This piece has been republished in light of Kate Langbroek’s comments on Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s affair with former staffer Vikki Campion. On Wednesday the radio host publicly condemned women that sleep with married men, saying, “It makes you a rotten person.” While many applauded, not everyone agreed. This is the other side of that conversation, from Jessica Michell…
I was the other woman.
This was despite everyone (society, media, professionals, acquaintances, family and friends) telling me not to. They commonly reference karma. They foresee how the story ends.
And still, I ignored them. I was hoping that we would be the exception to the rule. What I learned most of all, other than not to get involved with a taken man, was that society is still first to blame women. We are still quick to assume the woman was promiscuous or as the witch who enslaved our partners and led them astray.
I foolishly hoped that this would not happen to me. I mistakenly thought people who didn’t know me (or even people who did) would see that I wasn’t the monster.
Here is my story.
I was a colleague to his girlfriend. I knew they had problems because he confided in me. What he described to me was a dysfunctional, controlling and abusive relationship and what I saw was an insecure boy wanting a way out.
I'll admit I was attracted to him when I first met him. Did I pursue him? Absolutely not. I thought he just needed a friend as they only had each other in Australia. But I was the wrong type of friend, as I soon learned.
Feelings grew, and I remember thinking: I need to ask him how he feels and if he doesn't feel the same way then I need to stay away. Instead, he asked me. Then he gave me a long hug and sent me a message later saying "DON'T REPLY. I have never been this happy in such a long time. It's killing me not being with you."
But, as they all say, he couldn't leave. He made a decent list of excuses: he felt responsible for her, she had no family in Australia and owed more than she earned, she would hit him, she would report him to immigration.
So I waited.
Before we confessed feelings, he was already in the stages of an emotional affair. He would come over to my place with a moments notice. He would delete our messages (even though it was small talk), save me under an alias on his phone and, of course, lie to his girlfriend about where he was and ignore her calls.
In the space of a couple of weeks, he was seeing me behind her back more frequently. We never slept together at this time but, if he had his way, he would have. He told me he loved me after those two weeks and that his girlfriend was leaving to go back home. She then found out and (I suspect now) he tried to throw me under the bus.
She kicked him out, and he came running to me.
After word had got out, I felt alienated. Two of my closest friends had deleted me off Facebook, I received dozens of abusive messages, and I felt the tension at my work. I carried a lot of guilt but also distrust. I didn't trust my friends, I didn't trust my colleagues, and I didn't trust him. I ignored my gut feeling. I tried my hardest to make it work.
Listen: Can we agree with Kate Langbroek's stance on affairs and still be a good feminist? The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss... Post continues after audio.
Leading up to my girls' holiday away, I started asking for a bit more from him. I asked him to drop me off and pick me up from the airport. I asked him to pay for groceries so I could save money. I asked him to pay for rent while I was away. I asked him if he could take care of my cat for me. He seemed happy to do this.
Just before I went away for a holiday, the girl messaged me saying he was talking to her and planned to leave me while I was away. I asked him for the truth, and he told me she was lying. He said she must have found out I was going away and wanted to ruin my trip.
While I was away; she messaged me again but this time with a screenshot. I confronted him, and that's when he admitted to half of the truth. Admitting to the parts that he couldn't shy away from but said he would see me when I get back.
He had left for home three days before I came back. He left my cat that he was supposed to take care of while I was away, he took my things and left me three weeks behind in rent.
It didn't take me long to bounce back.
I'm thankful that my relationship ended as quickly as it begun and I am thankful for my friends and family for their support during all this.
What annoys me the most out of everything that has happened is the fact that I was seen as the devil. I was to blame. I had led him astray from his perfect relationship. I had planned to sweep him away with my cool girl act and flirtatious charm and am the sole reason he did what he did. This boy could not control himself. Nobody would stand a chance. I am to be feared because I am a woman.
Hide yo kids, hide yo husbands coz she bewitching errybody 'round here.
Never mind that he felt no commitment to her after two years of being together. Never mind that he was doing all this while they were both in a different country. Never mind that he pursued me and dropped the L bomb while still in a relationship with someone else. Never mind that he lived with me rent free and that I went over-the-top with Christmas gifts for him. Never mind that I had fallen in love with him.
I was to blame because I have a vagina, a butt and breasts.
I know I deserved the backlash and the alienation. I expected the consequences. What I did not expect was how little he received. While I was getting harassed online and alienated by my friends and colleagues during and after the relationship, he got nothing, and at the end of it all she ended up forgiving him. I was being called every name under the sun either online or behind my back. And the worst culprits? WOMEN.
I've always disliked how women attack other women rather than supporting each other. We don't have to like or agree with every female, but we should not strive to bring them down to make ourselves feel superior. We already have society trying to do that.
In Australia alone, one in three women experiences physical violence, one in five experience sexual violence, one in four experience emotional abuse and eight out of ten women between the ages of 18-24 are harassed on the street.
Do we really need to add female acquaintances abusing other women to the mix? Were we not entertained from the cat fights we experienced in high school?
Instead of behaving like children and making medieval testimonies, look at the bigger picture: who had made the commitment? And are they really that incapable of acting on their own accord?
When a man gets involved in an affair, instead of attacking the other woman, put shame on the man! Or at least shame them both equally. I mean we are after equality, right?
My conscience is clear. I have paid my dues and suffered the consequences of a hard-earned lesson. I don't believe I will ever go down this path again and I'm glad to have experienced it now, at a young age, knowing that I have learned from this. But from knowing what I know, I vow never to blame or attack the other woman whether it be in my relationships or someone else's.
I hope that you will at least think twice before you do the same.