a criminal offence. Period. It is so liberating because I was always being blamed since childhood, and of course the FW’s blame you non-stop, yet the fable you describe shows how ridiculous it is for the victim to be blamed for their experience!

                I’m going to be making myself a visual reminder of that fable! It really reduces it to predator-victim, and there is nothing the victim did “wrong”, the predator is just being themselves. And yes, they need to be locked away.

                It is really hard work getting my mind out of those deeply furrowed ruts of believing I must have been somehow to blame, but this image has been so helpful, thank you!

                I don’t know the Golden Compass. I watched a trailer to check, but I haven’t seen it, but yes, it is the same principal as the Selkie legend of being separated from your deepest essence of being in order to be a mere function for an abuser.

            • I love this conversation between you two. So much to digest.

              Sunny Side, to your comment: “Maybe abusers are re-enacting childhood experiences of powerlessness and trying to “heal” by reversing the situation, but it is a total lie: injuring and damaging others does not make you greater, it reveals poor character and lack of morals.” I have a hunch that for the majority of abusers, who are characterized by impulsivity and a lack of introspection, it is more of a knee-jerk reaction. Every interaction is about power and control for them (how tiring, wrangling with a perpetual BOP), which opens some doors — but also closes others. This is why, although it would be nice to fight fire with fire and not feel so powerless in a world seemingly ruled by abusers, I am still thankful that I don’t see and function in the world this way. I am better able to protect myself now that I have a better grasp of abusive dynamics and psychology, but I understand that “injuring and damaging others does not make you greater, it reveals poor character and lack of morals,” and this makes room for a dimension of existence that I presume abusers can’t access or appreciate. It’s lost on them. It’s sad, and it doesn’t give me pleasure, but I’m done feeling sorry for cheaters.

              • bread&roses, I’m glad you are benefiting from our exchange too! I am so grateful to have found this space, and I also often find it is very heavy on the digestion, LOL!

                Yes, feeling sorry for cheaters and abusers is a mistake but takes a long time to figure out as a Chump, not without help in my case. I don’t think they live in the same dimension of experience/existence either, they think they are winning, but really they live in an emotional desert.

                You wrote: “for the majority of abusers, who are characterized by impulsivity and a lack of introspection, it is more of a knee-jerk reaction” , and this brought to mind a book I read which propelled me onto my journey of liberation from FW, it is called “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” by Lindsay Gibson. Emotionally immature people are also characterised by impulsivity and lack of introspection, lack of responsibility, etc.

                What I like about this book is that it is very accessible for the lay person, as it doesn’t focus on what the problem person’s psychological diagnosis might be (narcissist, borderline, etc). Instead their behaviour is described, distilled to very simple descriptions which I could instantly recognise. And then you know, if someone has that kind of behaviour, run. They are highly unlikely to ever mature (too much like hard work).

                Your comment really helped me, thank you, because I suppose my Chump mind I was still expecting there is some “reason” for FW’s abusive behaviour. And maybe there is an aspect of their own troubled childhood, but your comment is helping me to see that it is less relevant, because the emotionally immature take on life comes first for them, and it is indeed all about control and winning. That feels true to me, and is helping me to get my head sorted!

                I had so many people, including psychiatrists and therapists, telling me about the poor FW’s childhood, that I guess it became part of the narrative for me. I so want to get that concept deleted from my mind for good!! No feeling sorry for them!!

                Such a lot of twisted crap to get out of my head, like having to clear decades of overgrown brambles and weeds from the land in order to plant a rose garden.

      • “I think the final “consequences” and losses that victims suffer should be seen as a measure of what the abuser was threatening all along in order to entrap their victims. It may not have been so easy to escape as bystanders assume. No one has a crystal ball and people under threat are at a disadvantage in gauging long term outcomes.”

        This. I think it explains part of why I stayed so long and have struggled so much since leaving. And Sunny Side, I have experienced much of what you describe. Not having kids, not being married, not having part ownership of the home, or financial control — these things aren’t always a sign that the chump wasn’t fully invested and wasn’t being future faked and experiencing coercive control. In some cases, these might signal a high degree of abuse and control, where the stakes are very high for the chump and they feel the need to accept increasingly unacceptable behaviors unless they want to lose everything. Meanwhile, the cheater (abuser) can act as they wish, without any real consequences. I, too, lost just about everything when I left. I was as loyal, committed and invested to my partner and relationship for longer than most of my married friends, with and without kids. I poured everything into that life. Yet I feel many people (especially those who hadn’t known us for years) judge it as less serious than if I’d been legally/religiously married, or if I’d had kids, or if my name had been on the deed to the house. My experience is somehow worth less.

