Julie Whitehead on How She Became the Sex-Trafficked Mother Next Door, Pt. 1
Trigger warning: The following podcast episode contains discussions of child sexual abuse and suicide. Listener discretion is advised.
Julie Whitehead is a survivor of many years of abuse and sex trafficking. As a survivor, Julie bravely shares her story in her book Shadowed: How I Became the Sex Trafficked Mother Next Door. She also serves on a survivor advisory board for the Malouf Foundation.
This episode of Consider Before Consuming is part 1 of our 2-part interview. In it, Julie shares about the child sexual abuse she experienced at home, as well as the emotional and psychological abuse she endured by her husband in their 12-year marriage, before meeting the man who would sex traffick her.
FROM THIS EPISODE
This episode is part one of our two part interview with Julie Whitehead, a sex trafficking survivor and author of Shadowed; How I Became the Sex Trafficked Mother Next Door. In this first part of the interview, Julie shares her experience of growing up in an abusive home, which damaged any sense of boundary she had, and created a picture of what relationships with men look like in marriage. Her husband was extremely [00:00:30] controlling and abusive, but Julie felt helpless to escape. This episode helps lay the foundation for the next part of Julie’s story in which she became a sex trafficking victim. She’ll share about that in part two of her interview. We’re so grateful that Julie was willing to share her story with us. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Fight The New Drug (00:57):
Julie, thank you so much for joining us in the [00:01:00] studio today. It’s always an honor to get to hear any true stories, but especially survivor stories, so thank you for making some time for us for coming here to be with us. We are with Julie Whitehead today. She is the author of Shadowed How I Became the Sex Trafficked Mother Next Door. And for anyone who’s maybe a little bit unfamiliar with your story, I would love to just kind of start at what was life like growing up for you? Just kind of start at the beginning and [00:01:30] see what was your family, how was that experience for you growing up?
Wow, that’s kind of a Pandora’s box. I didn’t have the best childhood. I mean, I had moments that were good, obviously because always a mixed bag, but my dad actually started sexually abusing me when I was around three or four, somewhere in there, and that continued clear through until I was, I think I was almost [00:02:00] 15 when that stopped. The abuse started kind of slow and then just escalated through the years until it was full on sexual abuse, and that was really damaging to me as a child. Obviously, I probably don’t need to explain how that was damaging, but it really destroyed any sense of boundaries that I might have otherwise built and put up, and [00:02:30] I just thought that that was how it was with men. I thought how my dad was with my mom and with me and my brother, I thought that was how all dads were.
And so it wasn’t like I was comparing it to other people and saying, gosh, I have it so bad. I was just, this was my normal. I knew something wasn’t right about it. Just internally, I knew this doesn’t feel right, something feels wrong, but I couldn’t put words to what that would’ve been. [00:03:00] I remember sitting in, I want to say fifth or sixth grade, I’m not really sure, but they were doing an assembly about good touch, bad touch, and these were kind of the early days when people were talking about this. So it was not a really well versed subject. A lot of people just kind of turned the other cheek to it. They didn’t want to talk about this kind of thing, but they did in school that day [00:03:30] and they were saying, if somebody is touching you in a bad way, you need to let an adult know. And I remember thinking, somebody is touching me in a bad way, but it’s my dad.
That doesn’t make any sense. Who do I go to and if that’s my parent, who do I go to? It didn’t even occur to me to reach out to any other adult because that’s my dad, and even if what we were doing was wrong, which I assumed that it was, I [00:04:00] didn’t want to get him in trouble. That was my father. I’m going to protect him naturally as his child, and I loved him. And so life growing up was confusing because I had that going on. My mom to this day, I don’t know what she knows or knew about it, but I felt my dad didn’t really have to tell me to keep it a secret. I knew that that was something that was just between [00:04:30] he and I, that wasn’t to be talked about. And so there were a lot of secrets in our house and a lot of just always an elephant in the room, but nobody wanted to address it.
And so it was really confusing to me. My dad also, he had this tube of money was like a PVC pipe that in our unfinished basement, he fished it down the wall, and so you couldn’t see it unless you knew to look for it. There was a little hook, [00:05:00] and then you would kind of pull it out of the wall, and it had cache in it, always a lot of cache. And my dad showed that to me and he disclosed the location to me, and he made it in my mind, the way I took it is that I was allowed to take those bills anytime I wanted to, and I didn’t see it then as what I see it now, which is that was kind of like a payment or quiet money to keep me [00:05:30] quiet. But my mom knew that there was a tube of money, but my dad would not disclose the location to her. So there was always this tension between my mother and I because my dad was favoring me and not only in that way, and she didn’t know anything about it. And so there was this tension between us.
