No One Knew

My Emotional Journey of Being Married to a Sociopath and How I Learned to Heal

Non-Fiction - Memoir
246 Pages
Reviewed on 07/09/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In No One Knew by Renee Olivier, when a divorced mother of two, Renee, met Joe online, little did she know she was inviting a manipulating sociopath into her life. At first, their relationship was a fairytale. Joe seemed the charismatic, charming, and devoted man any woman could ever wish for. But soon that fairytale turned into a nightmare, as slowly he used every insecurity and fear she had against her. As he mercilessly and methodically wore her down, Renee struggled to remain rational, often blaming herself for Joe's erratic and abusive behavior. The mental and emotional torture escalated once they were married until Renee's sense of right and wrong became completely blurred. Little did Renee know, she was now entangled in the web of a sociopath. With 1 in 25 people believed to have sociopathic traits, this personal story of survival is a warning to those who have never encountered a sociopath and validation to those who have.

No One Knew by Renee Olivier is an honest and brutal account of becoming the victim of a sociopath. For many people, they will think this personality disorder is only found in serial killers but they would be wrong. I think this book is going to help many people become alert to the warning signs but also help victims to heal. Some of the situations are hard to read because the emotions came through so strongly; I literally had chills reading some of the manipulations tactics Joe used. I also thought that Renee came across as a very capable and strong woman but learned to pick her battles carefully. This is definitely not the story of a victim. Renee's intelligence and strength allowed her to take back control of the situation. I thought the section on love bombing and gas lighting was vital and was explained in terms that everyone could understand. This is a powerfully emotional read and will help anyone recognize the red flags, whether it is a family member, work colleague, or partner. With a really helpful resources section at the end, this book highlights a vastly unexplored subject extremely well.

Viga Boland

As you read Renee Olivier’s memoir, No One Knew, don’t be surprised if you recognize yourself, and perhaps your partner, a boss, your best friend’s husband or, if I dare suggest it, the leader of an important nation. These are people, and it’s not limited to gender or race, who come alive and thrive when they are in power, in control; they are often charismatic, charming. But when they don’t get their own way they wilt, lash out, criticize and blame everyone but themselves. Sound like anyone you know? If so, you might just know a sociopath. In her memorable memoir, No One Knew, Olivier reveals what it’s like to live with and try to love a sociopath. It’s more than just hard! Worse yet, when no one else really knows what your life is like, it’s crippling mentally and emotionally.

Single after a friendly divorce, Renee, a mother of two, feels ready to date again. When she meets Joe, he seems too good to be true: he has everything a woman could want - a thriving business, good looks, a bucket-load of charm, and plenty of sex appeal. Renee sees red flags, but rationalizes their significance, especially when Joe, master manipulator, brushes Renee’s fears aside with lavish gifts and constant reassurances of his love. By the time Renee finally finds the self-love and courage needed to stand up to Joe, years have sped by. She has suffered, but her suffering has strengthened her enough to finally set herself free.

Stylistically, Olivier writes the way most memoirists do: she uses the first-person narrative throughout. The limits of such an approach are that readers see other characters from only the narrator’s point of view. But the best way for characters to reveal themselves, whether in memoir or fiction, is through their own words and actions. Thankfully, at the high points of Olivier’s narrative and plot, she uses dialogue, helping readers get a much clearer picture of Joe, herself, and others. No One Knew is an important memoir: far too many people are in similar relationships, feel that no one would understand, and stay in such relationships out of fear or for the sake of the children. Olivier’s memoir will help them realize they are far from alone. Hopefully, No One Knew will encourage them to say “enough is enough”!