        • It can be paralyzing to simply be in proximity to people capable of that level of inhumanity even if it never fully manifests in our direction. We can still “smell” the potential on some gut level. But, of course, usually abusers wait until we’re all in and trapped to let the mask slip enough to start smelling faint whiffs of brimstone and sulfur. Then it simply seems so unfathomable that it can turn people into pillars of salt.

          I don’t understand how pieces of paper make an experience count less. I suspect that if you’d had all those pieces of paper that this type of person would have found another arbitrary reason to care less.

        • ooh, bread&roses, I SO know that feeling of being made to feel that your experience (we have many parallels) is worth less. I have heard so many cruel comments over the years which totally ignored and/or devalued my experience. Tbh, I now consider those people as frenemies at best, and have no contact with them now. I would suggest redefining this experience by saying that those commentators are “worthless” in your life, whilst you are very worthy and deserving, and those others who are also worthy know this and reflect it to you.

          I think a lot of people are also simply shallow, and it’s better to have only 1 or 2 people in your life with real depth and simply not expect acknowledgement from the rest.

          I was a very invested and committed partner too, and that alone makes it hard to do an emergency brake and put a destructive end to the journey you had envisioned to take a very different path. It’s damn hard work for me even now getting my mind sorted, but I think there is no other way, and being able to share with Chumps like yourself is very healing.

          It took me several goes to finally separate for good, and I suffered a great deal in the early ones. I hope the support you find here at CN helps you to put an end to your suffering soon 🙂

  • I just want to reiterate that it sucks to live with someone who intentionally gaslights you and treats you with contempt on the daily. My life is so much better without FW in the house. No, FWs are not victims. They are energy vampires and they will make your doubt your own reality and will imperil your sanity.

    • So true! I have this pasted on my sticky notes to read every day: What every vampire has in common is covert aggression and manipulation for personal gain. They are fighting for the upper hand. Period.

    • My daughter and I are alone this week, and she commented yesterday that she hasn’t seen me doubt myself in a very long time. Sure, I make mistakes, but I just move on.

      I needed that.

  • I know I would have eaten this all up during my 10 years of pick-me-dancing. I always felt sorry and made excuses throughout our 25 years of marriage for the “victim” he was with a tough childhood and crohn’s disease. Not anymore! I am done with his manipulation, pathological lying, and serial cheating. He had a choice and made it multiple times.

    Currently, I’m taking my FW back to court because though we have been divorced for a year and a half now I have not received a penny of the support awarded to me from our divorce decree.
    He has told everyone his “poor-me” story about how I’m trying to put him in jail. (I had no idea that I had so much power over the legal system!) I have also seen his response to the judge…such a sad victim of how hard he has had it since the divorce so that’s why he hasn’t paid anything and needs a year longer. Really?! Should I tell them my sad story…our 6 kids sad story…??
    I am so over the idea of him as a victim. Poor FW can’t look like he makes good money for his multiple girlfriends.

  • it feels to me that the details of my life were weaponized by my X, and when he informed the marriage counsellor of a variety of distortions, lies, truths, the marriage counsellor could’ve used that information for more damage. she didn’t but she could’ve.

    for example, my X told the MC about how i suffered from post-partum depression. i did not. i developed hypothyroidism after my first child was born and am still on synthroid all these years later. when i stated that, he gaslit me. the counsellor saw straight through it, and the session ended. i said that we would not be coming back for any further sessions.

    the old “she’s crazy and was not a good wife, etc. etc.” tactic. it’s a weird one.

    • That tactic is weird and also potentially really, really dangerous. If you ever felt frozen with inexplicable terror during that relationship, it’s no wonder. It’s also no wonder that “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is in the Ten Commandments. I’m not religious but that’s still a great list for really unpardonable evils.

