For weeks I’ve been thinking on what I can write, how much I can say, what’s appropriate for me to say, what would be too much information, where’s the line? I’ve noticed that despite writing this blog primarily as a trafficking survivor, I’ve very much shied away from the subject.
Partly because I’m unsure as to how much is acceptable to say (though generally I believe that people need to hear and see and feel that trauma and pain, that I shouldn’t be pulling punches for the comfort of anyone – barring other survivors who already know these truths) but mostly because I don’t know how much it’s OK for me to write.
Doing this is always going to require a level of dissociation, if I was to submerge myself in that pain too often and too deeply, it’d kill me and I’m definitely not ready to go quite that deep, yet. I’ve only been out for three and a half years and I still have so much healing to do. I remember, though, I remember a lot. I remember more than is typical for a dissociative survivor, I think. I have a lot of gaps, sure, more than I’m even remotely comfortable with. It’s a constant battle with myself; wanting to know what fills those gaps, imagining the horrors and the pain that my brain saw fit to block out – especially considering the traumas I do remember. If they’re so horrible, then what is my brain blocking out, what could possibly be worse? And equally not wanting to remember what fills in those gaps because I simply can’t live with any more trauma, with any more flashbacks, with any more memories.
My brain, however, has different ideas. I keep getting more flashbacks, more memories, more trauma. No matter how much I try to ground myself, distract myself, actively heal and process trauma, my brain still feels the need to remember more, to give me more information, to keep adding to those memories when I already feel like I’m drowning with what I have.
A friend, a fellow survivor, said [ad lib] to me recently that we don’t have to remember, that remembering is painful and as long as we know enough to acknowledge what happened, to process that trauma, we don’t need to remember more, it’s just too painful to remember. I accept her words and I know she’s probably right, she’s been doing this much longer than me. But what am I supposed to do when my brain keeps remembering more and more? When my brain won’t let me forget? When despite the dissociation I’ve always lived with, I’m getting memories back clearer and clearer by the day? What am I supposed to do with that pain and that trauma then?
I was triggered quite badly this week, I saw a post on Facebook with some statistics about trafficking. I never made it past the first statistic, the fact that on average we’re raped 6000 times, that was enough to send my brain into a spiral and it’s a pain I have to get out, somewhere, anywhere. Which is why I’m writing this post, breaking that self-imposed silence when it comes to directly talking about my experiences as a trafficking victim.
I’ve been feeling dirty all day, feeling intense urges to just go and shower, to wash their touch, their semen off of me. I feel so incredibly dirty and whilst I logically know that shame and that dirt belongs 100% with them and to the past, I can’t help but feel it.
I’ve never counted, I never saw any need to. Besides, it’s easy enough to lose count. I was trafficked from the age of 4-5 until I left at 23, how was I ever supposed to keep count when I was being raped almost daily? There’s a point where your brain just switches off, where the number doesn’t even matter any more. When you’re being raped that consistently, when it becomes normal and daily and routine, it stops mattering. At that point there’s no difference between 25 or 50 or 100 or 1000 or 6000. It all just adds up, it stops mattering.
They just start to blur together. A line of man after man after man. Their faces become a blur, unknown. The odd one or two might stick out, sure, especially those that are regulars or so especially violent that you just can’t dissociate, or those that deliberately keep you present and aware or a face that comes back after you see them in the news or on TV or something, but generally, their faces are a blur. You don’t just lose count, you actively try not to count. Counting just means adding to the reality, adding to the trauma, you just don’t count, it would kill you if you did.
The realisation that I’ve potentially been raped that many times came hard. Of course it did. It’s almost too much for the brain to fathom and process.
I stopped being able to write for a long time, here. How am I supposed to put into words the realisation as to just how many times I’ve been raped? How many times we’ve all been raped? The numbers are too big to process, they’re too big to understand. Trafficking, prostitution, pornography, it’s a collective trauma. The individual traumas get lost amongst the vastness. There’s no words to describe that.
There’s no words to describe what it feels like to be used, hurt, raped, abused so often. The constant, repeated trauma of being nothing more than something to fuck, something for men to cum on, something purely for male pleasure, abuse and control. And it’s always ‘something’, never ‘someone’. There’s no words to describe the utter feelings of worthlessness, of being less than human, of dirt and shame and guilt. There’s no way to describe the feelings we’re left with; that we’ll never be worth anything more, that we’ll never be human, that we’ll always feel like we don’t belong, that we’re something less than, something other.
6000. 6000 times I’ve been raped. At a minimum. I was there for nearly twenty years, much longer than the average. Most of us have died before that point and I still don’t understand how or why I was ‘lucky’ enough to have survived this long. I spent almost every day for the majority of my life being raped. I lived through ‘parties’ where several men would rape me at once, taking turns, working together, me tied somewhere in the middle of the room, free access to all. Just adding more and more to that number.
It was a constant stream of men, always a constant stream. I provided more ‘services’, I was popular, I could do more, take more than others generally could, I was good at dissociating. An ever increasing number, always just one after another.
6000 times. How am I supposed to process that? How are any of us ever supposed to process that? The numbers are just too high, too much to process or fathom or really even quantify.
6000. 6000. 6000.
Tell me again how being raped 6000 times is an empowering ‘choice’.