1. Virginia, what is your debut book, Snowed, about?
The book is about a man that I fell deeply in love with and married. He was charismatic, attractive, smart, and as I would later find out a sociopath.
2. What inspired you to share your story?
I wanted to help other women who were in a pathological love relationship to identify psychopathic traits, deception, and emotional manipulation, how to end the relationship, and how to heal from it.
3. Do you fear retribution from your ex-husband?
Yes, I do. He was a con artist to the nth degree and a charismatic sociopath. He prided himself in being perfect and any mistakes in his life were not made by him but by others to him. If he were to be exposed to others as to who he really was, that would enrage him. Even though he always made the appearance of being laid back and calm and cool under pressure.
4. You fell into a relationship with someone you eventually came to know, and realize was a pathological liar. In reflecting back, were there warning signs that you missed or ignored?
The first lie, that was my warning, and I missed it. White lies, small lies, big lies, they are all lies. A lie is a lie.
5. It’s hard to see the negatives when you are in love, isn’t it?
Yes, it is very hard to see any negativity when in love. That dopamine in our brain is so strong. It is at this very point in the beginning of a relationship when one has nothing to lose, before their heart gets any deeper in love, that a person should pay close attention to the things that this new love interest is saying, as well as saying and not doing.
6. What should women do when they see that the man they are with is not who they thought he was?
If they are a sociopath, they need to walk, actually run - away. They do not need to apologize, nor do they do not need to give any explanation to the man. The less they say the better. Because this is the type of man that has an answer for everything. You will get yourself in an unending loop and only make this type of man more determined to not let you go because his fear of losing control over you will kick in. Control is the name of his game.
7. How did you finally break free?
I first broke free when I learned that this love relationship that I had with Liam was an addiction, that the long “building a foundation’ stuff he kept putting me through was only making the chemicals in my brain become more addicted to him. And that the only way to break free from him was by no verbal communication and no physical proximity communication. Like a drug addict, I had to go cold turkey. I knew it and it was so very hard. I longed to see him and talk to him so much it hurt physically. Some days I thought I was going to explode and other days I thought I was going to implode. When I was able to psychologically really break free was when I spoke to his ex-wives and they told me their story with this same pathological liar. I could never believe the counselors that Liam would purposefully hurt me, until I spoke to the two women that had been in the same type of relationship that I had been in with the same person.
8. What advice do you have for the millions of women in an unhealthy relationship?
Don’t wait for something to change. You cannot change a sociopath. You must get out.
9. In your case, you weren’t a naïve teen-ager but a 40ish, divorced woman who successfully helped run a large family farm and cattle ranch. What was it about Liam, a good-looking and charismatic guy, that lured you in to his world?
The irony of that is that, he transformed himself into everything that he thought I would be attracted to and desired, and was interested in. He was a master of disguise.
10. What does your book’s title mean?
Maybe the word was used back in the 70’s more than it is now, but it always referenced being duped by someone. If a person gets “Snowed”, they have been deceived, hoodwinked, or swindled, or persuaded completely without notice until its already done and usually by a charming smooth unassuming individual.
11. Once you got out of a destructive relationship, you tracked down his two ex-wives, each of whom told you a similar story. What did you learn?
This is when I learned that he truly was a sociopath. This is what I had not wanted to believe from the counselors that specialized in pathological love relationships. I had still been blinded by this love addiction. The similar story was that he made himself up to be what each of them were about at that time. Mirroring them finding out what their fears were so that he could play the savior and “help” them, and actually exploiting their fears. But in the end, he became the victim, when he couldn’t keep the fantasy going, he then faulted you and turned things around to make you feel terrible and that he was the one being abused and unloved. When in a pathological relationship with a sociopath, this is not when there are two sides to every story as that saying goes. It does not apply here.
12. Were there some good memories and great times during your relationship?
I would say there were good memories on a couple of road trips across the Southern States and the Midwest, but only because the scenery was so spectacular and the history I found interesting. Once I traumatically realized that his love and relationship with me was staged, I blocked out of my mind what I used to think were wonderful times. I have shut it out, because it wasn’t real. For me, something that isn’t real is not the truth, therefore, it cannot have value, and I had to forget about the time together. It was all a lie.
13. How do your grown children from another marriage view him?
My son was on to him, and after two visits, my son never came back to visit. To this day, I have never heard my son even mention his name, and I don’t either. My daughter thought he was great while we were married. He helped her with her math homework, helped researched tennis academies and camps and training facilities. But as the counselors told me, she was a woman, and he knew how to gain her trust and confidence. She knows the truth now.
