Branded – Part One

I’ve been writing this post on and off basically since I started this blog (on another platform), each and every time I’ve found an excuse to not write it and even when I have I’ve done so in the lightest way I possibly could, I’ve done so in a way that doesn’t really say anything at all because to do so would hurt me too much.  This is a topic I’ve struggled with, well, for as long as I can remember.  It’s one that’s always caused me so much pain, shame, turmoil and to even just think about it leaves me feeling sick.

I decided to write this post today for one reason and one reason only.  Tomorrow, I won’t be able to write this post.  Or at least, I wouldn’t be able to write it from the same perspective that I have now.  Tomorrow, it will be gone, hidden.  Tomorrow I’ll no longer have the permanent reminder of trauma and pain and hurt etched into my skin.  Tomorrow, at least this one aspect of my trauma will start to heal.

My life as a five year old wasn’t easy.  I’ve been told five year olds should have it easy, but that certainly wasn’t my experience.  By this point, I was already being sold to men, but nowhere near to the same levels that I would experience later on in life.  My main concern at the time was my mother.  Each day, after school, I would have to pick my younger sister up from nursery, before long, they stopped questioning where my mum was, they got the usual response of ‘she’s outside having a cig’ each and every time and eventually just accepted it.  Whether they suspected that I was my sister’s primary carer at the age of five or not, I don’t know, but otherwise she would have been there all night before my mother remembered so it was much easier for me to take her.  Upon getting home, I had to both take care of my sister and clean the house to perfection.  My mum’s levels of perfection were beyond anyone’s I’ve ever known, and I’m a pretty huge perfectionist myself.  If things weren’t done to her standard then that meant trouble for me.

This one particular day, after picking up my sister, taking care of her all evening, feeding her whatever I could find and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning my mum finally came home.  I was kinda proud of myself, I knew I’d done a good job on the cleaning, I knew I’d done everything she’d expected.  She went to inspect the house as she usually does.  After a while, she came back downstairs with a glass in her hand, a glass I had apparently missed.  Now that I’m older and now that I understand my mother a little more, I think I hadn’t missed that glass at all, I think she had hidden it somewhere in her room so as to set me up, so as to give her ‘justification’ to punish me that night.

She threw the glass at me and then proceeded to beat me for not having cleaned properly.  She beat me with her fists, her feet, a plank of wood she always kept near the back door for this exact purpose.  The wood had nails hammered in one end.  Thankfully on this day I hadn’t done enough to deserve that end.  I dissociated.  Completely disconnected myself from my body so I couldn’t feel the pain.  I went as far away as I possibly could.

At some point, she took off my pants and sat on top of me.  She picked up a piece of the broken glass and started cutting into the top of my right thigh.  The sharpness of it drew my attention, a different pain than the one the beating had given me and breaking me out of the dissociation.  It hurt so badly and I panicked, trying to push her off of me, but I had no chance, the weight of an adult on a five year old body is not one that can be easily moved.

She laughed at me, said ‘it’s not going to stop until you learn to behave or you’re dead.  If you want it to stop so bad you should just kill yourself.’

When she got off of me, I clearly remember already knowing what it was that my leg said, leading me to think that this wasn’t the first time she’d done this and just merely the first time I remember it happening.  I knew that she had (once again?) carved the word ‘whore’ into my leg.

As she walked away, leaving me lying on the kitchen floor, my leg still bleeding.  She threw the first aid kit at me, stocked full of painkillers and nothing else (my mum got a lot of hangovers), she said again, ‘if you want it to stop’, I knew what she meant and I can say I seriously considered it.  At five years old I knew what it was to want to die, to want to take my own life.  It’s my earliest memory of having suicidal thoughts, but certainly not my last.  I spent most of the night on the kitchen floor staring at those painkillers and wanting more than anything else to just make it all stop.  There have been so many nights since where I wish I had taken an overdose that night, knowing that if I just had I would have saved myself seventeen years worth of pain and the pain of living with that trauma since.  Though, I know now, that I would have missed out on so much good, too, even if that is only recent.

‘Whore’ was carved into my leg repeatedly over the years.  Either as a punishment, whilst I was being raped or simply because it had faded to an unacceptable level.  Mostly it was my mum, but occasionally my step-dad/mum’s boyfriend and sometimes even clients.  The scars overlap one another, now, but I can still clearly see it.  Can still clearly see what they always deemed me to be.

I’m ashamed to say there were times where I carved it in to myself as an act of self-injury.  At times I just became so overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed with shame, guilt, self-hatred, disgust at what I was, what I did, what my life was.  Where I would just be so disgusted, hated myself so, so much that I would carve it into myself in anger because that was what I was, right?  That was all I was worth.  That’s what my life was and I hated myself for it, I hated myself more than words could ever say.  Even this paragraph seems so empty compared to how I felt at those points.  I’ll never be able to put into words just how much I hate myself at times, especially back then, especially when my body was being used each and every single day by gross, disgusting men.

It’s a little on the nose to be a branding, but that’s what it ended up being.  I don’t think that was the intention, really.  It started as a way for my mum to shame and humiliate me, to make sure I knew exactly what I was worth.  But as the number of clients increased, as the trafficking of me became more and more organised and as my mum became involved in a trafficking ring, it became so much more.

I was, in a way, different from the girls trafficked alongside me.  I was owned by the same people, but I was more exclusively a possession of my mother (and at times her boyfriend, depending on her mood and whether she was pissed at him that day or not) and I was treated differently as a result.  I was simultaneously more special and worth less than the other girls.  I belonged personally to one of the traffickers in the ring, but was deemed public property for all, deemed most worthy of some of the worst punishments because I was worth less.  I don’t know how to explain this, I don’t know how to say this.  I’m not gonna say I had it any better or any worse than the other girls, but at the same time, I was in a different position.

Before my mother joined that ring, it was really small, just a handful of girls and no branding in sight.  It was barely even really a trafficking ring as such, it was more a group of paedophiles and violent men who were sharing out girls to rape amongst themselves.  It was more for their personal enjoyment and less about profit.  It was her influence that made it grow, that victimised more girls, brought in more clients and therefore more money and introduced branding to the group.  My ‘whore’ scarification was repeated on the other girls, though theirs included numbers.  Despite my not having been the first girl trafficked there, I was considered number one, zero even.  I was the prototype.  Years of abuse and rape and conditioning at the hands of my mother meant I was considered the best example of what a whore should be, a training regime to be modelled.  I didn’t fight, I didn’t kick up a fuss, I didn’t cry unless it was expected, I could dissociate well enough and far enough away to take un-imaginable amounts of pain.  Once again writing any of this sounds like I’m bragging, sounds like something that I’m proud of.  I’m not.  It’s not something I wanted, it’s not something I worked for.  It’s what I was made into.  My being the ‘perfect whore’ (as I was so often told I was) was purely the result of repeated rapes and beatings and pain and conditioning from my mother.  I became what they wanted so I could survive.

