Empathy Trap: Understanding The Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad

empathy trap empath

When it comes to being an empath, it is common knowledge that they are the most desirable targets of sociopaths. Sociopaths are always on the lookout for them because they know how much they can condition them and take advantage of their empathy and kindness, for fulfilling their own selfish needs. When sociopaths, once they are done, discard empaths like garbage, the latter falls into the Empathy Trap.

People fall into the Empathy Trap when after getting targeted, exploited, and discarded by a sociopath, they try to deal with the trauma by holding themselves responsible for everything that happened to them. Self-deprecation and self-doubt plague them every step of the way, and they constantly think that all the toxic and heartbreaking things that happened to them, happened because they let them happen.

But that’s the thing about toxic people, especially sociopaths. They know exactly what to say and what to do, in order to make you believe what they want you to believe. They are the real culprits, but they will manipulate you in such a way, that you will start to think you are the culprit, not them.

When they come across someone, the first thing they do is analyze them very carefully and try to see just how much empathy they have. If they realize that they are interacting with an empath, then it’s just a matter of time before they start planning about how to exploit them and their kindness.

Empathic people are mostly the natural targets of sociopaths, but empaths with a low level of empathy are usually ignored. However, they are kept on the sidelines so that the sociopaths can use and exploit them when they need something different and someone else to torment, other than the prime empath.

Related: Emotional Abuse and Sociopaths

The psychological and emotional trauma left behind by a sociopath is not always visible to the human eye, but it’s there beneath the surface, always threatening to rear its ugly head when they least expect it, or when they feel that they have finally got everything under control. The trauma caused by sociopaths can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders.

Empaths who have been abused and harassed by sociopaths for a very long time, end up being chronically traumatized and exhibit signs of hyper-anxious and hyper-vigilant behavior, stomach pain, nausea, tremors, back pain, frequent headaches and migraines, and gastrointestinal issues.

Empathy Trap: Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad

When it comes to abusing others, especially empaths, sociopaths don’t always do all the dirty work themselves; they enlist the help of certain people who they know will do a good job in tormenting others. These certain people are apaths. Just like narcissists have flying monkeys to do their dirty jobs, and further their toxic causes, sociopaths have apaths for the same.


Sociopaths are smarter than the average person, which is why they can very easily manipulate and emotionally wreck other people without letting their true nature come to the forefront. Superficial is their middle name, and they use their superficial charm to divert attention from their toxic nature.

Sociopaths start to target people from a very young age, and exploiting people’s goodwill, trust, kindness, and credibility are what they do best. They can go to any lengths to get their needs met and don’t care how badly and horrifically they hurt someone. All they care about is themselves, and what they want from people, and they don’t stop until they get it.

Sociopaths will manipulate empaths and torment them with their toxicity, and the sad part is, the latter won’t even realize what’s happening to them until it’s too late. Gaslighting, displacement of responsibility, moral justification, and distortion of consequences are just some of the many horrible things these toxic people do to their victims, to keep them in their control.

36 thoughts on “Empathy Trap: Understanding The Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad”

  1. Avatar of Esther Bird

    Holy crap…I am the empath, swimming upstream and constantly fighting a seemingly losing battle. Other family members are apaths…just wanting to go with the flow, not create waves, and unconditionally love the disordered person simply because HE is ‘family’..even tho he has never felt like family to any of us…HE is a sociopath…

  2. Avatar of Carol Beard

    Does anyone know if there are cases where a person can have a split personality with one personality being a sociopath and the other not???? Maybe I’m just desperate for reassurance that part of him actually was the man I thought he was.

  3. Avatar of Carol Beard

    I can relate….didn’t know about sociopaths, narcissists, etc. or I could have known why things were gettin’ weird a little bit sooner. Every time I read something like this, more and more memories are released that corroborate my suspicions. As I look back on things, the red flags were there all along.

  4. Avatar of kathylove

    This article had really helped me. Due to my experience with a sociopath and an apath I’ve since avoided getting close to other people. They destroyed my life, my confidence and my ability to be happy. For fun.
    The sociopath was abusing her son (under 5) and gradually allowed me to become aware of it. She really thought she had me completely under her control. So did not like it when I confided in my childhood best friend that I knew about it, and had to report it.
    Unfortunately for me my friend had already become the sociopaths apath, so she breached my confidence. All hell broke loose.
    From then it seemed that no one but me could see that this was actually about a child’s safety. A child’s childhood and development. It became about every little thing I’d ever been less than perfect in, and many nasty lies about me, mixed in together. She even went to so far as to cause physical injuries to another child to try to make out i had done it. I think she intended to blame every injury the child had experienced on me! At least that part of her plan didn’t play out.
    I was harrassed and beaten repeatedly by both of them for months. The police helped protect me. Social services tried to help the child. But i was their evidence gatherer and unfortunately i could no longer help the child.
    I had to just walk away. It was heartbreaking.
    12 years later i found the child in question. At age 7 his sociopath mother had stabbed him and he was raised by the care system. The lad’s a but messed up, but working towards being a good person. i still have nightmares.
    Thanks to this article i now know its a personality type (sociopath) and maybe i won’t be so scared of making friends any more.

  5. Avatar of Kathy Hershey

    Part of personal growth is learning to set firm boundary’s on what you WILL and WILL NOT allow to effect/affect your daily life. Sociopaths produce a very unique energy field read. That should be every empaths giant red flag.

    1. Avatar of Kathy Hershey

      I was attempting to keep it as a ‘singular’ as opposed to the multiples as each person is solely in charge of it. Pardon the mis-use but if that is all you can take from it, then you are probably correct. This page would not be for you.

  6. Avatar of Karen Johnston

    I've been gaslighted too many times to count. In the past I have been devastated and have felt exhausted much of my adult life, tho today, I am working hard on rebuilding. My question is, what are the warning signs of either sociopath or narcissist or both? My most recent gf was all about her. In ever way and it was if I simply didn't exist. It was crazy. I stayed only long enough to try to figure it out. After awhile tho, I realized that there was no figuring that out. It is time for me to make better choices.

  7. Avatar of Aissatou Sunjata

    Strangely, when in High School I met a sociopath in training. He was a basketball player and charismatic. He was attracted to my being empathic, yet not as a victim, he sort of adopted me at seconds of our encounter. He probably collected me as one of his specimens wanted in his collection of people. He is still many, many years later a sociopath, only grown, in his 50s. We reconnected some years ago and by then he has become a fully grown and skilled emotional demon. Now, I am relieved he did not turn his budding skills towards me when I was a young empathic and so relieved now that I am also grown, I can deflect and eventually sever ties with him. Solid protection.

  8. Avatar of Jennifer Sebits

    Yeah. I've read about it. It's incredibly scary how right on all of it was. Now, that I'm aware, I'll never fall into this trap again. I know what to look for and I'll never blind myself to these particular warning signs again. Thanks for posting this. ❤️

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