It’s been a while since I’ve wrote here and that’s been for a few reasons. It’s because I’ve not been doing well, because I struggled massively over Christmas and the New Year. It’s because I’ve been doing well; I’ve got a taste for happiness and a sense of safety and I’ve not wanted to poke the hornets nest and ruin that for myself. It’s because I’ve honestly just not known what to write.
For the past few months, I’ve barely been focusing on the prostitution, the pornography, the trafficking; any of the areas of trauma I set up this blog to focus on. Part of it’s been deliberate, I’ve pushed my mind away from those thoughts, from those memories, from those experiences; I can and will do anything to deny to myself that it’s all real, even if that’s counter-intuitive to my own healing and my own survival. Instead, for the past few months, my brain has felt the need to focus overwhelmingly on my past abusive relationships, on the rapes and the abuse and the torture and the stalking and the captivity that my ex partners put me through and whilst that has involved pornography and prostitution, I’ve kept my mind well away from that. It’s not surprising, to be honest, not now that I’m in a relationship with someone who truly loves and cares for me and treats me with respect and compassion; I’m noticing more and more the differences and the more I notice them, the more I’m starting to see just how abusive those past relationships were.
Whilst I’ve been half aware of it for the last year and a half, the last few weeks I’ve realised something more and more and it’s something I’m so deeply ashamed of, it’s something that I feel I should have been long free of, it’s something I feel like just shouldn’t be there any more, it’s something that feels like a gross betrayal of the woman I love.
Just over four years ago, the end of November/early December 2011, I broke up with my ex-fiancé. Not that it made much difference at the time, our relationship was officially over, but he refused to move out, refused to give me my key back (and like fuck could I afford to change the locks) and all it did was make him more violent and more open and vicious with his abuse. He continued to rape me and took pleasure in telling me it was ‘now’ rape (as if it wasn’t before), that he was going to fuck me no matter what, that he enjoyed knowing he was raping me. He told me he could do whatever he wanted to me, that I was just a worthless whore, that if I didn’t belong to him then I was worth nothing. His messages were mixed; one moment I didn’t belong to him and I was a worthless whore, the next moment I still belonged to him and nothing was going to change that, not even me, that the only time I’d stop belonging to him was when I was dead.
I spent those months convinced that that point was quickly coming. Dom (because why the fuck shouldn’t I name him?) was still around, still beating me, still raping me, still punishing me, still torturing me despite my having finally got the guts to break off the engagement that I never even agreed to and break up with him. My traffickers had tracked me down and were completely back in my life, prostituting me out of my own flat and when they felt they could, dragging me back to where I’d always been prostituted before.
I never expected to survive, I never expected to escape. I’d basically given up. On the night I did escape, after having very, very reluctant conversations with friends, everything was a blur. I remember clearly thinking I had a few choices and I barely had any time to make those choices – I knew my main trafficker, my mother, was going to be back in the morning. I’d already gone through a day of hell. I still don’t know how I survived that day. I knew my choices were to wait for her to come back – to be dragged back into that world completely, to end up dying there just as I was always meant to. Wait for her to come back and kill me out right, that she knew she was already losing control over me and that she’d never be able to control me in the same way again. Kill myself and save myself all the trouble. Or make that call, send that text, ask for the help I’d been offered and take a chance on escaping. I don’t remember sending that text. I don’t remember packing my bag. I don’t even remember putting clothes on. I just remember sitting in her car, very conscious of the fact I was bleeding and terrified it was gonna soak through to the seat. I didn’t even really know where I was going or what I was doing. Several times I nearly panicked, begged her to take me back, terrified of what my mum, Dom, my other traffickers would do if they found I wasn’t there. But I was too frozen in fear, too numb, too stuck in my own head and dissociated to say a word. I found myself out my best friend’s house and my life changed from that moment on.
I was in a hotel for three weeks at first; completely alone, my friends refused to visit me there and I barely had the energy to go visit them. That first night, before I’d had a chance to change my number, Dom rang me, shouting and yelling at me for leaving without telling him, screaming at me because my mum was pissed and was blaming him and I was so close to breaking, so close to telling him where I was. I completely dissociated and found the strength to hang up and take the SIM card out; the people that needed to contact me knew where I was. I’m ashamed to admit I still have that SIM card (and my old email address), I could never bring myself to destroy it or throw it away; knowing my traffickers and Dom can still use it to contact me, get back into my head. I know I should, I just haven’t been able to.
