I Did A Stupid Thing

Since my last post, I can’t get numbers out of my head, I keep fighting the urge to count, to work out just how many times.  I broke.

I was trafficked from the ages of 4-5 until I was 22.

For those first few years, before my mum met her boyfriend, it was maybe 3-5 a night every few nights or so, 2-3 times a week.

1522 times before I was 8, going off of the lower numbers of 3 a night, twice a week.

When I was 8, my mum met her boyfriend, he was already a trafficker, I was taken there every night.  On a week night, because my mum had already tried to get me home-schooled when I was younger and failed, it was limited, slightly.  About 15-20 a night, depending on how quick they were and how late they kept me there.  Usually till about 4-5am so I could get a few hours sleep before school, I often fell asleep during lessons and I’d get in trouble, asked why I was so tired, refuse to answer and get in trouble more.  On the Friday night, I’d be kept there until the Sunday night, till about 2-3am so I could get sleep again before school.  I’d see on average a client every hour, usually two, if not more, I’d barely be allowed to sleep or eat or drink or take a break, it was almost constant, I was working almost round the clock, drugged, given speed and coke to keep me going.  The only gap in this, really, was when I was pregnant at 13, it still happened, but not as frequently, my mum got weirdly protective suddenly.  I was trafficked there non-stop until I turned 16.

75 during the week, at least 25 (low estimate over the weekend), about 100 a week, 400 a month, 4800 a year for eight years.  38400.

This doesn’t include school holidays where I lived there permanently, seeing clients on a constant basis.

I left my mum’s on my 16th birthday, she nearly killed me for doing it, but I was still constantly being dragged back.  A few times a week, where I’d work the full night, the full weekend.  Again one an hour or so, usually two.  After I left school each day and later college, I’d have to go back there.  Probably on average 40 or so a week.  This lasted until I was about 21.  The only times it dropped was when I was homeless and away from them.  Another 7680.

From the age of 21, things got worse again and I was being dragged back more and more and working almost every night again and working more and more parties because my ex was consistently bankrupting me and I didn’t know what else to do.  Call it 10 a night, 7 nights a week, for a year.  Another 3360.

My last ex, from the age of about 19 until I was 22 was simultaneously selling me to his friends and family to help make up for all the times he bankrupted us, this was him ‘helping’.  About 2 or 3 of them a week.  Another 288.

From the age of about 16 till I was 22, I was selling myself, especially while I was homeless and I desperately needed money or at least just a bed for the night.  The points where I was homeless, I was seeing 4-5 men a night, generally staying with the last one (and pocketing his wallet on the way out, because fuck it.).  I can’t work out how often I did this so I’m just not gonna try to add these.  (And that may or may not be because I can’t see them as rape because I sold myself so?  =/)

This doesn’t include parties where there’d be up to 30 men at once and a handful of us.

This doesn’t include the times I was sold to clients for longer periods of time, where I stayed with them.

This doesn’t include the times where I was taken abroad and so wasn’t working my usual hours.

This doesn’t include the rapes specifically for porn.

This doesn’t include the incest and the rape from my family and traffickers and clients that had access to me outside of there (namely teachers and police and the like).

It doesn’t include the rapes within abusive relationships.

It doesn’t include the handful of one-off rapes I’ve experienced too.

1522 + 38400 + 7680 + 3360 + 288 =

I don’t want to do this, I know I shouldn’t do this, I know I’m going to throw up, I know this isn’t good for me.  Why am I doing this to myself?

I just want to scream at myself those numbers are wrong, that they can’t be possibly right, that I must just be making it up, that I’m just lying, that I can’t have survived all of that, I just can’t have and yeah, I nearly died and did actually die a few times over, but it can’t be real, it just can’t, it can’t, it can’t, it can’t.  I’m just over-exaggerating, just trying to out-do others, just, something.

1522 + 38400 + 7680 + 3360 + 288 = 51250 rapes.

That’s nearly 10 times more than the 6000 average.  I know I’ve somehow managed to magically survive there longer than most, that in close to 20 years it’s gonna be a little more than the average, but it can’t be right, it can’t be.  It’s not real, none of this can be real.

Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.



6000 Rapes?

For weeks I’ve been thinking on what I can write, how much I can say, what’s appropriate for me to say, what would be too much information, where’s the line?  I’ve noticed that despite writing this blog primarily as a trafficking survivor, I’ve very much shied away from the subject.

