It’s time to share a little bit about my psychopath. I have read the stories shared by many survivors, and some who did not survive. Also, I have read of the miseries of those who are yet to escape. There are a few things that stand out:
- The average person who has not tangoed with a psychopath clings to the popular myth that psychopaths are like Ted Bundy or the other notorious serial killers.
- What happens to the victim engulfed in the schemes of a psychopath takes so many bizarre twists and turns that it is impossible to convey in a short summary. The relationship with a psychopath goes through several stages, any one of which are hard to capture in less than an encyclopedic volume.
- When a victim attempts to relate the abuses that were suffered, the episodes seem like a Hollywood movie script that would have been trashed for lack of believability — the depravity is just that bad. The uninitiated wonder if the victim is a bit delusional, and blame the victim for falling for such “obvious” ploys or for not refusing the abuse.
- Being with a psychopath is like driving through the thickest fog. Or like trying to assemble an all-black jigsaw puzzle. Warnings from friends go unheeded because the victim cannot make sense of what has happened until the early stages of healing and the fog has begun to life. Friends and loved ones become exasperated that what they see so clearly is not comprehended by the victim.
Serendipity, or shear back luck, brought me my psychopath. I had already been “primed” by a mother who had many of the same characteristics, and so I had never been allowed to learn strong boundaries. I was disabled (visually impaired), had been through some rough relationships already. Being unable to drive meant that my social opportunities were limited, and it was difficult to meet people or to go out for a good time, so I was lonely. I had transitioned from female to male later in life. This is its own story, and part of what I will write about in the future. But for now, you can imagine a man, now right with his body and soul, but approaching middle-age alone. I had cobbled together a support system, had mostly overcome the disappointment and trials of previous relationships, but had never been seriously involved with a woman in my congruent male body. Yet, I was thriving — taking yoga classes, swimming regularly, going on 30 mile bicycle rides on the trails in and around Washington, DC. In short, I was the healthiest and happiest I had ever been, though still growing, and I thought I was ready for a “forever” partner, though I wasn’t actively looking. You can well imagine that I felt somewhat discouraged with all this baggage. I believed it would be improbable to find anyone who would accept this “me” and all I had been through, but if it came along, it would be the greatest blessing.
Probably in 2008, I had discovered Facebook. When transportation and social options are limited, the Internet is a salvation. As the Borg chant in mechanistic tone, “Resistance is futile.” On Facebook, I connected with old lost friends, new neighbors, and lots of “strangers” all over the world who played the “mindless” and “numbing” games that pass the time. Being endlessly curious, it was a treat to make cyber-friends from every corner of the globe. Some blossomed into to true friendships that have endured the time and distance. One early friend was Martha (pseudonym), who lived in England. We played several of the same games, and “chatted” back and forth quite a bit every day. Mandy was warm and friendly, and I enjoyed our exchanges through Facebook.
One day, I jokingly asked Martha if she was married. No, but she had a boyfriend. Keeping in mind, this all unfolded after 9/11 and during the Bush years. I was appalled that we had been drawn into the war in Iraq, was frightened that the Patriot Act had become law, was horrified at the news coming out of Guantanamo, etc. Daydreams of living in a better country flitted through my private musings. So my query to Martha escalated into a joke between us. I asked her if she had a sister who was single. No, she didn’t. I asked her if she had any female friends or neighbors who were single. No, she didn’t. I began to giggle, “All the women in England must be married!” In playing our Facebook games, Mandy “introduced” me to her boyfriend’s sister, Trixie (pseudonym), who lived in Scotland. I said to Trixie, “Well, I guess you are married, too? :-)” Yes, of course! I repeated my joke, “All the women in the UK are married!”
But ever in a quest for new Facebook friends for my idle games, Trixie “introduced” me to Paula who lived in southern England, near Mandy, although the Martha and Paula were not acquainted. I noticed on Paula’s Facebook profile that her relationship status was married. So I repeated my lament, “I can’t believe that all the women in the UK are married!” But Paula said no, she was divorced, and that she kept her relationship status as “married” because she didn’t want to be “hit on.” That was the first lie, but I didn’t find out until much, much later. In fact, she was married when I met her — though presumably going through a divorce that was not yet final. When you get involved with a psychopath, you eventually learn to put “supposedly” in front of everything they tell you, because you never know which things are truth and which things are lies. I do not know when her divorce was final, as she never showed me the divorce decree. I had “met” her on Facebook in July of 2009, but IF a divorce decree final was ever issued, it was probably in early September at best.
As it turned out, Paula had dating profiles on various websites even as she was still married to Lotfi:
Just a few on many I found. The most notorious one, on Smooch, can’t be seen unless you are a member, so I won’t include it — she’d created that dating profile two months before we were married! Well, just in case you happen to be a member, you can find Paula’s profile on Smooch here.
