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.

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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.

 

Your Family Isn’t Good For You – Part 1

I’m going to be on guard when he says
he’s trashing my family to ‘help’ me.

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft

For a while, I didn’t really have an idea what to write when it came to this entry.  I am very aware of the tactics that abusers use; isolating you from your family and friends so you have no real support network, no strength and making his abuse easier.  But frankly, Dom wasn’t wrong when it came to criticising my family – they are the people that trafficked me, after all.

But even if it was a good idea to be away from my family, the reasons he tried to distance me from them were not in my interest, they were only in his.

He always made it sound like it was for my own good, which yes, it was, but that wasn’t his motivation, it was never his motivation.  He didn’t give a shit about me, he didn’t give a shit about my well-being, about the fact I was being trafficked and abused, about the way they treated me, he only cared about himself and my being isolated, about my not belonging to anyone other than him.

I had to be his.  I had to belong to him and only him and he knew that as long as my family were around that they would always have the most control over me; that I had been so conditioned and groomed and abused that I would always refer to them before him.  He approved of their abuse of me, I knew that, especially as it made me more pliable, more vulnerable, easier to abuse and manipulate without fighting.  I know that’s exactly the reason why he picked me, because I had been severely abused before, because he could get more violent more quickly without facing resistance.  But whilst he admired and appreciated the abuse from my family, he still wanted me to be his.

When I was nineteen, I was pressured by numerous people to press charges against my mum’s boyfriend, but the majority of that pressure came from Dom.  He repeatedly told me it was the right thing to do, told me I needed to do it, told me he’d stand by me no matter, told me I needed to get out from under his control (ha), repeatedly guilted me, playing on the one thing he knew would push me into doing it – that if Paul abused other girls it’d be on me (this was a message repeated to me by numerous people – including the police).  All the pressure meant I ended up doing it, I ended up pressing charges, but it was mostly Dom’s influence that got me there because there was no way I was doing it without interpersonal support, even if it did come from an equally abusive man.  I don’t want go into all the details of that case, that’s definitely another post, but Dom spent that entire time trying to chip away the control and gas lighting that Paul had over me and replacing it with his own.

He repeatedly told me he’d never treat me like that, that I didn’t deserve to be treated like that, that I deserved to be away from my family.  And I believed him, believed that for the first time someone was actually on my side, completely unable to recognise that he only wanted to take that control for himself, completely unable to recognise that he was treating me like that.  As I’ve said in other posts, I never loved him nor wanted to be in a relationship with him, but during those months, he was my main support; I became incredibly dependent on him and really trusted him and needed him.

I was deliberately ignoring the things he was doing to hurt me.  I ignored the beatings, the rapes, the criticisms, the violent words.  I ignored every time he called me pathetic and stupid when the pressure of the case got so much I ended up self-harming.  I ignored the times he told me I must be lying about Paul.  I ignored the times he said I was pathetic for letting it all affect me so much.  I ignored the times he poked holes in my memories, making me doubt myself and the abuse.  I ignored the times he took advantage of me, raped me, whenever my mental health spiralled because of the case – the times he raped me when I was too drunk to know my own name, the times I passed out from drinking, the times I was too dissociated to know what was going on, the times I was so stuck in flashbacks and so triggered and not wanting to be touched at all and he forced me anyway.

All I could see were the times he was ‘there for me’.  The times he came with me to give my video statement.  The times he sat with me in hospital so they could stitch me up once again.  The times he rang into college for me because I was too ill to go in, too ill to call in myself.  The times he cooked for me and cleaned for me and cared for me when I was too ill to even move.  All I could see was the support that he gave me throughout the case – completely unaware that he didn’t care about me, didn’t care about the case, didn’t care about my well-being, was only seeking the ways to gain more control over me.

Even whilst writing this, I’m doubting myself.  Maybe he really was just a good guy, maybe he really was just trying to help me?  How dare I accuse him of being abusive and having ulterior motives when he put so much effort into supporting me during those months?  What if I’m wrong?  What if he genuinely just wanted to help me?

