The Psychopathic Relationship – Five Lesser Known Signs

screamingdude

Image:  www.huffingtonpost.com

Every so often, I get an email from someone asking me whether or not I think their significant other is a psychopath.  This is a tough question without meeting the person, and I must note that I do not have a degree in forensic psychology.  Having been in a relationship with a psychopathic serial killer, however, I have learned a thing or two about red flags.  Before I get into red flags, though, I should note that sometimes flags can be “pink flags”.  “Pink flags” are things that might make you raise an eyebrow, but don’t raise the hairs on the back of your neck.  If there are things that don’t make sense in your relationship, and your partner’s story just isn’t quite coming together – listen to these “pink flags” because something is likely wrong.

Red flags to identify a psychopath have been written about a lot, but I am going to highlight some that are a little less discussed in popular media.  If you recognize any of the below signs in your partner, you might want to run…fast:

1)  Instant love connection – have you seen Frozen?  Remember the part when Ana falls in love with that dude whom she just met?  Remember when she almost died and that same dude revealed himself as a punk ass mother F?  Well, this was Disney teaching us about psychopaths.  (bravo Disney for trying to make up for allowing young girls to think that true love happens at first sight.)  Psychopaths are intense and work to shower their target with so much attention that it is hard to not be taken with them and believe that you have fallen in love quickly.  If you feel this way after the first date, slap yourself.  I am not ruling out the possibility of just having a good date and enjoying yourself, but most normal people don’t stare at you the way a psychopath does.  Most normal people are slightly cautious on a first date and don’t try to make you believe that there is an instant love connection.

2)  “Everyone else is crazy”-  Are you dating someone who has been divorced several times?  Does he/she claim that she is just unlucky in love, and that all of his/her ex’s have been “crazy”?  While I can completely understand making several bad decisions, there is something wrong if the person is claiming that all his/her ex’s were nuts.  Psychopaths like to make it seem like everyone else is nuts.  If they are well into their adult years, they have likely already made lots of enemies.  They might even still be in litigation with some of them. If you meet someone who has a child, and who claims to not have a good relationship with the mother/father of their child because that person is “crazy”, it is possible that the real “crazy” is the person you are with.   Luc was famous for claiming that so many people who had come and gone from his life were nuts.  The only common denominator for all of these people, however, was Luc himself.

3) The Scary Rage:  Before I met Luc, I used to think that people don’t really “look” crazy.  Well, except for maybe the person wandering the streets screaming about cameras that have been installed in their teeth by the US Government – I guess I always knew those people looked crazy.  But before Luc, I thought those were the types of people who looked crazy.  Luc was great at hiding his crazy.  Most of the time when he was angry, he would try and leave the situation or attack back in some weird passive aggressive way.

There were some times, however, when he would go into a psychopathic rage.  The first time I saw the rage directed toward me was when I told him that I could not afford to pay his mortgage by myself.  His eyes seemed to turn darker, his eyebrows crinkled, and the screws appeared to loosen in his head right before my eyes.  He screamed, irrationally, that he would never forgive me.  Just as I began to collect my things and try to walk out (and he saw his money walking away), things changed.  As quickly as he went into the rage, he seemed to snap out of it.

4)  Pathological Lying:  We all know people who stretch the truth for story value.  A psychopath, however, will get off on full out lying.  Often, they are trying to cover up some deep seated insecurities that they have, or they just want to see if they can make someone believe something isn’t true.  If someone is making grand claims that seem as if they cannot be true, it is quite possible that they aren’t.  Not only would Luc lie about himself, he would often set his son up by lying about his son’s abilities.  He would claim things that were impossible for his son to achieve, thus setting him up for grand disappointments (not to mention abuse when he couldn’t live up to these outlandish lies).  Luc would also make incredible statements, before asking people to check the truth of the statement on Google.  I guess Luc banked on nobody actually checking up on his lies via Google, or maybe he just figured that even when they realized it was a lie he would be long gone.