Partly because I’m unsure as to how much is acceptable to say (though generally I believe that people need to hear and see and feel that trauma and pain, that I shouldn’t be pulling punches for the comfort of anyone – barring other survivors who already know these truths) but mostly because I don’t know how much it’s OK for me to write.

Doing this is always going to require a level of dissociation, if I was to submerge myself in that pain too often and too deeply, it’d kill me and I’m definitely not ready to go quite that deep, yet.  I’ve only been out for three and a half years and I still have so much healing to do.  I remember, though, I remember a lot.  I remember more than is typical for a dissociative survivor, I think.  I have a lot of gaps, sure, more than I’m even remotely comfortable with.  It’s a constant battle with myself; wanting to know what fills those gaps, imagining the horrors and the pain that my brain saw fit to block out – especially considering the traumas I do remember.  If they’re so horrible, then what is my brain blocking out, what could possibly be worse?  And equally not wanting to remember what fills in those gaps because I simply can’t live with any more trauma, with any more flashbacks, with any more memories.

My brain, however, has different ideas.  I keep getting more flashbacks, more memories, more trauma.  No matter how much I try to ground myself, distract myself, actively heal and process trauma, my brain still feels the need to remember more, to give me more information, to keep adding to those memories when I already feel like I’m drowning with what I have.

A friend, a fellow survivor, said [ad lib] to me recently that we don’t have to remember, that remembering is painful and as long as we know enough to acknowledge what happened, to process that trauma, we don’t need to remember more, it’s just too painful to remember.  I accept her words and I know she’s probably right, she’s been doing this much longer than me.  But what am I supposed to do when my brain keeps remembering more and more?  When my brain won’t let me forget?  When despite the dissociation I’ve always lived with, I’m getting memories back clearer and clearer by the day?  What am I supposed to do with that pain and that trauma then?

I was triggered quite badly this week, I saw a post on Facebook with some statistics about trafficking.  I never made it past the first statistic, the fact that on average we’re raped 6000 times, that was enough to send my brain into a spiral and it’s a pain I have to get out, somewhere, anywhere.  Which is why I’m writing this post, breaking that self-imposed silence when it comes to directly talking about my experiences as a trafficking victim.

I’ve been feeling dirty all day, feeling intense urges to just go and shower, to wash their touch, their semen off of me.  I feel so incredibly dirty and whilst I logically know that shame and that dirt belongs 100% with them and to the past, I can’t help but feel it.

I’ve never counted, I never saw any need to.  Besides, it’s easy enough to lose count.  I was trafficked from the age of 4-5 until I left at 23, how was I ever supposed to keep count when I was being raped almost daily?  There’s a point where your brain just switches off, where the number doesn’t even matter any more.  When you’re being raped that consistently, when it becomes normal and daily and routine, it stops mattering.  At that point there’s no difference between 25 or 50 or 100 or 1000 or 6000.  It all just adds up, it stops mattering.

They just start to blur together.  A line of man after man after man.  Their faces become a blur, unknown.  The odd one or two might stick out, sure, especially those that are regulars or so especially violent that you just can’t dissociate, or those that deliberately keep you present and aware or a face that comes back after you see them in the news or on TV or something, but generally, their faces are a blur.  You don’t just lose count, you actively try not to count.  Counting just means adding to the reality, adding to the trauma, you just don’t count, it would kill you if you did.

The realisation that I’ve potentially been raped that many times came hard.  Of course it did.  It’s almost too much for the brain to fathom and process.

I stopped being able to write for a long time, here.  How am I supposed to put into words the realisation as to just how many times I’ve been raped?  How many times we’ve all been raped?  The numbers are too big to process, they’re too big to understand.  Trafficking, prostitution, pornography, it’s a collective trauma.  The individual traumas get lost amongst the vastness.  There’s no words to describe that.

There’s no words to describe what it feels like to be used, hurt, raped, abused so often.  The constant, repeated trauma of being nothing more than something to fuck, something for men to cum on, something purely for male pleasure, abuse and control.  And it’s always ‘something’, never ‘someone’.  There’s no words to describe the utter feelings of worthlessness, of being less than human, of dirt and shame and guilt.  There’s no way to describe the feelings we’re left with; that we’ll never be worth anything more, that we’ll never be human, that we’ll always feel like we don’t belong, that we’re something less than, something other.

