Trust me when I tell you that one never really knows another person, even after being married and/or living with someone for a long time ~ even decades. I really only barely knew my new husband of less than a year when we had our first conjugal visit in Attica State Prison, Attica, NY in early 1984. I made arrangements for my two daughters, ages 3 & 5 at the time, to spend that weekend with my parents, I believe. I wonder now, what were my parents thinking? I can now put myself in their place, happily watching their precious granddaughters while their youngest daughter, at an inexperienced age of 25, goes off for a three day weekend with her new murderous husband inside the walls of a maximum security prison. What were they thinking? What was I thinking?! They never said a word; never said “don’t go, it’s too dangerous”, or “what are you doing?”. How I wish they had. I wished they’d have talked some sense into me, or at least tried. Perhaps they felt it was futile. If only they’d tried.
I was excited at the prospect of getting to know my new husband of less than a year in the “Biblical sense” as they call it. I had consulted with other friends of mine who had attended these types of visits ~ conjugal visits. You go to the correctional facility on a Friday early morning, and you leave (potentially in one piece) on Sunday afternoon. During that time, the couple (with or without family/children) are housed in a mobile home in the middle of the facility complex ~ where several (maybe 6 or 7) mobile homes are made available for such conjugal visits. The guards on the towers surrounding the yard are on watch 24/7, and the inmate must “report” to the guards every 6 hours around the clock. That means they must open the door of the mobile home, stand in the doorway and wave to the nearest guard and stay there until they are recognized and acknowledged. Then they can return to their business. If they do not report as required or on time, a guard comes to your abode and makes his presence known in a very boisterous way… to be certain that everyone is “safe” and all is well. They come heavily armed and with an attitude because you made them come down off that wall.
The visiting spouse or family brings all food items that will be used over the weekend, as well as any clothing and personal items that are needed. Everything is rifled through meticulously when you check in at the yard. Well, they don’t check internally. Conjugal visitors are then lead to the mobile home that will be occupied for the next 36 or so hours to wait for their inmate of choice.
I would begin unpacking and refrigerating perishable food items before BH would make his entrance. I would also “unpack” his supply of drugs that I was required to smuggle in, being careful not to be in view of any windows where guards can see in. The anticipation of waiting for my new husband to arrive was distracting… that and knowing I’m deep inside a state prison known for riotous uprisings, with relatively no protection from my point of view. At last he would arrive, and we would begin getting to know each other. Besides a few “quirks”, I thought we would have a good time and bond and be able to relax for a change, rather than sitting in an uncomfortable visiting room for hours on end.
I was immediately introduced to some of BH’s “wifely rules” (I guess you could call them). I was not allowed to be alone, anywhere, throughout the visit. Yes, even when I had business in the bathroom, whether it be a shower, a bath, or “using the facilities”, he would be there ~ watching me. Conversely, if he had to do the same, I would be required to follow him and remain in his presence at all times. Even if I was asleep when he had to report every 6 hrs., I was awakened to be at his side near the door. That’s tough to get used to. I was required to perform whatever sexual favor he deemed he wanted, whenever he wanted it and wherever he wanted it. The favor was not required to be returned to me. Additionally, I was not allowed to share in the stash of drugs I had so dutifully brought into the facility, unless he felt he wanted to share. He would eat whenever he wanted to, and I would be required to fix whatever it was he wanted. Our meals/menus and list of food items had been previously decided upon, and everything prepared was to his liking. It basically turned out that I was his “beck and call girl” and he was stoned most of the 36+ hours we were there. Believe it or not, I was happy with it. I convinced myself that I needed the “structure” of such a relationship to keep me in line, as he put it. I was brainwashed in one weekend. Granted, the brainwashing started long before our conjugal visit. This is just what he used to sink his controlling clutches deeper into me and cement my complete obedience to him, inside and outside the prison walls. And, indeed, I was completely obedient.
Months later he put my obedience to the ultimate test with our next (and last) conjugal visit. He had been transferred to Great Meadow Correctional near the Vermont border, and we were granted a conjugal visit inside that facility in early 1984 ~ it was around our 1st anniversary, I think. It warranted the same rules/regulations as Attica, as with all maximum security prisons, I presumed. I was to bring steak, potatoes, vegetables, his favorite snacks and Valium and pot. This time, though, (he said) things would be a little bit different, and he had a “surprise” for me. My pre-visit shopping list included several sex toys that he’d requested I bring. And, I assume, that the guards are used to seeing such things in their luggage search. So I dutifully purchased what he’d requested without question. After all, I’m sure he knew what he was doing.
When I arrived on Friday, and we got settled in to our accommodations, he began to explain to me that the inmate prison population has a system of “barter”, and that he’d made a “deal” with a friend of his for some of my time during this visit. The friend was doing life, and would never have a conjugal visit or be able to get married etc., so it was arranged that, for the exchange of some drugs, this friend would come to our mobile home during the visit on the pretense of fixing an appliance that had stopped working, which is common practice. Of course, there was no broken appliance. After the exchange of drugs, I would be taken by the friend into the bedroom where I would be expected to do as asked for a period of 3 hours. I was not allowed to say “no” or refuse in any way, as that would make my new husband “look bad” in the eyes of the prison population, once word got out that I was uncooperative. It was all about him being a “stand up guy”.
As nervous as I was, the guy (I never knew his name) arrived at about 5:30 p.m. and he took me by the hand to the bedroom. I looked nervously and unsure at BH, and he smiled and nodded that I should go. The door closed and I was at the literal mercy of this person whom I’d never met. After the first slap that sent me reeling, I knew I was in for a long and painful time of it. For three hours, he beat and raped me time and again, while my husband sat in the livingroom watching t.v. and getting wasted. I was not allowed to scream, or bring attention from the guards for fear of retribution from my husband. But I managed to cry silently throughout. This person was obviously experienced at hitting where bruises and cuts would not show, and I found out the hard way that the “toys” were for his benefit, not BH’s. Finally, after the third hour passed, he left me there barely conscious and exhausted.
I remember laying there for awhile trying to catch my breath and regain my senses, and I was thinking how glad I was that I hadn’t brought Kristen and Karalyn as I’d thought I might. Thinking about what they might be doing at that moment as they revel in their grandparent’s loving care. I was grateful then that my parents were such caring, loving grandparents and I was sure I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I finally got the courage to take inventory of my cuts and bruises. There was a first aid kit available, but I wasn’t allowed to use the band-aids as they are “counted” before and after each visitor, and using more than one would’ve brought attention and questions. So I took comfort in a cold wash cloth. I thought it odd that visitors are searched so vigorously upon arrival, but no one took a second look at you when you left.
The next morning, my husband said I should “feel lucky”, as he was doing life for serial rape and murder (hence no conjugal visits). I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by “feel lucky” ~ surely this guy wouldn’t have killed me right there? Then again, what did he have to lose? Seeing such a cold attitude from BH made me realize right there that this was a sick and dangerous individual. My devotion and thoughts of complete obedience began to wane right then and there. I knew this was the beginning of the end of my second marriage… short as it was.
Despite my conviction, this would not be the only such experience before I found my way to the Light. That would be years ahead!
*** This is the first time I’ve shared this story with anyone other than my current husband. It has been a dark, dark secret pushed way down inside of me for all these years. No more! Women need to be empowered and educated so that these or similar things do not happen to them! Please do not shed a tear or feel sorry for me that I experienced this in my life, for it was part of my journey to freedom and empowerment of my own self. Indeed, it was difficult revisiting these memories as I wrote, but I knew that someone might read this and identify and realize that you do not have to be someone’s door mat. You are better than that, I am better than that!***