Nina’s interview: Part 3 – Healing and the quest for justice
LLO: For those not as familiar with narcopaths, the wake of your ex’s destruction may sound like it is of epic proportions – especially given you really don’t know the total ‘body count,’ so to speak, of all the women with whom he’s been involved. The depth and breadth of his deception is so remarkable, it leads one to wonder how he got anything done other than pursuing his romantic liaisons. It also sounds like he was involved in deceiving some of his employers, as well.
Yes! We all agree that his greatest life accomplishment is nothing more than the juggling of so many women and the maintenance of this exceptionally complex scam. This long-running, RICO-proportioned hoax is arguably where he invested the majority of his time and talent. Not a very virtuous legacy or noble tombstone inscription, to be sure!
Although we unearth more incriminating information with each passing day, it’s unlikely we’ll ever understand the entire scope of his treachery. Just when we think we’ve heard it all, some new contemptible enterprise or deed is brought to light rendering us speechless.
Last week, a few of us were blindsided with harassing visits at our residences from private investigators brandishing threats dispatched by his attorney buddy! As if it weren’t traumatic enough to be menaced in our own living rooms by this predator pretending all the while to be our protector, he saw it necessary to antagonize and injure us further by directing hired bullies to harass us on our doorsteps? It’s just outrageous.
As with the Harvey Weinstein case, the floodgates have opened. Our ex’s misdeeds and abuse are pouring forth with great force and momentum; there‘s no turning back. More and more people – girlfriends and acquaintances – are coming forward, corroborating what’s already been shared, and speaking about similar personal experiences with him.
There are too many of us to malign and discredit as witnesses.
One witness is his recent civilian physician supervisor who went on record and confirmed – after studying our accounts – he employed his “I’m being called away to extraordinary military service” ruse with her on numerous occasions to get extra time off from work.
So, it seems this tactic wasn’t just a scheme he used to cover up time away with other women. I suppose he was certain these types of manipulations would be successful as no boss would ever refuse Uncle Sam!
And like most of our accounts, this can be backed up with hard evidence. This is not a “he said, we said” situation.
In working with the POW Network’s False Warrior initiative, we were provided with his official military service records via the Freedom of Information Act. From these documents, we verified none of these additional stateside or international “missions” reported to girlfriends or this particular superior ever took place. What’s more, the records confirmed he spent about 75% less time on Middle East tours of duty than he boasted to reporters or on the Match.com profiles he posted. He hadn’t been assigned overseas since 2007.
It’s pathetic he had to augment the authentic days of desert service he actually did perform, as if that somehow wasn’t adequate. And it’s contemptible he would abuse his military status to deceive not only his many girlfriends, but his employers as well.
Again and again and in so many ways, he took insidious advantage of the enhanced position of trust being a doctor and military officer afforded.
This misconduct and fabrication regarding his military service must be accounted for and brought out in the open. His association with the armed forces played an enormous part in establishing our admiration and trust, and he habitually exploited his bearing and rank – his military access and the good will of his fellow service members – to lie, cheat, and deceive countless women, children and institutions.
His military ranking and connections are the fundamental aspects which allowed him to perpetuate this scam for so many years. This unethical conduct – now being recorded and confirmed by so many in the community, not just girlfriends – must cease immediately and be officially addressed.
LLO: I neglected to ask you if you know of any circumstances connected to his medical employment regarding his actions.
There were several official actionable reports filed and interviews conducted. Given the information and supporting evidence we have, anyone would be concerned about the general state of mind and efficacy of an individual afflicted with these types of compulsions and conduct. His behavior is not normal by any means, and it’s certainly not in line with the medical profession’s objective and oath of “first, do no harm”.
LLO: Nina, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and maybe sound a little like a defense attorney, but with helpful intentions as these questions may already be circulating among readers or, more likely, an actual defense attorney for your former boyfriend.
When we were talking about your ex-husband, it sounded like you referred to him as “my first husband,” but quickly corrected yourself as you’ve only been married once, correct? In your mind, do you think the doctor’s future-faking was so believable, on some level, you felt as if you were already married to him?
