Today my special guest author here at Colloquium is Donna Andersen. Donna is the author of Love Fraud, the story of her marriage to a sociopath and con artist, James Montgomery, and her personal spiritual journey in the aftermath of that devastating experience.
Why I Wrote Love Fraud
What I remember most about the beginning of my relationship with James Montgomery, my con-man ex-husband, was how he pursued me.
He’d posted an ad in the America Online (AOL) romance section — this was back when AOL ruled the Internet. He sounded much more intriguing than most men. Reading Montgomery’s claims now, one could wonder why anyone — specifically me — would believe them. But this was before I knew that someone who proclaimed he was so head-over-heels in love with me could be lying.
When I met Montgomery, I was forty years old, never married. I’d dated a lot of men, but I’d never experienced anything like the attention this particular man lavished on me. He called many times a day. He proposed marriage within a week of meeting me in person.
1. Charisma and charm: They’re smooth talkers, always have an answer, never miss a beat. They seem to be very exciting.
2. Enormous ego: They act like the smartest, richest or most successful people around. They may actually come out and tell you that.
3. Overly attentive: They call, text and e-mail constantly. They want to be with you every moment. They resent time you spend with your family and friends.
4. Jekyll and Hyde personality: One minute they love you; the next minute they hate you. Their personality changes like flipping a switch.
5. Blame others: Nothing is ever their fault. They always have an excuse. Someone else causes their problems.
6. Lies and gaps in the story: You ask questions, and the answers are vague. They tell stupid lies. They tell outrageous lies. They lie when they’d make out better telling the truth.
7. Intense eye contact: Call it the predatory stare. If you get a chill down your spine when they look at you, pay attention.
8. Move fast: They quickly proclaim that you’re their true love and soul mate. They want to move in together or get married quickly.
9. Pity play: They appeal to your sympathy. They want you to feel sorry for their abusive childhood, psychotic ex, incurable disease or financial setbacks.
10. Sexual magnetism: If you feel intense attraction, if your physical relationship is unbelievable, it may be their excess testosterone.
Why wasn’t this a huge red flag? Since childhood, I’d heard about love at first sight. In fact, I knew people who had fallen in love right away and were still married. I’d been waiting for my chance at true romance for years. I thought my time had come.
The relationship lasted just over two years. In that time, my husband cheated with multiple women. He drained my savings and maxed out my credit cards. I discovered that he was not my dream come true. He was a sociopath.
A sociopath? Isn’t a sociopath a serial killer?
Not necessarily. Most sociopaths never kill anyone. They are, however, social predators, and live their lives by exploiting others. Sociopaths have no heart, no conscience and no remorse.
Experts estimate that 1 percent to four percent of the population are sociopaths. That means there are three to twelve million sociopaths in the U.S. Most of them are not in jail. They live among us, targeting vulnerable people — especially people who are looking for love.
Love Fraud tells the story of my marriage to this particular sociopathic con artist. It’s a juicy, outrageous tale, full jaw-dropping lies and manipulation. The book focuses a harsh light on Montgomery’s despicable behavior. My goal is to give people an up close and personal look at what it’s really like to be targeted by a sociopath. But that isn’t my only goal.
I believe the importance of my book is not explaining what happened to me, but why it happened. What is the reason for this experience? I discovered, much to my surprise, that I had a huge karmic issue to work out with James Montgomery, and I came into this life to do it.
I found myself, somewhat reluctantly, on a spiritual journey of discovery. And here’s what I discovered: We are all part of the continuum of life, evolving toward union with God.
Now, this point is not conveyed directly until the book’s epilogue. Love Fraud reads like a novel, but I think of it as a long parable — the message is in the story. Every detail serves a purpose, either bringing sociopathic behavior to life, or explaining the interconnectedness of human life and the spiritual journey. Personally, I find it comforting to know that there was a reason why I went through such an upheaval. It’s better than thinking I was just a random victim.
So here’s why I wrote Love Fraud: To show that the physical world of experience and the spiritual world of consciousness are thoroughly intertwined, and that sometimes we attract painful experiences for our own spiritual growth.
Through her website and blog, Donna teaches people how to recognize and recover from sociopaths. She is uniquely qualified to do so because she learned about sociopaths the hard way — by marrying one. James Alwyn Montgomery, originally of Sydney, Australia, met her and quickly proposed in 1996. In two-and-a-half years, Montgomery defrauded her of $227,000, cheated on her with at least six different women, fathered a child with one of them, and just ten days after Andersen left him, married the mother of the child. It was the second time he committed bigamy.
Montgomery had no conscience, no empathy, and lied prolifically — which Donna learned, far too late, were the cardinal signs of a sociopath. Suspecting that other people were as unfamiliar with sociopaths as she once was, in 2005, Donna launched Love Fraud to educate the public about this destructive personality disorder. It’s working.
Love Fraud now averages almost 4,000 visits every day, and readers often say the website is the best source on the Internet about sociopaths. Donna has collected more than 2,000 cases of people targeted by sociopaths. Some readers share their experiences on the blog, which has evolved into a healing community of survivors. In fact, Donna receives many e-mails from people who thank Love Fraud for saving their lives.
Donna enjoyed a prior career in journalism, advertising and marketing communications. She was the original editor of Atlantic City Magazine from 1978 to 1982, and founded a boutique advertising agency, Donna Andersen Copywriting, in 1983. In 1978, she graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University’s S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications where she co-founded a student magazine and worked at the student newspaper, the Daily Orange. She also took up crew, and is still a competitive rower. She is happily remarried to Terry Kelly and lives in Atlantic City, New Jersey.