6000.  6000 times I’ve been raped.  At a minimum.  I was there for nearly twenty years, much longer than the average.  Most of us have died before that point and I still don’t understand how or why I was ‘lucky’ enough to have survived this long.  I spent almost every day for the majority of my life being raped.  I lived through ‘parties’ where several men would rape me at once, taking turns, working together, me tied somewhere in the middle of the room, free access to all.  Just adding more and more to that number.

It was a constant stream of men, always a constant stream.  I provided more ‘services’, I was popular, I could do more, take more than others generally could, I was good at dissociating.  An ever increasing number, always just one after another.

6000 times.  How am I supposed to process that?  How are any of us ever supposed to process that?  The numbers are just too high, too much to process or fathom or really even quantify.

6000.  6000.  6000.

Tell me again how being raped 6000 times is an empowering ‘choice’.


Reporting Rapes

I read an article in the local paper today, reporting the rape of a man locally.  The differences in reporting were staggering.  There was no ‘alleged’, no ‘suspected’, no ‘reported’, there was no ‘forced sex’, there was no suspicion or doubt or lack of belief, there was none of the usual crap we see when one of the thousands of rapes of women is actually even reported and acknowledged.

Just a few weeks ago, there was an article describing the rape of a pony and once again the language was so starkly different compared to that used to report on the rapes that women face.

Man raped in ‘appalling attack’ in *** town centre

Police investigate horrific sex attack on Miniature Shetland pony in fields near ***

Police rescue suspected slaves after raids on brothels, car washes and restaurants in week of action

Notice the difference?  Notice how it’s ‘suspected’?  Read the rest of the article and you find things like ‘alleged offences’, ‘suspected victims of ‘modern day slavery’’.  Despite the fact that there were 24 arrests, despite the fact that the police have clearly taken action, despite the fact that there is nothing alleged or suspected about this, look at the language still used.

One of the most disgusting examples of this recently was this –

‘Police investigate after reports two girls, aged 15 and 17, were raped in *** city centre’

Again, there’s the use of the word ‘reports’ though thankfully lacking ‘alleged’ in the title.  What I found most disgusting about this case is the way it was handled by the police and the subsequent reporting.

‘Police say claims two girls aged 15 and 17 were raped in *** city centre were false’

Of course, this could be one of those very, very rare cases where it was actually a false report, but I don’t believe that for a moment.  Even the article makes it clear that that wasn’t the case.

‘They have now determined that no offences of rape took place. Detectives however say they are still investigating reports that the girls were victims of sex offences.

They want to trace a man seen with them in the *** Street area of the city centre and a fresh appeal for witnesses has now been issued. Both teenagers are still receiving specialist police support.’

These two young women were clearly harassed and abused by an older man and instead the headline and the police demonises them as being ‘false’ claims.  I’d say it was likely these young women were raped and instead found the same barriers we all face when it comes to reporting until the point where they felt the need to back away from their claims.

The whole thing just makes me sick, but it’s clearly not a universal problem for survivors.  When male rapes are reported, they’re treated with respect, treated as being automatically true, treated with the validity in which all rapes should be treated.  Fuck, even when animals are sexually assaulted, they garner more respect and belief and compassion than that which women receive.

Women are automatically disbelieved, their rapes are always ‘alleged rapes’, we’re always ‘suspected victims’, even when police action is taken we’re still just ‘suspected victims’ and the moment the oh so infallible police say it’s not rape, the survivors are demonised in response.

And the wonderful irony of all of this?  This was also a recent headline from my paper.

Shocking number of teenagers don’t report sex crimes over fears they won’t be believed

Well, no shit, I wonder why that is?

Journalists need to get their fucking act together.  This is just my local paper, sure, but I’d say there is probably zero difference in papers across the country and across the world.  Women are always survivors of ‘alleged rapes’, men are survivors of ‘rape’.  Animals will always be treated with more respect than women, because we’re always going to be seen as less than.  If I ever see the phrase ‘alleged rape’ again, I’m going to scream (so probably tomorrow because men are fucking shit.)


I Know What Torture Is.

Trigger Warnings – This piece is graphic, but they’re words I needed to get out.  I could have journalled this, I still might, but sometimes I just need to be heard; I need someone to hear me and understand me and believe me.  Some might call it attention seeking; I call it breaking the silence that was forced upon me.  I suggest other survivors don’t read this.