5)  Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception, and sanity.  Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

I would often get into arguments with Luc where he would say something incredibly verbally abusive (or contradictory), and he would deny having said it.  He would go on about how he wished he had tape recorded our conversation, but he must have known that if he had a recording it would only prove that he had actually said what he was denying.  This behavior came to light glaringly during Luc’s deposition for our custody case.  Per his usual behavior, Luc denied saying something inflammatory.  My lawyer, determined to prove that Luc was doing this, had the court reporter rewind the tape and play it back.  Once it was proven that Luc said the very thing he was denying, Luc attempted to twist the story in another direction.

Gaslighting can be really scary for the victim.  The psychopath will do things to make you feel as if you are living in chaos without knowing the cause.  He/she intends to disorient you, and make you believe there is something wrong with you.  For example, a couple of days after Prince was born, I changed Prince’s diaper and handed him to Luc while I took a shower.  When I came out of the shower, Luc began to yell at me about how I was a bad mother because I hadn’t put Prince’s diaper on correctly.  To this day, I am sure that Luc intentionally took Prince’s diaper off and messed it up just so that he could chastise me about it.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are loads of other bizarre things that psychopaths will do.  My number one point of advice, however, is that if you feel that something in your relationship isn’t right – listen to your gut.  While psychopaths are really good at catching their targets, it is hard for them to keep up the mask for very long.  Watch for these moments when they lower the mask.  When they lower the mask, don’t stick around long enough to dig their claws into you.

Chris Mackney – A Casualty of Family Court

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“In hindsight, I recognize that my reactions to being bullied, abused and denied access to my children gave my ex- wife’s attorney the ammunition they were looking for to bring me into Court…

The love that my daughter and I shared was truly special… I am so sorry that I will not be there to see her grow into a beautiful woman.  My son Jack was just entering Kindergarten, when I lost access to him… It absolutely breaks my heart that I will not be able to help him grow into a man. I love you to, Jack. I miss you both so much.

Truth, facts, evidence or even the best interest of my children had no affect on the outcome. The family court system is broken, but from my experience, it is not the laws, it’s the lawyers. They feed off of the conflict. They are not hired to reduce conflict or protect the best interest of children.

I took my own life because I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do or say to end the abuse. Every time I got up off my knees, I would get knocked back down. They were not going to let me be the father I wanted to be to my children. People may think I am a coward for giving up on my children, but I didn’t see how I was going to heal from this. I have no money for an attorney, therapy or medication. I have lost 4 jobs because of this process. I was going to be at their mercy for the rest of my life and they had shown me none.”

           - Excerpts from Chris Mackney’s suicide letter

On December 29, 2013, a man named Chris Mackney took his own life after spending years in Family Court fighting for his children.  While it has been months since his death, I only just learned of it this past weekend when I was notified by a reporter who plans to cover the case.  When I first read the email, I was stunned and speechless.  I am no stranger to stories that demonstrate the devastating impact that Family Court has on the lives of many.  Chris’ story, however, has hit close to home.  It has hit me because Chris was one of my readers, and he had reached out to me only a few short months before his death.

Upon googling Chris’ name to find out the details of his death, I noticed many websites that have attempted to exploit and twist his story in an attempt to make it appear as though it was something that it was not.  The very fact that Chris had asked to work with me shows that he was not a man trying to tie himself with an anti-women’s movement or speak out against mothers.  From what I knew of Chris through our conversations, he was a man who was trying to survive the horrible legal abuse he was enduring.  He was trying to find a way to get back into his children’s lives.  He was trying to navigate a broken system.

Initial Contact:

12/31/2012 – “My name is Chris Mackney.  I post on your site as madmacks…my case is so bad it’s incredible. I want to call for an investigation because there is so much corruption.  The pattern is so clear and they pretend it’s not there.  I wanted to see if we might work together to expose the courts failures in our cases.”

