Five Years Free

It’s been five years.  I don’t even know how to quite process that.  Five years.

For the first time, I’m not anxious, not really.  Usually, in the weeks running up to this date, I’m so hyper-aware of it, I find my anxiety is building more and more as it gets closer and the flashbacks get worse and worse.  But I have to say, this year, I’m just not really feeling it so much.  I’m aware it’s there and, as I said last year, there’s really traumatic memories involved, but I’m just not feeling the same sense of panic and emptiness and fear that I’ve felt in previous years around this date.

I guess, maybe, it’s because I’m doing better?

I know I’ve had a rough patch, the DWP will always throw me into a rough patch and I’ve really been suffering the past few weeks, but overall, I have been doing a little better.  Or, at least, I’ve been able to process a lot of trauma and do a lot of that whole ‘healing’ thing and as a result, I’ve been able to get a lot of things straighter and clearer in my mind.

I’ve found my voice, as a result, has gotten so much clearer too.  My voice doesn’t shake quite as much, my hands don’t hesitate when I’m typing quite as frequently when it comes to saying words like trafficking, rape, domestic abuse, incest.  I’m not hesitating, I’m not doubting myself.  For years, even if on some very logical, objective level I’ve known the words were real and relevant and applied to me, I’ve doubted myself so much.  I’ve always had that moment where a pit of guilt in my stomach bubbles over.  How dare I use those words?  How dare I say such horrible things about my family and people who (supposedly) cared for me?  How dare I take words away from real survivors?  I have no right to use these words.  It’s taken me such a long time to believe them, to really believe them.  To fully understand their weight and how they apply to me.

I guess, I’m finally starting to reach a point where I can truly put the blame and the shame and the guilt where it belongs.  I’m finally starting to reach a point where I can see that I was a victim.  That they victimised a child, a traumatised young woman.  That they did these things to me.  That I’m not the one that made them happen; either through my own actions or ‘bad’ behaviour or through some weird twist of fate that deemed me nothing more than a ‘whore’ and deserving of everything that happened to me.

I’m not there completely, not yet, I still have those moments of doubt, those moments where the guilt bubbles up inside me.  But I am getting there and I really have moved so far in the last few years.

I think, in all honesty, one of the most important things I’ve done in the past five years is focus on me.  Which is odd, considering how much of a class based theorist I am.  You’d think I’d’ve done more than this blog to try and reach out, do more for women like me.  But I couldn’t and it was right that I didn’t.  For a start, I crashed in a seriously spectacular way five years ago today and even if I wanted to do more for others I just couldn’t.  Immediately after exiting I was a mess (as I discussed a little in this post).

I was in such a severe dissociated state that I barely remember anything of those weeks, months.  I remember that I spent the first night just sitting in my friend’s flat.  Just staring, barely even blinking, at the wall.  I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t sleep.  All I could think about was how much I wished I was dead.  That was a recurring theme for those months, really.  I was basically just an empty shell and I wished for nothing more than death.  Weirdly, I never actually tried to kill myself at that point in my life.  Which is odd considering how much I wanted it.  I’d like to say that there was some innate survival instinct in me that recognised the magnitude of exiting, the freedom and the potential life that came with that.  But to be honest, I was probably just so empty and running so much on auto-pilot that I barely had the strength to even just kill myself.

The one thing I remember more than anything was just how alone I felt.  I wasn’t alone, not really.  People who really truly cared about me had helped me escape, they’d saved my life.  I played a role, of course, I had to want to leave, I had to want to accept their help, but without them I simply wouldn’t be here now.  But, I still just felt so alone.  I had ‘support workers’, but I didn’t feel like I had friends any more.  I was hiding out in a hotel for the three weeks immediately after escaping and I just felt so alone.  I had a few friends come and visit me there, though they were distant friends, old friends.  Friends who had no real clue about what was happening to me, why I was really in that hotel.  I may have let a few details slip, but they didn’t really know.  My closest friends, the friends I considered to be my ‘family’, they were absent.

I understand, actually.  Dealing with trauma is never easy, even if it’s someone else’s and they were all young.  I mean, we were all in our early-mid 20’s and while they were all experienced workers, none of them had ever really dealt with anything like me.  I understand why they kept their distance, why they didn’t know what to say, how to talk to me.  I understand why my old ‘support worker’ had to take me to them, why they never came to me.  I don’t really blame them, I don’t know if I would have wanted to be around me either.  But, understanding doesn’t stop just how much it hurt.  I felt so abandoned.  They were a big reason why I escaped in the first place.