I absolutely believed we were going to be married. There was no question about it. And it was not something I just hoped for, but something he repeatedly reinforced to me, my parents, and my children. From the very beginning, it was he who established the tone of our relationship as serious and permanent. Remember, I had come out of a horrific, deceit-ridden marriage and was carrying around a profound amount of shame and embarrassment. I felt no one would ever want to shoulder the burden of that with me. Feeling like “damaged goods”, I wouldn’t dare initiate any conversation regarding commitment. But my ex constantly reiterated how devoted he was to me, how he was not like my ex-husband and never would be, and continuously painted a glorious picture of our future together, despite the fact he was in fact just scoping out a pit-stop after leaving his wife and children while dodging restraining order ultimatums from previous mistresses.
And why would I think otherwise?
- He was attentive, loving and generous.
- He showered me with extravagant gifts, like a Rolex watch only a few months into our relationship. (It was later revealed in expense receipts uncovered from his home computer purchases for other girlfriends’ pricey timepieces like a Breitling, Cartier, and Tiffany jewelry as well as numerous sparkly baubles that did not find their way into his wife’s jewelry box).
- He and I retained a realtor and went house-hunting together.
- We had keys to one another’s homes.
- He talked about taking me to Italy for our honeymoon and what kind of wedding ring he would wear.
- He “just knew our daughters would get along so well together”.
- He often emailed articles about long-married, elderly couples who’d died within hours of one another with the message: “this will be us”.
Though of course, throughout my nearly 4-year relationship with him, he was replicating this exact model of devotion concurrently with other women and repeating these identical rituals in order to future-fake and deceive them as well.
I’ve heard so many accounts of dancing to the very same love songs, the pledging of carbon copy love assurances – we were even given identical pet names!
Again, what sort of disordered mind would behave like this with so many women – just for entertainment? Should a person like this be in command of military personnel? Do patients want this personality type acting as a trusted physician? Would you trust a diagnosis rendered from this individual?
Would you want him to evaluate what medication you should be prescribed?
His award-worthy acting con convinced us all he was just the perfect boyfriend and soon-to-be husband and stepfather.
But I want to make one thing crystal clear: I never would have welcomed him into my life had I known about his secret, deceitful intentions. I never would have spoken to him had I known he was still living at home with his wife, using his friend’s river house to cheat with a waitress, sending several women the same wake-up text every morning, siphoning cash out of joint marital assets to pay for seedy hotels, calling me from behind the locked door of his other girlfriends’ bathrooms – or any of his countless transgressions borne out of his colossal scam.
I chose to be with this man because he actively promoted himself as NOT being that type of person. He aggressively championed his virtue. And that’s why he personifies the textbook definition of fraud.
LLO: Given the depth of your feelings and the degree of deception on his part, how is this not just a woman- or women-scorned revenge plot?
I can understand how many – mostly men – would like to characterize this as such. That would be simplistic, and unfortunately, it’s been the stereotypical societal reaction whenever women stand up to evil, bad boy behavior.
Our response is this…
We are not the Shakespearean “scorned” women. The fact of the matter is we are the ones who rejected HIM. Once the true nature of his lies and abuse were revealed, WE were the ones who were repulsed and retreated. We were the ones who left. There isn’t one former girlfriend who, after learning of his disordered behavior, wants anything to do with him.
This is our experience. We own everything that happened to us, and to suggest we somehow don’t have the right to speak the truth about it or characterize it as vengeful or hysterical is the same women-hating and silencing crap predatory men have been trying to get us to internalize since the beginning of time.
Sorry, it just doesn’t play anymore.
In preparing for these interviews, so many previously forgotten memories have been coming up of my interactions with this man:
I remembered a time when I was becoming very uncomfortable by a man who was making inappropriate comments about my appearance. When I shared this with my ex, he had a very curious reaction, a reaction I didn’t understand then but can absolutely see through today.
Upon hearing the news of another man being inappropriate with me, my ex grew enraged that someone was speaking to me in an untoward manner. He relentlessly badgered me about all the ways I should report and fight back and make trouble for this creepy guy, which I judged to be a totally overboard and unnecessary response at the time. He then blew this up into a situation where he wasn’t satisfied with my response, was suspicious of my actual intentions, and was now “experiencing trust issues” which required “some time away to think about our relationship”. I was left abandoned and bewildered!
