The difference between a Con and an Abuser

Someone asked me today what the difference is. This is something I have wanted to write for a while and is my personal opinion only, based on my experiences with both types of people.

All cons are sociopaths, but not all sociopaths are cons.

Whilst every sociopath is the same in a lot of ways and ends up devastating your life if you are with him long enough, there is a difference between being abused and being conned. All sociopaths lack empathy and sense of consequence and all have a grandiose sense of self. They are all manipulative and controlling. Not all of them are clever enough to be cons though.

Mr Mean was mostly honest about who he was. He used his real name, I met his family, I spent time with them and saw where he lived. He was honest about where he worked and other than a few embellishments, most of his history was genuine. He twisted stories to make himself the victim, but over-all, his background was real.

He was narcissistic and verbally, as well as mentally, abusive- he did not put on an act, he was who he was. He withheld the truth a lot, but did not lie on a daily basis.

He was controlling and manipulative – he displayed 14 of the 15 characteristics of a verbal abuser, as defined by Patricia Evans in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship.” He was a mean, nasty man and hurt me over and over again but at least I knew the name of the man who was hurting me.

I am sure most of you have read the earlier posts on this blog about Mr Mean, so you are familiar with the story. When he left me, I was angry, in pain and isolated. It took me a long time to get over him but I got over him eventually. I recognised the abuse for what it was, once I educated myself and I ended the relationship. I did not blame myself, I knew that he was the one with the problems.

When he left, I knew where he was and who he was. I am not minimising the effect he had on my life at all, he left a trail of destruction, but I do not feel that he conned me. Sure, he lied to get himself out of trouble but I do not believe I was conned.

He did not make me mistrust people – I saw him for what he was – an abusive, angry, controlling, manipulative jerk. I knew I would be better off without him and there was a sense of relief once he was gone.

Andrew Harper is a con.

He entered my life with a fake name, a fake history and a fake life. 98% of what he said was a lie- in fact, he lied about things he didn’t even need to lie about.

He fabricated a history with a dead fiance, a family who had rejected him, women who were stalking him – all to make me feel so sorry for him, and I did. He lied about being a psychologist so that I would open up and share things with him that he could then use to control me. He lied about a military background, he lied about businesses he owned and his financial situation.

Based on those lies, I left my job to work on the Papercrafts Roadshow with him. He faked phone calls, he faked documents- he knew exactly what he was doing and his goal was to walk away with the cash from the Roadshow- and he did. His reasoning was that the deposited the money (my money) into his trust account to save me needing to declare the tax on the income. He told me to give him the bills and they would be paid. He hid the mail from me so I didn’t know the bills weren’t being paid. All this after he had assured me that he did not want my money, all he wanted was to see me succeed and reach my full potential.

He was a person who was playing a role, as if he was a character in a TV show. I fell in love with his character, but I never knew who he really was. I don’t believe I ever actually met Andrew John Harper.

He knew exactly what I wanted from a relationship and he gave that to me. He did not call me names, did not yell at me, never lost his temper- in fact, he was so lovely to me that I failed to see the abuse until he was long gone. I did not realise how controlling he was but he isolated me and manipulated me to a point where I felt that I could not survive without him.

I did not know he was leaving me. The morning that he left, he kissed me and hugged me and told me he loved me. He told me he would be back in a couple of days. I did not see him again, until 7 months later when we were on opposite sides of the dock in court.

For six months after he abandoned me, I did not know who he was, where he was, what he was doing or what he had done. The sense of betrayal was excruciating, at times almost unbearable. I considered ending my life because I believe that without him, I was nothing. I had made huge life decisions based on things he told me and the effect he had on my life will last forever. I blamed myself, I felt stupid and naive and completely gullible. I was not sure I would ever be able to trust myself again.

I question everything people tell me now, if something doesn’t quite add up I no longer give anyone the benefit of the doubt, I would rather save myself the potential pain. Andrew changed me in ways that I would never have imagined. I did not dream that I was being abused – in fact, after Mr Mean I thought he was my saviour and I felt valued and protected.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all I can do now is to educate myself further and help other victims through the ConnedinAus Facebook group and the Conned in Australia blog.

One thing I do know for sure is that I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than allow another sociopath into my life.

Con Victim Support Group

Since featuring in Woman’s Weekly with our story, my co-survivors and I have been contacted by several other victims of con artists.

We have created a Blog and a Facebook group to support other victims, using our combined knowledge, experience and talents. If you have been conned and need support, please contact us.