Donna Andersen unwittingly married a sociopath, someone who has an anti-social disorder. She has now devoted her work to spreading the dangers of exploitive relationships and has written two books, “Love Fraud” and “Red Flags of Love Fraud.”
Shippensburg University will be hosting Andersen as a guest speaker on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Ceddia Union Building in the Multi-purpose Rooms B and C. Her lecture, “Red Flags of Love Fraud,” will include her own personal story, ways to recognize a sociopath and how to escape from an abusive relationship.
After two years of marriage, Andersen said her ex-husband had slowly stripped her of a quarter million dollars and cheated on her with six other women. Yet it was not until after the divorce that Andersen consulted a therapist who said her husband showed all the signs of a sociopath.
“I did not know exactly what a sociopath was,” Andersen said.
This left Andersen wondering how she, a college graduate and educated woman, could have been completely clueless about sociopaths. It is part of the reason she feels it is so important to inform others of the danger of sociopaths.
They are unable to love, Andersen said, and have no feelings and no empathy for others. Sociopaths will lie and deceive for power and control.
The picture that media paints of sociopaths as the violent and blood-covered serial killers is not true, Andersen said.
While they were married, Andersen said her husband would shower her with attention, continually tell her that she was the perfect person to work alongside him and constantly apologize for his mistakes.
Although Andersen’s husband never physically abused her, it was still an abusive marriage. All sociopaths are abusive in relationships although not all sociopaths are abusive in the same way, Andersen said.
Andersen presented two studies of sociopaths in June 2013 to The Society for Scientific Study of Psychopathy, an international organization of which she is a member.
One of the two studies, “In Love with an Exploiter: How Age Effects the Harm Experienced by Romantic Partners,” showed that the younger people are when they become involved with a sociopath, the more psychological, physical and financial scarring they will experience.
It is the reason Andersen targets her message to people between the ages of 14 and 30, she said.
It is a bigger problem than most people realize, and it can affect both men and women. There are male and female sociopaths and both display the same kind of behavior, she said.
“The most important thing to do is to break it off completely,” Andersen said to those in an exploitive relationship.