Logically, I know I’m not wrong.  I know he only helped me so he could transfer that control over to himself.  I know he wasn’t helping me cut off my family, press charges, gain freedom for me.  He didn’t want me free, he just wanted to secure his ownership over me and he knew he’d never have full ownership over me when my family still had so much control, so much prominence over my life.

I know how that can seem odd to others, maybe hearing it from another perspective is what’s making me doubt it myself.  I know other survivors will recognise and understand the two crazy sides of him, though, can understand exactly how this worked.  Abusers don’t work with much logic; they work in a way that is beneficial to them, that leaves their victims feeling the most crazy and the most dependent.  Stopping someone else being abusive to me, pushing me to cut ties with my abusive family might sound great on paper, it might make him sound like an amazing guy, but his intention was to never give me freedom, it was to take control himself.  If my family hadn’t actually been abusive, he would have found some other way to try and force me to cut contact with them, it’s just the way abusers work.  Dom just had a legitimate reason to get me to cut contact with them.

After that police case was dropped, after Paul violently raped me in retribution, all of Dom’s care, all of his support disappeared instantly.  He accused me of ‘cheating on him’.  Said I was a whore and I obviously wanted it anyway.  That I was lying about Paul ever having had raped me and that I was the one that sought it out, that I was in a relationship with him and always had been.  The next day, I attempted suicide but was stopped.  Dom got angry at me because I didn’t ring him first, said how worried and concerned he was, how hurt he was that I didn’t reach out to him when he loved me so much.  The entire time I was in the hospital and then recovering in my room at the hostel, he was texting me, calling me, constantly.  Then he switched violently, called me an attention seeking little bitch and went on again about how bad my family was for me.  That I only did it because I felt so disgusted with myself for having sex with my own family again.  Those following days were filled with him jumping from one extreme to the other.  Caring and loving and concerned.  Violent and abusive and criticising.  His overall message, throughout, was that I couldn’t ever contact my family again – that I’d fucked up so much that none of them would ever want anything to do with me.  That he was all I had left.

There were, however, family members who were ‘nice’ to me, or at least appeared to be and for a long time I would have argued that they were absolutely not abusive and separate from the others.  I now know that’s wrong and that they were equally abusive albeit in different way, but at the time, I considered them to be safe, amazing people, people I actually wanted a connection with, people who I saw as a support system.

These people, mostly, were my dad (at least, I always assumed him to be my father and he thought he was my father), my half brother (although a child, he gave me a lot of emotional strength and support) and my grandma and by extension her new husband.

Dom did everything he could to try and cut my ties with those people, too.  In hindsight, I needed to cut contact with them long before I did, but once again, Dom’s motivations were not for my benefit, they were for his.  It was not something I wanted.  I believed them to be the only family I had left after mostly cutting ties with my mother and her boyfriend, after my granddad/father had finally dropped dead, after mostly cutting ties with my sister and I didn’t want to lose those last connections with my family, regardless as to whether or not they were good for me.

Dom was constantly criticising them, pointing out every little thing they did and often twisting it.  He repeatedly said it was for my own good.  He’d make it impossible for me to see them.  Insist we have to do something else on the days I agreed to meet them.  Insist on coming with me whenever I saw them.  I didn’t see any of my family alone for all of those five years – which ironically possibly worked out for me, it was the most peace I ever got because both Dom, my dad, his girlfriend and my grandma completely toned down their behaviours towards me around one another.  But again, that wasn’t Dom’s intention, his intention was to make sure I didn’t say anything, that I didn’t try and reach out to them.

Always, always, always it was for my own good.  ‘They’re just going to put you down, they’re just going to criticise you.  You do so much better when you’re not around them.  They just want to control you.  My family would never do that.  They don’t want you to be happy.  They don’t support you – I do.  You’re going to turn into them if you keep spending so much time with them.  You’re better off without them.  You only need me.’