Again, it seems really on the nose for a branding, but the clients lapped it up.  It was private, the top of the thigh where only they could see, only if you was raping one of us would you see that part of our body.  It suggested pain, having a knife digging into your leg isn’t a pleasant experience and the clients got off on it, knowing what we must have gone through to be their ‘whore’ for the night.

More than anything, it was a sign of our ownership.  When I was thirteen and pregnant, I went out looking for my own ‘work’.  I was convinced that if I could just make enough money, I could run away with my child and start a new life.  This lasted all of thirty seconds.  I found myself in the back of a local take-away with men who have since been arrested for running a trafficking ring in the same town my mother ran hers.  They had agreed to rape me and were willing to give me a good chunk of money for doing so and were willing to let me work from there if I proved good enough.  One of them saw the scarification on my leg and freaked out.  He’d recognised it and had decided he did not want to fuck with any of my mother’s property.  He gave me £50 and told me to leave and not tell her I’d been there, that he didn’t want any trouble.  I don’t think he knew who I was, he just knew I belonged to her.  There have been times since where I’ve realised I could have gotten significantly more than £50 if he’d known I’d been her daughter.  Seeing a grown man actually scared made me realise just how much power and influence my mum had.  He’d given up the chance to rape a vulnerable, pregnant teenage girl because of her.  I belonged to someone else, I was not his to rape and definitely not his to sell.

This is the bit I don’t want to write, the bit I’ve been avoiding writing fully for so many years.  You see, those scars are still there.  They were last carved into me on the 3rd May, 2012, the last time I saw my mother, the day I exited.  And each and every single day I have to live with them.  And trust me when I say they’re not easy to live with.

Every time I have to change my clothes, have a shower, even just sitting on the loo, those scars are right there staring up at me.  Right there reminding me just how little I’m worth, reminding me of all the pain and the trauma and the rapes, reminding me of everything I’ve had to live through.  They feel me with such shame and guilt and humiliation, each time I see them I get flashbacks and memories pushing their way into my head, reminding me of everything I’ve been through so as to live up to that word.  Reminding me of everything that was done to me because that’s all I’m worth.

I’m a trafficking survivor, so finding a comfortable space within my own body is almost impossible as it is.  Each part of my body has been touched, hurt and violated by waves and waves of men.  Each part of my body holds a memory.  Each part of my body remembers the trauma that was done to me.  But this?  This just adds a whole new layer of pain and hurt that I can’t even adequately put into words.  It’s one thing knowing just how little you’re worth, but having it quite literally carved into you is a whole new layer of pain.  Having to see each and every single day that you’re nothing more than a ‘whore’.  Knowing that that’s how you’ve always been viewed.  Being scared that that’s how you’re always going to be viewed.  I can barely look at myself and especially at those scars without feeling so disgusted with myself, so ashamed of myself and all the things I ‘allowed’ to happen to me and my body.

I can barely allow myself to be naked, to look at my own body (what kinda body-positive feminist does that make me?).  I can’t shower without getting panic attacks and flashbacks.  I can barely touch that part of my skin.  I can’t even have a piss without it being right there in front of me.  When I was younger, I used to wrap bandages around it, so I could hide it from myself and others.  Now I just opt to never wear shorts that don’t cover it.  To never let others see it.  I don’t swim unless I’m wearing trunks (and swimming used to relax and calm me so, so much).  I still flinch and freak out if anyone touches my thigh, remembering all the clients that used to stroke and lick it as a part of their own sick pleasure.

But it’s not just about comfort, either my own or other’s, it’s about me.  This is supposed to be my body, but whilst their word, their views, their ownership is carved into me, it can never be mine.  It’s always going to be ‘theirs’.  And I can’t live with that constant reminder any more.  I can’t live with it always right their in front of my face.  I can’t live with seeing it each and every time I undress or shower or go to the loo.  I can’t live with the reminders every time the scars itch.  I can’t see ‘whore’ every time I look at myself – I need to see something else, something of my own choosing.  I want to be able to reclaim my body, reclaim myself – or well, my body has always belonged to them, so it’s less about reclaiming and more about finally making my body mine.  For the first time in my life, having my body belong to me.  I don’t want to be their ‘whore’ any more.

The thing is, as of tomorrow, I won’t be!

But more about that in my next post as this one has already been rather wordy!!

RS.

Four Years and Counting – Part Two

What happened that day, the 3rd May 2012, still haunts me in a way that I can’t even describe.  In the run up to this week, I’ve been doing my best to not even think about it, but part of me knows that I will never process memories if I keep avoiding them completely.  Sometimes, despite it seeming like the most illogical thing to do, the best thing we can do is sit with those memories, acknowledge those memories and do what we can to process those memories and our truth.  One of the ways of processing memories is to actually get them out, to tell them as they happened, detaching ourselves from the shame and the guilt and the overwhelming sense of dirtiness that we so often feel.  So here I am, processing and telling what happened on the day I finally exited.

(Once again, this will include graphic detail and will be long.)


The day started off actually OK.  I’d gone to therapy first thing in the morning and agreed to meet up with a friend right afterwards.  We were going to go shopping – she needed help getting some Doc Martens and I needed to get some tops which I could vaguely survive the heat in but would cover my SI.  We’d had a nice morning together, but I hadn’t slept the night before and by the time it reached dinner time, I was beyond exhausted and decided I was going to go home.  I wandered off to get the bus, sat down, dozing against the window when I felt someone sit next to me.

I didn’t even need to look, I could smell her, smell her perfume.  I knew it was my mum.  My stomach folded in on itself; I felt so sick and so scared.  I don’t know why I felt any more scared than usual, it was like I knew that day was going to be so much worse than any other.  I was terrified and I knew there was nothing I could do.  I don’t know why she was on that bus.  It did in theory go towards her house, but it wasn’t the best bus to get.  I usually pay so much attention to what happens around me, but I guess I was maybe so exhausted that I didn’t see her, that she’d seen me before I’d gotten on the bus and followed me, but I really just don’t know.

She put her bags on my lap and I resigned myself to what was going to happen.  This had happened a million times before, from when I was a child and I’d stopped caring so long ago.  I still felt the shame, still felt so incredibly dirty but as for what she actually did, I didn’t care at all.  Right from when I was a child, she always felt the need to try and humiliate me and shame me further.  To molest and abuse me in public where others could potentially see but inevitably never, ever seemed to.  This time was no different, she was touching me beneath the bags and I just zoned out, dissociated, did whatever I could to pretend it wasn’t happening.  Except, my friend rang me.  She was ringing to check to see I’d gotten the bus OK because I hadn’t answered her texts.  My mum made me answer it, made me talk on the phone to her whilst she carried on assaulting me.  I had never felt so humiliated.  So disgusted with myself.  So dirty.

