real life

'While in isolation, I found out my husband had spent $500,000 on escorts.'

Just before last Christmas, I asked my husband to leave. He was suffering from alcohol addiction. Our three sons were starting to be exposed to his behaviour and I asked him to get himself together. I was going to stick by him. I said, “I’ll give you a year, two years. Go and get some help. We’re all here for you.”

We were living in a $5 million waterfront home in Sydney. It was going to be our forever home, but I decided to put it on the market. I thought, “Let’s just get rid of debt. Maybe this guy needs a break.”

I needed access to the bank accounts. I had to really push for it. It dragged out until I threatened him with a lawyer and he sent me everything I needed.

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There were three accounts that had just been closed down and that raised a red flag. I said, “Oh, well, maybe I should check them.” As soon as I mentioned that, I saw a side of him that I had never ever seen. He was really angry at me. He said, “You better not check those statements line by line.” I said, “Oh, yes, I will. Now I will.”

I had just gone into isolation with my sons and I started going over the statements. I discovered payments to escorts, once or twice a month, going back years.

There were top-notch escorts and brothels, taking escorts out for dinner, drugs, all sorts of things. He would spend $3,000 to $10,000 in one night, or in a two-day binge. I added up approximately $500,000.

I found that he had borrowed a lot of money from people, including his father, and that money went to fund his lifestyle.

He’d been living a double life.

He’s in the advertising industry. He’s charming, charismatic, the life of the party. Everyone likes him. He’s very generous. He’s always been a big drinker.

In his twenties, I thought it was normal. In his thirties, I thought, “Ah, he’ll grow out of it.” In his forties, it was next level.

He’d be out drinking, not coming home, booking hotels in the city. Family members would say to me, “It’s not normal,” and I’d say, “Yeah, but he’s stressed. He’s in the advertising industry. They’re always out, entertaining.” There was always an excuse.

He wouldn’t go to Alcoholics Anonymous. He didn’t think he had a problem. He’s a classic addict narcissist.

There was gaslighting in our relationship. He’d be like, “I’m going away for work tomorrow,” and I’d be like, “My God, again?” And he’d be like, “Yeah, I told you,” and I’d be like, “Yeah, you probably did.” I always believed him.

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The turning point came when he didn’t turn up to our youngest son’s birthday party. It was a birthday we’d been looking forward to and we were so excited. He’d been out and decided not to come home. I remember it being a really stressful day.

When I asked him to leave just before Christmas he went to a hotel room. He had an escort with him for the whole time until he turned up back at the house on Christmas Day. My family were there, and he made a speech about family and how important it was to him.

He disappeared for a while and I thought he was in the toilet. When he came back he was all sketchy and shaky. I looked at him and said, “Are you okay?” He said, “You’re making me feel weird because you’re saying that.”

Ten minutes later, he said he needed to go to his parents’ house because he thought his dad had food poisoning. After he left, we found white powder which we were sure was cocaine. When I asked him about it he told me, “No, it was pavlova.”

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Once I got the bank statements and found out about the escorts, I had days where I just couldn’t function. I was having nightmares of escorts walking into my room at night. Every morning my dad made sure I was getting up: “Are you okay? Go for a walk.”

I run my own business but during isolation, everything’s been quiet. I haven’t had to go anywhere, so I’ve been able to nurture myself. I wouldn’t have been able to sit in the bath for an hour if I’d been running my sons around to their sports five days a week. I thought, “I need to know why this happened.”

I’ve listened to self-help podcasts. I’ve had my psychologist online. I’ve had online spiritual healing.

The healer said, “I know many women who are in your situation but don’t want to give up the lifestyle.”

I said, “I couldn’t care less about the lifestyle.”

I’ve pulled myself out of it. I’m so much better now.

Obviously, I’ve got lawyers on board but I am absolutely frightened. There are credit cards that I didn’t know about. My husband – my ex-husband – is still spending at a rapid rate. Becoming complacent has caused this. You assume you can trust. I used to run the finances and then over the years things just got beyond me. We’ve got trust funds and all sorts of things.

I’ve got three children. I’ve got to put a roof over their heads. I’ve got to start again.

COVID-19 kicks in, we have no control over that. I’ve got no control over my finances. I’ve had to learn to chill. It’s day by day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

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