He was trying to drive a wedge between me and my family and it was absolutely a wedge that needed to be there, which makes this even harder to process.  I needed to be away from my family.  They weren’t safe for me.  They were awful to me.  And I did need to cut off those ties.  Which makes it so much harder to view him in a bad light because ultimately, it was for my own good.  But he didn’t have my ‘own good’ at heart, he never did.  He drove a wedge between myself and my family for his own intentions.  To secure control over me and to ensure no-one could interfere with that – either by splitting us up or by securing control over me themselves.  My mind, my trust, my compliance, my submission was a battlefield.  So many people wanted it, so many people never wanted me to have it myself – I didn’t even know it was something I could have myself.  Dom just wanted to take it for himself; he never wanted to free me from my family.

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

Is This All Just Your Imagination?

He’s trying to convince me that I’m delusional.
But I know I’m fine.  He really did those things.

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft

Gaslighting was Dom’s speciality, there’s no denying that.  It got worse as I was living with him, I couldn’t get away from it, it was constant.  Whilst I was jumping from hostel to hostel, from sofa to sofa, from here to there, it was easier, I had time in between to try and put things together.  But when he moved in and everything got worse.  I had no time to think, no time to clear things up or put it in order.  All I had was the ‘reality’ that he imposed on me.

Everything that happened, the few things that he admitted had actually happened and he hadn’t simply convinced me that I was crazy and I imagined it, were my fault.  It was me pushing him over that edge, it was me being the abusive one, him merely defending himself from my vicious, horrible attacks.

I really was so convinced for so long that I was the abusive one, that he really was just defending himself from me.  That I hurt him and he was just doing anything he could to make it stop.

I worked really intently on a memory with my therapist, this week, one that to me just seemed so clear that I really was the abusive one, that he really was just defending himself.  I’d been at uni. all day, I lived really far away because I simply hadn’t been able to afford to move when I started.  It meant leaving at 6:30am each day.  I’d spent the day in uni. then went to work.  I didn’t get home till 11:30pm.

The moment I walked in, he started.  I had barely walked into the living room.  Hadn’t even had time to take my coat off or my shoes off or put my bag down.  He started yelling at me, talking about how disgusting and messy the flat was, said that just because I was a crack whore didn’t mean we both had to live like one.  Said how disgusting and lazy and useless I was.  Before I’d gone to bed the night before, I knew I’d cleaned the entire kitchen, knew I’d washed all the pots, knew I’d tidied the living room of plates and food wrappers, I knew I’d done it.  He kept going on and on about how disgusting everything was.  I snapped.

I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sit down and chill with a brew for half an hour before I got on to writing an essay.  I was so mad at him.  I knew I’d washed all the pots but there he was, sat on the sofa, surrounded by what seemed to be every single plate in the kitchen, several crisp and chocolate and cake wrappers and leftovers from the chippy as well as crumpled up tissues everywhere.  He was still playing his game, he hadn’t even paused it to yell at me.  I knew he’d been playing it all day, making more and more of a mess around himself.

I yelled back, calling him lazy and useless and calling him the one thing that I knew upset and hurt him the most, the one thing I knew he’d have the biggest reaction to, but I was just so upset and angry and exhausted.  I said that if he wasn’t such a fat, lazy bastard he would have done some cleaning himself.  That I worked, that I paid the rent, that I bought the food, that I did all the cleaning and all he had to do was not make more mess.  Calling him ‘fat’ was the exact thing I shouldn’t have done.  He got so angry, actually paused his game, got off the sofa and beat the crap out of me.  Said if I was so disgusted by how fat he was then I was gonna hate this.  He dragged me by my hair to the bedroom, forced me to get undressed and raped me.  Deliberately letting all of his weight drop on top of me, smothering me with his body, hurting me as much as he could.  Repeating over and over that he didn’t care how fat he was, especially not if it pissed me off and disgusted me so much.  That I was gonna pay for calling him fat.