Before them, I’d never really had real friends.  I’d never had anyone that really cared about me or had taken the time to try and understand me and my life.  And while some of them were older friends and had been around for a long time and while it is possible I had people that cared about me before that point, well, frankly, I’d never felt the same.  Not because I didn’t care about them, not really, but because I couldn’t let myself.  I couldn’t let myself care about anyone or anything else and I couldn’t let anyone care about me.  I’ve had so many people tell me that they care about me, that they love me, but that always resulted in my getting hurt.  So I stopped letting people in.  Until them.  Until that group of friends showed me so much love and care.

It gave me a taste.  It gave me a taste of freedom.  It gave me a taste of love.  It gave me a taste of mattering.  It gave me a taste of things I had never, ever had.  And it was them I had in mind when I finally made the decision to leave.  I didn’t want to be alone and closed off and hurt any more.  I wanted friends, a family, I wanted to be cared for and able to care for others.  I wanted a ‘normal’ life.

But then they backed off and I was alone and heart broken and hurting so much.  To have one of the biggest reasons you exited in the first place taken away from you so soon after actually exiting.  It really fucking hurts.  And it became my biggest reason to go back.  What was the point in escaping to a life of loneliness and emptiness and hurt?  I had that where I was and I also didn’t have incredibly violent people searching for me.  What was the point in trying?

I understand their reaction and distance, but it really did hurt.

Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah, the hotel and the months after.  The sum up is that I was a complete fucking mess for a really long time and even if I wanted to do more, do whatever I could to help and support other women like me, I simply couldn’t at the time and I wouldn’t have been able to for most of the last five years.

And the simple truth is, it’s good that I didn’t.

Now, I have so much fucking admiration for the exited women that throw themselves right out there.  Who have devoted their lives to helping and supporting other women to exit, to campaigning, to setting up safe houses, to setting up amazing organisations.  I just have so much respect for them and I’m so in awe of their courage and their strength.  But it’s not something I could have done straight away and it’s not something I should have done straight away.  And I have to say, that part of me does worry about some of these amazing women, I see how much they hurt and they struggle and it sometimes makes me so sad that they never had the chance to heal.

I’m not saying I did it better, I’m not saying I did it the right way, I’m not saying that these women are stupid (like I’d ever say that?) for putting their work before their own healing and recovery.  I’m saying that it definitely wasn’t the right thing for me and I’m saying that I do have some concern for my sisters who I see struggling now.

I’m not stupid, I know that not everyone was as lucky as me.  I know that not everyone has the chance of exiting and getting good therapy, with an experienced trauma therapist (or somehow, magically, even a therapist with a lot of experience in working with prostituted women) straight away.  I was very lucky in that regards.

Really lucky, actually.  Lucky because it has given me the chance to really try and process and heal from some of that trauma.  So many women have processed and healed from their work, but I just couldn’t do that.  I wasn’t strong enough to do that.  And now, now that I’m five years from exiting, I’m glad that I didn’t.  Therapy and healing and processing trauma has made me so much stronger and more determined than I was five years ago.  I know that as and when I’m ready to go into that kind of work, (Which seems almost certain to me, if not trafficking and prostitution directly then at least some support work around other women who have experienced trauma.) I’ll be in a much more stable and capable place than I’ve ever been before, I know that I’ll be able to do that work and do it to the best of my ability.

I’ve done similar work before and each and every time I’ve just ended up burning out and quitting/leaving because I’ve just not been able to take it, especially not with the weight of my own ongoing trauma.  Looking after myself first and foremost has put me in a position where I know I can spend the rest of my life doing what I can for other women.  My future plans belong to another post, though.

It’s been an incredibly long journey and I’m nowhere near done yet.  In reality, I’ve only had a handful of EMDR sessions (again, the detail for this belongs in another post) but already they’ve made such a fundamental difference to my life and I know that with more sessions and more of a focus on processing and dealing with trauma will make such a difference to my life and put me on track for that future.

