It was 1996 and I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, trying to get out of a marriage I should have never been in in the first place. I had young children and no idea how to care for them. Shortly after I decided to separate from my husband, I met a man who I fell deeply in love with and decided to be with him at all costs. He graduated from North Carolina State University and was working as a contracted Geologist at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Against the wishes of my family and friends, I moved to Maryland to live with him.
We had lived there for a short while when he applied for a civilian job for the Defense Department as a Geologist in Aberdeen, Maryland. He had to apply for a secret security clearance for this job. He was cleared for the security clearance and got the job. We then moved to Harford County, Maryland into his childhood home. We married shortly after that. Once I had planted my feet in Maryland, I became the wife he had always wanted -- picket fence and all. He refused to let me work and wanted me to pamper him the way he felt he deserved to be pampered, and I obliged. When my girls came to Maryland, he raised them as if he were their father. He was very involved in their schooling and extra-curricular activities. I was so thankful to be married to a man who cared so much for them. He became involved in county politics, community projects, etc. We took wonderful vacations to Hawaii several times, Alaska, cross country trips. At times, I would miss North Carolina and my childhood friends but that was behind me now. Although I did not realize it at the time, we were living his life. The life he wanted.
On April 15, 2010, 11 years into my marriage, I had just gotten home from taking my daughter to school (she had a month to go before graduating) when the phone rang at 7:30am. It was my husband telling me that he was being detained. I had no idea what he meant by this until I finally realized that he had been arrested. I thought for sure it had to be a road rage incident or some kind of mistake. He told me that he loved me and that he didn't blame me if I divorced him. He hung up before he told me what had happened. Within minutes of that phone call, my entire property was swarmed by police -- exactly like you would see on television. I ran outside to see what was going on, but the police would not tell me anything. They told me that I was to stay with an officer and wait for the detectives to get there. When the detectives arrived, I was told that my husband had been arrested for taking pictures outside of the window of a teenage girl's bathroom. I could not hear anything they told me. I could not breathe. I could not believe that this was true. For nine hours, my house was no longer mine. It belonged to the police. They took what they wanted out of it and did to it what they pleased. The aftermath was mine to deal with.
My husband was bailed out of jail by his family and re-arrested on May 3, 2010 by the feds. This is when I learned that he had thousands of pictures and videos on his government issued computer, mostly of my daughter but also of her friends and other young girls in our community. The story became big news in Maryland and D.C. News crews were showing up at my house, our mailbox was continually bashed in, I was ostracized by my own town as if they thought I had something to do with it. To add insult to injury, I came to find out that this man that I loved so dearly had been arrested in the early '90s in the state of Ohio for doing the same exact thing! All the security clearances for his jobs with the United States government did me nor all the girls he sexually violated any good.
In August 2010, he was charged with two counts of child pornography in the Maryland Federal Courts and was sentenced to serve 12 years at Fort Dix Federal Prison in New Jersey. He believes that that government is using him as an example and that what he did has been blown way out of proportion. I believe the only regret he has is that he got caught. I also believe that when he does get out, he will do this again.
On April 15, 2010, my life came to a crashing halt. One phone call and the life that I knew and thought I loved was over and done. There are no words to describe the agonizing pain that I went through. Getting out of bed was impossible. I ceased to function at all. My heart was broken and all I wanted was to make the pain stop. I had a neighbor who was like a surrogate mother to me force me out of the bed and to my doctor. My doctor sent me to a therapist. Slowly, ever so slowly, I was moving again. I began re-connecting with my long lost friends from childhood on Facebook and eventually moved back to Charlotte, North Carolina where I was born and raised and where I belonged.
There are a few things I have learned from this nightmare and they are this: When your family and friends strongly discourage you from doing something, listen. Whomever you may become involved with, background check them thoroughly. This may seem impersonal but it will save you from ever having to go through a needless hell like I did. And last but not least, cherish your friends. They will be everything you will ever need when you are going through your worst storms. Therapist are wonderful. We all need them from time to time but nothing, absolutely nothing, will heal you quicker than the love of precious friends.
I still have days where I am desperately sad and hate the world, but the majority of my days are filled with the smiles and laughter that I thought I would never have again.