I’ve thought about writing this since the hashtag started trending. I’ve watched all the stories come out. I’ve watched all the powerful men fall. And I’ve wondered, what about the women in the small jobs, the working mothers, where are their stories. I’ve waited and I’ve watched. No one is telling their stories. I couldn’t help but wonder why. And after wrestling with the thought of telling my story, I knew I had to tell it. I knew that I had to give voice to all the women like me. The ones not in Hollywood or DC, the ones that put up with sexual harassment and rape just to feed our children. So here’s my #metoo .
The year was roughly 1992, I was married to a guy who just got out of the army and had taken a job in North Georgia as a prison guard. We lived in a beautiful little town, Cornelia in a rundown house. Our marriage started out great. While we were dating he was kind, thoughtful, all the things that you look for in a mate. And then slowly after we got married, things changed. He was verbally abusive to me and I knew that he was cheating. But I wasn’t working so my options were limited. I was in a town where I knew no one, had no friends, had no one to run to, I was stuck until I figured something out. So I started trying to figure something out.
It was summertime, so I took my daughter to Cherokee, NC for a day trip. On the way back we stopped at a cute little amusement park in Franklin, NC. It was halfway up a mountain and the view was amazing. The park was in two parts. The lower part, you panned for gold and gemstones. You could tour the mines halfway up the mountain and then on top of the mountain there was an old west town. It was complete with a saloon with can-can girls, a gunfight in the street, old-time shops, an ice cream parlor and everything you would expect to find in a fake 1800’s town.
We panned for gemstones and of course, we found some. That’s when I met the owners, Alan and MaryLou. It was their job to convince us that the stones we found could be cut into beautiful gems and put into jewelry. At the time, I had no idea how it all worked and was amazed. Now, I know it’s all a scam but my daughter’s eyes were glistening at the thought of a rock she found becoming a gem and in a ring. So I broke down and spent some money to have her rock “cut” and put in a ring. She found a garnet and we put it in a heart-shaped setting. It would be ready in a week and they would mail it to me. Or since I was so close, I could come back and pick it up. We decided to come back and pick it up.
Alan and MaryLou had spent a lot of time talking with me that day, getting to know my daughter. I was getting to know them and learn about their business. They didn’t have any kids, no family in the area. They had started their panning operation in Dawsonville, GA and when Great American Mining Adventure (GAMA) came up for sale, they bought it with a partner who had an operation down the hill. He acted like a silent partner most days. They hadn’t owned GAMA long and still had a long way to go to get everything up and running. For example, there was a sky lift that went from the bottom of the park to the top that was not operational yet. As well as a couple of shops and a restaurant. Alan mentioned several times that they were looking for someone to hire on as a operations manager to get all that started and running. I mentioned that I had a degree in business administration and could probably brush up on the laws in NC and be able to do the job. At this point. we were just kinda joking about the whole thing. But there was really good chemistry between the three of us, so it wasn’t something that I put out of my mind. In fact, after we left, I thought about it the whole drive home. The drive was only an hour, which was no different than what I would have to drive if I were living in Atlanta. And there weren’t any good jobs for me around Cornelia. Sure I could work at the local Piggly Wiggly or Family Dollar but that wouldn’t be enough to support my daughter and myself.
My marriage was going south and I knew that I needed a game plan. On the return trip to pick up the ring, I talked to Alan and MaryLou about the job. We really talked about it. After hashing out the details, I became the new operations manager for GAMA. I would soon find out that, I was really the “everything girl”. The job had it’s perks, during the summer, my daughter could come with me. So I didn’t need to hire a sitter. And the pay was good enough that if/when my marriage fell apart, I would be okay. In fact, MaryLou had mentioned that in addition to their house on the property, there was a second house that was fully furnished. It was available to me in case the weather was ever bad and I got snowed in or if I just needed a place to stay.
So now you know the backstory of how I came to be at GAMA. Things were going fine for a couple of months. My marriage was holding on, we moved to a different town, my daughter started school. On nights, when I wouldn’t be home within an hour of her getting off the bus or my husband wouldn’t be home within an hour, she would ride the bus to the babysitter’s house.