I was initially skeptical of Chris because I receive loads of letters from all sorts of people – some of them don’t appear to be psychologically sound.  I asked Chris to tell me a bit about his story.  Chris responded with a long email explaining his belief that his ex-wife and her father were both psychopaths.  He claimed that he had proof that his ex father in law was a murderer and heroin trafficker.  Chris went on to explain that his ex in-laws were very wealthy, and that his ex-father in law was extremely litigious (sadly, a strong characteristic of psychopathology).

While Chris wanted to stay out of court, and was willing to give custody to his ex-wife to just have access to the children, his ex’s family was determined to eliminate him.  Chris believed that he was being targeted by his ex wife’s family for uncovering the truth about their criminal behavior.  He also believed that if he went public about his case, he would get to see his children.

1/28/2013:  Psychopathy seems to be the problem.  No one wants to touch it.  Even the Father’s Rights groups…On one hand, it is absolutely the single source of conflict in my case, so I want to have it addressed by the court.  On the other hand, I almost do not want to bring it up, because I know they don’t know how to deal with it.  Dealing with psychopaths in court is hopeless.

This was one of the last times that I heard from Chris.

My reaction:

Many people likely read about my story and wonder if there is something wrong with me too for falling for such a sick and twisted person like Luc. Even though I have seen corruption at its worst drive the justice system into the ground, I still read Chris’ story with a skeptical eye.  I wondered if he had been the abuser.  I wondered about the other side of the story.

 Chris’ story haunts me because many things he said were absolutely true.  The claims he made, while seemingly outlandish, could have absolutely taken place given our broken system.  I was never able to help Chris.  I am not sure what I would have been able to do; however, I still feel sadness that I could not help him see that taking his life was not the answer.

The Ending:

In August 2013, a friend of Chris’ reached out to me to tell me that Chris had been arrested.  She claimed that his ex’s family had orchestrated this arrest, and that she feared Chris would kill himself in jail.  In December 2013 – he did kill himself.

I believe that Chris suffered from Post Traumatic Stress as a result of the legal abuse that he endured.  Psychopaths are bullies.  They enjoy litigation and have a strong need to win.  In Family Court, you will always find a lawyer who is willing to take your money.  Sadly, these cases that involve a disordered person can go on for years leaving people completely penniless and emotionally wrecked.

Some people have looked at what Chris did and thought, ‘he must not have loved his children if he was willing to just give up and kill himself.’  Anyone who has been a victim of this sort of vicious cycle of abuse, however, can understand exactly how Chris felt.  Many of the words he wrote in his suicide letter are not rational, and his final behavior doesn’t seem all that sane.  I would argue, though, that what Chris endured as a result of trying to be a father would drive any sane person crazy.

Currently, Chris’ ex wife is trying to erase Chris’ message from the Internet.  She claims that she owns the right to his final words through some sort of copyright.  I wish Chris had stayed and continued to fight here on earth for his children, and for those children who would come next.   I pray that beyond all the rhetoric not he Internet, that his children one day know that their father loved them.  I also hope and pray that after this tragic situation, we can come together and discuss the real issues apparent in Family Court and stop clouding the issue with gender politics.

Rest in peace Madmacks.

A Different Kind Of Mother’s Day

 

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This past Sunday was Mother’s Day.  I suspect that I will never have a Mother’s Day when someone doesn’t look at me with puppy eyes and wonder how I am holding things together.  I am not sure I will ever have another Mother’s Day where I don’t feel as if I am between emotions.  As a mother who has lost a child, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of the fact that I will never again “mother” the child I lost.  For me, however, I have found a way to mother my son Prince – even though he is no longer here with us.  This weekend, in particular, I found a way to honor both of my children.

On Mother’s Day morning, I woke up completely exhausted.  I have been miserably failing in my attempts to sleep train Stela, and Mother’s Day eve was no exception.  I had agreed to speak in front of the White House on behalf of a group called “Mother’s of Lost Children.”  My speech was in less than two hours, and I wasn’t sure of what I would say.  I jotted some things down on my note cards, and decided to leave the rest up to the moment.  Despite my lack of concrete plans, however, me and Stela made our way down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As I walked up to the group, I was worried.  There were tons of mother’s dressed in all white, holding up huge signs full of painful statistics.  I couldn’t help but notice, however, the tourists in front of the White House who were milling around mostly appearing to be in a clueless cloud of carelessness.  For many of them, these women were just a backdrop in their White House experience.  In fact, I witnessed one tourist shoving in front of a mother and asking her to move so that she could get a better picture of her friend in front of the White House.

