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Crime News Dirty John, The Dirty Truth

Debra Newell Of 'Dirty John' Talks Surviving A Psychopath: 'Almost Everything He Told Me Was A Lie'

The survivor says she hopes women feel empowered by her story and that she is "thriving."

By John Thrasher
Debra Newell’s Life After Leaving Dirty John

Though she may be best known as the ex-wife of "Dirty John" Meehan, Debra Newell is now speaking about what life is like as a survivor.

Newell is featured in the recent Oxygen documentary "Dirty John, The Dirty Truth," which is now available to stream online.

Newell, who spoke to Oxygen.com about her experience surviving the grip of Meehan's manipulation, tried to make sense of it all after she finally got away from him. "I looked into, basically, all the signs of what John had done. What was the truth? What was a lie?" she asks openly. "Almost everything he told me was a lie, when it didn't even need to be." 

John Meehan had spent many years manipulating and lying to various women in his romantic relationships in an attempt to gain control of their lives and in most cases their money. Newell, who was Meehan's last known victim before he was killed in self-defense by Terra, her daughter, has picked up the pieces and hopes her message empowers other women in her position to seek help.

"I want women to know they're not alone," Newell tells Oxygen.com in the above clip. "They shouldn't be ashamed. This could happen to anyone."

Speaking to Oxygen's Martinis & Murder podcast, Newell and Criminal Behavioral Analyst Laura Richards, who also appears in the Oxygen documentary, talk about coercive control, a behavioral method Meehan used to control Newell.

Richards describes coercive control on "Martinis & Murder" as a strategic course of conduct, usually conducted by a male, in an attempt to establish dominance. "It's very much about rules and regulations to create utter domination," says Richards.

"A light went on," Newell says when describing hearing Richards' explanation of coercive control and how it can affect relationships. "All the sudden I realize, 'that was me, that's what I went through.'"

Newell tells Oxygen.com that things are going well in her life without John Meehan, saying that she has a small business that she runs in Las Vegas that is "thriving" at the moment.