I’m in such a better place than I was five years ago and not only because five years and one day ago I was still being trafficked by my family and having the crap beaten out of me by my ex.  I’m in such a better place, mentally and emotionally as well as physically.  And for the first time in my life, I actually believe that not only is this gonna stay the case, but I’m gonna end up in a even better place.

RS.

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I Just Want a Little Peace

My last post was full of a bunch of rambling about just how hard healing from trauma is and how it’s a prolonged, time-consuming process.  The whole point of my writing that post was in order to write this one, because some of the things happening in my life recently have left me panicking about just how much time I’m allowed to heal for.

More than anything, right now, I just want to be left in peace, I just want to be given the time and the safety and the security to be able to heal, to be able to process my trauma and get myself to that ‘better’ place.  As I said about 1000 times over in my last post, it takes time to do that, time that I desperately need.

And time that I am facing threats to now.

For the past five years, I have been claiming and living on disability benefits as a result of my mental and physical health conditions that are a direct result of the trauma I experienced and that are made so much worse when actively engaging with and dealing with said trauma.

One of the disability benefits I am claiming, Disability Living Allowance, expires at the end of this May and as a result, I have to put in a claim for the new disability benefits, Personal Independence Payment (which encourages anything but Personal Independence).  This might not seem like a big deal, but with the Tories and the DWP, it actually really is.  The chances of being able to successfully claim PIP for mental health conditions is incredibly low and if you are somehow successful, you have to go through hell to get there.

I have a face to face assessment on Wednesday, actually at the exact moment that I’ve set this post to go up.  This is where a vaguely qualified medical professional gets to decide if you’re a lying scrounger or legitimately disabled – with a catch, nobody is legitimately disabled and it is actually their job to get as many people off of benefits as possible.  These assessments are cruel, malicious, calculated.  Every single aspect is designed to catch you out, trip you up, trap you, prove you’re a liar.  Even just going to the assessment means that you’re clearly capable of coping with change and that you are able to go outside and travel – another catch, if you don’t go you lose your benefits anyway and qualifying for a home assessment is again nearly impossible; my agoraphobia definitely doesn’t count as a legitimate excuse for not being able to go outside despite it literally being in the name.

I know, I know, you think I’m paranoid and being dramatic and just crazy (not crazy enough for benefits, though) except that I’m just not.  It’s been well documented, despite the Tories best efforts to hide it, just how fucked up this system is.  People in comas being declared fit for work.  People with serious and well-evidenced medical conditions being called liars.  Hell, just look at the fact that something like 60% of decisions are overturned at Tribunal.  I’ve been advised, a few times, by well meaning and caring people, to just tick their boxes and be honest, but that isn’t enough.  It’s impossible to tick boxes when the assessors outright lie, misinterpret information and who’s aim it is to not tick the boxes under any circumstances.  This isn’t a system where you can actually win, no matter how well you know how to play the game, it’s just not possible to win.

I’m shit scared.  I really truly fucking am.

You see, the thing is, this system works under two assumptions.  You’re either the most fucked up and broken you’ve ever been, legitimately disabled and completely unable to work (by their standards even if not realistic standards) or you’re 100% well and completely capable of working 40+ hours a week.  There’s no mid-point.  The thing is, my therapy is starting to work, I’m slowly starting to get better, even if the good days are still incredibly outnumbered by the bad days.  But there is improvement.  I’ve been able to trust enough to start a relationship.  I’ve been able to drag myself outside more often, even alone.  I’ve been able to more consistently attend therapy, though I have still missed a lot of sessions.  I’ve been able to work seriously hard on my eating disorder, eat more often and allow myself to gain weight without completely losing my shit.  I’ve not been self-harming as frequently.  I’ve not been considering just topping myself as frequently.  I’m getting better at being able to communicate and make eye contact and I’m actually starting to value myself more than I ever have.

But all of that’s a big fucking no-no to the DWP.  You see, you’re not allowed to get better.  You’re allowed to be ill, you’re allowed to be well, but you’re not actually allowed to move from one point to the other.  Because if you do, you’re instantly not disabled any more.  Because if you do, then you’re clearly well enough to go back to work right now.  It doesn’t matter that you’re only marginally better from the absolute worst point in your life, the fact is you’re better and therefore undeserving.