And then things started falling apart at home. Rick was back to cheating. I didn’t know who it was with but I knew he was cheating. Every night when he came home before he even spoke to me, he had to take a shower. And he was late every night. It was always because there was a problem at the prison. We were fighting constantly. He was becoming more verbally abusive and starting to get physically abusive as well.
I went to work one day with bruises on my neck that I couldn’t cover. Alan took me into one of the empty stores where we were storing things to “look for something”. He cornered me and asked me what was going on. I broke down into tears and told him. He started “comforting” me. At first, he put his arm around me and was hugging me. Then he tried to kiss me and I pushed him away. And then I saw a side of Alan that I had never seen before. He grabbed me in the same spot where I had the bruises and forced me to kiss him. I bit his tongue when he shoved it in my mouth. He squeezed my neck harder.
He pulled back and I will never forget what he said “You stupid little bitch, don’t you get it? With your husband beating the fuck out of you, I can do anything I want to you as long my bruises match his bruises. And you know what, no one would believe you. Your husband is a prison guard and I’m a married business owner. I own you now.”
He drug me into the office part of the storefront, ordered me to take off my clothes and raped me. While he was raping me, MaryLou was calling him on the handheld radio and he paused long enough to answer her. He told her that he was making some business arrangements and he’d be done soon. When he finished, instead of ejaculating inside of me, he pulled out and ejaculated on the floor. He told me to clean myself up and clean up the floor. The last thing he said before he left the storefront was “Don’t let my wife catch you smelling like the cheap whore you are, that would be bad for you. And don’t think about telling her or quitting. She wouldn’t believe you if you told her, she hasn’t believed any of the others. And if you quit, I’ll tell your husband that I fired you because you were coming on to me.”
He left and I went into the bathroom and cried. Then scrubbed myself, trying to get his funk off of me. Then I cleaned up his mess on the floor. Then I went back to the bathroom and puked. When I made it back to the main store, MaryLou looked at me with concern and said: “Oh honey, Alan told me you weren’t feeling well and wanted to go home early, are you okay?” I told her that I probably just had something that didn’t agree with me. She told me to either go up to the house or go home if I thought I could make the hour drive. Since I didn’t want to be there, I gathered my things and left.
When I got home there was a message on the answering machine from Alan, reminding me of our big meeting the next day and how I had better not miss it. We didn’t have a big meeting. It was his way of threatening me. For the next eight months, several times a week, Alan would rape me in one of the storefronts. And if Rick had left bruises on me, then Alan made the bruises worse. During this time, I started taking all my paychecks and putting them in a separate bank account.
I came home one day, after being raped by Alan, and my husband who was supposed to be at work was home. I walked in the back door as quiet as could be. The stereo was on. I looked around the downstairs, he wasn’t there. I crept upstairs. I looked in my daughter’s room, she wasn’t in there and neither was he. I looked in the bathroom, he wasn’t in there. That left the master bedroom. The door was open and I could hear a noise. I carefully looked in. There was my babysitter, the sister of his best friend, bare-ass naked, on top of my bare-ass naked husband. I cleared my throat and said: When you are finished, you can both get the fuck out of this house. And don’t even think about starting anything because she’s 16 and what you are doing is illegal.
I went back downstairs to wait for my daughter to get home so I could keep her from going upstairs. Apparently, I ruined the mood for the sex-crazed couple because Miss Thang came running down the stairs dressed and out the front door. Rick took a few minutes longer. My daughter came home as he came down the stairs. I told her to go up to her room and close the door. Rick and I got into a huge fight, he slapped me, knocked me to the ground, sat on top of me and pulled his service pistol out. I screamed for my daughter to call the police. When she came out of her room, Rick turned and pointed the gun at her. In that moment, somehow, I found the strength to get him off me and take the gun away from him. I held the gun on him until the cops showed up. Neither one of us was taken into custody but he was removed from the home.
We divorced after that and I never went back to GAMA. I took all the money that I saved and rented an apartment in Gainesville, GA and got a job working for the local cable company. I never looked back.