Dear 37 Million Ashley Madison customers: Welcome to Our World

I am a registered sex offender. Now, before you get convulsions, reach for your pistol, knife, baseball bat, scream obscenities, flip me off, or whatever, hear me out, because for once, it’s not about me, it’s about YOU.

Yes, you. You had decided that your marriage or relationship was a bit stale, so you succumbed to the catchy Ashley Madison tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.” You went ahead, created a profile, put in all your sexual perversions and desires, and even fudged a few things like your paunch and your hairline. Finally, you wanted the premium subscription, so you used your credit card as one would do at Amazon or Ebay.

Then you had some fun, at least for a while. You used the Ashley Madison message board and chat functions to flirt, and possibly arranged to hook up with other members. You may have even done so, hooking up in a nearby city or perhaps a clandestine vacation while you told your family you are on a “business trip.” All in good fun, all in secrecy, yet many of the ┬ádetails of that trip would still be in the site chat.

Finally, you decided you had enough. You may have had pangs of guilt, perhaps you were fearful of a text gone awry that your spouse may discover, or frankly you just did everything as a thrill, and now it was time to reenter the world of grownups. Whatever. You might have even paid the $19 “full delete” option that supposedly deleted all information about yourself from the site, “just in case.”

Phew! Imagine if you had to go to your spouse, your parents, your children, your boss, your friends, your neighbors, your clients, and… well, virtually ANYONE. Admit it: you would have rather died than admit to anything you did in conjunction with Ashley Madison. Even if you were there superficially, without intent of meeting (yeah, right), there’s your name and credit card information (which they require even if you never make any purchases), along with all those sexy and, at times, eerily creepy text.

Guess what, Casanova? You have been PWN’d. Your information is now in the hands of the people who have ABSOLUTELY no morals and have ABSOLUTELY no care whether your feelings get hurt or not. More importantly, they KNOW if they release the information about you, your carefree life as you know it is OVER. Fini. Done. Zip. Pow. Bye bye.

So what do you do? Well, perhaps I exaggerated a tad. But just a tad.

For now, you have a lot of dread, and you should. The assumption you should make, at this time, is that your information will be released. Everyone’s going to know about how you can’t stand your wife, that your boss is an absolute klutz, that your kid’s elementary teacher is hot. They are going to know about that night in the next town over when you took the plunge, or about that week where you were flying to Miami for that boring “sales presentation.”

Everyone will what your plans REALLY were: the wining and dining, the romantic jaunts, the absolute passion in the hotel rooms and even in the pool at 3 in the morning. Everything.

Now your spouse knows. She knows the sweet names you called your lover. Your boss and work associates know your sexual proclivities. Your child’s elementary school teacher will now remember every conversation she had with you, trying to associate ANY creepiness with what was said. Your kids are going to be excoriated at school. If anything, your parents will feel the pain even more than you. Your shame in their eyes, will only be superseded by the shame of your children.

Welcome to Hell, and this is where I, a registered sex offender say not with glee, well not MUCH glee anyway, Welcome to Our World.

Your job? Forget about it. Even if you keep it, at best everyone is going to look at you with wariness. Females especially may be a bit put off. Your coworkers may request that you leave the office. Work production will be severely constrained. Finally, that day may come where your boss will say, “In my office, please,” while looking over your shoulder to ensure that Security is ready to escort you off the premises once your termination interview is over.

Everyone in the office watching you. Everyone is judging you, and condemning you. For the rest of their lives, this is how they will remember you…as that creepy coworker that likes wearing nylons or whatnot. Now, had you had an affair but it WASN’T publicized but just found out conventionally, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Public disclosure however is far, far more insidious, as it is not just about the information, but about the projection of the animosity that will now come forth.

Your spouse? Family? Even worse, particularly for male cheaters (which will account for over 85% of breached AM accounts). She will feel hurt. She will feel powerless, angry, betrayed. But it’s FAR worse. Again, public disclosure of issues will create chasms that will prevent any meaningful chance at communication. Utter humiliation, even shame. She may get sympathy at her job, but to be blunt, she’s damaged goods. Damaged from YOUR infidelity, and she bears that brunt. She may not lose her job, thankfully, but the utter loss of trust will greatly impact your relationship–should she even decide to remain with you.

Your children may not suffer that much, depending on their age, but their lack of respect for you will be monumental. They will feel a variety of emotions: fear, anger, indifference, all generated by the act of mistrust you never intended to let them know. Your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews… need I go on? Now you know how we feel. At least for now. This is the ongoing DAILY life of sex offender registrants ALONG WITH THEIR FAMILIES. For now, you are us.

Welcome to our world. Sit tight, it’s going to be a rocky road.

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