YouTube, Divorce and Airing your Dirty Laundry
Using the Web for Personal Revenge in Divorce Only Backfires, Experts Say
Playwright and actress Tricia Walsh-Smith, a statuesque English blonde who married an older man with money, invited a videographer into their New York apartment earlier this week and told her marital troubles to the world in front of the camera. On the video, she complains that her husband, Phillip, has given her 30 days to vacate their “love nest.”
What’s worse, she maintains, she signed a prenuptial agreement that, upon his death, she would receive a $500,000 annual stipend and their Florida vacation home. Now, she claims in the video, he wants to give her nothing.
Since going public with these revelations about their marriage — the second marriage for both –Walsh-Smith has become the talk of the Internet. Posted on April 10, more than 2 million people had viewed the video between Wednesday, April 16, and Thursday, April 17. Almost 7,000 responses have been posted to the video, including 20 video responses.
Some viewers applauded her efforts like Luisa1331, who wrote, “I admire your bravery. Take him to the cleaners…” But others, like lisaann1213,were vitriolic in their responses:”This broad makes Heather Mills (former wife of Beatles’ member Paul McCartney) look like a MENSA member. Lots of luck lady, you’re gonna need it. It’s females like this that gives decent ex wives a bad rap…I suppose her next stop will be Dr. Phil a few years down the line when nobody will date her…”
David Pisarra, a Los Angeles divorce attorney, said the video is just another sign of the times. “Everyone in this modern day wants their 15 minutes of fame. This may be her way of getting it. It’s also part of today’s social networking. Everyone is always plugged in all the time…. People who go on
MySpace and blog can quickly have 200 friends… This is how people today choose to connect to each other. It’s a very human emotion, people crave connections. We’ll do anything we can do to get them. This is the latest rendition of how people chose to connect to each other.”
Like the character of Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,”Walsh-Smith states in her video that her husband is impotent as well — at least that’s what he told her. Despite his claims,she said on the video that she found Viagra, condoms andpornographic movies that he’d stashed in their home.In the video, she callsher husband’s administrative assistant, placesthe womanon speaker phone, and with cameras rolling, asks herto ask her husband what he would like to do withthe stash.
Walsh-Smith wants a divorce in New York, but the state requires grounds. Based on the sexual allegations in the video, she may well have at least one — the lack of a sexual relationship. Walsh-Smith is represented by celebrity attorney
Pisarra doesn’t think what’s on the video will affect the legal issues in the divorce case.”What she has accomplished by doing what she did is that she is showing the world she has a huge amount of pain. There are probably some psychological issues going on, too… But it doesn’t help her with her case. Her husband is going to walk away from all this publicity better off than she is. The method she is using taints her message.”
In addition, he said, she might face legal issues — other than the ones in the divorce itself.”She could be doing herself a great disservice by attempting to humiliate him and bring scorn on him on YouTube. That could open her up to liability depending on state law,” he said.
She could have helped herself had she used technology in a constructive way, Pisarra added: “…With all this technology from
Twitter to YouTube if she had gotten her husband on camera promising to take care of her financially for life then the technology might have been useful.”
Brenda Shoshanna, a New York City psychologist, called Walsh-Smith’s posting of the video “a foolish, stupid thing to do.”
“…Unfortunately, today many people are living their lives online. She undoubtedly has a lot of bitterness going through a divorce and she wants the whole world to know about her troubles. Psychologically she has a lot of rage and she wants to get back at the other person. It’s a terribly unfortunate way to handle things. When people actively try to hurt someone else it usually always backfires. It never works out,” Soshanna said. “You reap what you sow.”
As for her husband’s potential reaction, Shoshanna said, “He will probably be very hurt, and he may want revenge himself. It may make it almost impossible for him to trust another person of the opposite sex. In our culture we don’t know how to handle situations like this. It’s very, very sad. It’s also very futile and pointless.”
Brenda Della Casa, a relationship expert and author of Cinderella was a Liar, agrees. She says the video “has complicated her whole situation. Whatever way she had for communicating with her husband in a rational way has been violated. At this point his guard is going to be up. Any chance she had of private litigation she has thrown out the window.”
When her clients get angry with their spouses about divorce-related issues, Della Casa said she counsels them to write every little detail in a letter. Get it all out and then rip it up. The next day, she tells them to refine what they want to say. On the third day, she suggests they rewrite the refined version. Forty-eight hours later, they should reread the last note.
“They’ll be so happy at that point they didn’t hand out their first attempt,” she says.”The best thing you can do in a situation like this initially is do nothing. Your initial response is probably not the response you want to put out to the world.”
Kelly Chang-Rickert, another Los Angeles, California divorce attorney, didn’t mince words about Walsh-Smith’s YouTube debut. “She’s a stupid bimbo who married for money and got nothing,” she said. “It’s fair. She thought she was going to marry into a gold mine. I think she went on YouTube because she wanted to be heard. She did it to humiliate the other side, but it backfires because it only humiliates her.”
Her best advice to Walsh-Smith and others like her: “You should marry for love and not for money.”