Many people hope a psychological evaluation will help them convince the courts of what the victim already knows–that the abuser is a narcissist or sociopath. The truth is, the same predator that fooled you can fool even the most experienced psychologist when they put on the full show.
I thought for sure the narcopath was a very, very clear and obvious diagnosis. He’d been diagnosed at least twice before with various cluster B disorders. He’d lost a professional license. He’d been kicked out of the military. He had a criminal history. His work records were abysmal and filled with descriptions of bullying co-workers. Some people told me that after first meeting him, they immediately knew he was a sociopath. His entire history was basically a checklist of the symptoms of anti-social personality disorder. Textbook and easily proven. Our marriage therapist told me he was “obvious and extreme” and that “any good psychologist would see it clearly.” She said she had faith that her colleagues would see what she saw.
Sadly, my therapist over estimated her colleagues. I initially consulted with an attorney and told her my story. She believed me, but she told me that in these situations, the woman with the stories of extreme abuse is usually considered unstable because people cannot believe the stories of very bad abuse are true. (Sadly, they are.) She told me that the victims usually perform poorly on a mental health evaluation due to the lingering effects of trauma. She also warned me that the abusers didn’t have that trauma, but they did have power and control, so they came out looking stable. I thought for sure the truth would overcome. I thought for sure my therapist was right. I thought if I just told the evaluator what I’d seen and endured, he’d understand what I had already realized about my narcopath ex.
The first sign of trouble was that his website advertised he was a specialist in “alienation.” Frankly, “alienation” is the term abusers use when they have behaved so badly that the other parent is rightfully afraid for the child’s safety with the abuser. The “alienation” label does more harm than good, and punishes the loving parent for wanting to protect the child from a severe abuser. Narcopaths use it as a tool to gain sympathy and try to win custody. They use it to abuse the system.
I was stunned when I saw the results of the evaluation. In many ways, it was the exact opposite of reality. He had projected my ex’s history onto me. I thought the papers were switched at first. The evaluator had accused me of things my ex did–that I had never done and would never do. I had actual hard evidence showing that my ex had done many of the things listed, and yet the evaluator pinned them on me. I didn’t see my ex’s evaluation, but I do know that the evaluator failed to diagnose ASPD or NPD and instead theorized that I was inventing the abuse to alienate the abuser…even though I had submitted documentation of his bullying, abuse, and assaults on other women. HARD evidence. How in the world could I be making it up while half a dozen other people had cases against him? It was like being in the Twilight Zone.
The evaluator had zero clue about domestic violence or the resulting trauma. Not one bit. I have no idea how he got so far in the field without knowing what any DV counselor sees in one day. Oddly enough, I later worked with a local woman who was divorced from an abusive narcissist local psychologist. She confided in me that after seeing her husband’s peers in social situations over the years, she wouldn’t trust a single one of them. I sadly nodded my agreement.
Still, my story has a good ending. In a way.
Because the evaluation determined the narcopath was “safe,” he was then allowed to be alone with my child for the first time. Within his first couple visits, he became raging and violent at drop-offs with third party witnesses. Apparently, once he felt safe and thought he had the upper-hand due to the incredibly inaccurate evaluation, he let loose with his real self.
In court, the flawed evaluation was discredited by actual facts, and the abuser’s ongoing behavior. It was not used. Despite the insanity we had to go through to get to that point, there was a tiny bit of justice in the end.
Although I had as good of an ending as I could have in this situation, I would not trust an evaluation again. Even a professional can be fooled when the sociopath puts on the full act, and even a psychologist can be a cluster B.