I first came across Mary Turner Thomson when I recently attended Jon Ronson’s #PsychopathNight in Glasgow and she was one of his guests. So when Mary retweeted my #BlogPost about the #PsychopathNight event and asked if she could share it to her Facebook, I was well chuffed! I took my bold pills and asked her if she would mind answering a few questions for #Chapterinmylife and to my delight she agreed! And so I am absolutely delighted today to have Mary Turner Thomson along here on #Chapterinmylife for a Q&A session!
Mary is the author of #TheBigamist: the true story of a husband’s ultimate betrayal and the blurb reads:
In April 2006, Mary Turner Thomson received a call that blew her life apart. The woman on the other end of the line told her that Will Jordan, Mary’s husband and the father of her two younger children, had been married to her for fourteen years and they had five children together.
The Bigamist is the shocking true story of how one man manipulated an intelligent, independent woman, conning her out of £200,000 and leaving her to bring up the children he claimed he could never have.
It’s a story we all think could never happen to us, but this shameless con man has been doing the same thing to various other women for at least 27 years, spinning a tangled web of lies and deceit to cover his tracks.
How far would you go to help the man you love? How far would he go to deceive you? And what would you do when you found out it was all a lie?
I’m not going to lie, Mary’s story actually blew me away! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and after I’d heard her story my admiration for this woman was through the roof! Seriously, if anyone wrote this as a work of fiction, the reviews would be saying “no way can this be real”. Yet, very harrowingly real Mary’s story is and it is a stark reminder that NOBODY is immune to the wickedness and evil that exists out there.
To buy Mary’s book #TheBigamist you can head over to Amazon by clicking the link below:
Q&A with Mary Turner Thomson
Mary, your life story is fascinating but at the same time terrifying – how did you turn around such a horrific experience into something positive?
I have always believed that we teach children by example. You can stand there with a cigarette in your hand and tell children not to smoke, or tell them to cross the road safely when they are on their own but then dash across the street holding their hand when there is the smallest gap in busy traffic … but they copy what we DO not what we say. So I thought about what advice I would give my children if something like this had happened to them. Whatever and however I responded to the situation was the advice I was giving them in how to deal with adversity. I realised that I would NOT have said ‘feel miserable, wretched, betrayed and hurt – just lie down and be depressed’ or ‘give up on relationships and drag the misery around with you like an anchor.’ I would have advised them to be open and honest about the situation, to pick themselves up, dust themselves down, and learn from the experience. Just like any parent or any friend would advise. I would have said ‘it is not your fault’ and ‘don’t let him drag you down’. So I made a conscious choice to live my own advice, to pick myself up and make something useful out of the experience. To help other victims of something similar, and to try to protect/support past and future victims of the same man. It is a choice that I am glad I made as my children DID learn from it. Ten years on they have no issues or emotional hang-ups about the past situation and seem to deal with all their own issues with strength, resilience and grace. The best thing is that because I was open with them and we went through the whole recovery process together, they learnt to talk about any problems they have and we are all very open and honest with each other. It makes for a very happy family.
Your book, Bigamist, tells your true story of betrayal of the most awful nature, what has been the reaction from others to your story?
Initially when my story came out in the press I got a backlash of people saying that I must be stupid to have believed the lies. There is a shaming culture about victims of conmen which I am determined to change. Long ago society used to brand victims of rape as ‘loose’ because they couldn’t face the possibility that it could happen to anyone – we all know that is very wrong. Nowadays there is a similar denigrating attitude to someone who has been taken in by a fraudster specifically if they were emotionally involved with them. People really want to think that something like this could never happen to them, but they are putting themselves at risk just thinking that because that is exactly what the con men want. I didn’t know at the time that psychopaths were so common, that at least 1 in 100 people are psychopathic/sociopathic (as estimated by Dr Robert Hare, leading world expert on Psychopathy). I also did not know that psychopaths could be so consistent and seem so genuine, that they could set up a con over 6 years, father children without any emotion towards them, and systematically terrorise a person simply to have the fun of controlling and manipulating someone. As a result the lies that my ‘husband’ told and the fantasy world he had me living in, made more sense that the reality that was actually going on. When I announced that I was going to write a book about my experience a friend asked me if I would be writing it under my own name. I was astonished by the question because it implied I had something to hide, something to be ashamed of. I replied ‘of course!’
After I wrote the book and people started to read it, the reaction I got was completely different. When I talk on radio/stage or people read my book they can see that I am not stupid, nor particularly gullible. Then their response is one of nervousness. ‘If it could happen to her it could happen to anyone!’ I get letters weekly from people all over the world who have read my book and thanked me for standing up to be counted, for not being ashamed of the situation and speaking out. People who have written saying ‘thank you’ because they finally know that someone else has experienced the same thing they have and can now make sense of it. Not to mention the numerous victims of the same man who have now come forward and contacted me due to finding my book about the man they were involved with. Indeed because of this we got William Jordan put back in jail for another 3 year stint in New Jersey, USA – keeping him away from further victims until he was released again late last year.