Despite my hesitation, however, I grabbed the bull horn as promised to speak to the crowd.  “My name is Hera McLeod,” I said.  “My son’s name was Prince.  He was killed in October 2012, while he was on what was just his fourth unsupervised visitation with his father.”  After I said this, I noticed several tourist turn around in what appeared to be anticipation of what I would say next.  The two tourist who had been vying for the picture, now seemed mildly interested.

Below is the speech I delivered, in front of the White House, to a bunch of tourists – hoping that one day my words would be heard by someone willing and able to effect change.

During the Civil Rights Movement in the 60′s the mistreatment of Black Americans reached such a dangerous level that it required federal oversight.  We have reached that level when it comes to Civil Rights violations that occur against our nation’s children.

Family Courts across our country are sanctioning the abuse and murder of our children.  As a mother who was legally forced to turn my son over to a serial killer, I am asking Mr. Obama and his administration for the following reforms:

1) Criminal accountability for psychological professionals who withhold key information, in cases where their negligence leads to the abuse and/or death of a child.

2)  Federal oversight of Father’s Rights Initiative funding to ensure that it stays out of the hands of known child abusers.  Federal funds should never go toward helping someone in their personal child custody case – this perpetuates legal abuse.

3)  Federal requirements for state courts to meet minimum standards of training for social workers and judges involved in Family Court.  This training would include child abuse and domestic violence recognition.

4)  In cases there child abuse and/or domestic violence have been reported, it would be federally mandated that the courts assign victim advocates.

5)  And finally, in cases where a Family Court decision has resulted in the child abuse and/or death of a child, states would be required to report to a federal oversight commission and adhere to an after action report to improve their system.  These federal oversight would help to prevent future atrocities.

After I finished my speech, I took a moment to look up at the sky and thank Prince.  I thanked him for choosing me as his mother, and I promised him that I would continue to fight for the children who would come after him.  This promise would be my way of continuing to mother him even after his death.

Then, I passed the bullhorn to the next mother.  The rest of the mother’s marched around the White House – I did not.  I spent the rest of the day with my angel who is here on earth – Estela.  We went for a walk, ate some Native American Fry Bread, and celebrated Mother’s Day with Grandma.

I am thankful for both of my children.  In their own ways, they have made me a better mother – they have made me a stronger woman – and they have made me the best version of myself.

 

 

 

 

 

I Stand Today…Because I Believe

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I have a confession to make.  Before I met my son, I wasn’t sure I believed in God.  I wasn’t an atheist, but I would have considered myself agnostic.  I grew up Christian, and wanted to believe in God, but I didn’t feel as if I had really connected with any higher power.  Then, God sent me an angel.

I have always been quiet about my beliefs.  I am 33 years old, and my entire life I have been on a journey to define what it is that I believe.  After Prince was born, and I learned that I had been in a relationship with a monstrous man, I felt a strong need to go to church.  I wanted more than ever to connect with God, and ask for help.

Finding a church:

The first step in my process was to choose a place of worship.  For a couple of months, I would take Prince to a new church every weekend.  I wanted to find a place where we would feel like a family.  At first, I worried that we would never find this place.  For months, every church we went into felt like trying to fit a square into a round hole.  As soon as the organs would play, or sometimes even five seconds after we walked through the door, Prince would scream at the top of his lungs as if someone was cutting his head off.

Just as I was about to give up hope of ever finding a church for my family, I found Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, MD.  Our first day at church I was nervous.  As the service began, I cautiously looked at Prince while also searching for the nearest exit – just in case.  The organ began to boom, and I closed my eyes and waited for the blood curdling screams to begin.  Instead of screaming, however, Prince smiled and began to dance.  That was the day we found our church.