It wasn’t a solid, I thought I convinced myself [00:06:00] that it was my childhood is really, it’s one way that I presented it to the world, and then it’s the way that it really was. So it was kind of a double life.
Fight The New Drug (06:10):
Yeah, that’s a lot. You had mentioned when you were about 15 is when the abuse stopped. Do you have an understanding of why it stopped and how did you feel about it at that time, that stopping?
At the time, I had no idea why [00:06:30] it stopped. Looking back now, I can see that I was about to enter puberty and the community where I live dating was allowed at 16 years old, and so that was coming up. And I can see my father would’ve had some motivations that way to stop the abuse, but at the time, I felt like I had done something wrong because he just literally came to me one day and said, I think you’re too old for this. And I was like, what do you mean? I’m too old for this? This is how [00:07:00] I know that you love me. This is how we show affection to each other, and this is our special thing. He had told me for so many years, this was between us and nobody else had. This was so special. And so why is it coming to an end? What did I do? It’s kind of weird because you would think I would be celebrating it because I never liked it. I mean, I obviously never liked it, but that that’s what I knew from my father. And so [00:07:30] it was really confusing.
Fight The New Drug (07:32):
What was dating like when you did start dating after this season?
Dating for me was really strange, so I was always really shy and I was never going to be the one to approach a boy. I never had anything in my head. Some people say, I want to date a blonde. I want him to be tall. I want him to be on the football team. I never had any preconceived notions. It was just something that was going to happen in my life, [00:08:00] but I never thought that I had any control of it. So my friend Sarah, when she started dating, she just naturally wanted me to be able to come along on the dates. So she set me up with my first date ever, and he ended up was, I feel weird saying he was abusive too, because people might look at me and think, oh, right. Every person she ran into was abusive, but somehow [00:08:30] I had victims stamped on my forehead, and they knew who to pick, which they do, they know who to look for. But that first boyfriend was, he slapped my friend Sarah. He slapped her in the face one day because she wanted to leave and he didn’t want to. And so he slapped her in the face and he held me down several times and did things to me that I didn’t want to. And so it was just a continuation. I was like, okay, [00:09:00] this is how boys act too.
And then I was set up with Richard, who ended up being my husband, but he was dating him was very, just more of the same thing. And he had all these weird tests that he would give me. He had to check my body fat all the time. He had his hands would fit a certain way on my hips to make sure that I hadn’t gained [00:09:30] weight, and he would do these checks all the time. And dating him was just, I mean, I want to say it was a nightmare, but at the time I didn’t think of it that way so much. I didn’t ever really like him, it’s just that I assumed I was to be with him. It’s such a weird mindset and so hard to explain, but I didn’t feel like I had options or even a say in the matter. If he wanted to date me, that was what was going to happen. [00:10:00] And so that’s how I started dating him. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (10:03):
And your friend Sarah, was she someone that you had known for a long time earlier in your life?
Yeah, I met her I think in seventh grade. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (10:13):
And was she someone who had any idea about the abuse that was going on in your home?
No, I made sure of that. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (10:21):
And what was that experience like for you in keeping kind of that, as you mentioned, a double life, but having a close friend and [00:10:30] having these relationships, but then keeping that private?
Yeah, it didn’t seem all that strange to me. I didn’t really have to work at it because I was so trained to keep that secret, a secret that it was just how it was. I didn’t talk about that. I don’t remember ever having a conversation with her about, Hey, what does your dad do to you? Or How are you with your dad? And I wish that I would’ve had one of those conversations, [00:11:00] but I just never did. And so, yeah, it wasn’t any different. That was his secret, and I didn’t talk about it even to my closest friend.
Fight The New Drug (11:10):
And I think it would make perfect sense then that when you did start dating Richard and he was abusive in this way, and as you mentioned earlier, you just kind of thought that’s how men were, right. And that if your closest friend isn’t telling you, this is not the way this should be or anything like that, of course that would be a reality, and [00:11:30] that’s how you would perceive the situation. And so of course, it’s so devastating that you had to go through that, but it makes perfect sense that you would’ve felt that that was normalized in the way that it was for you. And so obviously you talked a little bit about dating with Richard, but at some point that relationship also became physically intimate and given the history of sexual abuse that you had had, can you explain if you’re comfortable talking about what [00:12:00] that experience was like and kind of becoming intimate in that way with Richard?
So it was really strange. I went into the relationship assuming that that would be part of it, because that’s just how it is with men. And I didn’t think that it would be any different, but he actually asked me if I wanted to have sex with him, and I remember being just really stunned and like, [00:12:30] oh my gosh, he’s asking do I actually have a say in this? And it was a nice feeling that he asked. I can’t say I really felt like I had a choice, because I still felt like my whole role in the relationship was to please him. But I mean, he played his cards well with that one. He really got me to feel like I had a little bit of say in it. And of course, my answer was whatever you want.