The thing is, right now, I’m not capable of working.  I still spend most days stuck in flashbacks, completely unable to ground myself.  I still spend most days completely dissociated and completely unable to explain what I was doing for the last few hours.  I still self-harm, though not as frequently.  I’m still unable to find the motivation to cook, clean, bathe, do much of anything.  I’m still a fucking mess, basically.  There’s been improvement, sure, but that improvement hasn’t led to permanent changes, it’s lead to a tiny increase in my abilities on select days.  And I know what you’re going to say, it’s not like I haven’t heard it 1000 times before.  ‘Surely doing something and being distracted will help.’  No, fuck off, it doesn’t.  I’ve tried the whole distraction thing, I’ve tried burying myself so much in work that I can’t think of anything else.  But trauma eats you from the inside out, you try doing that and you’ll end up topping yourself within a year.

I’m not ready, I know I’m not ready.  And for the first time in my life I’m listening to myself and my needs.  I’m aware of myself, I’m aware of where I’m at and I know I’m not ready to work a 40 hour week.  I’m not even ready to get myself out of the house on a daily basis.  I doubt I’m even ready to do, I dunno, 3 hours of volunteering a week.

The thing is, and this is a thing that the DWP have a complete fucking inability to even understand, I’d be able to reach the point where I can work a 40 hour week if they just fucking leave me alone.

Being on benefits is like having an axe constantly looming over your fucking neck.  It’s not just when you reach deadlines they’ll harass you (and trust me, it definitely feels like harassment), at any point they can decide to reassess you, to put you through the hell of that again and again and again and again.  For the last five years, I’ve been terrified that they’ll turn on me at any moment.  I’m scared of the post.  Scared of seeing one of those fucking envelopes.  Every single time the postie comes I’m terrified that today is the day that the DWP have decided to ruin my life, to cut off all my income and leave me with nothing.

The slightest indiscretion, perceived or otherwise, can be used against you.  The entire system is so malicious.  I’m not allowed to get better, only be better.  So all the work I’ve been doing to try and heal from my trauma actually counts against me.  If they were to leave me alone, I’d actually meet their fucking goals of not needing benefits, but they won’t leave me alone.

Each time I get one of those letters, I end up crashing, once again.  Worse than anything else really makes me crash any more.  The constant threat to your income, your security, your freedom is just way too much to take – especially when you’ve never had security or freedom before.  Since I got my letter for the face to face assessment, I haven’t been able to sleep, to eat, to do anything.  I’ve been sleeping, or attempting to sleep more specifically, for more than twelve hours; spending most of that time lying awake, panicking, being filled with suicidal thoughts, feeling vulnerable and exposed which inevitably leads to my brain oh so kindly reminding me of all the other times I’ve felt vulnerable and exposed (read:  flashbacks).  I’ve been so depressed that I’ve become an even more useless piece of shit than I usually am; I can’t remember the last time I cleaned anything, including myself, I can’t remember the last time that I was able to cook or take care of myself or enjoy something or well, anything.  I’m a mess.  And it’s the DWP who pushed me back by 10000000 steps.  Great tactic for an organisation that ultimately wants people off of benefits.

I was doing so well, I was getting better, I was looking towards the future.  I was working so hard in therapy, working so hard to move forwards with my life.  Considering going back to uni, if not this year then at least next year.  Really working towards not being stuck here, not being on benefits for the rest of my life, not constantly drowning in trauma.  And they took it all away.  They’ve pushed me back so far that I can barely see myself getting through the next few hours, never mind having an actual future.

The face-to-face assessment itself is terrifying me too, and not just because of the potential consequences it’ll have on my life and stability.  Last time I had one of these assessments, I was put through hell.  From what I’ve heard from others who’ve been through this process, I had a rogue assessor, but hell, have you seen what my fucking luck looks like?  The chances of me having another rogue assessor are so fucking high that I just outright refuse to let my guard down and believe last time was an anomaly and the same won’t possibly happen again.