Later, this episode was illuminated when one of the girlfriends filled me in about their Jersey shore house-hunting weekends during this exact time, and their attendance at a family picnic at the home of his military guard friend that I was originally scheduled to attend!
I mention this at this time only because my ex seems to have a problem now with we girlfriends coming forward and speaking out about the persistent, abusive, fraudulent experiences we all endured from him. But note, he had no issue pressuring me into taking large-scale, punitive action regarding speaking out about behavior I received from another man that was, at worst, just sporadically lewd and crass.
LLO: What do you hope to accomplish by exposing your ex?
Our foremost goal is to educate and inform the community of his particular predatory scam and methods of operation, so no more women and children have to endure the abuse and deception we went through.
Being an unsuspecting, innocent piece on his chessboard of deceit is not only emotionally and physically harmful, it is a colossal waste of time. He is never going to change; these perpetrators never do. This was his vocation – he was massively entertained by the success of his manipulations and our ignorance of his true motivations. And really, for what? We were all just overlapping puppets in his cheap and petty games, nothing more.
We do not want him in a position to abuse another unsuspecting human being.
LLO: Let’s talk a little about healing from narcissistic abuse. In your last set of answers, you said one of your daughters took the approach to forgive him, pray, and write a letter to him related to the cognitive dissonance she was naturally feeling. Did this process help her to heal? What about your other daughter who responded by making fun of him and saying she never liked him anyway? How is she doing?
My daughters are pretty much typical teens – they are doing OK these days. As their sole parent, I naturally worry about how this will ultimately affect them. I do wonder how their exposure to this experience might factor in their lives going forward.
I try to do what I can and keep communication open regarding relationships, men, boys, deception and those kinds of topics, and we do discuss matters.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it; this had an impact on our family. There have been some tough times.
And it’s not just my children. Other women’s children had this man in their lives as well, and established relationships with him and all the expectations that came from those bonds.
I always insist I can process this experience as an adult and with adult sensibilities. But – our children?
We still cannot comprehend the special depth of cruelty and disregard so deeply-rooted as to involve so many children in this horrendous deception and scam. And not just from our ex – but from his sister and brother-in-law, too, who fed and laughed and joked with my kids. At any time, they could have stood up and done the right thing by telling us the truth.
But time and time again, their conscious decision was to continue remaining silent and intentionally lie while aiding and abetting a predator who was harming me, my family, and other women and families simultaneously.
I’m reminded of another account when his sister acted as a go-between, handing over her brother’s cash to one of his mistresses so the mistress could retain a divorce attorney. His sister’s involvement and willingness to participate alleviated any chance of suspicions from my ex’s wife who would have been alerted to any unusual activity in their shared marital bank account.
Honestly, there are no words to address the magnitude of how sad and twisted his sister’s behavior truly is. The girls can’t get over it. No person of good will can.
Although, it’s been an opportunity for indelible life lessons, too. Sometimes folks come into your life as shining examples of exactly how NOT to be. My daughters and I have had quite a few conversations about how we NEVER want to be people like his sister and brother-in-law.
LLO: Before I discarded my ex-malignant-narcissistic (narcopathic) boyfriend, I started conducting research on narcissism and delved into books, articles and videos on the topic throughout the breakup and afterward. I, too, listened pervasively to H.G. Tudor for as long as I could stomach the self-proclaimed ‘elite’ narcissist. At the time, I called this all-consuming processing ‘getting a PhD in narcissism.’ Did you find this educational process helped you, the other women or your children heal? If so, how?
Even before I started to research narcissistic sociopathy, just talking to all the other women involved was a massive help in understanding exactly what sort of entity we were dealing with. Remember, before we all came together, most of our experiences were just solitary, and we could only view them through the prism of what we mistakenly thought was an ordinary man-woman relationship. We had no concept we were all just pawns in a far-reaching, complex predatory scheme.
To this day, we still shake our heads in amazement at the scope and breadth of how long and far this scam bled into every aspect of his life, employment, vocation – it infected everything and everyone he came into contact with.