In retrospect, Paula seemed to have pegged me as an ideal victim from day #1. She immediately began sending my private messages, which then escalated to emails exchanged daily. Within a week, she asked me if I had Microsoft Messenger and a videocam. I didn’t. My Internet activity was limited to chatting on the old IRC (Internet Relay Chat), email, Yahoo groups, and now Facebook. It had never even occurred to me to get a videocam, and I had no one to talk with via videocam anyway. But I quickly installed Microsoft Messenger, and we chatted by text (typing) for several days. Paula seemed inordinately interested in me and flirtatious, and I took this as a compliment. So within a week, I ordered a set of headphones for my PC. The headphones were cheaper than the videocams, and I wasn’t ready to plunge into digital full face-to-face talking.
I was nervous about even voice talking to Paula, but big and bold me said, “I have a surprise for you!” and I unveiled the new headphones. I knew very little about her, and the first conversations felt a bit awkward to me. I also realized she knew next to nothing about me, with a lot that would have to be explained at some stage. But I was immediately taken by her dulcet voice and her British accent, and she seemed to swoon over my southern American twang. She was single (so she had said), and I was certainly single. Little fantasies of romance began to dance in my head, encouraged by her flirting and her intense attentiveness.
We had only talked a couple of times. The set-up was — since I only had headphones, she could hear me. But since she had a videocam, I could both hear AND see her. On seeing her, my first impression was that she was not my “type.” Having come of age in a female body and sexually attracted to women, I had matured as a “lesbian,” my transgender identity not fully apprehended, repressed, and ignored until later in life. I had mostly been attracted to androgynous women. I’ve inserted a photo of what she looked like — one taken slightly later than that first phase, but representative:
In the early stage, her hair was a bit shorter, choppy, bleach blonde, and she wore heavy make-up and gaudy earrings. To be blunt, she looked promiscuous. And like a parody of real femininity. But I have never been one to judge people, especially on external appearances. She was heterosexual (at least then), and very different from my previous partners. I thought to myself that it couldn’t hurt to give something different a chance.
So we had only talked on Microsoft Messenger the couple of times when we met for our next chat. Now, she was the one saying, “I have a surprise for you!” She wanted me to shut down the connection, and promised that she would be back with me in a few minutes. I was eager to talk to her, so I questioned her about the “surprise,” and dawdled. Since I didn’t comply immediately, she proceeded with the “surprise,” me watching and hearing her, and her only able to hear my voice since I just had the headphones for audio. She pointed her camera downward and revealed that she was unclothed, and began to masturbate, eventually pulling out a pink sex toy to reach orgasm. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Part of me was mortified, red flags fluttering like blaring sirens. The other part of me was hypnotized. It had been a long, long time since I’d been intimate with anyone, and here was a feast before my eyes. I thought to myself, “This is the oldest trick in the book — what is she after?” But I ignored that warning from my gut.
I was thoroughly confused. In the short time I’d “known” Paula, I had become reliant on our regular conversations. I was lonely, and the contact filled a void. But I was also worried and afraid. What was I getting myself into? I shared what happened with my closest confidants. They all warned me that she sounded like “bad news,” and I should run for the hills. All of them except one — my best friend, Rich (pseudonym). Paula was 14 years younger than me. Rich, who boasts of his Standford education and is an intelligent fellow, said the younger generation had different values and that there was also the cultural difference between the US and the UK — there was nothing amiss in this encounter except my outdated views. Later, Rich claimed that I had described what happened in such oblique and genteel terms, he didn’t understand what had actually happened. Yes, I had tried to convey what had happened in a way that was not crass, but any idiot would have understood. Everyone else understood. Rich said that if he had grasped that she was masturbating in front of me, he would have been one of the voices warning me against her. But as things played out, I don’t think so. Yes, as incidents progressed, with each further red flag that troubled me, he supported Paula’s reality, and said to me, “Any man would be happy to have what you have.” Or alternatively, “Why are you always viewing things so negatively?”
Well, I listened to all the warnings, but in the end, I shoved aside the queasiness, thinking, “What can this hurt? We are on opposite sides of the ocean. No problem to let it continue and find out if there’s more to Paula that this tawdry incident implied.” I was already hooked!