For years afterwards, whenever he brought it up, he repeatedly said it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had called him ‘fat’ and I believed him.  I believed that I pushed it, that I was the one that caused it all.  That I was so horrible and cruel and abusive for calling him that, that he was merely responding to my abusiveness.

My therapist made me see it a different way.  That he’d clearly been planning it all day.  He’d been coming up with ‘excuses’ and ‘justifications’ to hurt me.  That he made the decision to start yelling at me the moment I walked in, that I just wouldn’t have been able to win.  She’s right, I wouldn’t have been able to.  If I hadn’t been so exhausted and hadn’t snapped, a few different things would have happened, but they all would have resorted in him hurting me.  I’d’ve apologised and started cleaning but he’d say it was too late for apologies and attack me anyway.  Or he’d get mad because I’d end up not cleaning well enough or quick enough (either by his standards or because I was too exhausted to do much better) or I’d’ve begged for the opportunity to do it in the morning, which would have just pissed him off, or I’d’ve asked if it was OK if I just sit down for a few minutes first, which again would have pissed him off.  From the moment I walked in, I wasn’t going to win, he’d already decided that I wasn’t going to win.  I knew he was going to end up hitting me that night and I knew he was going to end up raping me.  I knew he’d been planning it all day, I knew it from the moment I saw the tissues.  I knew exactly what they were.  I knew he’d been sat on that sofa jacking off to the idea of hurting me.  He had planned it and he’d found an ‘excuse’ and nothing I could have said or done would have changed it.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d called him ‘fat’ or not, he was gonna hurt me anyway.

My calling him ‘fat’ might have been out of order, it might have been a low blow, but it wasn’t abusive, not really.  It was the first and only time I ever called him ‘fat’, it wasn’t repeated, emotional and verbal abuse.  I didn’t make him stand on the scales, weigh himself in front of me each day, criticise his clothing choices, point out fat rolls in various tops or say things like ‘do you really want your friends to see you when you look that fat and disgusting?’, I didn’t criticise his food choices, I didn’t control what he ate – either deliberately starving him or forcing him to eat more than he wanted (the more weight you put on, the more you’re shamed for it, the more likely you are to deliberately isolate yourself), I didn’t do any of the things he did to me for five years (all of the above), I said the word ‘fat’ once, which hardly constitutes abuse.

It still scares me that I am the abusive one, though.  I really carefully and callously and maliciously went for what I knew would hurt him the most, I thought it through, I deliberately went for it and I’m scared that does make me abusive.  I was knowingly going for the most pain I could.

Even if it was abusive, abuse doesn’t justify abuse.  In any scenario, with any two people, one calling the other ‘fat’ doesn’t justify violent physical attacks and rape.  It just doesn’t.

That was one of his attacks on me that he acknowledged, that he admitted was real, that had actually happened.  But he massively twisted it to put me in the wrong, to make me the abusive one, to make me the bad one, to put the blame on me.  He twisted it so he was only defending himself after I called him the most hurtful, painful thing I could think to call him.

Most of the things he did to me, though, he’d outright deny were real, that they happened at all.  Honestly, I probably made it easier for him to do this with my already messed up mental health from the trafficking, incest and other abuse long before I even met him.  I have a dissociative disorder which means that things like keeping track of time, events, knowing whether something really happened or not and chronology is really difficult for me.  It meant that, in general, keeping track of everything was difficult for me and with his deliberate gaslighting and manipulation and his lies, it left me doubting everything so, so much.

Even when I had physical proof – scars, bruises, scratches, cuts, semen stains in my underwear and on my body, he’d find a way to twist it and convince me I was wrong.  ‘Of course you wanted to, baby’, ‘Baby, you’re a self-harmer, what makes you think I did it?’, ‘You’re losing it, you probably just fell over again, you know how clumsy you are’, ‘Don’t you remember you fell down the stairs?’  I’d be so, so sure it was him, I knew with every bone of my body it was him, but half the time I couldn’t remember the actual event and the rest of the time he was able to convince me I was just remembering wrong.