Fight The New Drug (12:58):
Sure. And in your book, you [00:13:00] talk a little bit about how having sex with Richard changed your perception, a little bit about the experience you had had with your father. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah. Well, it just continued to normalize it.
It did, and it didn’t. This is really complicated. I am still in therapy for this reason, and I talk about this a lot in therapy. How did I know that something was wrong with what my dad was doing to me? And I got really angry as the years went by. After [00:13:30] he discontinued the abuse, I started getting really angry about what he had done, but yet Richard was doing the same thing, and it was just really depressing, honestly. It was just super depressing that he wanted to do that same thing to me. I didn’t find any pleasure in it. I thought it was a chore or something that I had to do for him. And so it was really just disappointing. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (13:58):
Had you previously thought [00:14:00] of what, I know you had mentioned what your father had done. You knew it wasn’t internally, you knew maybe it wasn’t right. But had you previously thought of that as abuse until you were in this relationship with Richard?
No, I wouldn’t say I even thought of it as abuse then. Yeah, it took until I was in therapy so many years later, for me to really see it as abuse. I saw it as something that my dad and I did together, and that I still saw it as something [00:14:30] special, special, maybe not in a good way, but still something that was just between us that nobody else did. And it had all these circumstances that led up to it that made it something that it wouldn’t have happened to anybody else. And it was kind of twisted. I didn’t really see it as abuse for a long time.
Fight The New Drug (14:52):
And so in your relationship with Richard, at some point he was living at your home. Can you talk a little [00:15:00] bit about that?
Yeah, so he was about, I’m guessing 16, 16, 17, somewhere in there when, so he had a really bad living situation. He had done some things that he confessed to me that his mother had caught him doing with some neighbor girls, and she kicked him out of the house, and then he was kind of bouncing back and forth between his grandparents’ home and an uncle that he really [00:15:30] liked. And so he had a really tumultuous lifestyle, and his mother was really mad that her family members were letting him stay with them because she wanted him to come groveling back. And so she told them No more. You can’t let him stay there anymore. So they essentially kicked him out, and he came to my door one night and he said that he was now living in his car, parked at a dead end near my [00:16:00] house, and that was where he was living, and I didn’t think it through for sure.
I was young, and my first reaction was, I’ve got to take care of him. And so I went into my parents and I said, this is completely unacceptable. His family’s horrible. They’ve kicked him out. He has nowhere to live. Can he please come in? It’s really cold outside. Can he come in? And my parents both agreed to let him come in. It was mostly my dad that allowed it, and once he [00:16:30] came in, he never left, so he was there. That was really, really hard to have a boyfriend that I didn’t really like, but I felt stuck with now living in my home, of course, because he knew all my comings and goings. He knew when I took a phone call and he had a controlling personality, and so it was living on pins and needles.
Fight The New Drug (16:54):
What was that like in terms of your relationship with your other family members and them observing [00:17:00] your relationship with Richard?
Yeah, so he was pretty good about his abuses.
Well, he and I were both good at it. He was pretty good to make sure that people didn’t see that side of him. I was really good to make sure people didn’t see that side of him. So we were this great team of hiding. My brother had returned from a church mission, and he was [00:17:30] not happy that Richard was living in our home, but he was also not one that would come make a confrontation or a scene about it. I think he felt like he had been gone for two years, and he came back and he didn’t really have the say over the household what happened, so he just kind of put up with it and tolerated it. But my parents acted like Richard was just another one of their kids on Christmas. He got the same allotment of gifts, and [00:18:00] they really just took him in as another child.
Fight The New Drug (18:04):
You mentioned in your book a little bit about pornography, kind, playing a role in this relationship with Richard. Can you talk a little bit about your perception of his pornography use at the time, and also how it ended up impacting you?
Yeah, so he was really into computers. They were just getting really big, the home use of computers. And so we had one, and he was always on [00:18:30] it, and it wasn’t long before, I mean, I don’t know when, but I’m assuming right away he found the online world of pornography. And I was home one day and he was working, and I went down because he was living in the basement that was half unfinished, and then it had one bedroom that was finished, and then the computer room, we called it the office, and he was living down there, so he was basically the only one on the computer. [00:19:00] Nobody else really had reason to be on it. And I went down there one day and an image printed was sitting in the printer of this woman completely naked, and I was really triggered by that image of some things from my childhood and everything.