14. Was he ever physically abusive? Did he still leave scars?
One time physically in an intimate setting that I won’t go in to detail here. It shocked and scared me, but we were already married and at that time I sort of ignored it. I think I did that because it was so scary. But I didn’t forget about it. The emotional scars were extremely painful. The financial abuse has also left me not as eager to help others quickly. I have helped others, but not without still the twinge and sting of PTSD.
15. Was it hard for you to trust in and love another man after that experience?
Yes, very hard. I actually told myself that I would never be in a relationship again. The experience was just too painful. It has been 11 years, and never say never, because I have reconnected with a good friend from high school. We had a lot of fun together back then, he took me to the prom, and we shared a lot of things in common. It wasn’t a romantic relationship back then but to my cautious surprise I have been able to trust again.
16. How can people become less emotionally dependent on others while still engaging in a deeply loving relationship?
By believing in yourself and believing that you are an important and valuable human being. Also having other things and interests to partake in helps with balance in a relationship. Things that might complement your relationship, not take it over, but complement it.
17. You cared for your mom while she had Alzheimer’s. How did Liam act during those days?
Liam was very supportive. He encouraged me to care for my mom, later I would find out that it was self-serving to him. He would partake at times too which were really nice. Liam played the guitar and had a good singing voice. Once in a while, Liam would play the guitar and sing for my mom. She would smile and try to tap her foot, sometimes it would be her hand. It made me happy to see that my mom was enjoying something even though she couldn’t verbalize it.
18. Your former husband led to conflicts with your father. Why did you start to doubt your dad until you uncovered the secrets of what your husband was doing?
Liam was very convincing in his communication as to a particular topic. At the beginning of his employment with my dad he was inquisitive, energetic and genuine in his approach to what appeared a desire to learn all about our farm operations. As he became more knowledgeable, he started to talk about things that weren’t being done right and that my dad’s farming practices were antiquated and not up to standards. But as the second year and a half went by, this knowledge became a power tool for him that I felt he started using against me and my dad. I loved my dad and as time went on, the more Liam criticized my dad about his capabilities, the more I wanted to protect my dad. Before Liam came on board, things were working just fine. Why fix something if it’s not broken. It was Liam criticizing my dad without merit that started me to doubt Liam.
19. Your husband was always asking for money. Wasn’t this a strong sign that something was wrong?
At the beginning of the requests, he explained that he gave each of his ex-wives’ money plus used money to buy back each one’s half of the house. Having been through a divorce myself, I know how costly it is, and no one wins. Even if one spouse is awarded money, in a divorce I feel no one wins. Liam asked me for money a couple of months before we were married and then when we got married. He always had a good reason, or it seemed so at the time, and each time he said he would pay me back when he received a settlement from a lawsuit that he had against his previous employer. At that point in our relationship, I had no reason not to believe that he wouldn’t pay me back. My compassion, and love for Liam trumped my inner feeling that this wasn’t right - the repetitive requests that went on and on, but I wanted to believe him, protect him, save him. Isn’t that crazy?
20. Was it a conflict of faith and values when your husband attended Mormon church services?
I had never been to a Mormon church before. Liam was the first person I had ever met and known to be Mormon. He grew up in a Mormon family, and practiced the Mormon faith before we started dating. He spoke of it always in a past tense, so we did not get into discussions about the Mormon church until the end of our marriage. I mistakenly took that his ability to quote scripture from the Bible meant that he had morals, scruples and was a truthful person. While we were dating, numerous times Liam talked about how important trust was in a relationship, that it was the foundation of a relationship.
21. What do you hope readers will learn and think about after reading your absorbing and engaging story?
When things don’t seem right, question it. I grew up with the philosophy that people have good intentions and are trusting until proven otherwise, but since my traumatic experience with a sociopath, I have been more cautious. I still trust people, but I verify. I would like people to know that no matter how disheartened we become in situations that cause us grief, and despair, help is out there, do not think you are alone. There are some very exceptional organizations that are highly trained in pathological love relationships. Here are two: www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com and www.verbalabuse.com Never be afraid to ask for help, even if money is not available, they will work something out. Your safety, emotionally and physically, is the most important thing.
© 2023 Virginia Bennett
Website created by Ben Feinblum Media