When it came to my stop, a stop that was long before hers, I knew she was going to get off the bus with me.  I briefly considered shoving past her, running as fast as I could and locking myself in the building before she could get in.  But I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I’d have to get past her, get across a busy road, dive in front of the bus, pull open the heavy security doors and wait for them to painfully close before I was safe.  I knew it wasn’t worth the effort, I knew she’d manipulate me into opening the doors again anyway.  I was terrified of what she was going to do to me, but I was more terrified of what would happen if I pissed her off and made it worse.

Those next several hours are a blur and frankly, that’s the way I’d prefer them to be.  I remember bits and pieces, here and there, but they’re fragmented and they’re far too painful to look on properly for too long.

She was angry at me, more angry at me than I’d seen her be in a very long time.  I think she knew, I think she knew that there was something different about me, that I was starting to get stronger, starting to reach out, starting to tell people the things I was never supposed to tell anyone.  I think she knew I was making plans to leave and disappear completely and whilst I didn’t believe myself that I’d ever go through with them, even just the thought of doing it was enough to show just how much control over me she was losing.

She kept asking over and over and over again what I was planning, what I was doing.  I couldn’t tell her at first, I was far too scared to admit to her I’d been planning on leaving, disappearing and never coming back – I knew that would piss her off even more than my not answering, I just couldn’t bring myself to open my mouth and say it to her.  She did anything she could to make me tell her, hurt me in ways I don’t even know how to put into words.  The pain was more than I could stand, I kept passing in and out of consciousness, both in a physical sense and in a dissociative sense.  She raped me, repeatedly, with anything she could find but kept coming back over and over to the knife she’d used on me so many times before.  She beat me, she cut me, she re-branded me, going over and over the same scars that had been there for as long as I could remember.

I reached the point where I wanted to tell her.  Wanted to tell her that I was planning on changing my name and what to.  Wanted to tell her about the flat I was possibly moving in to.  Wanted to tell her I was in therapy.  Wanted to tell her about all of the help and support I was being given.  Wanted to tell her exactly who was helping me (even though I knew it would put them at risk – something I still feel so much shame for even considering).  Wanted to tell her everything I’d said and who I’d said it to.  I wanted to give her what she wanted, just so I could make the pain stop, but I couldn’t.  I was too far gone, I was too overwhelmed with pain and fear and trauma to find a way to say the words and because I wouldn’t tell her, the pain wouldn’t stop.

Logically, now that I’m a few years away from it, I know it wouldn’t have made a difference.  I know that regardless as to whether or not I’d told her, the outcome would have been the same.  I’d put her ‘business’ at risk, I’d put her freedom and that of the men she worked with at risk, I’d put the freedom and reputation of her ‘clients’ at risk.  Nothing was going to calm her down from that, even if I had told her, her suspicions were enough and confirming them would most likely have put me at even more risk.

The pain, the rapes, the interrogation, the torture lasted for hours.  I don’t even really know how long.  I thought she was going to kill me, she was so angry, I wanted her to kill me, I wanted it to stop.  I woke up in the bath, I don’t know how long I’d been there, the bath was covered in my blood, I was covered in my blood.  I don’t remember getting out of the bath, putting clothes on, the next thing I remembered was sitting on the sofa, looking at my phone.

I knew I had a choice.  I knew she’d come back, I didn’t remember her leaving but I figured she’d gone to work, meaning she’d be back first thing in the morning.  I knew she was angry, angry beyond words.  I knew that even though she was angry about how much risk I’d put her and her ‘business’ in, she was angry about something else so much more.  She knew she was losing control over me.  She knew, even if I hadn’t confirmed, that I was planning on leaving.  She knew I was reaching out, telling people the things I was never supposed to speak of.  And now I’d refused to tell her what it was I was planning when as a child and a teenager I would have just broken instantly and told her without hesitation.  My mum didn’t like to lose, she had to win, always and her losing control over me meant that I was winning and that would have gotten to her more than anything else.

I knew I had a choice.  I had the choice to wait for her, to wait for her to come back and either drag me back into being prostituted daily, with no chance to ever escape, no chance to ever tell anyone ever again, be dragged back there forever.  Wait for her to come back and just kill me.  If I was dead, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t escape, I couldn’t put her or her ‘business’ at risk ever again.  I had the choice to just kill myself there and then.  To make it stop myself, to ensure that I never had to go back, didn’t have to be trapped there forever, never had to be raped or tortured or hurt ever again.  I had the choice to send a text and ask for help, to reach out to those who had offered me the help and the support and to let them help me to finally escape and disappear.

I wanted to die, more than anything.  I just wanted it to be over.  I was sure that that was the decision that I’d made, I was sure that it was what I wanted and what I was going to do.  Whether it was by my own hand or theirs, I was going to die, I wasn’t going to be hurt any more.  I didn’t believe that I could be really helped; I thought it was impossible to escape and that even if I did, it wouldn’t be for long, they’d inevitably track me down and kill me anyway.

I guess it was that thought that made me do it – that maybe it was worth a try, because worst case scenario, they’d find me and kill me anyway.  Best case scenario, I might be able to try for something different.  I didn’t believe I deserved anything different.  I didn’t believe that different or better was even remotely possible for me.  I figured that no matter what I’d end up back where I started, that I’d end up dead, just another statistic, so why not maybe at least try?

I don’t remember that, though, I don’t remember the thought process, I don’t remember sending the text.  I just remember finding myself packing a bag, not quite sure why or what I was even doing.  Holding my phone for dear life, waiting for it to ring.  I don’t remember sending the text, I don’t remember reaching out for help, I don’t remember making the decision to live, especially not after being so, so, so set on dying.

I barely remember the journey.  I know I ultimately ended up going from my flat to a friends where I was going to stay the night.  I don’t remember saying anything or doing anything.  All I remember of that journey was sitting in absolute silence, feeling so disgusting and dirty and ashamed, completely aware that I was bleeding and so terrified of leaving blood on the seat, just so overwhelmed with feelings of dirtiness.  I felt so disgusting, I didn’t want to be in her car, I didn’t want to be near her, she deserved better than having someone as disgusting and dirty as me in her car.  She had been so kind and so caring to drive that far, incredibly late at night to come and help me get out of a mess that I’d gotten myself into and how did I repay her?  By potentially bleeding all over her car seat.  I hated myself more than anything and found myself repeatedly asking myself why hadn’t I just gotten it over with, why hadn’t I just killed myself?