I remember calling him at work on the phone and saying, what is this? And he was like, oh, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What [00:19:30] are you freaking out about? I told him, there’s this picture that’s printed out, and he’s like, oh, it must’ve been, somebody must’ve sent it to me on auto print. And I’m like, what? So I didn’t take his answer. I drove to, I don’t know what it was back then, but an Office Depot kind of store, and I’m like, Hey, look at this. I took the whole computer. I’m like, look at this computer. Is this something that could happen? And they just kind of laughed at me and they’re like, no, that’s not something [00:20:00] that happened. So that’s when I realized that he was looking at pornography after that. It wasn’t quite so much a secret. He would be sure to close the screen if I walked in on him, but I still saw what he was looking at. So I knew he was doing it quite often. As the years progressed, it just became common knowledge. This is what I do, and you have to put up with it. He didn’t make any excuses for it. That was just what he wanted to do, and so he did it.
Fight The New Drug (20:30):
[00:20:30] How did your relationship progress, I guess, with him over time? Obviously you were pretty young when he started living there, and then eventually this progressed into marriage. What did that journey kind of look like?
There was no mystery to the fact that Richard and I would get married. It was just in the, I didn’t question it. I wondered, he gave me a lot of reason to wonder if it would happen. He said, I don’t know if I’m going to marry you. I don’t know if I can spend my life with you. He was kind of mean about [00:21:00] it. I don’t know if I can tolerate you for that long. But my family, I think saw it coming. They saw it as the next logical step. He had lived with us. My mom was really, really worried about what all the neighbors thought about him living with us. She actually tried to, she convinced my dad to kick him out at one point, and Richard threatened suicide and ran away for three, four days or something like that. And [00:21:30] I was livid with my parents.
I’m like, if he dies, this is on your hands. How could you do that to him? It was a weird relationship where I was protective of him, but yet also being abused by him. And so super strange, but I guess that’s how a lot of them are. So yeah, it was just assumed that we would get married. Richard always told me that that was the only way that I would become an honest woman is what he said. He’s like, someday, maybe I’ll make an honest woman of you. Because we had been having [00:22:00] premarital sex, which in my community was really frowned upon. And I even had a church teacher at one point tell me that was worse than murder. So my perspective of it was that I was doing something so terribly wrong that yet I didn’t have the right to say no to. So I was just trapped in being this bad person. So when Richard proposed it, it gave me this sense of I can make right all of this bad that I’ve been doing. [00:22:30] And he told me, he’s like, if we get married, then you won’t be living in sin anymore. You’ll be wiped clean and you’ll be fine. And so that’s kind of the perspective I had going into it. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (22:42):
Did you have any preconceived notions about how marriage could maybe fix your relationship or any of the parts of your relationship that you knew were abusive by this point or were difficult or challenging, but kind of thinking, oh, but marriage could wipe the slate clean across the board?
Oh, yeah. [00:23:00] I totally thought that. I thought once I was his wife, number one, I thought pornography would go completely away because I’m like, he has a wife. There’d be no place for that in a relationship. I thought that his bad behavior, his mean behavior, the physicality that he had with me, I thought all of that would go away. The tests I thought would go away. I was so stupid looking back, but I thought [00:23:30] everything would change. I thought he’d be, I don’t know that I was so disillusioned that I thought he’d become angelic or the perfect spouse, but I thought he’d be better for sure, and that just didn’t happen.
Fight The New Drug (23:45):
If you feel comfortable sharing, and you talk about this in your book, can you describe what happened the night he proposed?
Yeah, so we had planned a trip to Seattle. We were kind of in love with the whole grunge [00:24:00] music scene, and Seattle was kind of the place where that was happening. And so that was really the only reason we picked Seattle, but we decided to take a trip. I thought it was just a trip. I don’t know. I’m trying to remember if I had any inclination. I didn’t really think that he was going to propose, so I was pretty surprised by that. But we told my parents we were going to Seattle for the day and that we’d be back that same night. We went to Seattle. We [00:24:30] had dinner in the Space Needle, and he proposed, and it was sad to think about how when he set the ring in front of me and was kind of like, well, here it is, take it or leave it.
I jumped on the other side of the table and gave him hugs and kisses, and I was so excited. And he’s like, stop it. Stop it. You’re making the scene. And he was just embarrassed by the whole thing. So we went home or went to the hotel that night, [00:25:00] called my parents, told them we had missed the flight, and that we’d be spending the night in the airport and be home the next morning, which obviously wasn’t true. And Richard said, I have a gift for you. And I’m like, really? That’s so out of character for him to do anything romantic or anything. So he pulls out this gift and I unwrap it, and it’s like this, it’s just nasty. I don’t know how to describe it. It was like a leather harness, [00:25:30] kind of body harness type thing. And he’s like, I want you to put this on.
