Tag Archive | valium

Revealed Chapter 5: Obedience and the Barter

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.

Great Meadow maximum security correctional facility (also known as “Comstock”). Located just a ways north of Glens Falls, NY

 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!***

Revealed Chapter 4: Imprisoned ~

*Note ~ the next few chapters are especially hard for me to reveal, as they show me at my weakest as a woman, and as a mother.*

 In 1982 I moved my little family, which consisted of a divorced me, and my daughters Kristen and Karalyn at ages 4 and 2 years old, into the city of Syracuse.  I decided that, after the divorce, I needed to do something to propel my life forward on my own, so I enrolled in business school, attending nights while I took care of the girls during the day.  We moved into some low income housing only a block or so down the street from the school, and we relied on public assistance for our rent, meals and utilities… and pretty much everything else.  I had a car, and attempted to keep it road-worthy, but it wasn’t working most of the time.  Thank God for buses! 

 But I got a good babysitter for my daughters while I attended school evenings.  She was also a business school student, who attended school during the day.  We became fast friends.  I also made other friends at school, one of which used to share her (what I thought at the time) unusual lifestyle of being married to a prison inmate.  Still, I was curious and we often talked of how she visited her husband at Auburn Correctional Facility, and all the various trappings that came with the lifestyle.  One evening she asked me if I was interested in being a pen pal (yet again) to a friend of her husband’s in Auburn Correctional.  I pressed her for more information, and then agreed and got the address and wrote my first letter that very night.  Within a few days, I received an answer back! 

 BH was a charismatic inmate, 3 years older than me, and with much more worldly experience.  He was in his 3rd year at Auburn Correctional of an 8 ¼ to 25 year sentence for the manslaughter of his second wife.  He never even bothered to profess his innocence to me, as most inmates do.  He accepted the fact that he’d injected her with too much heroin when they had been partying together.  She died from the overdose.  I don’t know what it was I found so fascinating about this man that I had to meet him… perhaps it was his history riddled with crimes, or his exciting biker lifestyle (he was a member of a gang out of Rochester that was notorious for violence).  But I decided I wanted to get to know this person.  I was shown the processes involved for visiting an inmate in a state penitentiary, and made arrangements to visit him on the same day my friend was visiting her husband, so she could show me the ropes.

 Upon arriving at Auburn Correctional, you are required to wait outside the welcome area until it opens up.  A myriad of people wait with you, first come, first serve.  Sometimes buses would pull up and dozens of people would disembark from New York City or other distant places, coming to see their husband, father, uncle etc.  Once the doors opened and you went inside, there were lockers to place anything you would not be allowed to take inside… which was pretty much everything.  You would have to submit to a metal detector, and a pat down once through the metal detector.  Then you would pass through double barred doors to get into the visiting area, which contained tables and chairs, a few vending machines, doors to public restrooms, and guards.  Lots of guards, who watched your every move.  They chose your seat for you, and you would report to the guard desk and they would tell you which alpha-numeric table you would be seated at, then you would go and take your seat to wait for your inmate to be called out from behind locked down doors.  After the usual 10-15 minute wait, BH strolled into the visiting room.  Having never seen me before, he approached the guard desk to ask which table he was assigned, then he found me at the appropriate assigned table.  He was my kind of attractive:  blond, muscular from working out daily, although he was rather unassuming and the same height as me.  He sat down and introduced himself as he looked around to see what other inmates were coming into the room to visit with their loved ones.  There were women with children of all ages, and men visiting their sons perhaps.  BH was surveying the room to see if there were any potential confrontational inmates there ~ guys he didn’t get along with on the “inside”.  Seeing no rivals, his once guarded disposition easily melted into happy to see me.  We would visit for about 6-8 hours before being ushered back out of the visiting room at the end of visiting hours ~ around 4 pm.  We’d say our goodbyes and make plans for the next time I could get to see him.