I didn’t sleep that night.  I don’t remember much of that night at all.  I know I very probably freaked my friends out.  I didn’t move, I didn’t speak.  I just sat in the same place staring at the wall, barely even blinking.  I was free, but I couldn’t process that fact, I couldn’t process that fact for a long time.  I didn’t know what to do with the fact that I was free, didn’t know what my life meant without constant rape and torture.  I shut down, I completely shut down.  I couldn’t even slightly process or understand what I’d done.  I couldn’t function.  I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was supposed to do next.  I still just wanted to die more than anything.

I still don’t really know what it was that made me leave.  I don’t know what it was that made me decide to live.  But I can say that now, finally, four years later.  I think I am glad that I did.

I spent the next few weeks in the same kinda daze.  Not knowing what I was doing or why I was doing it.  I spent three weeks in a hotel, paid for by the people that were helping me to escape.  I don’t remember those three weeks.  There’s pictures of me during that time, with a friend from the other end of the country visiting me.  But I spent most of that time alone, begging for help and support, begging for a reason to not just give in and go back, but I was still just so alone, my friends seemed unable to deal and left me in the hotel alone.  Early on, the people that had helped me leave took me back to the flat, with a large group of people and with the police on standby in case something happened, to get my cat and to get a few of my things.  I freaked out when I found myself back in that bedroom.  Freaked out when I saw the evidence of what was done to me.  I never went back, though the people helping me did despite my fear for their safety to clear out the flat, grab what was left of my stuff and sell what was needed.

They paid for the deposit for my new flat, helped me apply for benefits, paid for me to go to therapy, covered anything and everything until my benefits came through and I was able to support myself.  But still, I was in such a daze and was in that dissociated state for months to come.

The only clear thought that I had was that I had to go back.  Dom had my number and was calling me constantly, leaving threatening texts, insisting I get in touch with him, tell him where I was.  My mum sent me an email, in the same vein of the letter I described in my last post, telling me how sorry she was, telling me how much she wanted to make it up to me.  Guilting me and manipulating me into going back.  The niceties quickly faded away, though and the emails became much for violent and threatening.  For years, for so many years afterwards I was still just so convinced that I should go back.  That being away was making everything worse, that when they found it me was just going to be so much worse.  Was convinced that I was worth nothing, that I didn’t deserve anything other than the life that I had, that I didn’t deserve ‘better’, I didn’t deserve ‘different’, I didn’t deserve anything other than the pain and the violence and the rapes.

There were so many points where I just almost gave up and went back, but something always seemed to stop me.  Something in me, no matter how much I wanted the exact opposite, always kept me alive.  I somehow defied all odds and actually survived.


If you had asked me three years ago, I would have told you that I’d run away from my mum and my ex, but it was a mistake and I was gonna get in so much trouble and that I had to go back.

If you had asked me two years ago, I might have told you that I’d gotten away from mum and my ex, but that I was going to get in so much trouble, that it’d be easier to just go back before they found me.

If you had asked me a year ago, I might have told you that I had escaped my mum and my ex and that it might be easier to just go back, that there’s still a chance they could find me.

Now, now I’m finally realising that I wasn’t just running away or getting away or escaping from my mum and my ex, I realise that it was so much bigger than that, so much more than that.

Four years ago today, I made it stop.  I exited prostitution.  I escaped my traffickers, my abusers, my rapists.  I wasn’t just getting away from my mum and my ex, I was getting away from all of my traffickers, all of the Johns, all of my abusers, all of my rapists.

RadSurvivor.

Four Years and Counting – Part One

Four years ago today, I actually exited.  I didn’t use the word ‘exited’ at the time, it would be a long time before I’d use the word ‘exited’ or realised it even applies.  For most of the last four years, I completely underestimated what I did that day, that night, I completely dismissed the magnitude and the seriousness of it, I completely dismissed the extent of it.  I didn’t understand what I’d done, I didn’t understand it at the time and I didn’t understand it for a long time afterwards.

I needed to distance myself from that knowledge, from that reality.  If I hadn’t, I would have broken down.  I was already breaking down, I had broken down.  I’d crashed far worse than I ever had before and far worse than I ever have since, even in comparison to the crash that came with the recent disability benefits reassessment; to add the knowledge and the reality of my exiting into conscious thought would have broken me beyond repair, it would have killed me.

I barely knew what I was doing at the time, really.  Even now, those hours, days, weeks, months afterwards are incredibly blurry.  But the events beforehand, or bits and pieces of them anyway, that last day, those last rapes, those last hours are etched so incredibly clearly into my mind.  Before that, though, everything was a blur again.

I’m going to start this post almost a year before my exiting, though, as that is where everything started to change, that is where I started the path into finally leaving, though it is a path that got progressively worse, first.

(Whilst it should be obvious by now, if you’ve followed this blog for a while, there are trigger warnings, there is graphic detail and there are incredibly painful things in this post so read ahead carefully.

Equally, if you haven’t realised by now, I have a distinct inability to be succinct.  This post may end up being in two parts.)


Before March 2011, I’d already partially exited.  Only very partially, but still, enough to have gained even a tiny amount of control over my own life.  I had moved out of my mother’s house when I was 16 years old, on my birthday in fact, for some reason I’d gotten it into my head that at 16 I could legally move out without a parent’s permission.  I don’t know where that ‘knowledge’ had come from, but it became my motivation, my hope, my dream and when the day came, I made no hesitation, I rang my dad, told him I was moving out and told him to come and pick me up.  My mum lost her shit, but that’s another story.

From that point onwards, I was sold on a much less frequent basis, what had been a several times daily experience grew into something that only happened the odd few nights a week and over the weekends as the years went on, it became something that only happened on the days I was dragged back.  Which yeah, still not ideal, but it was a massive improvement.  The freedom I’d gained for myself allowed me to go to college after I left school, something that had never been in the plan for me – once my mum had gotten me out of mainstream education without arousing too much suspicion, I was going to be trapped in prostitution forever and always.  Having the freedom that came with not living with her meant college, it meant friends, it meant potential relationships, it meant getting a job, it meant a future I’d never had before.  I was still being sold, still being raped, still being abused, still being drugged up, but I had a level of freedom.

I was actually happy with that level of freedom for a year or two and eventually, I started to realise I needed to be away from my mum completely.

I didn’t have many of my memories back then.  Dissociation can be both a wonderful and a terrible thing.  I’d completely blocked out any awareness of the trafficking, of the things she had done to me.  In fact, at that point in my life, the only thing I could clearly remember was being raped and abused by my grandfather and being raped and abused by my step-dad.  I didn’t even have any memory of what was still happening.  Dissociation can work in such a way where it completely splits your life into separate categories; one part of yourself dealing with life and school and work and whatever else, having no real conscious awareness of the atrocities you live through each night, another part of yourself dealing with those rapes and those abuses.  Dissociation meant I had little to no memory of what had been and what was happening to me; all I remembered was two abusers who (I believed) were no longer a part of my life.  However, I had a vague awareness that my mother knew about both of those abusers and that became my reason to avoid her completely.