Paula, of course, declared that she had “never done anything like that before,” and that she felt “so close to me and so safe with me.” I was “special.” Big red flags, but I didn’t know that then. Our daily contact via email and Facebook increased. and I ordered a videocam so that we could talk digitally face-to-face. Thinking there might be some potential with her, ignoring my fears, and always unscrupulously honest, I decided I had best let her know my full history so that *she* would know what she was getting into. I gritted my teethe for courage, and wrote Paula a long email, explaining that I was transgendered, that I was visually impaired, and itemized every other “blotch” on my past that a potential partner would have the right and need to know. I didn’t want to drop any “bombs” on her after things had carried on too far, leaving us both hurt if my reality was not one that she could understand, embrace, and accept. Unfortunately, this is exactly the wrong move to make with a psychopath. Their first mission in seeking out and hooking victims is to find all of one’s vulnerabilities and dreams. Right away, Paula emailed me back and indicated that nothing I had said troubled her in any way. She had met me as a man, viewed me as a man, and that was that. She also had a daughter with Down’s syndrome, and so my vision impairment was not foreign to her. She fully accepted me as I was! This is nothing less than an opiate elixir for a transgendered person, who never knows when he discloses if he will be rejected on the spot. Now I was well and truly hooked. If she could accept me as I was, I could do the same with her. There must be some reasonable explanation for her skanky behavior. And she began to give me her pity stories….
Her stories were never in sequence, and never quite made sense. Taking them individually, and trying to put the pieces together, one could not help but feel sadness for what she had been through — great sympathy. Little did I know that most of her stories were outright lies, embellishments, half-truths, and many parts of what she claimed to be her past remain a mystery as to their truthfulness.
As she related it in disjointed spurts, here is what Paula told me of her past. She said that she had been raped twice as a teenager — the first time while walking home on a shortcut through a park. Her age at which the rape occurred varied from telling to telling. But again as a teenager, on the second rape, she was walking home after a night out at a pub (she is tall, and so looked old enough that she was admitted to pubs and served alcohol without question), and was pulled into a car full of men who gang raped her. At age 17, she became pregnant. The father of the baby was, on one telling, a high school boy she had dated very briefly. On a different telling, the father of the baby was one Hussain Majeed, a Muslim man 10 years older than her. I never learned the actual truth. In any case, she was diagnosed with asthma while she was pregnant and the prednisone treatments she was given for the asthma caused the baby girl, who she named Tamara, to be born premature and the baby did not survive. Tamara died in Paula’s arms. More recently, I did a little research and found that steroid asthma treatment is unlikely to cause premature birth, and also, at one point, Paula admitted she had caused the baby’s demise by too much alcohol — and a family member also said she had been doing hard drugs. Also, when she was 17, Hussain married Paula — not civilly, but in a mosque marriage. I do not know the truth of this — these are only the various stories she told me. Meanwhile, she’d also had some trouble with her parents, and had been sent to northern England to live with a cousin for a while — again giving her age as about 17. I did wonder how all these many events had occurred near simultaneously — two rapes, sent away from home, a baby born prematurely and dying, and a marriage in a mosque…
Continuing what she shared with me, Hussain did not want to have any children. She was with him for 9 years. Much later, one of Paula’s relatives told me that Paula had been a prostitute, and this allegation was made independently by two other people Paula denied the allegation vehemently. Paula’s relative also later told me that she had several abortions, which Paula admitted, but she refused to explain the circumstances. And also, her relative told me that she had lived on the street and, as I said, had used hard drugs — another allegation that was strenuously denied. Regardless, after 9 years together, Paula became pregnant with a child she claimed to be Hussain’s. Her version of the story was that when she went into labor, Hussain dropped her off at the hospital and went to find a parking place, but never returned. When she was released from the hospital after Emma’s birth, Hussain had put all her belongings outside in the front garden of their home and had changed the locks on the doors. It’s unclear what happened next. She may have stayed with her parents for a while. She tried to get housing for herself and Emma, and was put in a caravan — the British equivalent of a mobile home. Eventually, she got a secure tenancy in a council house where she still lives as far as i know. However, this home became the source of the first Big Lie, as I call it. When I first “met” Paula, I had already been through several relationships where property ownership was in contention. Trying to foresee what the future might hold, I was not agreeable to any future that would include moving to the UK and living in a home that wasn’t partly mine, as I feared being thrown out if things went wrong. I was not willing to move into a house that did not have my name on the deed, or to move into an apartment that did not have my name on the lease. So I asked Paula if she owned her home, offering that if our relationship progressed and I moved to the UK so that we could be together. I would give her half the value of her home for my name to be put on the deed, and if she rented, I would want my name on the lease agreement. Paula told me she owned her home, which was a blatant lie. I didn’t find out the truth until much, much later — 9 months after we were married. It had become a problem of huge magnitude. Once we were married, I had set about getting my spousal visa so that I could move to the UK and we could be together. The spousal visa application required that I submit proof of where I would be living, which meant I needed a copy of the deed to Paula’s house. For months, I waited on Paula to send me the deed so I could submit my visa application, with more lies and excuses than could be imagined, each lie more outrageous than the next.. When I found out the truth — that she did not own her home — it came from another one of Paula’s relative. I don’t know how long she would have strung me along… More on this part later. But it was a time of gargantuan emotional confusion and misery.
