By C. Michael Forsyth
CINCINATTI — School librarian Ashley S. has been strip-searched a grueling 114 times, including 46 full-on body-cavity searches. But she’s never complained once — because she’s addicted to the embarassing ordeals!
The suburban soccer mom admits she’s committed dozens of minor offenses and deliberately triggered security alerts at airport checkpoints, just so she can undergo the up-close-and-personal inspections.
“I can’t explain why, but I love it. It just gives me this buzz,” says the attractive 31-year-old mother of three. “My favorite six words in the English language are ‘Bend over and spread them, lady.’ It’s music to my ears.”
Incredibly, she’s not alone — hundreds of women nationwide share the bizarre mental affliction.
“We estimate that about one in every 20,000 women have some form of this compulsion, named Hucken’s Disorder after the psychologist who first identified it in 1978,” reveals Dr. Helen Beevford, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction who is treating Ashley.
“For most healthy women undergoing a strip search, or worse, a body-cavity search, is a degrading ordeal that often leaves them traumatized. Some have likened it to being sexually violated. But to sufferers of Hucken’s Disorder, the humiliation is actually a turn on. It’s a form of masochism.
“Many of these women repeatedly commit petty crimes in order to satisfy their craving. The unfortunate repercussions of this can include the loss of a job, a strain on their marriages, and an arrest record that can hold them back in their careers.”
What causes the disorder is unclear, the expert says.
“In some cases, it dates back to an experience in early adolescence,” Dr. Beevford reveals. “With one patient I treated, in eighth grade she had been forced to strip to her underwear in a search for missing money. The ‘tingle’ she felt was her first experience of arousal. She was driven to seek out that kind of arousal again and again.”Ashley confesses that she’s gone to incredible lengths to get her strip-search jollies.
“I’ve gone out on the lawn and screamed my head off so I could be arrested for disturbing the peace,” she says. “At airports, I’ll say something like ‘That Ben Affleck movie sounds like a real BOMB.’ ”
Ashley has been searched so many times that lady cops at the local police station and TSA workers at the Greater Cincinnati Airport know her by sight — and could describe the most intimate parts of her anatomy by memory.
“When we see her being brought in, we’re like, ‘Oh no, here ’the terrorist’ comes again,” said a Department of Homeland Security supervisor. “It may sound stupid to keep searching her, but if we didn’t one time and she blew up a plane, we’d have our heads handed to us on a platter.”
The devout Methodist, who’s treasurer of her church, says most of the searchers who know she has a problem try to be understanding and treat her gently. And that makes her pout like a 5-year-old.
“I hate that,“ she complains. “I prefer it when they’re rough and gruff, and say mean stuff like, ’Spread ’em wider, sweet cheeks — let’s see what you had for breakfast.’ ”
When they’re in a good mood, some searchers oblige. But others refuse to play ball.
“That crazy b____ is always up in here wanting me to be all butch-acting,” says Police Officer Tawashana Washington, 41. “That’s not how I roll.”
There are a range of treatment options for Hucken’s, ranging from medication to hypnotism. One of the most effective techniques in getting the strip-search monkey off victims’ backs has been what is known as Saturation Therapy.
“It’s like when you make a nicotine addict smoke 200 cigarettes in a row, until they’re absolutely sick of it,” explains Dr. Beevford. “With one of my patients, this approach succeeded so well that she told me, ‘If I never seen another gloved middle finger again, it will be too soon!’ ”
So far, Ashley has been lucky. Once her lawyer explains her strange mental problem, prosecutors have declined to press charges or judges have let her off the hook. But one frustrated assistant district attorney says there’s got to be a limit to the court‘s leniency.
“Every time this woman comes through the system, it costs the taxpayers money,” he fumes.
“Maybe a year being verbally abused and manhandled by big, tough women will cure her of this so-called ’disease’ once and for all.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
MORE FROM THE AUTHOR OF THIS STORY …
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ON THE HOUR OF THE BEAST FRONT…
I spent June 23 to June 27 at the American Library Conference in New Orleans, hawking my new novel to librarians. Now the book will be in scores of libraries nationwide. And what could be more fun than partying in the Big Easy with 8,000 librarians letting their hair down once a year?