      At this point I always measure degree of threat and make assessments of the evil capacity of various icky people by intent, not actual outcome. I ignore garden variety creeps’ typical claims that they didn’t “mean” certain outcomes. Oh, they never “mean” it– yet bad things are always happening around them all the same. So a better gauge of their “intent” is determined by how much damage someone could have caused had their actions led to logical negative extremes. For (sorry, trigger warning) example, imagine this therapist was a shithead who– for their own demented reasons– took FW’s bs at face value and then agreed to testify in, say, custody hearings against you. Imagine the dependency court judge is a misogynistic asshole who beats his wife (high rates of this in that profession), prefer’s FW’s claims that you were “psychotic” and rules for your FW. You lose your kids as a result and they’re left being raised to adulthood by a sick weirdo and whatever twisted freaks he hangs around. The worst possible outcome is the measure of an abuser’s original intent and also their level of dangerousness. If, by the grace of God, that therapist turned out to be sane and decent and did the right thing, it’s no thanks to FW.

      I used to make the mistake of measuring intent by outcome. I treated certain negative people as if they were tiny nippy dogs because, for all their yapping antics over the years, they couldn’t touch me when everything was going well and I was strong. In one particular case, this eventually led to unendurable loss and total tragedy. Now I bear in mind that, say, a nasty little gremlin Pomeranian who can only do silly things like nipping your ankles when you’re strong and healthy might also eat your face off if you break your neck in a kitchen accident and are lying paralyzed on the floor (actual story from an old news report).

      The main point is that so many of the threats that abusers lodge are done “subtly” or by inference. It doesn’t matter if there are no bullets in the gun someone’s waving at your head– the implication is that the gun is loaded. In short, take all the shit abusers say to logical extremes in terms of fallout. That’s who they are and how dangerous they are. Act accordingly and ignore anyone suggests you’re “overreacting.”

      • Excellent advice again HOAC!
        This reminds me that my FW came up behind me and caught me in a “hug” that was more a headlock ( it hurt a bit as well!) and said he’d never tried to strangle me nor beat me up, had he?
        My best friend agreed it was a veiled threat and a Gardai sergeant told me it was an actual assault and I could bring charges against FW if I chose to. There were no witnesses though, so I haven’t but the guards know about him and told me ring them an time I felt I need to. Now your post reminds me that I’m right to see him as a physical threat to me now and to have no contact with him except by email and only when absolutely necessary!
        His intent was to threaten me and, if taken to the extreme, to do me serious harm!

  • Dr. Bazinga is right about one thing: the cheating spouse is temporarily insane. Which is why the cheated-upon spouse should lawyer up and light out of there like they ass was on fire! You can’t reason with an insane person; you can’t fix an insane person; you can’t undo the insane things they’ve done. There is NOTHING to work with. Also, you will never know how long the “temporary insanity” will last, so let the cheater be someone else’s problem.

    • Respectfully disagree. People who suffer mental illness are usually very logical and are most often victims, not perpetrators.

      • I agree with you @marissachump. There is no ‘temporary insanity’ that lasts 7 years, future fakes every day, is coherent and clear enough to know that it’s important to keep telling you it loves you every day. There is no temporary insanity that goes on almost a decade and is calculated enough to live a complete double life. That is not insanity. That is fully planned and wholly selfish.

    • Cerise–

      I agree with Marissachump. One thing that defines mental disability is not having the practical wherewithal to avoid consequences and legal fallout. “Crazy” people might start screaming at an armed cop or their boss, completely oblivious to the potential danger of this. But abusers, on the other hand, will mostly abuse behind closed doors and choose victims who are situationally vulnerable and less able to strike back. They’ll take pragmatic measures to discredit their victims, pretend to be “good eggs” in public and otherwise expend a lot of energy and use clever strategies trying to cover up their offensive behavior and avoid consequences. That’s more along the lines of “criminal disorder” than mental illness.

      The mentally disabled are the most endangered segment of society, vastly more likely to be abused and perpetrated against than to abuse or perpetrate. The mentally disabled are statistically less likely to commit harm against others than even average Joes. I think that’s why some of us get itchy about distinguishing that demographic from abusers and other criminally disordered types. It all boils down to deviousness. Criminals always consider the cost and benefits of their actions to themselves. The mentally ill don’t.

      • IME as a former psychiatric nurse, I concur. We were taught that though madness and badness are not mutually exclusive, the majority of people who suffer from psychoses e.g. the mental illnesses that sever the sufferer’s contact with reality such as schizophrenia, (as opposed to the neuroses e.g. clinical anxiety, OCD, depression and phobias) are not bad people ( my experience bore this out as well! I’ve nursed some very lovely people who were sufferers of chronic psychotic illness), and, as they are very vulnerable, are more likely to be victims of exploitation and abuse than to be perpetrators.
        Those with co-morbid personality disorders are the ones who tend to be both mad AND bad!

