Devin Louise
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I Knew a Psychopath — Before I Knew What Psychopathy Was

I was a child when I found out what a psychopath was the hard way. Individuals' names have been changed for privacy.

Author’s Notes: This is solely from childhood experience. Individuals’ names have been changed for privacy.

The saying “mothers know best” can be applicable in various scenarios, as any sane and functioning mother often has naturally instinctive tendencies. This holds true not just in animals, but with humans as well. How else would we know when our lives are in danger and how to react? Without them, how would any human being know that something is wrong? We wouldn’t be able to comprehend a dangerous scenario if there was no such thing as human intuition. Instinctive tendencies are often the most powerful tool given to women throughout the process of evolution, especially mothers. Wherever there’s smoke, it is guaranteed that there will be fire. From a psychological perspective, this saying has held true for millennia.

When I was younger, I was considered both a genius and unusually intelligent for a child my age. I honestly hate to be arrogant, but one of my teachers wanted me to skip a grade, as she had thought that the work would be too easy for me. On top of that, I had tested near-genius on several Intelligence Quotient tests, as well as scoring highly on several MENSA tests given to me by several psychiatric and psychological specialists. Despite my intelligence, I was very vulnerable, from an emotional perspective. I was so vulnerable that I did not know the true evils of the world.

My mother, brother, and sister, whom I will be referring to as Amelia, Scott, and Britney, got the shock if our lives in 2004, when I was eight years old. Britney knew a woman, who I will be referring to as Cassidy, and they were friends for a brief period. On the outside, Cassidy seemed somewhat normal to my sister, her friends, and myself. She was extremely polite to me, Scott, and my mother; my mother and Scott found that very overly-polite façade so off-putting, it made them both uncomfortable. Cassidy had sometimes given me small gifts like slap bracelets and hair clips, which any little girl my age would love. Miranda and Amelia were friends with my neighbors that lived down the street, who I will call Allison and Tom. Tom and Allison’s son, who I will be referring to as Joshua, was a friend of mine; we went to school together at the time. When they both started high school, Cassidy and Britney not only grew apart emotionally, but lost contact altogether; Cassidy had moved to Oregon with Allison and Tom. Allison and Cassidy began to argue, like all siblings do, but many of those arguments became both verbally and physically violent. One day, my mother, siblings, and I got the shock of our lives. The morning of April 4, 2004 will haunt me and my family for the rest of our lives. Britney went outside to pick up a copy of our local newspaper, immediately after she and Scott had finished getting ready for school. She had done that every morning as usual, not thinking anything of what would happen next. Britney experienced the shock of her life that morning. In tears, she told me and my family, “Cassidy killed someone.” I did not want to believe that what Britney had said was true because I was so blindsided by my child-like ignorance. After my mother had picked up Britney and I from school, Allison had called my mother in tears, “Joshua is dead, Amelia. Cassidy killed him. She didn’t even call 911,” she came over with Tom that week to tell my family and I the full story. Tom was equally unable to comprehend what he had borne witness to the evening before. The truth was that she and Cassidy had gotten into an argument that had taken a grisly and twisted turn. Cassidy had robbed Allison and murdered Joshua in a fit of rage towards her sister. In the front-page article, it had shown that she had shown no remorse for the death of an innocent human being. All Britney, Scott, I felt in the year afterwards was a combination of pain, anger, and sadness. All my mother and brother saw in Cassidy was the devil in its most human form. I was so blindsided by my own childish innocence that I was completely unaware of the true evils of this world; my innocence had completely gotten the best of me. To this day, Britney, Scott, and I cannot discuss the subject matter without feeling the unimaginable pain and anger that we had felt at the time. The images from that morning in April replay in my mind repeatedly, leaving me horrified every time.

The part of the experience that feels most like a slap in the face is that I saw the signs, but I didn’t pay attention, like most children. Cassidy had no sense of shame or remorse; in fact, she was very arrogant about constantly getting into fights at school, majority of which were started by her. Being a bully was something she was proud of. She had a violent temperament, which was scary. According to Allison, Cassidy had slapped and swung at her several times, “because she wanted to.” In fact, she loved being violent with family members, especially her siblings’ children. She was incredibly abusive towards her nephew. Other than her sick addiction to violence, she joked about causing harm to people; when Britney would tell her to “knock it off” or tell her that what she would say “isn’t funny,” Cassidy would tell her to “shut the #@$% up and learn to take a joke.” Her sick sense of humor just scared me sometimes, but I’d focus on something else and nonchalantly let it go. Other than a sick and twisted mindset, she was incredibly narcissistic and completely lacked empathy. The only person she cared about was herself. She was evil, no doubt about it.

The pain I felt in the years afterwards is unimaginable. Because of all the emotional baggage, I had been in therapy for years afterwards; I was in anger management classes when I was eleven years old. I was handling my parents’ divorce worse than a normal child. Did I tell anyone that emotional baggage was the main cause of my inability to fully trust anyone? For years, I trusted nobody. I have the patience of a king cobra because of the emotional scarring. I still feel pent-up aggression because Cassidy had murdered my friend.

They say, “Time heals all.” Have Scott, Britney, I ever been able to fully heal from an emotional outlook? By all means, no. We still feel the same anger and aggression towards her. She took advantage of how emotionally vulnerable my sister and I were, and she knew exactly what she was doing. We were completely blindsided and totally gaslighted by her façade. Our forgiveness is something she does not deserve. My family and I could never bring ourselves to forgive Cassidy. Even though forgiveness is considered morally right, I honestly rather fall into a pit of black mambas and have a permanently gelatinous blood-flow than forgive her; I could never do it, even if I was forced to do so. When I think about Joshua and all the good times we had, I tend to cry a waterfall of tears, instead of a river. Cassidy took all the fun times we would have had away from me. She stole my innocence and exposed me to the true evils of the world before I was ready to learn about what evil was. To this day, I blame myself for allowing my innocence to get the best of me. Will my family and I ever truly heal from the violent death of a childhood friend? That will take several years, if all of us are ever able to process what had happened twelve years ago.

In conclusion, my mother and brother not only smelled smoke, but saw a raging fire at the same time. It was right in front of our faces. When we saw the newspaper, everything had come to a head. Did I know that someone I had known very briefly was a monster? Heavens no; my siblings and I were completely blindsided. Do I blame myself for allowing my child-like innocence to take advantage of me? I blame myself every day. Will I allow my wrath and sadness to get the best of me when I think about the incident? I always will. Mothers do know best, especially when it comes to intuition. She smelled smoke; surely enough, there was a raging wildfire. Even though she’s locked up and there’s no chance of her ever seeing freedom, just thinking of her strikes fear into me. 

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