“Monsters are real, evil exists”.
While the majority of survivors reported receiving some form of support from family and/or friends, many found the support received was not enough. The vast majority indicated a need for better education, particularly to combat the “sadistic serial killer” stereotype surrounding psychopathy. One survivor said that when “people think of the word psychopathy [they] think of someone who murders with a kitchen knife, [but a psychopath] could just be a normal person, and they could be the life of the party, and do all these wonderful, great things. But, behind a closed door, they are a monster”. In addition to educating society, several participants reported a lack of understanding among professionals (e.g., lawyers, psychologists). As such, there is a need to make psychopathy research more available to the public and professionals to combat the stereotype and increase the quality of support provided to those recovering.
Finally, we asked each survivor what they would want other potential victims to know. Many emphasized that healing takes time and there is hope at the end of the tunnel; “be very patient with yourself, and look for multiple ways in which you can heal”. Another survivor urged others to connect and share their experience with other survivors, as “the thing that helps the most is the validation and acknowledgement that what happened is real”. “There are very few people in the world that will understand […] and it will be almost impossible to explain”, as one survivor said, highlighting the importance of connecting with other survivors who have had a similar experience. The Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy forums, for example, provide a safe space to connect and share experiences with other survivors.