When it comes to selecting victims or targets, psychopaths do not discriminate. They are opportunistic. Whatever delectable fruit crosses their path is ripe for the picking. I do not even believe that psychopaths have a genuine sexual orientation, and are happy to shift from straight to gay to straight again, as suits their purposes. That being said, I do believe that individual psychopaths will have a tendency to go for either low-hanging fruit (the vulnerable) and others will target the coconut, hard to crack open, hard to reach at the top of the tree.
In my case, I was über-vulnerable. Vision impairment, transgendered, no family, history of abuse. Even though I was disabled, and had very little, I believe my wife mistakenly believed in the myth of “wealthy Americans.” Vulnerable + “wealthy” = irresistible target.
This really isn’t about my wife, but about how astounded I was to realize just how many, many times I’d been victimized because of my vulnerability by psychopaths. My knowledge of psychopathy was a gradually increasing arc, culminating with what I’d endured at the hands of my wife. Now — thankfully — I’m step-by-step relinquishing the victim mentality, learning to set boundaries, and finding that I have more inner strength and power than I ever imagined. This is one reason I so appreciated the graphic my friend, L, sent me:
In my post Are Online Friendships / Relationships Safe?, I briefly mentioned Vikki. I thought I might write a little more about that piece of my story. It stands out because Vikki was the first person I’d met who was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
From PsychCentral, two of the cardinal traits of someone with NPD are:
- Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Exploitation, lying, lack of empathy, and lack of conscience are the common characteristics of people who might be called psychopaths or sociopaths or … pick your favorite label. (But please don’t forget that psychopaths are masters at displaying faux-empathy.)
So, I met Vikki on Internet Relay Chat after Donna and I had broken up, but were still living together for financial and logistical reasons. My handle on IRC was “Spykie.” I was known by that nickname for years, and have it tattooed on my arm. Vikki’s handle was “Lilith.” Mythology has not been an area of interest of mine. Had it been, I would have had my first clue. The first photo in this article is a depiction of Lilith.
From the Wikipedia entry, “Lilith (Hebrew: לילית; lilit, or lilith) is a Hebrew name for a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be in part derived from a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts of Assyria and Babylonia.”
Vikki quickly gave me her “sob story.” Psychopaths always seem to try to hook you by getting you to feel sorry for them. There were some startling parallels to the “sob story” I would later get from my wife. Vikki was going through a bitter divorce from her second husband. Ironically, both men were Turkish-Muslim, and were painted as abusive. A fierce custody battle was going on for her two daughters, and Vikki was “terrified” that her second husband, Çemil, would kidnap her daughters and take them to Turkey. Well, last I knew the man is now, 20 years after the fact, still living in the same home he had back then in a Maryland suburb, but perhaps by now he has retired from the gas station he owned? Also, at age 40, Vikki had decided that she was a lesbian.
In the previous post, I explained how it came to be that I moved in with Vikki — living with Donna had become untenable for both of us. This unexpected new romance with Vikki appeared out of nowhere. It seemed like a practical solution for both of our situations for me to move in with her. The romance had already gotten pretty heavy, and so Vikki drove her van from Maryland to Pittsburgh to collect me and my personal belongings. We were no sooner on I-70, Vikki holding my hand atop her thigh, when she said, “This is not a relationship, you know.” WTF??
Yah, you picked a fine time to “tell” me, Lilith!!!
I suppose it would have just been another bruise along the way, to realize that Vikki’s true purpose was to acquire an unpaid babysitter, maid, and secretary. Except, her actions didn’t match her words. She continued to seduce me in every way possible. Sleeping with me, kissing me, teasing me, and on and on… I thought she was just confused.
I hardly know where to begin. There’s a side bit that can’t go unmentioned, though. Pardon the pun, but Vikki was seminal in helping me consciously realize that I needed to transition from female to male. You see, Vikki exuded masculine energy. When she wore dresses, to me, she looked like she was in drag. I started to notice this subtly, and still conceiving of myself as a lesbian, I was dumbfounded.
Vikki was gorgeous, at least to me. She was of Portuguese descent with coal black hair and brown eyes that looked like unclouded coffee. She looked a bit like Eric Estrada from the old CHiPs TV series, except slightly craggier and more masculine:
One day, I was with Vikki shopping at the grocery store, I wandered off down the aisles and then couldn’t find her. I walked up and down the store, peering at each aisle, looking for her. Finally, at the far end of one aisle, I saw a man with his back turned. You have to remember that I have limited eyesight. In situations like these, I try to remember the color of clothes the person I’m with is wearing in case we get separated. And I noted that the man on the far end of the aisle had on clothes the exact same color as what Vikki had been wearing. But he had broad shoulders and narrow hips, and was standing with his feet far apart, and I thought, “Naw….” Not finding her elsewhere, I moved for a closer look. When I was within my vision’s range — bing! bing! bing! — it was Vikki.