And oh, by the way, I got a Polaroid camera so I can take pictures of you in it. And I was like, really? That’s what you want to do? The night that we got engaged, no, I was really, really hurt by it and let down, but again, my job was to please him, and at least that’s what I thought. And I told myself that this was [00:26:00] just how it was going to be. So I rolled with the punches, always put the thing on, and had let him take the photos. I felt really degraded and just bad about myself and worried. I remember being really scared. What’s he going to do with these photos? Where are they going to end up? He would never tell me. I still don’t know what happened to them, but yeah, that’s
Fight The New Drug (26:22):
What happened. But it was something that he then had that power over you as well of having those images that you never knew where they might go or [00:26:30] where they did go?
Yeah, I didn’t really mention that, but that was a big part of our relationship was that he said if I ever left him or misbehaved or something like that, that he would tell my parents that we had having sex since we were 16. And I thought my parents would disown me for sure. I thought the community would disown me. So yeah, when he had photos, I mean, that was a really big stick to wield over me. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (26:57):
And how old were you when you got engaged?
[00:27:00] I, gosh, that’s a good question. I was either, I think I was 18 by then. Yeah,
Fight The New Drug (27:07):
But still so young.
So young. Yeah. I didn’t want to be with Richard. I wasn’t happy with him. He definitely didn’t fulfill my needs. He didn’t care about my needs. It was all about him, and yet I wanted to marry him. So it’s really hard to describe, but I wanted to marry him because I wanted to be a good girl. [00:27:30] I wanted all the bad stuff to go away, and I wanted to make it all. Okay. So I saw the only way of doing that is marrying Richard. So I didn’t really want to be with him, but I also wanted to marry him, if that makes any sense. Yeah, it
Fight The New Drug (27:44):
Does. Can you talk a little bit about, or describe what your marriage was like with Richard and what kind of that controlling and overbearing nature that he had as you were dating, what that kind of progressed into in your marriage?
Yeah, so [00:28:00] he didn’t stop with all the things that I hoped would stop with marriage, did not stop. Just like everybody always says when you hear somebody in a bad relationship, it doesn’t fix anything. It just got worse. He felt like he had more control over me. I was now his property. That’s really how he saw it. He told me that he would say, you are my wife. You’re mine. I own you now. And that’s how it felt. [00:28:30] He dictated who I spent time with. He did it in subtle ways. I had a cousin that I liked to spend time with, and we would go and be together and then come back and he’d be like, did you guys kiss? Did you get naked? Did you have a panty party with pillows? And just all these nasty questions. And I’m like, no, of course not.
But the interrogations would be so brutal and so disturbing that after [00:29:00] time it was just easier to not be with her, just to not spend time with her. So in those ways, he controlled a lot of who I spent my time with just because his interrogations were awful, and that dissuade me from going out with friends and stuff. He also was just really possessive. He would always say It’s you and I versus the world we’re together. Something that wasn’t uncommon kind of from my dad. So it was just kind of more the same. And [00:29:30] he didn’t stop with the tests he had, oh gosh, he had all these tests. He even had literal paper tests that he had me fill out for Christmases. I had to fill out a budget test. I had to say how I was going to spend every dollar. He always made sure it was in his favor.
He’d say, oh, I just got a bonus. Add that to my portion. And at [00:30:00] Christmases, I had to wow him. It was really important that I be really thoughtful and get him gifts that he would be really excited about. And it was all about him, even when we had kids, and he had a test for me to drive a Corvette that he purchased kind of both of our dream car, but mostly his, I like cars too, but he had always been in love with a Corvette, and so somehow he made [00:30:30] it happen. It was kind of long story, but he made it happen that we could have afford it. I’m not sure we could afford it, but we got it regardless. He made me fill out an application to drive that vehicle, and he failed me. And then he made me fill out a separate application to ride in that vehicle to be a passenger in his car, and that when I passed, but he rarely to never took me out in it. And it was his car, and he always said he’d like to drive [00:31:00] it alone because he got looks from the ladies. That was his pickup line or whatever. So yeah, it was just more of the same. It didn’t stop any of the issues that we had. They just escalated.
Fight The New Drug (31:16):
His pornography consumption continued as well. Can you speak to how that impacted your marriage?
Yeah, I mean, it was something that I knew he did, and I hated it. I always hated it. He [00:31:30] got more bold with it. Once we were married, it was kind of like, well, what are you going to do? You’re not going to leave me now. And so he would stop closing the screen and he would just let it play, and I would see it and I’d be like, Richard, don’t watch that. Please don’t watch that. That’s horrible. And he’s like, shut up. This is what I want to do, and I like it.
