Living in the Shadow of Crime
When people are indicted for white collar crimes their names often appear in local and sometimes national newspapers. Sometimes, if it's a truly egregious crime, the story may be presented to the public via both print and broadcast news. Regardless, this is where the public, (including some family members), get their first inkling that there is a criminal amongst them and the public is fed every detail of the crime including disclosure of the financial harm done to those that were preyed upon. That is as it should be. "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time" applies in every sense of that sentiment. But as devastating as it is to those who have been wronged financially, it is threefold as devastating to immediate family members who will end up losing everything as well. Not only are finances obliterated but families are torn apart and children will lose both parents; one to incarceration and the other left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. Neither of these scenarios leave children with a parent who is able to function normally.
While the public is consumed with every detail of the deed the perp's family has to endure the agonizing process that ensues beginning with the initial investigation and ending, in most cases, with incarceration. The road is long and wrought with devastating worry about what is to come. Life is lived in a state of panicked limbo because it can take many years from grand jury evidence hearings to incarceration. We never know when the next axe will fall and yet we are supposed to carry on with our daily lives with as much normalcy as possible. Assets may be frozen immediately or it may take months or even years. Planning is next to impossible.
It all begins with the search warrant. Having armed detectives rifle through every nook and cranny of our home was an invasion of privacy on an epic scale. Although we knew it was inevitable there was no warning of their arrival. After going through years of our financial documents they left with boxes full of "evidence". They also took not only my husband's two lap top computers but they also took our family desk top and did not allow me the time to do a quick final back up. It is next to impossible to retrieve these items once removed from the home. As such, any data or family photos that have been stored are lost forever. Back up your computers on a regular basis!
My point is that white collar criminals leave a debris field that is strewn with wreckage far and wide as a result of their selfish behavior. It is well documented that most marriages do not survive the fallout of white collar crime because it is a betrayal beyond understanding. It ruins lives all the way around and the shame and humiliation tends to drive families into hiding and the financial decimation leaves most families in poverty. Although I have not sought professional help thus far, I do believe that I and other white collar wives suffer acutely from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which makes getting on down the road nearly impossible at times. Having the rug pulled out from under our lives in such an abrupt and far reaching manner is indescribable.You may have heard of our husbands and know of their crimes, their past and future, but you don't know us.
Since beginning this blog several months ago I've been in contact with a few other white collar wives that mirror my own experience with white collar criminal husbands/ex-husband but I know there are hundreds, even thousands of other wcws out there who are reluctant to reach out for the very reasons I have stated above. They are shut down and shut out. Although I blog on a fairly regular basis there are some women who have began blogs and then shortly thereafter have disappeared back into their misery. I am always struck by the fact that there are no comments left for these women who are reaching out for help and or acknowledgment. They live in the shadow of crime and it's unfair and unwarranted. So I want to honor the women I have heard from and even those who I have not heard from and be a voice for them so that maybe they will come out of the shadows and begin to live in the light again. I want to share with you something another white collar wife wrote on her blog after I commented on her post. She writes:
"I began this blog hoping for some connection. Someone out there knowing what it is truly like and praying that they could promise me it will all be ok. That there is some sort of cosmic karma that will know what my children and I have been through as additional victims in this nightmare. I was discouraged because things didn't get better and of course no one could promise me anything.
But yesterday someone left a comment and it made my day. It was great to know that I am not alone."
I ask, as I always do, for other white collar wives to reach out and support others who are facing this most difficult challenge. There is safety in numbers and we cannot face this nightmare alone. If you have reached the other side then please pay if forward. If your struggle continues than please reach out for support.
Please leave a comment if this blog piece has touched you in any way. Whoever you may be. Tell your story.
You are not alone.