Interview with Former Playboy Bunny Triggers Painful Memories
March 23, 2018 by Mona Carrington
A major news network (CNN – Anderson Cooper) aired an interview last night with former Playboy Bunny Karen McDougall about her alleged ten-month affair with Donald Trump. The hour-long interview was followed by a discussion with prominent panelists. Watching it was painful but it also brought new insights related to an extremely difficult experience in my life. Some of the interview highlights follow along with my reactions.
Interview: In answer to general questions about the relationship, she said their personal relationship ran for 10 months (in 2006 – 07) – at a time when he was married to his current wife who had recently given birth to their youngest son. She spoke of how they met at an event and how charming and nice he was, and how he soon after asked her out. She acknowledged knowing that he was married but she was drawn to him and wanted to spend time with him.
My Reaction: The man who nearly destroyed my life was married as well. I just didn’t know it. He was leading a double life and leading me on for way more than 10 months. We met at an event and he followed up with me and asked me out. He knew I was impressed and would want to spend time with him.
Interview: In being asked how they spent time together she said they traveled and he took her to his hotels, his homes and various other places. He often had her escorted through back entrances of hotels and clubs (in a way that felt to her like he was avoiding being seen with her) but they were also seen together in public and he didn’t seem to mind. He said it was fine for him to be seen with her at the hotels and golf resorts and that no one there would be concerned about it.
My Reaction: We traveled to many places. We had a very public life and with many friends. Even though he had a separate home with a wife, he didn’t hide our relationship as far as the outside world was concerned. In fact, in some ways it seems that he flaunted it at places where she could have seen us or her friends could have seen us and told her.
Interview: When asked if she had been in love with him at the time of their affair she answered Yes. When asked if he ever told her that he loved her she said that he told her all the time.
My Reaction: I loved my life partner with all of my heart and soul. He was the love of my life. He told me all the time that he loved me and that we’d always be together.
Interview: The interviewer asked if, in retrospect, she really did love him and if she believed he really loved her. Both answers were Yes.
My Reaction: I loved my man more than I’ve ever loved before. Despite the extreme deception and the horrible things that he did to me, I still do love him. I could never be with him again but I will always love him. I’ll never know if he ever had love for me. I believed he did and I want to still believe it. But I know so much more now that runs contrary to there being any love on his part – and even to his capacity to love another person.
Commentary: Mental health professionals across the country have said that Trump has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and is a Pathological Liar.
My Reaction: After our relationship ended I learned that my John has both of these conditions. That explained so much – his being so strikingly charming; his strong need for adoration; his bold behaviors with no apparent fear of getting caught and instead seemingly taunting the possibilities; his telling me all the time that he loved me (which he knew would keep me close and devoted); his creation of a fake world for us to live in (which was based on extreme deception and non-stop lies); his “gaslighting” me into continued belief that what he was saying was true; and a whole list of other behaviors and characteristics of people with these disorders. Such people are also known for lacking in empathy and being unable to feel for another on a human level.
Hence my comments about love and his capacity. And yet, in the end, I think he knew I loved him more than any other person ever had or ever will — and that he was suffering a real loss by losing me from his life. Unfortunately, a characteristic of Pathological Liars is that they can readily come to believe their own lies and, as Narcissists do, he told terrible lies about me to others after our relationship ended, to cast blame on me and to say that he never loved me. But I love him still and I want for him to get help.
Interview: When you were intimate for the first time, and after that, did he use protection (as in, a condom)?
She said he did not. She had understood that he was monogamous in his marriage, except for her relationship with him.
My Reaction: When John and I were first intimate the subject came up as I was a strong believer in “safe sex” practices. He said that he had not been with another woman in several years (for reasons that he explained) and that he had been tested and knew he was clean. I was very fortunate to not contract an STD by being with him.
Interview: What did you think when you heard the Access Hollywood recording (with Trump talking in graphic terms about his exploits with women)?
She said that she was disgusted but that she had never experienced that kind of attitude or behavior with him. She said he was always gentlemanly with her. Always so nice and charming.
My Reaction: Narcissists are masters of disguise and very effective at having others believe their stories and the personas that they create. Charm is a tool for their manipulation to get what they want – which typically involves adoration.
Interview: How have you regarded the other accusers who have said they had affairs with him or that he sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them? One of whom said she was with him at one of his properties at the same time you were vacationing there with him?
She said that had she known at the time there were other women she would’ve been unhappy about it. But that she has come to conclude that if he would cheat on his wife he would cheat on her.
My Reaction: Upon my learning about John’s wife I soon afterwards discovered his relationships with other women, including while we were together. While I thought I was with the most wonderful man in the world, and that I would be with him for the rest of my life, he was skillfully juggling women to where he had a life with each of us.
Interview: How did the relationship end?
She said that she ended it because she had developed a growing sense of guilt over the fact that he was married. They showed a picture of her with his family and her in her Playboy Bunny outfit looking very provocative. She said that his wife may have suspected them. And that she (Karen) ultimately couldn’t take the guilt anymore.
My Reaction: When I learned about John’s wife our relationship was instantly over for me. My love was not over. I loved him completely and missed him terribly. But my eyes were opened to who he was and what he was capable of. What I learned after that was even worse. Much worse. And I couldn’t live with a person who would do that to me or others.
Interview: Why didn’t you tell your story about this before now?
She said that when someone she knew encouraged her to do so two or three years after the fact she considered it but decided against it because she still cared about him and didn’t want to hurt him. She said she felt loyalty to him and concluded that it was best to keep things private between them. Then in 2016 a tabloid media outlet that had learned of her story purchased the rights to it (including the ability to keep her silent). Now that the general facts are out there she says that she wants to control the story rather than leaving it to others to tell (and in ways that may not be true). She said that she knows her truth and she’s now standing up for herself.
My Reaction: Out of love and compassion for John I have greatly limited the telling of my story. I don’t want to hurt him – or his wife. I have felt an intense loyalty to him, strange as that may seem. I could have damaged his life in many ways had I chosen to do so. I don’t use his real name in writing about this and I’ve written a fraction of the full and horrifying story of the things that happened. Also horrifying is the fact that, for me, it resulted in a diagnosis of and lengthy treatment for PTSD as well as deep depression and severe anxiety.
Watching the interview was very difficult for me but also very important. It was uncanny how many points took me back to my relationship with John. Actually, I’m taken back to it almost every day in one way or another. But looking as objectively as I can at what happened, and at the price I’ve paid, it’s all part of what has been a very painful and costly recovery process.
I wish the best for anyone who is struggling with any such issues in their lives. Now that I have made at least some progress in my own process I’m picking back up on the writing of books containing solutions to help others.
An earlier book on the impacts of this experience is below (click on cover). It’s aimed at helping others understand the impacts on their lives and create a plan to step past them.
Informative and compelling book but was “hit and run” by a rabid reviewer on Amazon with a strange response.