I did everything I possibly could to cut her off from my life, even though parts of me were constantly and instinctively trying to reach out to her; partly out of fear, partly out of a warped sense of devotion and loyalty.  I was homeless for a good chunk of that time, so moving around constantly came with the territory, but it seemed that no matter what hostel or flat or sofa I ended up in or on, she was able to track me down.  I changed numbers frequently, I would beg and beg and beg that other family members wouldn’t pass it on to her, but no matter what I did, she’d always find me somehow.  But I did my best and I kept my distance and I was actually able to not see her for a good chunk of time, though I was still often being picked up by the men that worked with her and was still speaking to her on the phone whenever my ex bankrupted me and I needed to ask for money, which of course I had to earn.

In March 2011, I got a letter.  My mum didn’t have my number, I only ever rang her and I always made sure it was withheld, writing to me was the only way she had of communicating with me.  I can’t remember exactly what that letter said, but I do remember that she said she was sorry.  Sorry for what Paul had done to me, sorry for what she’d let him do to me, sorry for how bad a mother she’d been, sorry for everything and how she wanted to start again, wanted to meet up, wanted to have a proper relationship.  Asked me to come to her house on the 12th at 3pm.  As soon as I opened and read the letter, I knew I was going.  It was like there was no way I could possibly ignore it, I had to do what she said.

I got there at 2:45, I remember really anxiously checking the phone and the time over and over and over.  I didn’t want to be late, didn’t want to piss her off before I even got the chance to try and fix our relationship.  I equally didn’t want to be early, something I knew would piss her off just as much.  I stayed in a back alley near her house, the same alley I used to hide in when I was a child and far too scared to go home.  I’d always go back though, always.  And this time was no different.

I got to the door at 2:58 and she answered it before I finished knocking.  She came and sat on the sofa with me.  Right at the other end.  Not too close, making me feel safe, not crowded or threatened.  I can’t remember what she said exactly.  She kept apologising for what Paul did to me, apologising for being a bad mum.  Kept saying that she wanted to be a good mum but that I made it so hard, that if I could just do as I was told she knew she could be a good mum.  She talked to me for half an hour, I couldn’t get a word out.  Just as I was summoning the strength to try and talk to her, there was a knock at the door.  I was thinking too much on what to say in response to think of looking to see who it was.  Nobody spoke, but I heard them come inside and I heard the door lock behind them.

I panicked, then and turned around, seeing three men who I knew oh so well.  They were friends of my step-dad, men who had been involved in trafficking me for so many years of my life.  I remember feeling sick straight away, I knew I was in trouble.  I knew I couldn’t get out.  I watched as my mum put the key inside her pocket, watched her as she looked at me and smiled.  I still see that smile.  See it so clearly.  She looked so happy and so excited, like she’d finally won.  That smile makes me sick if I think on it for too long.  So many times I close my eyes and see that smile.  I just want to throw up when I see it.

Everything gets kinda blurry from there.  At the same time it seems to move so, so quickly but so, so slowly too.  I don’t know how, but I somehow went from sitting on the sofa, to lying on the floor, my clothes having been ripped off but somehow not torn.  My glass of water had been knocked over in the process, I could feel the puddle under me.  They took turns raping me while my mum recorded it.  Still, no-one had said a word.  They beat me, still using the same clever ways they’d used my entire life, making sure to aim for the places that no-one else, or at least no-one who’d care, would ever see.  Eventually mum made them stop, came up to me and whispered that this was because I put Paul in prison.

I didn’t care, it didn’t matter why, this was nothing less than I deserved, it had always been what I deserved.  A small part of me protested, I wasn’t the one that had gotten Paul imprisoned.  He was there because he’d raped the wrong girl.  He’d raped someone that mattered.  My case had fallen through completely.

It was her turn to rape me.  She’s been inventive over the years, finding whatever she could to assault me with, but that day she was just looking to punish me and hurt me as much as possible.  She’d raped me with knives before that point, and since, but that didn’t make that instance any less painful and horrific.  It was recorded, in the same way that the other rapes that day had been, I could see the men masturbating out of the corner of my eyes.  I didn’t make a noise.  I didn’t want to piss her off, I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to make it worse.  I just froze, I let her do it and I got as far away as I could so I wouldn’t make a noise.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, dissociation can truly be a wonderful thing.  I think I blacked out completely, though.  I can’t remember much for a few hours after that and it was dark when I came to.

The rest of the week was a blur.  I know I was kept there for 8 days in total.  I wasn’t allowed food or water or sleep or to use the bathroom until I was given permission.  My mum always had the keys, no-one could come or go without her permission.  One of the men, Martin, who was there that first day and who had trafficked me for many years, the one who had always called me his ‘favourite’ kept coming back day after day.  I don’t know how many times I was raped by both him and my mum (with whatever she could find).  The whole week became a blur, I don’t want to remember.

I do remember one specific point where Martin came back and raped me really viciously.  He put something in my vagina and raped me anally while choking me.  He kept saying ‘I love a girl with something to hold on to’ and ‘I like fucking girls with fat rolls’.  He said something to me which stuck with me ever since.  After he was done, leaving me lying there, he got the keys off of my mum and put them near me.  I was naked and bleeding and hurting and scared.  He challenged me to take the keys and run.  He started laughing then, said ‘you’re so fat, I bet you can’t even actually run.  It’d be funny to see you try.  It’d be funny to see someone so fat run.’  That was about the point where I massively relapsed with my eating disorder.  I swore to myself that I would never, ever be so fat and unfit and vulnerable ever again.

I spent most of that week or so either trapped and bound or being raped or tortured or hurt or beaten.  On the last day, after I’d been alone for a few days with just my mum, she came at me with a knife.  She held it to my throat and said that she could kill me right now if she wanted to.  That she’d never have to worry about my leaving again.  I thought she was going to do it.  I wanted her to do it.  I prayed for her to do it.  It felt like we were there for hours with her holding the knife to my throat.  She didn’t.  She forced me to get dressed then called Martin, got him to drive us both back to my flat.  Dom was out.  She forced a load of pills down my throat and left, I didn’t fight her, I still don’t even really know why she did it.  I ended up being sick and spent the next few days really ill.  I survived it, though, even if it wasn’t what I really wanted at the time.