Coming together set up a template and foundation about the education we needed to pursue. As many survivors can attest, we found our offender to be textbook in so many ways! So much of the literature or accounts we discovered read as if they were written using illustrations of our personal experiences – that is how similar these narcopaths are. Once schooled in their ways, my ex’s behavior seems very pedestrian and predictable to us now.
- These offenders hysterically and forcefully deny any culpability or guilt.
- They fabricate outlandish smear campaigns against their accusers.
- They attempt to transfer their bad behavior onto their victims.
- They employ bullying and threatening tactics in an attempt to shut down anyone courageous enough to speak out against them, and recruit others in their close circle to assist in keeping whistleblowers down and silent.
We’ve certainly seen this behavior from our ex, not only recently, but reported by many women throughout the past 20 or so years. It’s just what they do, it’s what our ex does, and it’s to be expected.
But like Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby – many, many women are recounting the exact same story of manipulation and abuse.
Are we really expected to believe dozens of women band together in a vast conspiracy because it’s fun? Because they’re angry about being rejected?
That’s ridiculous! What’s more, it defies probability.
The reason we’re telling the same story – Harvey’s victims, Bill’s victims, and my ex’s victims – is because our stories are true — these predators have a pattern.
Reading the literature and accounts from other survivors as well as the clinical reports from professionals in the mental and medical healthcare fields regarding this condition was highly informative.
I’ve also done an enormous amount of research into the present legal climate as it regards the prosecution and handling of these romance scam perpetrators.
A handful of states in the U.S. recognize this predation with protections that permit prosecution under “rape by fraud” or “sexual battery/contact by fraud”. I would encourage everyone victimized by a romance scam to study the advocacy work in this field by Joyce Short.
Unfortunately for us, Pennsylvania is not currently one of the states. The basic understanding of the statutes is this:
- Our ex fully and continuously misrepresented himself over an extended period of time to all of us in every way – marital and health status, monogamy status, military status, residential status, intentional status, etc.
- He did so to lure us into a relationship with him.
- Based on his assertions, we believed to have an understanding of what we were getting into.
- Had he been truthful regarding any of those issues, most of the relationships he had with women NEVER would have commenced and most certainly would not have continued.
To somewhat understand, I would liken it to the “Lemon Laws” we have concerning vehicles. It a basic common law tenet — one cannot consent to anything without being provided all the pertinent and factual information.
Contract breaches are litigated every day because of fraud. Rape by fraud is no different.
Again, we all maintain these were not relationships soured or gone bad. They were never relationships at all. They were systematic, serial predations and premeditated frauds from their very conception.
A bond never would have been formed had the actual parameters been confirmed or exposed. Our ex’s intent from the very beginning was to defraud and deceive and therefore, harm.
Like all serial offenders, he employed a particular methodology and a compulsive victimology. Our autonomy and freedom to choose was hampered and obstructed over time, again and again, using cunning and devious means.
Any decent member of the community would agree his behavior is immoral, unethical, and wrong, especially originating from a military officer and a doctor – OUR personal, prescription prescribing physician!
There should be a standard legislative means in place to protect victims and pursue justice in these matters going forward. Legal experts in this field evaluated our case and agree we have a textbook case and overwhelming physical evidence to submit. We’ve also discussed a class-action suit – we just wish we presently had the opportunity to formally have our day in court under these protections, because we maintain these types of crimes were indeed committed.
Had we resided in another state, this story would be playing out very differently.
One of our goals is to continue the work already begun with our local congressional representative regarding reporting our ex and to further bring awareness of this legal loophole. Hopefully, our voices and story will someday play a part in the passing of rape by fraud legislation in the state of Pennsylvania.
We’re also looking to work on some initiatives concerning advocacy for military spouses and children. We’re speaking to others who, like us, are frustrated by what they’re finding to be lack of cooperation and even collusion with the military offender when reporting the unbecoming conduct of one of their own.
We’re told our story might be helpful in some future legislative and educational initiatives. There’s valuable work ahead of us, and sharing our experience will help and protect others.
