STORIES: Mrs. K

STORIES

Statistics on Problem Gambling

Parts of Mrs. K's story may not be typical, but the effect of her husband's gambling addiction on her life, and her family's, is unfortunately common. The victims here are the relationships within the family.

Mrs. K and her husband raised six children —three of hers and three of his, her ex-husband is a cop. One child is a volunteer fireman. One child has downs syndrome, now living in a group home. The other five did well in school, have jobs — one daughter is a scholarship student at the local university's school of pharmacology.

Mrs. K and her husband have a big home, in an upper middle class neighborhood, and both imagine continuing this lifestyle. They've also paid a $140,000 gambling debt, in full, during the past 18 months.

"My husband had an affair, and it was with a casino", explains Mrs. K. "For two years, he spent his time, and our money. He stole from me, from our family. He stole all the good things he could have been doing with us, and what we could have used the money for. I didn't throw them away, he did."

"I almost wish he had slept with someone, had a traditional "affair" — that I could understand", she continues. "Hell, then I would have slept with someone... "My husband traveled for his job — his territory was from Michigan to Kentucky, so the kids and I would see him on weekends", Mrs. K remembers. "When he started gambling, I didn't think anything of it. I had no time because I was working and taking care of the kids." Her tone changes, "but then we were getting constant calls from loan sharks and credit-card companies, up to 250 calls a day!"

Her reaction was to hide. And drink to keep the fear away. She went to work, but came home and hid in her bedroom. After two hears, her despair and feelings of powerlessness led to her suicide attempt, with a bottle of tranquilizers and a 12 — pack of beer. And an arrest for driving while intoxicated, or DWI. That arrest took her to Drug Court, where she attended a mandatory session on problem gambling. That's when the crying started.

"I couldn't stop crying. For the first time I realized that my husband had a gambling addiction. And that his gambling had made me an alcoholic. So I went to the bank and got our bank records. Then I took them to the Gambling Court administrators to show them what I was dealing with. Drug Court opened my eyes to what I was doing to myself, Gambling Court helped me understand his problem."

"We had to take $90,000 out of our 201 K retirement plan, plus pay another $50,000 for credit card debts he had a charged. Nowadays, I speak to families and small groups about what happens to an addicted gambler's family. And I say it loud and slow, I tell them he stole $10,000 dollars, and I say it 14 times. And then they get it."

"I tell people to pay attention to their own finances", Mrs. K sighs. "And I tell them that gambling is invisible. My kids never went to a casino with their dad, they never saw him gamble. They can't understand it — they didn't witness it, they didn't "see" it. And I never talked him down."

"But they did see what his gambling did to me. They saw me passed out on a sofa, or felt my temper flare due to my drinking. They forgave him, but some of the kids haven't forgiven me. And yet what he did was so much worse..."

She concludes, with a shrug, "Am I happy? I don't know, I don't know... I know he's a good guy. And he's good to the kids. But if he ever gambles again, then I'm done."

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