On the 26th, I had to go to work for the whole weekend.  A residential.  I was sharing a room and I just didn’t sleep at all, I didn’t feel even remotely safe or able even though I was with women I knew and trusted.  I got changed in the dark, super early in the morning so the women around me wouldn’t see my injuries.  My ankle had gotten really hurt at some point.  I was so scared someone would find out why.  So I had to lie.  But lying about injuries was something I’d gotten very, very good at.

After that week, my mum came round to my flat on a regular basis.  Always managed to time it for when Dom was out.  I later found out that they’d arranged for him to be gone, he knew what she was doing to me, knew she was selling me again.  In the November of that year, Paul got out of prison and everything got progressively worse.

From March 2011 till May 2012, my life had become what I had just about managed to drag myself out of when I was 16.  I was being raped on a regular basis.  I was being sold on a regular basis.  I had lost all sense of freedom, all sense of hope, I had lost everything.  I knew it was only a matter of time before I was dragged back permanently and I knew that I would never, ever have as much freedom ever again.  I knew that I would be dragged back and I knew that I would die there.

I was in a stupor most of the time.  Part of me was so, so aware that something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I was dissociating and forgetting almost constantly and living a life of confusion as a result.  I was waking up with injuries I couldn’t remember getting and I couldn’t possibly have done to myself, even during a dissociated bout of self-harm.  I was waking up to find my bin filled with used condoms.  Finding semen all over my bed even though I knew Dom hadn’t been there.  I didn’t know what was happening to me.  I still didn’t clearly know what had happened to me, though I was starting to remember in tiny little pieces.  Older things, not the things that were happening and I was forgetting instantly.  I was remembering being raped by my mother as a child.  I was remembering being trafficked as a child and a teen.  I was remembering a lifetime of abuse and rape, but I couldn’t put that together with the gaps in my memory for the last few days and weeks and months.  My brain couldn’t quite get there and  I was scared, confused, lost and so, so alone.

Except I wasn’t alone, because I was starting to reach out.  The people I worked with, the people around me, the people that cared for me (though I didn’t really believe that at the time) were starting to notice that something really wasn’t OK, they had noticed the massive weight loss, how withdrawn I was, the fact that I was appearing with injuries – broken fingers, broken ribs, a black eye and I was so dissociated and so out of it and so barely aware of what I was doing that I started to tell them some of what was happening.  They offered their help and their support but for a long time I wasn’t able to really accept it.  They said that if and when I was ready, they would help me leave.  But I wasn’t ready, I still didn’t really believe what was happening and I saw no reason to leave.

It wasn’t just that, though.  I didn’t believe I deserved that help.  I saw myself as nothing more than a worthless whore.  I didn’t believe I deserved anything other than what was happening to me.  I couldn’t see how it wasn’t just my fault.  I’m the one that opened that letter, even though I recognised the handwriting.  I’m the one that went to her house.  I’m the one that let it happen.  I’m the one that let her back into my life.  I’m the one that started the process till it got as bad as it did before I left at 16.  I’m the one that had no strength, no willpower, no will to live, no energy to say no to her, no energy to keep the door locked and refusing to let her in.  I was what had caused it all.  But it was getting worse, so much worse and I knew that if it didn’t stop soon it was going to get to the point where I was just not going to survive.

I half made plans with those people so wanting to help.  I looked at flats that they would help pay for.  I let them help me quit uni. as I couldn’t deal any more.  I let them make plans for me, things to distract me and keep me safe through the day.  I let them get me into therapy (the same therapist I’m still seeing now).  I let them do what they could but I wouldn’t make that final step of letting them help me leave, not yet.  I wasn’t ready.

Making those plans ended up being what made me leave, though, in a roundabout way, or at least I think it was.  I’d like to say it was knowing there was a safety net, people that cared and would help me as much as they could, but it wasn’t that at all.  My mum knew something was different about me, I think she could feel her control over me slipping.  I think she knew I was starting to remember and starting to get a clearer picture.  I think she knew I was planning on getting away.

And that was when everything really got worse.

RadSurvivor.

 

Christmas. Bah Humbug.

Yes, yes, I know it’s January, almost February, but this has been weighing heavily on me and I felt the need to get it out, write it out.

There’s something so alienating and soul destroying about being alone for Christmas.  Even for someone that is an atheist, that recognises the commercialisations of the holiday, for someone that logically knows that not every family is celebrating and not every family is happy.  No amount of logic or disbelieve or anti-capitalist thinking is going to stop just how lonely and empty you feel, though.  Not when it seems like the entire world is screaming their happiness at you; not when you turn on Facebook and you see all your friends with their families (and even those that aren’t with their families are at least not alone), not when you turn on TV and you see crappy film after crappy film after crappy film of happy families spending the holidays together.  It all just becomes so painful and no amount of logic is gonna save you from the very simple fact that you are alone on the day that what feels like the entire world is celebrating family and love and togetherness.

Each little thing starts to bug you.  Friends complaining about their families – simple little things like not knowing you well enough to get you the perfect Christmas presents or being woken up early by younger siblings or being criticised for what you’re wearing (I’m aware that last one could be definitely seen as somewhat abusive, but if it’s all you have to worry about?).  It just leaves me feeling so resentful and so annoyed.  I just want to scream ‘AT LEAST YOU HAVE A FAMILY TO SPEND THE DAY WITH!‘  I know some of those people may be spending the day with genuinely abusive families or being in spaces where they were previously abused or having to deal with horrific homophobia/lesbophobia or something equally harmful and my heart really does hurt for those people, but for those who I know have good families, good lives, good relationships, who are complaining about petty, small things?  My sympathy ends and my resentment kicks in.

I rarely saw anything offering love and kindness and support for those alone.  A couple of pop up’s of the Samaritans number on TV.  Everything else targeted at the elderly.  A few posts on Facebook telling me I’m not really alone, that God is with me, which is very little comfort to an atheist who was brought up in a Catholic household, who had God and faith and religion used continuously and abusively against her.

It gets especially harder when you’re alone and filled with flashbacks and memories.  Christmas was never a fun time for me, in reality, I never really had a Christmas before 2011, when I was twenty-two years old.  Prior to that, my Christmas days had been filled with nothing but abuse and neglect.  I suppose in theory, it wasn’t that bad until I hit about nine years old.  Well, at least it wasn’t from my perspective, many people only know what my Christmases were like prior to that and they seem genuinely horrified, so who knows?

My Christmas was generally spent as the house slave.  That’s all I was worth, it’s all I was ever gonna be worth.  I would have had to have had the house spotless prior to going to bed on Christmas Eve (which would inevitably be to my mother’s bed, so she could abuse me a little more), regardless of my age, I’d always been responsible for the housework, all of it and if anything was not up to my mother’s high standards I was beaten and abused until I learned my lesson.  Christmas was no different, except maybe her standards got a little bit higher.  Each morning I had to be up before everyone else.  I was responsible for cooking and cleaning throughout the day.  I learned to cook early on.  For the first few years of my sister’s life, my mum was always out drinking and ‘working’, when she was home she was either hungover or still high.  Caring for my sister became my responsibility, including cooking.