I was completely away from Dom, I still am. I’ve been completely away from him and safe from him for nearly four years. Except, in a lot of ways, I’m still not. There’s still so many ties that haven’t been cut. Ties that I’ve been too scared to look at, too scared to acknowledge, too scared to touch and do anything about. They’re the emotional ties, the mental ties, the gas-lighting, the control he still has over me, the grip he still has on my life.
I’ve tried to deny it so many times, despite for the last few years being aware it’s there. I’d insisted so many times that Dom was the least of my worries, that I wasn’t even remotely affected by what he’d done to me, that I was an exited woman – I couldn’t be worrying about an abusive relationship when I had so many other things on my plate. But it wasn’t true and I knew it wasn’t true and pushing down those flashbacks and those memories and the consequences they had on me just made everything worse. Around summer, 2014, things got really bad. I was in a constant state of high anxiety, I was having constant flashbacks. I was almost constantly curled up and scared and unable to move. Every single sound left me breaking down completely.
I currently have a needlessly aggressive neighbour. A neighbour who shouts and swears, slams doors and bangs on walls, throws things around and generally throws weekly tantrums. Logically, I know him throwing tantrums has absolutely nothing to do with me and thankfully he’s living alone so I know there’s not a woman suffering in there, but without fail and especially throughout 2014 and the start of 2015 his actions would leave me in a complete mess.
That doesn’t even begin to describe what was happening for me, honestly. Every time he started, I’d be left curled up in fear, completely unable to move, completely unable to make a noise myself, of any kind, terrified I’d make it worse. I wasn’t even able to breathe properly because I was so terrified of making too much noise and making it worse.
Whilst my neighbour is an arsehole and needlessly aggressive and loud, I know I wasn’t responding to him, I was responding to Dom, I was stuck in flashbacks and I was stuck in the past. I read a post on Tumblr, recently –
Men who slam doors and furniture are making sure you hear how much they want to hit you. – hmsindecision
and that’s exactly what my life with Dom was like. Yeah, he frequently beat the shit out of me anyway, but before he reached that point it was a constant building up of slamming doors, punching walls, slamming furniture, throwing things, knowing it was leaving me terrified of what was to come.
Once those noises start, whether they’re Dom or my neighbour, all I could do was wish it was over. Wish that he’d just hit me already so the cycle would stop and I didn’t have to live frozen whilst the noises carried on.
I started self-harming whenever my neighbour started, just so it would end the cycle, so I’d get the hurt that would leave me able to breathe again once the banging had started. I felt like I couldn’t relax, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything again until he’d just got it over with and hit me. But my neighbour wasn’t going to hit me, there was no Dom, all that was left was me and my self-harm.
That was my first realisation as to just how much control he still has over me, how much he’s still in my head, how much he still has a grip on me. And yeah, I’m ashamed of it, I wish I could say I was over it, I wish I could say he was the least of my problems (which in a lot of ways is true when you have a history of being prostituted and being used in porn) but I’m not over it, he still has a lot of control over me.
In therapy this last Thursday, I completely froze when my therapist was asking about him. She was trying to get me to admit he was abusive, that his behaviours were abusive. I froze, I became panicky and it took me a long time to be able to say anything. I was so terrified of saying anything negative about him, so terrified of what the consequences would be despite the fact that I’ve not seen him for nearly four years, despite the fact that I know I’m safe now, despite the fact that I know he won’t be able to find me. He still has so much of a grip on me that I couldn’t even admit just how abusive he was in a private therapy session, where no-one else will ever know. It’s taking so much self-control to not delete these words here, despite very few people knowing Rad-Survivor = me and despite very, very, very few of those people even knowing who Dom is.
The truth is, Dominic still has a massive grip on me, still has so much control over my life, still frequents my flashbacks and my nightmares. I can’t just shrug it off and ignore it just because I have bigger things to deal with. I have to deal with both. I’m so ashamed to admit that he still has so much control over me after all this time. I evidently took some of that control back by calling off the engagement, breaking up with him and eventually leaving the night I did, but he still does have so much of a grip on me and it’s really about time I started getting rid of it. I can’t live my life constantly terrified he’s going to find me at any moment, I can’t live my life constantly terrified of consequences that aren’t even going to happen. I deserve better than that.