Shortly thereafter, some friends encouraged me to try out for the Miss South Carolina World beauty pageant. To my surprise, I won - and was sent to New York City to compete nationally.
Since it was too difficult to get into the Screen Actor's Guild in New York, I moved to Miami in 1982 and started a successful career as a television commercial actress, obtaining my SAG card there.
So on May 1, 1987, at Gary's invitation, I agreed to see him one last time - to confront him face-to-face about his sincerity and with the intention of ending our brief relationship.
It was hard to turn down the money since I didn't have a job, but I didn't want to exploit my notoriety because I knew the way I'd been living was wrong.
Before the group left, Gary asked for my phone number, and the next day he called to ask me to dinner that night. I had no idea he was married, but I found out that night.
Before the boat docked, however, he confessed because he was contemplating running for president, he couldn't separate from his wife. I believed him when he told me he faced a difficult choice between pursuing personal happiness and his political destiny.
But even after the first week, when Hart got out of the presidential race because of the Washington Post's threat to reveal a long-term relationship Hart had apparently been having with a prominent Washington woman, the media continued to embellish my past.
Returning to South Carolina meant getting a normal job in a normal town with normal people and marrying a normal person. I wanted the glamour and opportunity of the world.
A month after the scandal broke, I tried to go back to work at the pharmaceutical company after a leave of absence. But because of all the publicity and resulting pressure and stress, I finally resigned.
I also had to work through the violation of my date rape, my unhealthy relationships with men, my anger toward the people involved in the scandal, and those who exploited me afterwards.