Do you think that your story gives a voice and understanding to other women who find themselves in your situation?
I hope so. I think the more people like me who stand up to be counted and show that we have nothing to be ashamed about the more will feel they can speak out. The first rule of any abuser is to keep their victim silent and it is often the most difficult conditioning to break out of. Even after the abuse has ended people find it difficult to talk about, still blame themselves, or can’t make sense enough of it to talk about. But talking about it is what helps, expressing what happened and how, helps the victims to understand and to gain back some control over it. I certainly found that writing my story down was the most cathartic thing I could do, and then being able to speak about it on a public platform removed any emotional residue there was left. I always advise others to at least write it down if they can’t talk about it because expressing what happened in any form is helpful even if no-one else ever reads it.
You keep in touch with the other wives and children, how difficult was this to do for you on an emotional level?
Actually it wasn’t difficult at all. I have never understood why people will blame the ‘other’ woman/man who has an affair with her partner (especially if the ‘other’ didn’t know the partner was married/attached!) It is the partner who made the commitment and the one who broke trust etc. We had all had similar experiences with the same man, all been abused by him and most had children by him. It was actually very helpful to talk openly with them and find out about their experiences and piece together the truth from all the fragments. Helping them recover helped me to recover too. It was also incredibly helpful to my children to have contact with their half-siblings and to know it was not personal to them but that he had the same detachment from all his children too.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation, or in an abusive relationship what would it be?
If you find yourself in a relationship with a psychopath there is only one course of action. Leave! There is nothing that you can do to repair the relationship because it is likely that they want the relationship to be exactly as it is – which is you under their control. There is no conversation nor any action that you can take that will persuade them to treat you better because they simply don’t care. People have asked me what I would say to Will Jordan if I had the chance, and the reply is ‘absolutely nothing’. There is nothing that I could say that would have any impact on him, nothing that would make him feel any guilt or remorse for what he’s done (to me or anyone). There is no question that I could ask because the answer would never be true and would only be designed to manipulate or suck me back in. There is nothing that he could say that I would believe. So the best course of action is simply no contact. So my advice is, if possible, complete and permanent split. Also if you feel in any physical danger then learn to defend yourself – I started training in Taekwon Do in 2006 when I put Will Jordan in jail. I wanted to be a black belt by the time he came out of prison but I missed it by 10 months getting my 1st dan black belt in 2010. Doing that gave me a physical confidence that helps because I know I can defend myself.
I recently seen you in Glasgow with Jon Ronson on his “Psychopath Night” tour, how did you become involved with Jon and the tour?
Jon Ronson interviewed me in 2008 when the new version of my book (‘The Bigamist’) came out. He was doing a BBC Radio 4 programme about people waking up from a con and was supposed to interview me for a 6-8 minute slot in that programme. After 2 hours in the recording booth talking about my story he was hooked and subsequently made the whole of the first episode of that series about my story. It was called ‘The Internet Date from Hell’ and actually came third in the Sony Awards that year I think. That radio programme has been doing the rounds since. Jon was intrigued with how I talk about what has happened, not shocked and aghast, but logically and unemotionally about the whole thing. He asked me why I wasn’t destroyed or emotional about the subject and I replied ‘because it’s not personal – psychopaths are predators and see us as prey’. I think Will Jordan is a psychopath doing what comes naturally to him. Like a cat chasing a mouse it is nothing to do with the mouse, whether it is pretty, kind, rich or funny – it is just prey, just ‘there’. Put simply the whole situation was never anything to do with me. I explained that I feel like a zebra who got away from the lion, wounded but simply glad to have survived. Jon was so intrigued with this idea that there are people in society who had no conscience or remorse, (‘lions’ pretending to be human) that he went on to research and write ‘The Pyschopath Test’ which has become an international best seller.
Early in 2016 we did a one-off show ‘The Psychopath Night’ together and it was a huge success so we decided to take the show on tour. There are three stints and the two-week tour in Nov 2016 was completely sold out as was the March 2017 tour (before we even set off)! We have one last tour in November 2017 which is now selling fast – so if you want to get tickets better move fast!
You are hosting a dinner party and have to invite 5 guests, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
- Jesus – because although I am an atheist I am fascinated by history and I think the man had an incredible philosophy
- Michelle Obama – because I think she is awesome
- Stephen Fry – because I cannot imagine anyone I would like to have a conversation with more
- Robin Williams to bring light and laughter to the event!
- My mum – because I would love to have her company again
Mary, thank you so very much for agreeing to answer these questions; I loved the answers and I can totally see how your 8 minute interview turned into a two-hour session, I could listen to you talk for hours!
It sounds cheesy and twee I know, but Mary Turner Thomson is an inspiration, she is an author, a speaker, a trainer and probably one of the most motivated people I’ve been lucky enough to hear speak at an event – she faced adversity and has come out the other side smiling and encouraging others to do the same!
To find out more about Mary you can visit her website at