      • It’s like Lundy Bancroft said in “Why Does He Do That?”. Abusers are fully capable of “controlling” themselves to avoid consequences (don’t hit her where it will show, for instance). They give themselves permission to go to a certain point, but stop before it goes too far and would result in negative consequences (murder, for instance). FW would often break things when he was raging – but it was always MY things. His precious belongings never got damaged. His actions weren’t lack of control at all. They were targeted and intentional. He was very careful to not abuse me in public, and could turn off his rage like a light switch. One of his favorite times to abuse me was when we were in the car (he always drove), usually on our way to an event. He would scream and verbally abuse me the whole drive, and terrorize me by speeding or other frightening driving. The MOMENT we got to the event, he was all smiles and charm, the life of the party and the center of attention. Meanwhile I’d be shaking and on the verge of tears (or wiping them away frantically, because god forbid I “embarass” him in public), not knowing how to act or how to respond to people. I certainly couldn’t tell anyone, because I had to drive home with him and knew he’d do worse to me if I said anything negative about him. I got a reputation for being “weird” and “antisocial”, which FW used to convince people I was the problem, and to further abuse me by telling me no one liked me they only tolerated me for his sake. (Turns out people like me fine, when I’m not being cowed by a scary narcissist, or only surrounded by his flying monkeys who are looking out for their own personal gain.) FW would often blame alcohol, and claim not to remember what he said or did, but he was fully aware and was weaponizing that. Once in a while he’d slip and reference something he claimed to have “blacked out” during. I told him he should stop drinking if that was what alcohol did to him, and he’d be all “yes, yes I need to” and never, ever did. I also often gaslit myself by saying “oh, he was drunk. he didn’t mean it.” until I finally realized that the nasty person who “came out” when he was drunk WAS the real him, and the “nice guy” he sometimes was was a mask.

  • Thank you for the Monty palate cleanser after that grifter guy’s garbage.

  • (are other readers having trouble accessing the website on their iPhones ? “400 Bad Request It is not a valid request !” appears on my screen)

  • On DDay, he ended his confession to 7 years of cheating (after polishing off an entire meatloaf dinner and pie at the restaurant he’d taken me to so he could end our marriage) with “Whew! I know you won’t appreciate this, but BOY does it feel good to finally get that out!” And later, “It’s not your fault. I just married the wrong person.”

    Post-DDay, when I still believed their may be some humanity left in FW, I asked him why he never said he was sorry. (I know, I know) His answer? “Why apologize? It’s in the past and I can’t change it.”

    And when I shouted, “You knew what you were doing!” He answered “Yeah, I knew it would hurt you. I just didn’t care.”

    Frankly, these quotes alone tell you who FW truly is, no matter what facade he presents to the world.

    • These guys are low lifes.

      It took me about 3ish months to realize the she deserved him way more than I did. I am betting the OW(s) in your case deserves him too.

      • I got to the point, finally, in my healing where I realized that FW and OW were PERFECT for each other. They were both selfish, horrible people who cheated on their spouses and blew up their kids’ lives for their owwn pleasure, and they truly deserved each other. That really helped me not be jealous of OW, or want FW back. I’m almost sorry they broke up, because the worst punishment for them would have been to get married and be stuck with each other (on the other hand, I no longer have to deal with OW being around my kid, which is great; she’s the last person I wanted having any influence on my son).

    • Damn. That is cold. “I knew it would hurt you. I just didn’t care.” That’s a call for physical violence as far as I’m concerned. I guess you can say that back to him when you get your divorce. Really and truly you are a thousand percent better off without that kind of person in your life. I hope you know no one deserves that bs! You are a queen!

      • When they say the quiet part out loud (the I-don’t-care-part) it’s upsetting, but it’s also the cold-hearted truth.
        Most of these entitled FWs truly don’t give a flying fuck.

        This makes me recall the time my ex criticized my body. “You think you have a nice body, but you don’t.”
        Like 90 some odd percent of women, I never thought I had a nice body. He was the one who thought he had a nice body. #projection

        What I said to him in response was, “There’s nothing I can do about my body (size 4 and a runner). And what you said is really hurtful.” His response? “I know.” Then he looked back at the tv or something on his computer.

        Dammit. So cold.

        • I’m watching this on Hulu: “Betrayal: The perfect husband.” Yikes. What a jerk. So far they haven’t really mentioned his first wife and kids, but my guess is that the first wife knew he was a lying sack of poo and probably divorced him because of it.