Fight The New Drug (31:51):
Can you share about your decision to have kids with him? And you mentioned some conditions that he had around that as well. What that kind of whole experience was
[00:32:00] Another kind of stupid moment where I thought, so I wasn’t so naive that I thought kids would fix Richard, but I felt like I was kind of in, I think I say it this way in the book that I was in a prison cell and the only way I was going to have any friends was to give birth to them. And that’s kind of how I saw it, is if I want other people in my life, [00:32:30] if I want close relationships, they’re going to be with my kids. I am going to have to have kids to have those kind of relationships. I was super lonely in the marriage, so lonely. He spent all of his time on the computer watching porn, and he was going to school. So he had some legit reasons too, but it was just a very, very lonely marriage. And so I started asking him if we could have kids, and he told me that we would need to wait a certain amount of years.
[00:33:00] So I waited those years and I just worked, and he worked. Then as the time got nearer, I kept asking him, I really want to have a baby. I had always wanted to be a mom, so that was not a question for me. I’d never sat down and considered, do I want kids? I want kids. It was just a known thing that was going to happen. But Richard made it difficult. He was like, I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know if I can trust you. I don’t know if you’re the type of mother that I want [00:33:30] for my kids. And so he eventually made me fill out test again with the Corvette. He made me fill out an actual written test, an application to have kids with him. And surprisingly, he passed me on it. And when my first riker, my oldest was born, just everything just got worse.
It just made everything worse because now he had him to use against me, [00:34:00] and it was always keep your kid quiet. It was my kid, not ours. It was keep your kid quiet and keep him out of my way and don’t let him disrupt me on my computer. And part of the application, he made me sign that I would breastfeed. And then once I started doing it, he was like, those are mine. Those belong to me. Don’t share those with him. And I’m like, what do you want me to do? You want me? You’re insisting that I breastfeed. But [00:34:30] then he’s having this whole issue with it. So eventually I went to a bottle and he ended up begrudgingly paying for the formula, but that was the only way that I could fix that problem. So as the other kids came along, and it was just continued to be more difficult, he used the kids against me.
It was always shut them up, don’t let them bother me. When I had my daughter, Kaylee, [00:35:00] he said that he couldn’t be in the room when I was changing her diaper because he was too worried of the thoughts that he would have and the feelings he would have seeing her naked. And I was just horrified by that. What do you mean you’re going to have thoughts? And so obviously I just didn’t take a chance and just took care of her on my own. But I was essentially a single mother with this domineering partner. What was
Fight The New Drug (35:29):
Your mental [00:35:30] state like at this point in your relationship after having some kids? Did you talk to anyone or were you able to seek help? And if so, what kind of conditions were there around that for you?
So I think I had some postpartum going on, but it wasn’t diagnosed at the time. And that’s partly because I didn’t see anybody who would diagnose me. But my mental health really declined after, I mean, really [00:36:00] after the first birth, but after my third child, I really went downhill. I was now living this trapped life where I was still subservient to Richard, and he was being more aggressive about, I say he raped me. He of course would be like, no, you are my wife. I could do what I want with you. But he was doing things like that and being even more controlling with the finances. I couldn’t know how much [00:36:30] money we had. He gave me $10 a week to spend as my allowance. You can’t even buy a meal for $10, barely not let alone for the three kids.
And so yeah, my mental health was really suffering. I felt trapped and suffocated, and now had, now, it wasn’t just the leverage of, oh, I’ll tell everybody that we had premarital sex and you’ll be viewed different in the community [00:37:00] and by your parents will hate you and everything. But now it was, I’ll take the kids, you won’t get custody of the kids. You’ll never see ’em again. I’ll make sure that I get them. And as my mental health declined, there was more evidence for him to use because, yeah, because I went into therapy. So now I have a history of being in therapy.
I actually had a suicide attempt. I had several times when I felt that I was really suicidal and [00:37:30] had to go into the hospital. And so now he had all this evidence against me where he claimed it would be really easy to prove that I was unfit to be a mother. And I believed him. I didn’t know what else to believe. And it seemed like he had a pretty good case to me. I felt like I hadn’t done myself any favors by going into the psych ward three, four times. And I know differently now, but at the time, I just didn’t know any difference. So my mental [00:38:00] health got really bad. He let me see a therapist after I did a lot of begging, please let me go to therapy. It was the only thing I could think of that would help. Nobody in my family had ever been to therapy, so I didn’t know anything about it, but it was the only thing I could think of. And he said, you can absolutely, you can go to therapy. I’ll let you go, but you can’t. You absolutely cannot talk about me or anything that goes on in our home. So basically, I couldn’t talk about anything that [00:38:30] was bothering me. So as long as I did that, I could go to therapy. So I went to therapy and it didn’t work. I mean, it couldn’t work when I wasn’t being honest.
Fight The New Drug (38:41):
You had mentioned your suicide attempt. You talk about this in your book as well. What did Richard do in your house after your suicide attempt?