Jamie Michele

No One Knew: My Emotional Journey of Being Married to a Sociopath and How I Learned to Heal by Renee Olivier is the author's memoir and account of marital abuse. Renee and her ex-husband initially met following Renee's divorce through a match-making website, and the chemistry was almost instantaneous. Joe was upfront that he had a girlfriend, who later became pregnant, and married. Two years later he and Renee reconnect, she moves in with him and is a support as he fights for custody of his daughter and, in a shocking admission, is understanding when Joe tells her he'd been with another woman who was also pregnant. As the relationship progresses, Joe becomes more manipulative, abusive, and gaslights Renee in attempts to turn everything into an issue that questioned her mental health. Her children, as well as his, were roped into his web of deceit and abuse, lashing out over minuscule issues, isolating Renee from her network of family and friends, and stringing the relationship along with a series of betrayals that were followed by grand gestures to continue pulling her back in.

No One Knew is a compelling memoir that Renee Olivier has bravely written. There is a great deal of hindsight in her narrative and multiple red flags, but she points them out along the way and, as a reader, I can see it too. At times her strength is revealed through the hurricane of the relationship. She is as stoic as a tree rooted in a storm but the soil in which her roots have grown is poisoned by Joe and she is swiftly returned to the arms of a sociopath. The impact of her relationship is severe and despite having closure that brings her life full circle, the scarring is painfully raw and results in a long, arduous, and terrifying journey to get to a place where she is able to experience safety and true love. This is an excellent read for those who are suffering as well as those who are interested in psychology. The writing is clean and tight, the story is wholly engrossing, and the inspiration Renee provides is a credit to her as both a survivor and an author.

Ankita Shukla

In her memoir No One Knew, Renee Olivier rips open the many emotional wounds that a sociopath inflicted upon her. Joe entered Renee's life when she had been single for thirteen years. He swept her off her feet with his honeyed tongue and love talk. The man was skilled in convincing her that she was the love of his life and that he would die without her. With no reason to suspect him, Renee dreamed of a bright future with him. He showered her with expensive gifts and made her feel like a queen. But, this charming man had a nasty side that she never could have imagined, even in her wildest dreams. One of the many times his true colors seeped through his calm demeanor was when he talked to his ex-wife. Renee didn't want her daughter and son to listen to his outrage, but there was no reasoning with him.

Renee Olivier, an unsuspecting woman, found herself in a whirlwind of lies, infidelity, and endless betrayals. His manipulation and gaslighting began to affect her sanity. In a very skilled manner, he pushed her out of her circle of friends and burdened her with numerous responsibilities. Here was a woman who embraced his children like they were her own, and yet he could not find an ounce of remorse for his actions. By the time she realized his sociopathic personality, he had already dragged her too far into the pit of grief and loneliness. Yet, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and she found it once she broke all ties with him.

No One Knew: My Emotional Journey of Being Married to a Sociopath and How I Learned to Heal by Renee Olivier is an eye-opener. As she recounts the many heartbreaking events that he put her through, her narration of inner turmoil creates an emotional bond between the reader and herself. Whether you suspect being in a relationship with a sociopath or you wish to know about the workings of their minds, No One Knew by Renee Olivier is the memoir for you.

K.C. Finn

No One Knew: My Emotional Journey of Being Married to a Sociopath and How I Learned to Heal is a work of non-fiction in the memoir and autobiographical sub-genres and was penned by author Renee Olivier. Written from some very deep and damaging personal experiences, the author exhibits great bravery in sharing her account of a violent and abusive relationship in order to warn others of the dangers of people with sociopathic behaviors. Alongside recounting her own tale of manipulation, gaslighting, and trickery by a very evil individual, the work offers guidance on spotting these people for oneself and protecting your heart and mind against them.

Whilst many of us know in some capacity that sociopaths exist, what author Renee Olivier’s work does is bring to light just how easily these types of people can wind their way into a person’s life and slowly begin to take it over. The narrative power of the work brings us up close and personal with some very shocking revelations and raw, emotional moments that are painful but highly enlightening to read about. The prose is beautifully penned, offering moments of insight and hope despite the painful content, and also delivering an intelligent and balanced overview of a very traumatic and confusing time for the author at that moment. Overall, No One Knew: My Emotional Journey of Being Married to a Sociopath and How I Learned to Heal is an essential work that everyone should read in order to recognize sociopathic behaviors, heal themselves if they have been affected, and protect themselves if they have not.