The Journey:

My faith didn’t come together as soon as I found a church.  I have to admit that, at first, I attended services each week and remained skeptical.  I would ask God each week why the had created my ex, and why he would allow for such terrible things to happen to my family.  I wondered when the chaos of Family Court would end, and if I would survive the fight.  I worried about Prince, and prayed that he would be alright.

When Prince was killed, I was devastated.  His death initially made me question my faith even more.  There were times when I thought that it might be easier just to kill myself so that if there was a heaven, I could go there and be with my son.  Then, I started dreaming about Prince.  In my dreams, he never spoke to me.  He would always smile at me, and somehow even without words tell me that he had chosen me because he knew I would not give up.

Finding my faith:

I believe in God.  My faith was not automatic.  Through my grieving process for my son, I have given a lot of thought to his life and mine.  A lot of things happened, that were out of the ordinary, to put me into contact with Luc.  It was as if Prince came down on a mission, and that he had chosen me to be his mother.  For those who don’t believe in God, this might be hard to understand.  For me, I had a hard time believing until I literally was given the opportunity to meet an angel – my son Prince.

I will never be “at peace” with how my son left this earth; however, I thank God every day for sending him to me.  Part of the reason I was able to survive his murder, is because I know he had a purpose.  I also know that I have one too.  Before the loss of Prince, I hated when people would say, “God never gives us more than we can bear.”  I used to think, ‘really?  because this sure seems pretty damn unbearable!’

For the majority of Prince’s life, I tried to find ways to protect and save him.  Since his death, I have thought a lot about how many things went so terribly wrong.  I think a lot about how epically bad so many things in our justice system truly are - how the Prince William County police ignored so much of Luc’s criminal behavior for so many years, how The Martinez family lied to me about Luc being related to them, how a Virginia lawyer (John Rockhind) supported Luc’s lies as if he wanted him to appear more legitimate, and how finally it was a Virginia child therapist (Margaret Wong) who withheld information from a judge in order to ensure Luc would get unsupervised access to Prince.  It was as if Prince was on a mission to expose the failures of our system, and to save victims who would come after him.

In the past four years since I met Luc, I sometimes feel as though I have lived 10 entire lifetimes.  When I wake up every day, I realize that God gave me Prince because I could bear everything that came with him.  I was blessed to have 15 months with my angel, but that came with a price.  Prince chose me because he knew I wouldn’t remain silent.  He knew that there were things about this place that needed changing, and he knew that I would see to it that they get changed.

 

Last night, I went to see my sister’s last acapella concert with her group The Soundbytes.  She sang my son’s favorite song “Gravity” by Sara Bereilles.  I had planned on bringing my son to see her sing several times, but he was killed before I ever had the chance to bring him.  As I watched the performance last night, with Stela sitting on my lap, I actually felt as if Prince was sitting in the chair next to me.  The look of joy on Stela’s face as she heard my sister sing was amazing.  I was able to see a glimmer of the joy Prince had, through the eyes of his sister.

Some might think less of my faith because it took me so long, and I literally had to meet an angel, to truly believe; however, the incredible things that I have gone through in the past four years have likely made my faith stronger than many.  It didn’t come easy for me.  I had to fight for it, and I had to suffer greatly.  I am not about to jump on a Nike swipe proclaiming the end of the earth (due to an odd interpretation of the bible).  You won’t see me preaching to random strangers in an attempt to recruit them to my faith.  I share my story for those who might also be searching for answers, and hoping to find something they can hang onto in an attempt to define their faith.

I believe that God works in mysterious ways.  What happens in your life might not always make sense.  You might feel as though you have hit rock bottom.  People often ask me how I am able to get out of bed, stand on two feet, and continue living.  I often don’t have the time to go into a real explanation, but the short answer is this – I am standing in part because of my son.  I am standing because I believe there is a reason for me to be standing, just as there is a reason I am Prince’s mother.