The time he pushed me down the stairs because I threatened to leave him became me being so upset I missed a step and fell.

Every time he hit me or beat me became me being clumsy and walking in to something.

Every time he screamed at me or threw things at me or did anything, I was just remembering wrong.

He used my past trauma against me.  Convinced me that I was just a messed up, crazy survivor who was projecting her past on to the here and now.  That I was just seeing abuse everywhere, even where there wasn’t abuse.  That I was blurring the past with the now and seeing my step-dad and my mum and my family when I should have been seeing him.  I really believed he was right, that I really was just a crazy survivor projecting and misinterpreting and who was just so sensitive and broken and easily triggered that I saw abuse when it just wasn’t there.  A crazy survivor who was self-harming, hurting myself and then blaming him – even if my logical mind could see that it wasn’t even remotely possible for me to make bruises like that, especially not considering that my usual form of self-harm is cutting.

Staying sane was nearly impossible.  I didn’t know which way was up.  I didn’t know what was happening.  I didn’t know if I was being abused by a violent man or if I was just so crazy I was imagining it all, even hurting myself to fulfil those beliefs.  It took me a long time to be able to consistently hold on to the belief that he really was hurting me, that I wasn’t just crazy.  It probably wasn’t until the last six months or so of the ‘relationship’ that I was really able to acknowledge that he was hurting me, even if I wasn’t yet fully able to acknowledge it as abuse.

I know why he did it.  He couldn’t be held responsible for what he was doing if I was either causing it or imagining it all.  I had no reason to leave him.  I definitely couldn’t go to the police.  The more I believed it wasn’t happening, the less likely he was to get in trouble.  The less likely he’d be able to carry on doing what he was doing.

But there was nothing wrong with me.  I really wasn’t just crazy or delusional.  He was lying to me, he was manipulating me, he was justifying what he did to me.  I wasn’t just imagining things or making things up; he really was hurting me and he really was abusing me.

It’s still hard to keep my memories together and keeping them in reality.  It’s still hard to see the whole situation and not cut it down to where I can blame myself, where I can see myself as the abusive one.  There’s a massive difference between me coming home and calling Dom ‘fat’ and him retaliating because I was so abusive and me coming home, being yelled and screamed at, being criticised and belittled whilst knowing that for the last few years I’d been responsible for everything and like all working class women juggling more than is feasibly possible and when I snap and retaliate being violently beaten and raped in punishment.

It’s still hard to not even re-read that and fight and argue with myself.  What right did I have to call him ‘fat’?  That surely is my being abusive, right?  If any woman told me that their boyfriend called them fat, wouldn’t I say that was abusive?  So why isn’t it abusive if I said it to him?  I know power structures play into this; women are much more shamed and belittled and humiliated in relation to their bodies than men are, but that still doesn’t really make it OK?

Or does it not even matter whether it was OK or not?  Does it not matter on the basis that he verbally attacked me first, that he set up a situation where he could beat me and rape me?  That even if my calling him ‘fat’ wasn’t OK, his reaction was extreme and out of proportion?

Trying to keep it all in place in my head is still difficult at times.  I so often find myself questioning if it really did happen or if I really am just crazy.  And if it did happen, was I really the one to blame?

Trying to untie the knots that he left my mind in with his gaslighting now is one of the hardest parts of all of this healing process; especially considering he wasn’t the only one that left knots in there.

RadSurvivor.

Anything For A Roof Over Ya Head

The topic of homelessness has been swimming around my brain recently.  Frankly it’s been there on some level since the Tories were voted back in last year (has it really not even been a year of this hell yet?).  I’m currently on benefits; too disabled and too ill to work.  Just the other week I could barely handle going to Aldi, going to the doctors and going to the chemist before completely breaking down and giving up for a few days (it probably didn’t help that the doctor shoved his crotch in my face) if I can’t even handle a very simple day just yet, then I definitely can’t handle a 9-5 any time soon.  But the Tories, the DWP, well, we know they’ll have other plans.  Getting disability for mental health and chronic pain conditions was nearly bloody impossible under the Coalition, I know damn well I have no chance under a Tory Government.  I’m due for re-assessment in 2017, but the DWP can spring it on me at any point they decide to move me over to PIP.