Oh, man. So yeah, I had had suicidal thoughts previously, [00:39:00] and I had addressed them. I had been in the hospital for them, and then I had this real attempt, and he was so furious with me. He gave me an ultimatum saying that I was going to have to be healthy, and I couldn’t bring any more attention, negative attention to him. He felt like it was making people question what was going on with me that I was so upset. And in the psych ward, they [00:39:30] put you, when you’re suicidal, they put you in a room that it’s not padded or anything, but it’s a blank room. You don’t get sheets or anything that you could harm yourself with. They’re very careful. And there’s a camera that watches you all the time, and it’s kind of dehumanizing, but I understand why they do it. But he kind of wanted to do that himself.
So he would, in our bathroom, our master bathroom, he would [00:40:00] tear out. He took down the shower curtain, the shower curtain rings, the towels razor with shampoo bottles. Every little thing in the bathroom, he tore out of there until it was just an empty blank space. And then he locked me in it, and he’s like, go ahead and hurt yourself now. I dare you. Go ahead and hurt yourself. And I’d be locked in this bathroom for hours. And there was a little window, and I remember thinking, [00:40:30] I’m going to jump out the window. I can’t be locked in here. I was going crazy, and the window was just too small, I couldn’t fit. And so yeah, I’d be locked in there for hours and hours at a time, and I’d just bang on the door and he just would not let me out. And then in our bedroom, our master bedroom, he changed the locks on the doors so that they were key locks from the inside.
And he would lock me in the bedroom. And [00:41:00] sometimes he would get the kids and he’d bring them into the area right outside the bedroom door, and he’d spank them and they’d be crying, mommy, mommy, stop help. And crying for me. And I’m like, at the door, I’m here. I’m here, you guys, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. And he’s giving them harsh treatment just to make them cry and just to torture us. And it was just for torture. But he wore the key to the bedroom and to the bathroom on a necklace around his neck [00:41:30] so that I had to always wake him up or go get him anytime I wanted to use the restroom, he tied me to him at night, leg to leg so that I couldn’t get up and leave the bed without him knowing. I mean, I couldn’t even roll over. And it was my responsibility to make sure he got a good night’s sleep. So if he rolled over, I had to adjust my legs so that he had enough slack in the rope that he could be comfortable. Eventually it [00:42:00] got so bad where he didn’t even let me sleep in the bed. He made me sleep on the floor, no blankets, no pillows, just on the hard floor next to the bed. He said I didn’t deserve to sleep in a bed with him, so he turned my house into a prison. Yeah.
Fight The New Drug (42:15):
And were there cameras involved in that as well?
Yes. Yes. So I never saw them, but he told me he had cameras installed in the house. And there was one time I was just feeling spunky, which [00:42:30] was rare because I usually followed what he said to a T. And I flipped the bird in the house and turned a circle and the phone rang instantly and it was him. And he’s like, what did you just do? And I was like, nothing. And he’s like, I know what you just did. I can see you. And so that proved to me that he did have cameras in the home. Yeah, I think he still has them. Actually. I think he still has them in the home. My kids, when they go over there, they [00:43:00] tell me that they’re still cameras.
Fight The New Drug (43:01):
Yeah. First of all, I’m so sorry you had to experience all of this, and I think anyone listening to this can see your incredible strength in being able to share this story and help bring awareness to what these situations are like. But I do want to kind of lean into the fact that you were able to end this marriage. And I’m curious to know if you’re, as much as you’re comfortable sharing, how did you leave Richard in the end? What was that experience [00:43:30] like? I know there are some difficult pieces of that as well.
Yeah. So I didn’t really consider divorce because partly because in the contract to have children, he made me sign my name saying that I would never, ever divorce him under any circumstance. Now I didn’t think, oh gosh, I signed that. I can never do it. But it kind of had some weight on me because I had promised to never do that, so I didn’t think about it often. I didn’t [00:44:00] daydream about it too much until it got nearer to the end. I caught him cheating. He had probably been cheating for years. I had suspected it, but this time I found an email. So I had proof that he had written to her, and my dad actually helped me. He had a contact from the military who was a private investigator, and so he helped me hire him, [00:44:30] and we were hoping to get pictures of him having an affair.
I was a lot naive back then. I thought, oh, if the judge sees that he’s having an affair on his wife and kids, I’ll for sure get custody. That will look really bad. I don’t know what weight, honestly, that would even play in a courtroom today, but that was my thinking back then. And so we hired this private investigator and he went to take pictures. [00:45:00] I guess he got the pictures. He said he had pictures of them kissing on her doorstep and in his car at work, but I never actually got the pictures because of what happened later. That would end the marriage.