The guy I saw (and this was after specifically requesting both a home visit because of agoraphobia and a female assessor) was utterly disgusting.  He spent the entire time repeatedly pushing me to say what caused my PTSD, I initially tried pointing to the letter that was on his desk which I knew already said so much more than I was comfortable with, but he continued to push and push and push until I just desperately looked at my friend and old support worker to help me.  She tried to say what was in the letter and he cut her off, insisted I had to speak despite the fact that I was clearly traumatised, distressed, having a panic attack and couldn’t stop crying.  He said that if I didn’t speak to him then the assessment was over there and then because I wasn’t co-operating, I knew if that happened I’d lose everything so I forced myself to do it despite the sheer level of distress I was in.  This then, of course, lost me points because that obviously meant that I was able to ‘communicate clearly’.  He made me say over and over and over what it was that caused my PTSD, kept making me go into more and more detail, each rape, all the details for each and every single rape.  It was like the sick freak was getting off on it, getting off on hearing the details, getting off on making me say it over and over despite how distressed I was – probably because of how distressed I was because men are fucking creeps.  He barely asked me how my disabilities affect my daily life, didn’t ask any of the standard questions, didn’t do the assessment as he was supposed to and I ended up not initially qualifying for benefits because of it.

I was such a mess for so long afterwards; I was so dissociated, I basically don’t even remember the weeks following.  I just know that he pushed me so far that I ended up in one of the lowest points in my life and was very seriously considering suicide as a result.

I don’t know what this assessment is gonna be like.  I might be lucky, for like the first time in my fucking life, and get a kind, understanding assessor but even that won’t help me if the ultimate aim is to declare me fit for work and not disabled.  I know that even without a rogue assessor these things are not designed to be sensitive and gentle; so many people are torn apart by this process day after day and today it’s my turn, again.

It’s not even like I’m just expecting or wanting to be handed this stuff, I just want to be left in peace.  If they could just accept my life is my life, especially because they’ve put me through this hell so many times before, especially because each time they’ve ultimately decided that I cannot cope or look after myself or work or function on a day to day basis, then I’d be fine.

Each time they put me through a re-assessment, each time I get one of those letters, each time they threaten my income and my security and my freedom I end up so much worse.  I end up taking so many steps backwards.  I end up moving further and further and further away from the point where I won’t need to do this any more.  I just want some peace, some time; healing takes time and that’s really all I ask.  I just want them to leave me alone for long enough to actually get ‘better’, to actually finally reach the point where I can be the one that turns around and tell them to ‘fuck off’.

RS.

Four Years and Counting – Part Two

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

RadSurvivor.

Disability, Benefits, Homelessness and a Catch Up

It’s been quite a few months now since I made my last post, life has been, well, kinda all over the place.  But then, if you hadn’t figured it out already, life is kinda all over the place for victims of prostitution.  The mental and physical health conditions that we live with after exiting are numerous, the effects they have are powerful and best of all, they intersect with and play off of each other – one gets worse, the other gets worse which makes another get worse which makes yet another get worse; until you’re left with a big, tangled mess that feels utterly impossible to get out of.

This whole process is exacerbated when something happens in the first place – whether it be something basic and day-to-day or something much bigger, but if something happens to set us off, we just keep spiralling until it either works itself out or we reach such a level of dissociation or numbness we just simply don’t give a shit any more.  I’m starting to reach that level of dissociation and numbness with what’s been happening to me the last few months, now, but then it partly has actually gotten somewhat better with reassurances from those I love.

If you read my blog frequently, you might remember one of my last posts before my hiatus.  It was a post around homelessness and some of my experiences whilst I was homeless as a teenager.  In that post, I expressed a fear of what would happen if the DWP and the Tories finally came for me and the disability benefits I receive as a result of my mental and physical health – I was scared of what so much seemed like the inevitable road from losing my benefits, to homelessness, to being forced back into prostitution just to be able to survive.

It appears I somewhat jinxed myself writing that post because less than a month later, a letter arrived in the post with my ESA50 form.  For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a form the DWP sends randomly to people claiming disability benefits to re-assess them.  They’re sent with no warning, no specific reason, no necessity.  They’re random, sent out to catch out the so called ‘benefits cheats’ and they’re fucking devastating and terrifying as well as generally being soul-destroying.

I crashed very quickly after getting the letter.  Slipping into a severe state of depression and anxiety.  I stopped being able to eat or sleep; even when I could manage to eat it made little difference because I was throwing up several times a day from the anxiety; even when I could manage to sleep, it didn’t really matter as I was having so many nightmares I was unable to sleep properly.  My immune system took a battering with the stress and within a few months I managed to get two bouts of the flu, a chest infection and norovirus as well as an increase in my general level of un-wellness – allergies, migraines, joint pain, normal headaches etc.  To top it all off, my C-PTSD got so much worse, I was having so many more flashbacks and to put it lightly, everything was just terrible.