I’ll fight it, sure.  It’s taken me a long time to accept, but I know I deserve to be on benefits, I know I deserve the chance to heal, I know I can’t work just yet, but I’m not holding my breathe.  The chances are, any point in the next year or so, I’m going to lose my income and what do I do then?  I worked all of this out the night the Tories were elected; I couldn’t stop crying because I knew exactly what was going to happen.  I was drinking to make the pain go away by 9am.

I’ve been homeless before, more times than I can count.  Sometimes only for a few days, sometimes a few months and the last time was from the age of sixteen till I was twenty.  I’ve been street homeless, squatting, sofa surfing and been in hostels.  Been there and done that.

I’m terrified of being homeless again; I know I could survive, if I had to, I’ve done it so many times before, but frankly, other than my stubbornness and the toughness I have (oh, I do have it when I need it, working and living on the streets give you that – don’t be surprised by my meek, timid exterior, there’s a part of me underneath that can definitely survive) the main thing that ensured my survival was ‘working’.  That’s possibly what terrifies me more than being homeless again, being homeless is gonna be the thing that drags me back, whether I like it or not.

When I was getting close to turning 14, that summer holidays before, I ran away from home again.  I’d not long lost my baby and I was done with that life, I’d more than had enough and I just couldn’t take any more.  I ended up heading into the city, to where I knew most of the homeless were and where I knew there were a few squats lying around.  I had friends up there.  It was a dangerous place to go, honestly, I knew my traffickers sometimes went up there to find new girls but I thought I’d be safe.

I hooked up with my friend, I knew her from working on the streets near where I grew up and I remembered she’d told me she was heading to Angel when she left.  She was older than me, about my age now when I hooked up with her again.  She and a few of her friends had a squat, just women.  We were skint but hey, at least we had a roof over our heads.  It was just before they started re-gentrifying and the police had long ago stopped giving a fuck.  In fact, it was pretty much only our squat they ever bothered and with a house full of prostitutes, you can probably figure out why.

We all had pretty similar pasts, pretty similar reasons as to why we all preferred to ‘live’ in a crappy squat, in ‘hell upon Earth’.  There were five of us in total.  Most of us escaping abuse or prostitution (only to just end up right back in it of course), most of us high, most of us drinking.  Most of us barely eighteen; only my friend was older.

We all ended up ‘working’, still, but we felt invincible, we felt free.  We were working under our own terms, no men to tell us what to do, no men taking our money, we were doing it for ourselves and for each other.  I’d head right into the city centre each night, set myself up in a bar, usually one with a certain look (I had a proper little goth phase going in and I got ID’ed less in those places and even when I did, I usually… ‘talked’ my way round the bouncers).  I always knew what I was looking for, a guy who obviously had a bit of money, younger, professional, I could spot paedophiles a mile off.  Almost without fail I’d end up with guys looking for the ‘boyfriend experience’.  Maybe I deliberately sought them out, I can’t remember.  A few asked me how old I was, I’d always giggle, act much drunker than I was, tell them to shush and not tell anyone, but that I was 16.  With some of them, the obvious paedophiles, I’d tell them the truth, that I was 13, it always meant more money later.  It was a plus for me, though.  They’d buy me a few drinks, take me out for food and then take me back to their posh, city-centre flats and insist I stayed the night.  They’d do what they were gonna do, paying me up front and roll over and fall asleep.  I’d get a few hours sleep in a comfy bed, which when you’re living in a squat is a blessing, even if you do end up sleeping next to a gross man that just paid for you.  I’d wake up long before he did, take whatever cash was from his wallet, any drugs and usually a bit of food.  I didn’t care, I felt invincible and which of ’em was gonna ring the police really?  Not when it also meant confessing to raping an under-age prostitute.