I had to time everything perfectly.  My mum’s coffee had to be perfectly brewed moments before she came into the kitchen, their breakfast had to be at exactly the right temperature, my sister who early on learnt she was equally entitled to such high standards demanded her orange juice to be an exact temperature, cold, but not too cold.  Considering I spent most of my life this way, it became second nature.  Waiting for the slight creek of the floorboards from my mum’s room and knowing how much time she took from that moment till she came downstairs.  Equally listening from my sister’s room for tell tale signs she would be down, soon.

After breakfast I was responsible for washing up, I wasn’t allowed breakfast, I was never allowed to eat, I was already far too fat according to my mother, I was only allowed coffee, which after so little sleep whilst my mother raped me, I desperately needed and wanted.  I’ve been drinking more coffee than humanly possible for as long as I can remember, now mostly to fight off sleep and nightmares and flashbacks and keep me vaguely functioning.  Whilst I washed up and did more prep. for Christmas dinner, they opened their presents.

After opening their presents, my mum would call me in.  There was a tiny pile with my name on, pitiful compared to that of my sister’s and my mum’s.  Presents from people who didn’t know better, people who didn’t know I’d never get them anyway.  My sister was the one that got to open them.  I was only there to sit and watch, to be tormented with them.  After she was done opening them, they’d take their pick of the things they wanted.  Anything that was left over was split into two piles; one pile that was worth something and my mum could sell and pocket the cash, the other pile that were so worthless to them but meant so much to me.  My mum would destroy anything in that pile.  Burn it, tear it to shreds, rip it apart with scissors, smash it.  Just completely destroy it, making me watch in the process.  When I was younger I used to cry.  Used to hold on to broken shards of what was left as some kind of comfort.  As I got older I watched stone-faced, no matter how much it still hurt.

The only things that survived my mum’s destruction was books.  My sister never read them, she never had an interest in reading.  It was the bane of my mother’s life that I was the intelligent, academic reader and my sister just never showed any interest.  She was supposed to be the perfect one, but of course, the standards of perfect changed to fit who my sister was.  I quite often used to sneak those books and read them myself, if I felt I could get away with it.

Later on in the day, after spending the day cooking, other family members would turn up.  Namely my grandma, my granddad (and my biological father) and for a few years, my mum’s boyfriend.  I’d serve them their food, I still wasn’t allowed to eat and start cleaning while they ate.  The first year my mum’s boyfriend, Paul, joined us, when I was eight, he messed with the status quo and I could see my mother fuming, but refusing him something was as bad as refusing her something, so I reluctantly gave in, knowing I wasn’t going to win anyway.  I think I was mostly disappointed because washing the pots meant I got to sneak leftovers off the plates without anyone noticing.  He invited me to join in playing Monopoly after they ate, saying that the pots could wait.  My mum made a joke about him not being able to wait.  I knew without a doubt that everyone at the table, barring my sister got the joke, they all laughed and Paul winked at me and had me sit between him and my granddad.

I don’t remember much of the game, it was the first time I’d ever been allowed to play, to join in, but I couldn’t concentrate.  Paul and my granddad were taking it in turns to put their hands up my dress, stroking my thigh, molesting me under the table where no-one else could see.  They both firmly kept eye contact and maintained conversation, mostly with my mother who even I could see was enjoying what she knew was happening.  They kept missing each other, totally unaware that they were both doing the same thing.  They jumped when their hands met, then grinned at each other over my head, silently agreeing to work together to abuse and humiliate me.  I wished more than anything that the game would just end, that it’d just be over, that I’d just be able to go back to my jobs as I was supposed to.

After my grandma and granddad left each Christmas and after my sister had gone to bed, that’s when ‘my’ Christmas started.  Mum always bought me ‘special’ presents each year, each Christmas and each birthday, that she’d give me in secret.  Always in her room, so she got to use them straight away.  They were always, without fail, something she used to abuse me with.  She’d sit in glee, watching me opening them.  Me knowing without fail that they were gonna be used to hurt me and knowing there was nothing I could do about it.

I still can’t do presents.  I panic, instantly.  I know the people in my life now would never think of getting me such things, I know they’d never do that to me.  Yet still, I panic.  I panic when things are wrapped, I panic a little less if they’re in a gift bag and I can peek and assure myself they’re safe.  I trust the people in my life, but that doesn’t make the fear and panic go away.  If I’ve learnt anything in my life, it’s that presents = things that are used to hurt me and that opening presents is instantly followed by rape and abuse.

I did slightly better this year.  Each year, myself and my friends celebrate our own Christmas, a few days after the fact and presents are always invariably a part of that.  I picked a quiet corner in the room with all my friends.  One friend gratefully suggested all opening at the same time so there was no pressure on anyone (thank you <3) and it left me able to disappear into the corner and open them in peace, able to focus on my breathing and staying grounded.  My friends understand who I am, they understand that I don’t do well with presents, that I might not always respond favourably, even if I am actually grateful for their gifts.  With them, there’s no pressure, there’s no need to sit there and look insanely happy and grateful at what I’ve gotten.  Every time I open presents, I still have the same memory of my mum, eagerly watching me open something I knew she was gonna abuse me with, knowing I had to sit there and be happy and thank her, despite knowing what was going to happen next.  I usually completely run away when it comes to presents, open them alone and away from prying eyes.  It takes me a long time to be able to thank people because I’m just so on edge.  It usually takes me an incredibly long time to put gifts away; I’m constantly waiting for someone to change their mind and take them back, to destroy them in front of me, to say they were never meant for me, that I’m not worth that, that I’m not worth anything, that I’m not deserving of anything other than things used to hurt me.

I don’t even know how I really got through Christmas day this year, honestly.  I had wonderful people to reach out to, to talk over the phone.  But I still ended up breaking down badly.  I cried myself to sleep on Christmas morning.  Cried over the flashbacks and memories.  Cried over feeling so horribly alone.  Cried over my family.  What my family never was.  What they actually were.  I just cried and I cried and I cried.  The rest of the day is pretty much a blur.