To explain it mentally and emotionally is hard.  I was worrying about and fearing so many different things at once; the form and the letter and the whole situation plus the potential futures it might result in did a serious number on me.  The futures aspect is fairly self-evident – I was terrified of losing my income, becoming homeless and being forced back into prostitution, but it was also so much more than that.  I was given a safety net; told by the woman I love, the woman I am planning on moving in with later this year anyway, that if it came to it, I could stay with her and she’d look after me.

You’d think the offer of such a safety net (and the knowledge that friends would offer the same if it came to it) would be amazing, but there were points where I genuinely believed that living on the streets and being exploited were actually the better options.  This might be difficult to explain, if you’ve never been in a situation where your trust and dependency on someone has left you at serious risk then you’ll never be able to fully understand it.  I’ve been independent for more than a decade, now, since I was 16.  I’ve lived with abusive partners who have stolen from me and abused me and exploited me, but I’ve never depended on them – I’ve always been the ‘breadwinner’, always the one working and earning.  If I was to ever have left them (which I clearly eventually did) I was the one that was going to be financially OK (even if they had robbed me blind and left me with lots of debt), I was the one with the income.

Since the age of 16, I have never allowed myself to financially or for much of anything depend on another person.  I’ve been in relationships with them, lived with abusive men, been exploited and manipulated but I’ve never actually depended or relied upon another person.  Tenancies have always been in my name, I’ve always been the one with the income (even if it has at times only been benefits) or at least not the one without an income, I’ve never emotionally depended on another person for my own survival.  Until recently, I’ve never really even trusted another person.

To put myself in a situation where I completely relied and depended on another person, especially in terms of money and housing was terrifying.  She’s my girlfriend and I trust her more than anyone and we are intending on moving in together, but whilst I would only be contributing a pittance of benefits, at least I would be contributing.  If I was just living with her, relying on her financially, that would be unthinkable, the thought was so incredibly terrifying to me.  I was so scared of allowing myself to be that vulnerable, to be at risk of homelessness (again) after a single argument, to have my entire life in someone else’s hands.

I know this seems awful, I know if there’s anyone I can trust, it’s my girlfriend, but I really just couldn’t get myself to the point where I could trust it, where I could let myself be that vulnerable and that dependent on another person.

I’ve gotten past that, now, or mostly anyway.  I still have reservations in terms of the strain that it would put on our relationship if the worst happens and I lose my benefits, but I know that I could accept her offer of a safety net if I need to.  I trust her enough to accept that offer.

The form itself sent me completely spiralling in a different direction; in fact, it sent me spiralling in two opposite directions all at once.  This isn’t just me, this is the typical response to these forms that I’ve seen from many other disabled people.  You see the form has a magic ability to make you feel both like you’re a complete and utter fraud who isn’t disabled at all and just swindling the system and like you’re a useless piece of shit who can’t do anything without help.  It both makes you feel as if you’re not really disabled while simultaneously making you feel the full weight and extent and limitations of your disabilities.

The system itself is set up so disabled people are no longer disabled, set up in a way so that as many people as possible get refused benefits.  A few years ago, one of the questions was along the lines of ‘can you manage 12 stairs?’, 12 stairs being a normal flight of stairs in a house that many people with various disabilities struggle with, now the question is ‘can you manage 2 stairs?’.  How does that even make a difference, really?  A person might be able to handle 2 stairs, but if they can’t handle 12 that still means they can’t make it to the top floor of their house, still means they can’t make it to the bathroom without support, still means they can’t live life without constant supervision, but that’s all OK, because they can handle 2 stairs.  I’m one of those people that falls in the gap.  My knees are screwed from past trauma and resulting injuries and weakness.  I can handle 2 stairs, most of the time, though there may be times where they give out or lock or dislocate, but when we reach 12 stairs I often wobble, fall into the side of the wall, my knees give out and I’m generally just a bit wobbly and shaky and definitely not going to be winning any races.  But most of the time I can handle 2 stairs, so not a problem.