It was either Vikki’s birthday or Valentine’s Day, and I’d gotten her a nice card. She looked at me with those clear brown mesmerizing eyes and said, “If I were a man, would you marry me?” Oh, yes, in a heartbeat, thought I, the lesbian. But meanwhile, remembering, “This is not a relationship, you know.”
Vikki’s father was a neurosurgeon. Vikki had gotten a master’s degree in linguistics in Germany. She was an instructor at a local university. She had a certain facade of normalcy. But at the same time, she was very disorganized and chaotic. Vikki was doing some home improvement projects. It was not unusual for her to head to the university with paint smeared on her skin and clothes. I tried to help her in this regard. One day as she was preparing to leave for a lecture she had to give at the university, I helped her pick out a crisp white shirt and she put on some nice slacks. As we were standing in the back doorway saying goodbye, I noticed that her collar was upturned. I reached up to straighten it for her, and she bent down and softly kissed me on the lips. One of our most tender moments. But not a relationship?
In the evenings, we would sit together, and Vikki would spend hours writing emails. My job was to sit quietly and not question what she was doing. Various details and unsavory circumstances began to surface. Vikki had had a former student who was Korean. He had lived with her, and then had had to return to Korea. He was absolutely convinced that they were going to be married. I would sit and listen — she didn’t care what I heard — to Vikki talking to him. And she would even give me his side of the conversation. The first one I remember, Vikki told me that this fellow had bought a house in Korea for the two of them, and was waiting on her to come to be with him. She said nothing to dissuade him, but led him to believe that this was the plan. But when she didn’t materialize in Korea, the poor guy frantically called Vikki and begged her to go to the American embassy and clear the way for him to return to the US — she did nothing.
More unsavory, Vikki had another Korean friend who was her “f*ck buddy.” When she got a notion, she’d call him, and he’d be over in 2 seconds flat. Now her house was arranged such that she had a sitting room which could be openly seen from the upstairs balcony. My room (or “our” room on the nights she slept with me, which was most nights) was in the finished attic. Her daughters’ bedrooms were on the second floor, as was the main bathroom. So when she called this other Korean bloke over for a romp, they’d carry on in the sitting room — right where either of her young daughters could come out needing the restroom or looking for her, and see her flagrantly in the act! Myself, I hid in the attic, crying and confused.
Worse yet, Vikki made plans to attend a conference in her professional field in another state. The conference just happened to be held at the same university where she’d gotten her undergraduate degree. So part of the time she was working on her mysterious emails, she was corresponding with a professor she’d had there. The man was near retirement, had been married some 30 years, and had grown children.
Vikki came back from the conference telling me how she’d sat on the old professor’s lap, and how he still “had it in him.” He wanted to leave his wife, and marry her. By now I was finally getting the clues. Of course, Vikki had no intention of marrying the man. She was just after a little of his money, and toying with him. As he pressed her, Vikki came up with excuses, and as with Paula, the emergency trip to the hospital was her best excuse.
One day, I was at home alone when the telephone rang. It was the old professor. I listened to the haggard concern in his voice. “Vikki told me she was in the hospital for an emergency. I’m worried sick. I’ve tried every way to reach her, but can get no response.” I’d had it; I’d seen enough. I said something to the effect of, “Look, Vikki is not in the hospital. Vikki is not going to marry you. She’s already got one guy in Korea who thinks she’s going to marry him. She’s got another guy who comes around to have sex with her. And she’s got me here living with her.” I don’t recall what he said, but I think that saved his marriage, and it put an end to Vikki toying with his life. It also put me on the outs, gratefully.
All this (and more) transpired in about 6 short months’ time. I was given the gift of thinking more deeply and consciously about my need to transition from female to male. Though I didn’t understand what had happened and how I’d arrived in such a loathsome position, I’d had my first taste of being victimized by a true psychopath. I cried, I hurt, I was suicidal for a while, but I made it through. I went on with my life. The last I heard of Vikki, she’d married and managed to stay married for several years, but then had had an affair with someone where she worked. Carrying on the same old patterns…