As I got older and more involved with the child prostitution ring, my Christmases changed for the worse.  I’d work the entirety of Christmas Eve.  Right through the day, right through the night.  I wasn’t taken back home till very early Christmas morning where I’d be allowed an hour or so of sleep before I had to make their breakfast.  An hour or so later, I was picked up again, taken back there, was working again.  So many people seem to think that the johns just don’t come out over Christmas, that they’re at home with their families, with their loved ones, that of course it’d be the one day of the year they wouldn’t do that.  They’re wrong.  How many times has your dad or uncle or brother or husband gone for a Christmas Day walk?  Wanted a few hours away from the kids? (Fucking shame on him for leaving a woman to do the emotional labour, as if she doesn’t fucking do it the rest of the year)  Gone to the pub with his mates to see in Christmas?  How sure are you that that’s really where he’s going?  Christmas was one of my busiest times.  Client after client after client.  With barely any rest in between.  Some of them would bring me gifts.  Disgusting, horrific things.  Lingerie, drugs, alcohol, sex toys, porn, erotic novels.  I remember really clearly one of them buying me The Sleeping Beauty Quartet because he knew I liked reading.  I was utterly disgusted, I was fifteen and I understood exactly what he’d given me.  I felt sick, but then, I always felt sick while I was there.  I did this every year, every year from the age of nine until I was sixteen.

I remember, one year, one of them brought a present in, it was for his daughter.  A dress.  He wanted my opinion.  Asked me if he thought his daughter would like it, that she was about my age.  I just agreed, said of course she would.  But what did I know?  I didn’t know what normal girls my age liked?  My world was pretty simple.  Man pays for me.  Man rapes me.  Man leaves.  I didn’t know about dresses or fashion or what nice, normal girls liked.  I wasn’t like them, I was never gonna be like them.  After he got my approval, he smiled and put it away.  Said thank you, that I was the only other girl her age he knew.  Then he raped me.  Me, a prostitute the same age as his daughter.

Yeah, men don’t stop just because it’s Christmas.  They never stop.

Rad-Survivor

Birthdays and Fireworks

I know I was writing the second part of my last post, but I felt the need to write this first.


A good chunk of my family, in some bizarre twist of fate, were born in November, or at least, the more prominent members were (there’s a reason why I have a slight mistrust of Scorpios, now).  In a family filled with incest, rape, abuse and trafficking, there was always an obvious special gift for each birthday: me.  And in many cases there would be arguments and jealously, usually from my mother, she did not like to share and so would use others birthdays to justify her having a ‘gift’ too.

Today is one of those birthdays, or at least it would be if my grandfather, my biological father*, was still alive.  My memories are limited, as is the nature of dissociation, but I have enough to know that his birthday was never a good day for me.  Whilst the rapes and the abuse might not always have happened exactly on his birthday, more likely the weekends either side, today still holds such a high level of connotations and memories for me.

His birthdays were usually celebrated with fireworks, what with it being so close to the 5th and as a result, I find fireworks to be a major trigger.  Every time I hear or see them, I feel my mind starting to slip back.

When I was about eight or nine years old, we were setting off fireworks in the back garden of his house.  He told everyone I was cold and he was taking me inside to watch from the kitchen.  I tried to protest, I was enjoying the fireworks and I wasn’t cold at all, but one look from him and my mother silenced me and I followed him back inside.  I can still feel my stomach turning in knots.  I knew what was going to happen, I knew there was nothing I could do about it.

He stood me in front of the kitchen sink where I could still see the fireworks, I can still see them, see the colours, the beauty, I was entranced with them, I really did think fireworks were so beautiful (and besides the triggers, I still do.).  I can still hear every single bang, or maybe that’s just the fireworks I can hear now in the present.  He pulled my trousers and underwear down, touched me, molested me.  His hands and his actions hidden by the sink and worktops, so even if the rest of my family were to turn around, nobody would see.  All I remember clearly is the weight of him pressed up behind me, grinding against me.

After a few minutes of this, he picked me up, sat me on the edge of the sink and told me to twist my head to carry on watching the fireworks.  He raped me whilst I watched, but being the dissociative expert that I am, I barely remember the rape.  I remember the fireworks, more than anything.  I remember him telling me to wave at my sister, who had apparently turned to wave at us.  I remember feeling so sick, remembering the years of threats that if I didn’t behave it would happen to her too, remember feeling so bad for waving at her while he was hurting me.  But I quickly zoned out to the fireworks once again; focused so intently on them that I was barely aware of anything else.

I don’t know how long any of it lasted, I don’t want to know how long any of it lasted.  I don’t want to remember clearly.  I just remember the fireworks.  The sound of them, the way they looked.  I remember the pressure of him leaning against me and the repeated thought of ‘don’t turn back around’, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why (again, the wonderful nature of dissociation) but more than anything I remember the fireworks.

I know that my mum and my sister went home afterwards and I was to spend the night at my grandparent’s house.  I remember them leaving and wishing I could beg to go home with them, but I knew that would just get me in more trouble.  I don’t remember that night and once again, I don’t want to remember.

A few years later, when I was about twelve and his birthday came round yet again, things were different.  There was less hiding, there was less pretence.  We arrived at my grandparent’s and straight away my mum sent my sister off to help my grandma with cooking and took me upstairs where he was waiting.  Mum told me we were going to give him our ‘presents’ together.

By this point, I had many more years experience.  I’d been being trafficked since I was four, five years old; I’d been being trafficked for around seven or eight years and I knew the deal.  I knew what to expect, I was older, I knew what I was doing.  I knew how to make life easier for myself (the quicker they get off, the quicker it’s over with), I had a young teenagers (albeit a traumatised and trafficked ones) understanding of sex.  For years I saw this as participating in my own abuse, but there was no consent, there was no wanting; on a very simple level, I was a child, I could never have consented and my active participation was a result of years worth of trauma and training and survival.  I was never actively participating in my own abuse, I was doing what I could to survive.

And that day was no different.  He slept (raped?  I don’t know any more, but that’s an entirely different blog post) with my mother first, they made me watch, then she brought me over between them and they both raped me.  I didn’t fight, I didn’t argue, I didn’t try to get away.  I just shut down, completely, went through the motions.  Motions my body and my mind had long ago learnt.  The rest is a blur.  I know they both raped me, I know they both touched me and abused me.  I know my body responded to their touch (something I will eternally struggle with, but an experience that is not unique to me and is one known by many survivors.  Bodies are complicated things, but again, that is another blog post) and they mocked and celebrated me for it.

I was the ultimate birthday (and Christmas) present for him and for many others and as a result, their birthdays will always stick in my mind.  I’ll never again be able to sit on the 1st November and not remember that today was his birthday, today was the day where I was given to yet another man for his pleasure, his control, his sadism.  I’ll never be able to get through this day without seeing those fireworks (and it doesn’t help that they’re quite so common at this time of year).  I’ll never be able to get through this day knowing that if he was still alive, if I was still under their control, that that would be exactly where I would be in this moment.

Maybe one day, I’ll be able to appreciate the beauty and extravagance of fireworks once again, but I very much doubt that this will be the year I do.

*  –  Yes, I’m a child born of incest on top of everything else.

RadSurvivor.