The questions are dehumanising, unclear and unfair.  You fill in the form feeling like you’re a fraud, like you are one of those ‘benefit scroungers’, like you’re going to get caught out at any moment.  But on the other hand, it leaves you with a stark reality of your life when you start ticking the questions off.  If they’re designed to be almost impossible to successfully get through, then how can you be ticking off quite so many boxes?  Realising just how much you’re unable to do alone, just how much your life is affected by your disabilities can be so soul destroying, can leave you feeling so useless and so worthless – which are feelings we already have an abundance of after being trafficked and prostituted.

Realising that actually, I can’t always pick up heavier things with my hands without randomly losing grip (nerve damage); that I can’t walk from here to the tram stop, just over 100 meters without being in a massive amount of pain and so completely exhausted I have to sit down if I can; that I haven’t been outside by myself more than 3-4 times in the last few months because I’ve been that terrified; that I dissociate not just now and then but almost every single day I spend in my own head, barely aware of what’s happening around me; that I’m still a massive risk to myself, that suicidal ideation crosses my mind every single day and whilst I know I won’t act on it, the thoughts are still there as are the self-harm related thoughts – every time I cross the road I think how easily I just could, every time I chop vegetables I think how easy it could be, every time I light a cig. how easy it’d be.  Every aspect of my life, the ones above and so many others, where I had briefly acknowledged that I was struggling and maybe slightly disabled, I realised the full extent.  I realised that these were things that I struggled with on a constant and permanent basis, not just one-offs.  I realised that I hadn’t had a single moment where I hadn’t at least had a background of slight anxiety in my entire life.  I realised that I’ve never been fully connected to my body and my surroundings, that I’m always at least partly dissociated.  I realised that I hadn’t come anywhere close to ‘recovering’, that ED thoughts plagued me on a daily basis and I’m constantly thinking how easy it would be to just fast, to just skip this meal, to just start losing weight again.  I realised that my life is a complete fucking mess and that I’m really, really not well and definitely not able to work.

The combination of thinking that I’m a fraud and the true extent of my disabilities and the lingering threat of losing my income, potential homelessness and the vulnerabilities that brings all resulted in the same thing – unmanageable levels of worthlessness and uselessness, overwhelming depression and anxiety, practically giving up on caring for myself and such an increase in my suicidal ideation.  I stopped sleeping, barely ate, stopped managing my home, stopped leaving my home, practically quit therapy and healing and recovery, took a massive hit to my immune system and was throwing up daily from the anxiety.

I’m finally starting to get past that, a little, and starting to be able to put my life back together but I know that I’m going to spend however long it takes living in fear of that brown envelope and I know that when it arrives, I’m probably just going to end up right back where I started with the first envelope.

RadSurvivor.

A Fresh Start

I am ready to have the upcoming
year bring me new life.

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

This is another one of those kinda things that I just scorn at.  I don’t do self-care, I don’t do mindfulness, I don’t do hope, I don’t do future.

The thing is, when you spend your life being prostituted, abused, raped, used, manipulated, controlled; when nothing is yours, when you have no choices, no freedom, no rights, then you kinda give up on the whole ‘future’ thing.

I spent my life barely expecting to see the next sun rise, never mind the next month or the next birthday or the new year.  I didn’t plan any further ahead than I had to.  When I was forced to plan further ahead, I either made it up, not holding on to any real expectations or I just nodded along, not really expecting to be here when the time came, not really daring to hope.  I knew that at any moment I could come across an extra violent client, that my mother could completely lose control, that Dom would kill me, that I’d just give up, that I’d just become another statistic.  I never expected to see the next day, so I never planned any further ahead.

I lived my life in a way that reflected that, even after I exited.  I made sure that my flat was reasonably clean, that I never owned too many things, so once I was gone, there wouldn’t be too much for others to handle.  I always had my important paperwork organised so, again, it wouldn’t be too much for others to handle.  I made sure I always had a bag packed, ready to go, either back home or to just up and leave here if I needed to.  I had the number for the Cat Protection League in my phone, so I could ensure my cat was taken care of.  I always had a stash of pills on hand so I could check out any time I needed.  I’ve nearly always lived in a way so that if I don’t see that next sun rise, I’d never be too much hassle to anyone else.