 It didn’t take long, maybe 5 or 6 visits, before BH began to pressure me to bring him “things” into the prison.  Sometimes it would be a simple “care package” of foods that he liked but couldn’t get inside.  But he was not shy about telling me his penchant  for alcohol and drugs.  He explained that he regularly made his own “alcohol” behind bars using potatoes and bread ~ the fascinating process has been long-forgotten.  And he was not without his marijuana as well, but now, he explained, he wouldn’t have to buy it on the inside, I could bring it to him.  Of course, everything was at my expense.  Me, depending on public assistance to support myself and two daughters, and now an inmate.  I was dutiful.  He seemed to really like me, and I wanted to keep it that way.  This person was the only prospect I had for male companionship at the time.  So I learned from my business school friend, and from BH, how to introduce illegal contraband into a state prison for consumption and resale.  What an adrenalin rush!  It even sounded cool.  About once every couple of weeks I would come to Auburn Correctional with a “package” for my new boyfriend, and I learned the in’s and out’s of how to bring it in internally, and how he would take it back to his cell internally (if you get my drift).  After a couple of months of operating this way, now he had me believing that I “owed it to him” to help him out in this manner.  I was his girlfriend, and potentially soon to be his wife, so it was my duty to bring him whatever he asked for.  Eventually, this included prescription Valium. 

 I never knew that there were physicians in Syracuse that would see a patient for the sole purpose of collecting the money involved in the visit, plus give that patient pretty much whatever prescription they requested.  I was connected with two such physicians for the purpose of getting Valium for my inmate friend.  Boy was I scared in the beginning, but the docs made it easy.  No questions asked.  In fact, I was prescribed Valium (a downer for BH) and amphetamines (for me) from the same physician!  All meds available on Medicaid at no cost to me.  (thank you tax payers!) 

 The one day I was scheduled to bring in some pot during a visit, I wasn’t feeling well and could not internalize the contraband… so I just stuck it up under my bra and hoped for the best.  I also brought my two daughters with me to visit BH (they’d been there before).  I had no idea that the guards were actually anticipating my arrival and would be taking me aside and into the “inner workings” of the prison to be detained on suspicion of having contraband.  Oh yes!  I was found out and arrested that day.  I was taken from the prison to the state police barracks nearby where I was processed, my daughters in tow.  Was it fortunate that I had them with me?  The troopers said I would’ve been sent straight to jail but for them.  I was absolutely terrified.  I eventually found out that my own friend had been the cause of my demise, as he’d bragged to someone on the inside about having a reliable source of “stuff”, and word got around.  It only takes ONE rival to snitch to a guard that you’re coming and they’ve got you.  How naïve was I?!  A friend helped me get and pay for an attorney, and the charges were pled down and I got probation, plus I was banned from visiting BH (at any prison) for a period of one year.  I felt I could breathe easy for awhile, since I wouldn’t be pressured to bring him anything again for at least a year.  But, I soon found out there are other ways that inmates can have things on the inside.  “How about sending me some homemade Christmas cookies” he told me in a letter.  The letter included all the instructions on how to crush up the Valium pills into a fine powder and make blue icing (Valium pills are blue) for the Christmas cookies.  I was of such low self esteem that I was allowing this person to control my life from inside a state prison, pressuring me to do things that I really didn’t want to do, but chanced it anyway.

Auburn Correctional Facility, NYS DOC, Auburn, NY

 The next year was spent like this, letters and phone calls from Auburn Correctional, and I continued on with business school and raising my daughters.  Within 4 or 5 months, I got word that they were transferring BH to Attica State prison near Rochester/Buffalo.  The state doesn’t need to give a reason or have any rhyme to what they do, inmates can be transferred without notice to any state prison in the NYS system.  And so BH was gone from being local to me.  We continued to write, and he’d call when he could, and we’d decided that, once the year long ban was lifted, he and I would get married.  In the Spring of 1983 he was transferred back to Auburn, the ban was lifted in August, and in September 1983 we got married inside Auburn Correctional Facility.  Two of my friends from high school attended (best man & maid of honor).  The honeymoon, however, would have to be put off for a little while.  Conjugal visits were not easy to come by, but the day after our wedding, BH put in the appropriate “application” to be with me.  By Christmas he was transferred back to Attica, where he would have to re-apply.  I think it was around April or May before the application for a conjugal visit was approved by NYS Department of Corrections.

 This milestone in my new life involving the Department of Corrections would set the stage for a scary ride into my second marriage.  My life was already a train wreck waiting to happen.  Soon enough, soon enough.