I can cook Malaysian food, I can fix computers and I can speak a bunch of languages.
These are the skills I’ve accumulated over the years as a Malaysian street food expert, IT consultant and BA (Languages) graduate.
You know what I’m completely clueless about? Human psychology.
Over the last few weeks since I found out about Demarest’s deceptions, I’ve tried to read up on it. I saw the term “sociopath” in blogger John Craig’s writings, and it struck a chord because it described Demarest accurately.
Then when the story broke, I was contacted by other people who have had similar experiences. Comparing notes with them has helped me to wrap my head around Demarest’s behaviour, which I had thought was an isolated case.
One of these is Australian blogger Laura at http://bossandthepudding.blogspot.com.au/ .
She had coincidentally written a 6-part series about someone close to her who spent TWELVE YEARS with a sexual conman in the same mould as Demarest.
This person groomed three women into believing they were in exclusive relationships with him right here in Sydney. When he was due to move to the Middle East, he even tried to convince them to relocate there with him. One had her plane ticket in hand when his lies finally came undone at the airport.
The parallels with Demarest are uncanny. Demarest proposed marriage, talked babies and weddings and tried to get 4 different women to uproot their lives and move in with him – all at the same time. (Five, if you count the conversation he had about moving to be with yours truly in Australia, though that later morphed into talk about reuniting in Vietnam instead.)
His Swedish fiancée spent a year planning to move to Florida.
Another woman was weeks from relocating with her young child over 1000 miles to be with him; she was actively house-hunting based on his prompting. They’d even picked a wedding venue.
These are not even the most abhorrent or destructive of his actions – I’ll cover those in future posts.
I’ve no idea how these men planned to pull off their elaborate schemes, but I love Laura’s psychological insights both in her writing and in my conversations with her.
Laura talked about emotional abuse. I had to look up what it means –
“Emotional abuse is abuse that occurs when a person is subjected to behaviours or actions (often repeatedly) aimed at preventing or controlling their behaviour, with the intent to cause them emotional harm or fear through manipulation, isolation or intimidation” (ABS, 2014).
This describes what the Demarest women went through during their relationships.
One example of many – woman #7 experienced a trigger the other day, nearly 4 weeks after breaking up with him, when she visited a hairdresser.
Traumatised by memories of Demarest’s rage-filled outbursts and control about her hair length, she couldn’t bring herself to have her hair trimmed beyond what he would allow.
Woman #6 has a similar story about Demarest going berserk when she had her hair cut back in November.
We agree he was oppressive and stressful to be around, and yet he always managed to worm his way back into our affections.
From Laura’s blog –
As a broader issue, this story illustrates just how subtle, intricate, pervasive and devastating emotional abuse can be….the issue of domestic violence and emotional abuse is a far too prevalent and toxic element in today’s society. Being such an intimate and shame-filled experience, it is rarely shared openly.
Laura also talked about Gaslighting – another new term by me. Wikipedia describes it as such –
Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun (or) selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.
This has been Demarest’s technique when challenged – both before and since the story came out. He sent me a series of messages and I refuse to engage him for this reason. The women that did in the hope he would admit wrongdoing have come away confused, distraught and humiliated.
Other terms that Laura mentioned are BPD and NPD – borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. I’m still playing catch-up with these meanings, but I am alarmed that I’ve gone through life never realising there are such destructive people out there that are seemingly normal, high-functioning individuals.
My own experience of going public shows me that society downplays the damage these sociopaths inflict, so I’m encouraged to read of Laura’s take on this (emphases mine) –
…not all wounds are physical and the ones we can’t see are often the most difficult to recover from…
…the victims are left to deal with a legacy of fear and lingering doubt, while also protecting the abuser with a code of silence…
Our society expects victims to politely take their trauma and deal with it behind closed doors lest it make the rest of us feel uncomfortable.
(http://bossandthepudding.blogspot.com.au – Not a Fairy Tale Parts 1-6)
That last quote encapsulates the reactions I’ve received from writing and sharing about Demarest. Despite constant reminders that in order for this story to stick, I NEED to create depth and width in my content, I keep being told to “move on and heal” by patronizing do-gooders.
Writing and sharing IS my way of moving on and healing – and if you think it’s tacky, please ignore my posts on social media or simply unfollow me.
One final intriguing aspect about the women in Laura’s story is this –
What they all have found…is that they have a ready-made support group unlike any other; a group who understands almost EXACTLY what the others have experienced. They know the intimate details of each other’s pain and suffering.
This again matches the experience of the women in the Demarest scandal.
A close-knit group of us continue to support and talk to each other on a near-daily basis. I may be the one yelling from the rooftops about this jerk, but I’ve got a cheer squad behind the scenes that keeps me going.
(As with all my posts, my claims are drawn directly from conversations with the women who have come forward. Transcripts and other evidence available on request.)
Read Laura’s story here >> http://bossandthepudding.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/not-fairytale-part-1.html