I never made New Year’s Resolutions.  I never made plans for my birthday.  I never actively planned future career choices.  I refused to play ‘in five years time…’ style games.  I refused to engage with my therapist when she tried to get me to plan for the future.

It’s just not really a skill I have.  It’s an alien concept to me.  So often, it really does just feel like I come from an entirely different world; a world where futures don’t exist, a world where career options don’t exist, a world where needs and wants don’t exist and when it comes to engaging with this world I just feel lost and confused.  Plan for the future?  Why the fuck would I do that?  I’m probably going to die today.  It doesn’t matter anyway, this is all I’m ever gonna be.  I’m never getting out of here, so what’s the point?

I’m still slightly bemused each time I see the sun rise; even more bemused when I see a New Year come in or I reach another birthday.  I don’t quite understand how I got as old as I am.  I should have died by now.  Statistically I shouldn’t be alive.  Medically I shouldn’t be alive (I have technically died before now).  I just shouldn’t have made it this far and it’s always a little bewildering when I realise I have.  I’ve been free for nearly four years and I’m still utterly bewildered when that sun rises.  I’m still so surprised that I’ve somehow managed to survive another day.

So yeah, when it comes to hopeful little messages like this one, it’s hard to just not laugh.  A year?  An entire year?  Ha, like I’ll make it that far.

But then, I guess things are different now.  There’s no more pimps.  No more punters.  No more abusive boyfriends beating the crap out of me each day.  There’s just me.  And my girlfriend.  And my cat.  And the biggest risk out of those is, well, me.  (Though, the cat does have a tendency to try and trip me up!) 

My life has changed a lot, recently.  There’s the obvious, having escaped prostitution and escaped Dom, but it’s changed in so many other ways, too.  I built closer and stronger connections with my friends, I made new friends and allies, connected with my sisters – both survivor sisters and not, engaged more and more with radical feminist theory, started to find some level of joy in simple things, started a really healthy and positive relationship.  And all those changes have meant that, for once, I am actually planning for the future.  At least for the short-term.  I know where I want to move to.  I know what I want to go back to Uni. to study.  I know who I want to be with.

If I’m being honest, I think I’ve already had my ‘fresh start’.  It started the moment I decided to exit and simultaneously get away from Dom.  But I was so trapped in flashbacks and memories and trauma and pain that I could barely have that real ‘fresh start’.  I was stuck in a limbo.  No longer being prostituted or beaten or abused, but not healing or moving forwards, either.  I was just stuck in a limbo.  Constantly teetering on that edge.  Constantly on the verge of returning to my own life, because whilst it might have been so horrific, beyond what words can describe, it was at least something I knew.  And this world?  This isn’t something I know.  I understand the language of abuse and threats and violence and trauma.  I don’t understand the languages of love and compassion and care and freedom.  But I’m learning.  Good Goddess, I’m learning.

It’s only really been the last year or so that I’ve been able to make any real changes at all, that I’ve really had something that resembled a ‘fresh start’, that things have actually been getting better for me.  I can’t really remember what it was that changed.  I know I was working on an incredibly hard memory; a memory that left me with so much guilt and shame.  A memory I couldn’t deal with and I was more than prepared to just kill myself over it.  As far as I know, the people around me had no idea how badly I was doing.  I was hiding my suicidal ideation from everyone.  It was so far past suicidal ideation.

I don’t know what got me out of that.  I honestly don’t.  I somehow managed to forgive myself for Nicky’s death, which is surprising considering I still blame myself so, so much.  I at least stopped holding myself quite so accountable.  Honestly, I don’t even know, I don’t know what got me out of it.

But things changed quickly once I was out of it.  I was really engaging in therapy, in healing work.  I was building more and more connections.  Making new friends; friends who would persuade me to stretch out even further and build even more connections.  I started a relationship (which is something that I never, never would have been able to do before).  I even started doing things like travelling.  Meeting up with large groups of people.  Going away for the weekend with people I barely knew.

I already had my new start.  Whilst last year was filled with terrible, terrible things.  With so much pain.  So many flashbacks.  Even though I barely even made it through that year, considering how close I was to either killing myself or going back.  Despite everything, last year was quite possibly the best year of my life.  (Holy fuck, I have low standards.)

I still might not really believe in the concept of ‘futures’, but I think I might actually kinda have hope, this year.

Who’d’ve thought it possible?

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.