I can’t say that I was so brave that I just walked out one day. That didn’t happen. I didn’t have the mental resources for that, although I would’ve liked to. I did [00:45:30] try to leave on a couple of occasions. It’s stupid. It sounds ridiculous. Looking back at it, why did I think that I had to leave in the middle of the night? But for some reason at the time, that’s what I thought I had to. And so I went and woke up the kids and had their bags packed, and I tried to leave in the night, but he caught us both times. And so I gave up on that. So then that’s kind of where my suicide attempts come in, because I didn’t think that I could ever leave him. And so that was the only way [00:46:00] out. But he actually, one night I was really sick and I was laying on the couch and he came in and he used some expletives and he’s like, what’s the matter with you?
I said, I just don’t feel well. And he’s like, well, it better not be a mental illness this time. It better be a physical one. And I was like, it is. I’m going to go to bed. And I went to bed first, and then he came to bed after all of a sudden I didn’t prompt. I did nothing [00:46:30] to bring this on. He just all of a sudden randomly just kicked me as hard as he could in my shin with his foot, I think with his heel. I instantly sat up and I said, what was that for? And he said, I just hate you. I hate you so much. And I remember laying next to him that night and looking at the back of his head and just thinking, well, I did have thoughts of this man’s going to kill me and it’s going to look like I committed suicide, [00:47:00] and he’s going to get rid of me in that way.
So I did have some of those thoughts going on. Whether they were rational or not, I don’t know. But I still didn’t have any intentions of going to the police. I did. It’s kind of weird. I had a doctor appointment two days later, and it was like subtly, I was hoping that they would see the injury, but I also [00:47:30] didn’t want to be the one that said, Hey, look what he did. So I wore a skirt. I was like, my middle ground, I’ll wear a skirt if they see it. I didn’t even think it through. I didn’t even think, well, if they see it, what will happen? I was just in survival mode. So I wore this skirt and went to the doctor appointment, and sure enough, he saw the bruise and he’s like, what happened to you? Where did you get that nasty bruise?
What’s going on? And I started crying, and he was a doctor I had never seen before. He was just [00:48:00] the on-call doctor, because my regular doctor was out. And he’s like, if you don’t go to the police and report this, I will. So one of us is going today. He said, if you go, they’ll probably just document it and nothing will come from it. And I was like, okay. Under those circumstances, I agreed to go, went to the police station, and of course, once they saw it, they said they were opening a case against him and that they were going to arrest [00:48:30] him, and that was the last, so that morning was the last time that I saw him outside of a courtroom. Yeah,
Fight The New Drug (48:38):
I just want to say you had said it wasn’t brave or to walk away. I think it’s very brave that you endured what you endured, and were able to have the courage to go to the police station and then pursue what came after that in kind of the legal process.
[00:49:00] Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight The New Drug is a non-religious and a non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science, facts and personal accounts. If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links [00:49:30] included with this episode. If you find this podcast helpful, consider subscribing and leaving a review. Consider Before Consuming as made possible by listeners like you. If you’d like to support consider Before Consuming, you can make a one-time or recurring donation of any amount at ftnd.org/support. That’s F-T-N-D.O-R-G/support. Thanks again for listening. We hope you join us [00:50:00] for part two of Julie’s story on the next episode of Consider Before Consuming,
Speaker 4 (50:06):
Some people don’t realize that sex trafficking shares a variety of symbiotic connections to pornography. There are all kinds of connections between pornography, sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking. Often, they’re one and the same, even in the production of mainstream porn. Sex trafficking can still occur, and it happens more often than most people think. In fact, according to [00:50:30] the International Labor Organization, an estimated 6.3 million people are in situations of forced commercial sexual exploitation, legally defined as sex trafficking At any point in time, even more disturbingly, more than one in five sex trafficking victims are children. These can be discouraging statistics to hear, but we all have the power to decrease the demand for sex trafficking by raising awareness of its connections to pornography. You [00:51:00] can learn more about how sex trafficking is connected to pornography and what you can do to help decrease the demand for it at ftnd.org/trafficking.
That’s F-T-N-D.O-R-G/trafficking. Deciding to quit porn in the new year. Get help from our friends at Fortify Meet fortify and online recovery program that has helped tens of thousands of individuals around the world stop their porn habit in its tracks. Fortify’s [00:51:30] free science-based recovery platform, Fortify’s free Science-based recovery platform is dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography you can connect with others. Learn how to better understand your compulsive behavior and track your recovery journey. Make this the year you quit pouring for good. Join Fortify for free today at ftd.org/fortify. That’s ftd.org/fortify. [00:52:00] You’re not alone. Recovery is possible. Quit porn for good with fortify. Buy the New Drug is an affiliate of Fortify and may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.
Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.
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