Paula was married a second time, to Lotfi. This was a legal marriage. I can only relate what Paula told me. She claimed that she had met Lotfi at a pub through mutual friends. Another lie. The truth came out later from someone in Paula’s family, who told me Paula had met Lotfi on a dating website, which Paula then admitted. I asked her why she had not told me the truth as to how she had met Lotfi. I had met previous partners via the Internet (but not dating websites), which she knew. Why would I even care? (Psychopaths lie even when the truth would be more convenient.) Paula’s attitude was that her prior relationships were none of my business, so it was “okay” for her to lie.
Paula said that on their wedding day, hers and Lotfi’s, she had had to leave the celebration early to go home and take care of Emma. She waited for Lotfi to come home, but he never arrived, and so she fell asleep. When she woke up and he still wasn’t there the next morning, she went through his backpack to try and figure out where he might be. Paula said she found a passport from a Muslim country in the backpack — but that Lotfi had told her he was French. He was in the UK illegally and needed the marriage to secure his right to remain in the UK. Supposedly, he had spent the night of their marriage out sleeping with another woman, though I have no idea how she might have found this out. This was what was told to me in the beginning. Much later, I deduced that the story wasn’t quite right. I had seen the copy of Paula’s marriage certificate with Lotfi and the date on it. I also knew the birth date of her second child, Yuri, who Paula had said was fathered by Lotfi. When you look at the two dates, you can see that Paula was 9 months pregnant when she married Lotfi. So what she described as being tricked into a marriage by a devious man who wanted to secure his immigration status in the UK looks more like Paula ensnaring Lotfi into a marriage through her pregnancy. Furthermore, when Paula and Lotfi got married, he would have had to present his passport as identification. If he had been in the UK illegally, it would have been immediately known, and Paula would have seen that he was from the Muslim country rather than French as she had claimed he told her. So everything she ever told me was suspect…
I never met either man. One wonders if they were so “burned” by the psychopath that they refused all further contact with her, even at the loss of their own children — if the children were theirs. Both of them wanted paternity tests, according to Paula, which speaks volumes. She described them both as being physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive. Again, her stories were out of sequence and would change slightly with each telling, so it was hard to determine which husband she was accusing of which specific incident. Fairly early on, Paula made the allegation that one of them had beat her in the face with a baseball bat, crushing her jaw and causing her to lose all her teeth. In fact, she did wear dentures — unusual for a woman who was about 40 years old when I met her. Even when she told me about this incident, I was silently incredulous. I couldn’t help but notice that there were no scars on her face. Her face was flawless and unblemished. How can one be beaten to that extent and not have a single scar on their face? After I escaped this hell, a relative of Paula’s told me that there was no such occurrence — that Paula had let her teeth rot from lack of care. This story line made much more sense, as it meshed with her other allegations that Paula had been a prostitute, a drug user, lived on the street, and had had numerous abortions.
Paula claimed that her three younger children were fathered by Lotfi — Yuri, Glenda (with Down’s syndrome), and Reba. Paula said that Reba had been conceived when Lotfi raped her. Another story about Lotfi was that she had been slaving at work all day and had come home in the evening. She found Lotfi “interfering” with Yuri’s private parts on the bathroom floor. As she described it, she was enraged. Lotfi stood up and swung his fist to hit her, but it landed on Yuri instead. At this point, she man-handled Lotfi, and ejected him from the apartment. Paula is 6 ft tall. At the time I met her, she must have weighed 300 lbs, give or take. One never wants to doubt a rape victim, but it is hard to imagine how she was able to physically remove the man from their apartment, yet was unable to prevent the rape that produced Reba. So here we have the pity stories of a woman who claimed to have been raped not once, not twice, but three times!
Most people — I hope — don’t go around telling lies. Especially on matters of such magnitude. It’s not what the average person expects to encounter in everyday life. So with the gaps, varying versions, and all else, I took, or tried to take, what she told me at face value. A normal person with normal empathy would feel great sadness for what she had undergone. I was confused, but her pity stories caused me to grant her much leeway in her behavior as it worsened. She was a wounded soul doing her best, and my loyal love would help to heal her, or so I thought. I certainly had my own wounds, and hoped for forgiveness and understanding for my flaws.
So, this was how it all started, with so much more to share.
Stay tuned for future posts….