LLO: What other steps have you taken to heal?
This is an amazing time to be a survivor with a story to tell! I’d like to address how overwhelmed both I and all the women are regarding the current media climate and how our story seemed to be exactly in sync with the exposure of Harvey Weinstein’s loathsome behavior and the enormous societal shift in the way women are being heard.
I am moved by the sudden tipping point society is experiencing regarding standing up and speaking out. Disgraced men in positions of power are being exposed – Bill Cosby, O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, the list just keeps growing.
All of these predators banked on the silence of seemingly powerless women. They all depended on society’s lazy propensity to disbelieve a voice crying out against reprehensible conduct.
Amazingly, we’ve come into a time where we are asserting ourselves and recording our accounts and not being afraid of the bullying or silencing or smearing waiting to slap us down and keep us quiet.
This whole tidal shift is incredibly empowering and healing.
Because I was so shocked and intimidated at the time by the “big, impressive, well-connected” military doctor, one of the last responses I could muster up in my confusion to feebly squeak out to my ex was:
“You’re not a very nice person!”
Well, I’m here now to speak out, record, and prove my ex is a calculatedly destructive individual. Standing with me are many others who experienced the same trauma at his hand, and there are scores more survivors and supporters who back up and believe me.
LLO: What does healing from narcopathic abuse look like to you? What does it feel like?
One of the largest components, I believe, was the ability to forgive myself.
When I first discovered my ex’s great deception, I honestly didn’t know at whom I was angrier – him or me. I was initially very unforgiving of myself for not understanding what happened and for not realizing I was just one of the many puppets in his pitiful show.
But the self-shame and self-pity didn’t last long thanks to my research.
Information and knowledge is edifying and empowering. Arming myself with the skills necessary to analyze and finally understand the effectiveness of the tactics used by these predators, my ex in particular, was very essential for my self-forgiveness, growth, development, and healing process.
I also remained humble and reminded myself I’m not a perfect person; I’ve made my share of mistakes, too.
Although, self-realization and understanding played an enormous role, paramount to my healing was self-forgiveness.
LLO: Are you there yet? If so, how do you know? If not, what do you plan to do for yourself to get there?
It’s a process, and I’m getting there. It’s a continuous journey, to be sure.
My friendships with the other women and their insights and kindness play an enormous part. We can all see ourselves in each other, and from each other we’ve learned so much. We’ve an extremely unique support group! I am always seeing a different perspective or point of view through their eyes, and having friends who went through the exact same hardships I endured is an enormous asset. I’ve been privileged to celebrate with them as they’ve marked off new adventures, successes, and milestones in their lives, which illustrate a promise I will get there, too.
As far as how I will continue, self-care plays another large part.
I’ve been eating more nutritious foods, I’ve started to practice mindfulness and yoga, and I’ve been taking care to cultivate better sleeping habits.
And I’m not ashamed to say I sought counseling, which is something I absolutely recommend.
An out-of-the-blue discovery of your fabulous boyfriend proving he romanced a quintuplet of nearly identical women the duration of your relationship pretty much demands some sort of therapeutic intervention – STAT!
There is no way something like this can be dumped in your lap in such a cruel and sudden way without leaving you flailing in emotional quicksand. It’s best to seek guidance for both you and your family to navigate it.
LLO: People don’t often talk about healing from narcissistic abuse. There’s such a focus on the narcissist and what they’re doing or have done. Consequently, I found knowing where I was in my healing was a challenge. That’s why I like this blog post by Kim Saeed, as it provides seven signs indicating you have healed.
I’d like to close the interview with gratitude. So, thank you, Nina, for sharing your story and, Paula, for all you’re doing to help survivors of this invisible yet enveloping epidemic.
An abundance of thanks to Paula and you, Stefanie, for your guidance, help, and advice during this tremendously life-affirming process. And an enormous amount of love and gratitude to the sisterhood that has sustained and encouraged me! Your unwavering friendship and support have been my inspiration.
And to all the survivors who bravely came forward during this inspiring, new tectonic-shift regarding the changing perception and growing acceptance of formerly silenced, overpowered voices:
“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke” – Benjamin Disraeli