After a few weeks of my ‘living’ there, prostituting myself.  A load of men tried to move in on our squat, we did have some prime property down there to be honest.  They were violent and we tried to fight them off but we knew we’d lost our ‘home’.  Some guy came out of nowhere and told them all to back off, they listened to him, they were obviously scared of him.  They left and it was just us and him.  We knew what was gonna happen, me and my friend resigned to it, sat against the wall, lighting up, new pimp, new day.  He offered us protection from the homeless men around and the police (I remember laughing at this, we already had the police well and truly sorted), said if we worked from here he could offer us all the protection we needed and he knew plenty of clients.  My friend got straight to the point, asking him what he wanted in return.  His terms were harsh, but the other girls agreed straight away, none of them had been homeless before, they were scared from the beating they’d just gotten and protection seemed like a good deal to them.  He took his pick of us to seal the deal, to pay for the protection we’d just gotten from him.  I was the youngest and it was me he picked.  He saw my scarification, knew who I belonged to, made a joke about how he knew I’d be well trained, knew I wouldn’t give him any trouble.

We hardly ever got to leave, really, only every now and then and only if we went with one of the other girls.  He was violent, but he was a pimp so what do you expect?  He was constantly accusing of us holding back money, which was practically impossible, we nearly exclusively worked out of the squat and the clients paid him up front; it was much more likely he was holding back from us.  We did sometimes do street work and yeah, I did hold a few quid back then so I could get a pack of cigs. but I still gave him the majority he demanded.  I got the crap beaten out of me one night, I came back with barely anything, but I’d gotten barely any work, he accused me of stealing from him and he beat me then raped me as punishment.  Another one of the girls couldn’t take it, she OD’ed, probably on purpose.  He said he’d sort it out, I have no idea what he did with her body.

Me and my friend were reading the paper one day, well the horoscopes, like we gave a fuck what was happening in the city, and we realised it was nearly September.  I casually said something like, ha, school in a few days, and she told me I should go back.  I didn’t see the point, but she insisted.  Said I was too smart for this shit, that I should go back to school, get my GCSEs, be something more than this.  I reminded her what I’d be going back to and she shrugged.  Said it wasn’t any different than this, a client was a client and a pimp was a pimp, at least I’d be going to school in the process.  I reluctantly agreed, figured at least I’d see my friends again, at least I’d have some kind of freedom during school hours and maybe she was right, maybe with my GCSEs I could be something more.

We got him to agree to let me and her go for a walk.  I’d shoved the important things under my clothes, everything else I left to her.  I suddenly panicked, realised I was sending her in back alone, that she’d take the blame for me going missing.  I tried to change my mind but she insisted.  Said she got beaten on a regular basis anyway so what’s it matter, said this one was worth it.  She took me to the bus stop, kissed me and told me to make something of myself, to be better than this, I promised her I’d try.

I’ve seen her since, begging on the streets of the city centre.  She looks so much older and drawn out.  She recognised me, I saw it in her eyes.  I was with my friends so she didn’t say anything other than the usual ‘got any change?’ but she didn’t break eye contact with me, she smiled and gave me the thumbs up sign.  I went back later when I went out for a cig. she was asleep, but I left her all the change I had and a little note saying it was from me.

I’ve seen him since, too.  In the papers, wanted on drug charges.  If only they knew of all the things he was guilty of.


 

The lingering threat from DWP leaves me so terrified that I’m going to end up there again, so terrified that at any moment I can be made homeless and left with no other option but to prostitute myself.  I know I have friends, people that care about me, people who would never let that happen, but how much can they really protect me from homelessness?  They can’t expect to protect me forever, there’s not much you can do when you have no income.  So I’ll continue to have nightmares, continue to be terrified of being made homeless again.  At least until I’ve somehow, magically, been successfully reassessed or until I’m in a place where I’m able to work again.

Rad-Survivor.

Loosening His Grip

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.

Rad-Survivor.