I’ve spent a good chunk of my life wondering just how much it’s OK to talk about. Whether it’s actually appropriate on any level to discuss my trauma, my pain, my herstory and if it is then how much is it OK for me to actually say?
I’ve had so many people tell me that I don’t have to expose myself, that I don’t have to say what happened to me, that I don’t have to tell the entire world. I can see this coming from a good place, mostly, but to me it just feels like repeated silencing. All I hear is that ‘this makes me feel uncomfortable, I’d prefer if you’d stay silent.’
Well, my life, my experiences, my trauma don’t exactly leave me feeling comfortable and my aim isn’t to leave others feeling comfortable. I want someone to hear me. I need someone to hear me. I need others to hear my story. Both on a personal and selfish level; I need someone to tell me that they believe me, that they hear me, that they care but it’s also on a much bigger scale. We live in a world where the vast majority will argue that pornography and prostitution is empowering and amazing, we live in a world where so many genuinely believe that trafficking and violence and rape and abuse and murder is rare, just the experiences of a few unlucky people within the industry.
There have been times where I’ve even doubted myself; where I’ve found myself questioning as to whether or not I was just incredibly unlucky and that really the vast majority of the ‘industry’ is much safer, much more empowering. It takes a lot to pull myself out of that thinking.
There’s so few of us out there speaking our truths, there’s so few people listening to us. I feel the need to add my voice, in the hopes that collectively we can be just a little louder, that a few more people may listen, that more people will see the realities of this so called ’empowering’ and amazing ‘industry’. A friend said to me recently that for every one of us there’s a hundred happy hookers, cam-girls and strippers. We’re repeatedly silenced; both by the pro-sex work lobby and by those around us who can’t deal with our truths, who don’t want to hear our truth.
But our truths are never gonna be pretty; if you can find a pretty way to talk about trauma, rape, abuse, torture and murder, I’d be glad to know it, but otherwise, this is the best I have.
Sometimes I question whether I’m ready for this. Whether I’m ready for those around me and the wider world (as such is the nature of blogs, I guess) to know intimate details of my past. I wonder if I have the emotional strength to do this; I’m nowhere near far enough in my healing to be an activist of any description but at the same time, I can’t let myself sit here in silence. I wonder if sharing each and every little detail is the right thing; if it’s just over-kill? But then, I personally find it healing to get those details out of my head and frankly, what’s the point in pussy-footing around it? We live in a world that’s incredibly de-sensitised to violence and abuse, we live in a world where people refuse to hear the details, in a world where many of us don’t feel able to share those details and for me that’s exactly why I feel the need to share them. So many people are so quick to dismiss or skim over even the words ‘rape’ and ‘trafficking’ and ‘abuse’, but if I let my pain and my memories and those details reach my writing, then maybe, just maybe, someone will really take in what I’m saying, no matter how difficult it is to read (and write).
I spent the weekend panicking that I was letting too much of myself slip, that I was dumping too much on the womyn around me, that I was just feeling too safe and too comfortable in a womyn only space that I was losing hold of my ability to stay silent, to keep ‘their’ secrets, to maintain at least some semblance of sanity and normality (bursting in to tears once or twice definitely didn’t help with that <_<). But, I shouldn’t have to worry about that, my truth is my truth, the instinct to hide it is an instinct based in shame and guilt and a sense of being dirty and disgusting; silencing myself is exactly what ‘they’ want and I refuse to do what they want any longer. Yes, I will always feel guilty for putting my trauma on the womyn around me, the last thing I want to do is cause pain to other womyn, but at the same time, maybe, just maybe my words will reach another survivor, maybe, just maybe my words will reach someone who’s pro-sex work and change their thinking even if just a little.
I do so much believe that the onus should never be on exited womyn, on trafficking survivors, to do this work. That we should never be expected or forced or made to believe that it’s our job to speak out, especially not before we’ve done the healing work that we need to do, but at the same time, I know that, at least for myself, I need to do this. I need to speak out. I need to be heard. I need to be believed. I need to hope that maybe, just maybe, if there’s enough of us then things might start to change.
I’m not going to deliberately and actively silence myself any more; I’m going to speak my truth, even if it leaves others feeling uncomfortable and wishing that I’d just shut up. I’m not here to help others keep their rose-tinted glasses on. I’m here to speak my truth and the truth of womyn and girls like me. And if that truth gets a little dark and detailed, sometimes, well so be it.