          The film quality is very good, like documentary-level good. Probably because the second wife is a producer. The original footage from their wedding is excellent. She gives a great interview. (The poor woman got tested for STDs and had chlamydia). Good grief!!! And they have interviews with some of the women who were APs and also lots of evidence from texts and blurred photos. In some respects it’s like watching a documentary of some parts of my own experience with uncovering FW’s virtual life online. UGHHHHH!

          And it was great to see Dr. Ramani Durvasula on there telling it like it is.

          Good luck chumps! Stay strong! Get rid of those FW freaks! No one deserves to live like that!

        • Fuck him, Spinach. I started defending myself, in part because I was comparing myself to the OW’s, or to FW, and I saw I wasn’t so bad. The affair wasn’t about my failings, after all. In some ways, it gave me more confidence (although I’m still recovering in other ways). I realized that when I was cruel to myself (in my head or otherwise), I was actually helping Team FW; it made it so much easier for him to devalue and manipulate me. After I left, and while I was hyper-focused on reclaiming my agency, it dawned on me that I was free from abuse from my ex and that I’d be damned if I continued to abuse and be mean to myself. Doesn’t always work, but I’m much better about it. I hope you’ve learned to be kinder to yourself, as well.

          • Good for you! It is hard to get FW’s voice out of your head. But you can’t become your own abuser and help him.

            Even though I know it was pain shopping, and not recommended, looking at OW’s social media actually really helped me. I saw that she was vapid and shallow, wasn’t actually very attractive, was pretty dumb (and was clearly buying FW’s lies hook, line, and sinker), and was a complete hypocrite. It made me wonder why I tried to compete so hard with someone like that. FW commented “the most beautiful woman in the universe or out of it” on one of OW’s photos, and, like, she looked TERRIBLE. I realized then that it was all flattery, and he would eventually be tearing her down in private if he wasn’t already. I saw her get thinner and thinner in her photos, and look sick and exhausted with dark circles under her eyes, and knew exactly what was happening. I was so glad that was no longer me.

    • He just married the wrong person? Who’s the right person? Someone with a Kevlar soul and Teflon vagina? What a terrifying, chilling experience it must have been to live in close proximity to such a soulless psychopath. It’s such a typical batterer delusion to assume that, if they only met the “right” person who could magically “inspire” mercy, they wouldn’t be such sadistic freaks.

      Normal, healthy people don’t need to be “inspired” or “moved” not to abuse and destroy others.

      • You are so right. Doing the right thing is a choice you make regardless of who you’re with. That’s how you know who you truly are. But many FWs are dishonest and weak.

  • FW, “I’m hurting more, because I’m the one that did it. I have to live with that!”

    My disagreement with that was one of his go to reasons, no, irrefutable evidence, that I lack empathy.

    As if I wasn’t dumb enough to have comforted the so so very sad sausage, for making him feel bad about hurting me, every other time as well.

  • I now have a new alias for my cheater in my phone contact: Dirty Drain!
    And all for free, thanks Dr. Robert Hui(iiiiiii belch)zenga 😀

  • True story. I’m Catholic and filed for an annulment after the divorce was finalized. My ex did not fully participate in the process. She simply sent a letter with all the lies from her smear campaign she used to justify her cheating with her friends, and to get me to give her the house and all the things in the divorce or she would tell those lies to a judge and try to keep me from my kids. The tribunal went with her lies. She was the victim. They granted the annulment on that basis and said I need a psych eval to clear me before I could remarry. Nothing I sent them made it into their decision. It was entirely her lies. I’ll have nothing further to do with the tribunal, no appeal, and no remarriage. They became her flying monkeys. I’m done. When I first talked to a priest about it, the first thing he said was “What was your part in all this?” Apparently victim-blaming is strong in our diocese.

  • Dr. Huizenga, perhaps, being the shrewd businessman that you are, you can explain why I should pay 4-figures to be gaslighted when my cheating ex is happy to provide this service gratis — the quality is unrivalled, too! Thank you for enlightening the unenlightened — you’re doing God’s work.

  • I made the mistake of googling this charlatan. The best part on his website is when he says: “In my marriage I also was confronted powerfully with an affair. (No, professionals are not immune! Actually, there are some qualities about therapists that tend to generate relational problems.)”
    “Confronted powerfully with an affair” is a weird way to say that you’re a cheater.

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