I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours or so being half stuck in flashbacks and memories; distractions fell short, feeling the love and the care from those around me temporarily eased some of the pain, but the moment they were gone it came rushing back.  It’s been constant, low level.  A slide-show playing consistently in the background.

I think I know what’s triggered me, two things actually.  One longer lived; my constant denial and questioning of myself.  The seeming disconnect I have with myself and my own mouth and words; using words like ‘trafficking’, knowing they’re true on a cognitive level, but inside reeling as I doubt the validity of those words.  To the point where my brain’s automatic, C-PTSD motivated response is to make me see the truth; to see the validity of that word, those experiences, by bombarding me with more proof than I’d ever need.  The other, a more basic and obvious trigger; researching the witch hunts for a friend and coming across a video.  A video depicting trauma, graphic torture, clips from a film that had so obviously been produced by a man; semi naked women being tortured repeatedly.  This was more than enough to fuck with my head.

The exact tortures may have been somewhat different (but then again, the deeper you get into the world of kink, the more and more some of the equipment seems to resemble torture devices of those ages) but I know what it’s like to feel pain, I know what it’s like to be tortured to the moment where you’d confess anything, agree to anything just to make the pain stop.

I was always a favourite, I was always considered one of the ‘best girls’ amongst all of those that were trafficked and raped beside me.  That’s obviously not something that I’m proud of, just dully acknowledging.  I had learnt to severely dissociate before I’d even properly learnt how to write.  I had learnt to detach myself completely from my body, block out the pain, dive into a fantasy world, convince myself that what was happening just wasn’t happening.  As I got older, I developed this ‘skill’ even more; it was what kept me alive but it was equally what made my life worse.  I could take the pain better than almost all the other women there; I could do the extreme things that others simply broke long before getting to; I became a project, a test, a toy, men fought for the chance to see me, to hurt me, to find my breaking point, but I was long past broken, that was exactly why I could take it.

My body looks pretty good for what it’s been through (yet another reason to doubt myself and my experiences – yet another reason for others to not believe me), but I guess bodies can be more resilient than we give them credit for and injuries do eventually heal, even if not fully.  I mean, yeah, my knees are still beyond fucked up, as are my shoulders, my ribs never healed properly, my hands lose grip from time to time, I’m in pain daily, scars litter my body, but generally I look better than I should.

My head is swirling with memories today; remembering the torture, remembering client after client trying to break me, trying to get me to scream and cry and beg.  Sometimes I would, when it would be convincing, just to make the pain stop, though it rarely did.  I’d give them exactly what they wanted to make the pain stop.  I became a project, to see what I could endure, to see how far they could push it.  Others broke so quickly before I did, they wanted to see how much the human body could really take and I gave them that opportunity.

Beatings, repeated rapes, anal rapes, gang rapes, penetrated with objects – from toys, to anything they could find, to knives; repeatedly drugged, deprived of sleep and food and water, tied and contorted – easy access, pain and vulnerability; the humiliation and the degradation and the shame – being pissed on, cum on, shat on, forced to eat all the above; suffocated – denied the right to breath; whipped, cut, bones broken for their pleasure; forced to orgasm over and over – so they can tell me I like it; pierced, shocked, drowned, sewn shut, burnt, them hurting other women and girls if I didn’t co-operate; forced on the floor, collar around my neck, treated like a dog; recorded for their pleasure – my rapes and tortures put out there for the world to see, still out there for the world to see; tortures I never had the words for, that I don’t care to find the words for, where the memories hurt enough, memories I no longer want a name for.

I just remember pain, over and over.  I remember wishing and hoping that they’d just let me die.  That they’d make a mistake, push it too far, that I’d just die, that I’d just finally be free from the pain.  I did die a few times, but they always found a way to bring me back.  I stopped hoping it would be over, I started hoping they’d just kill me.  There are still days where I wish they’d just killed me.

To so many torture seems like such a distant concept; something that happened in ages past, or countries far away, but it happens much more than you think.  It happened to the girls and women around me.  It happened to me.

Girls and women are still being tortured; the persecution of women and girls didn’t end with the witch trials.


Legalisation: A Dream Come True for Traffickers.

I have a very distinct habit of making myself click and read things that probably aren’t always the best for my mental health; articles and stories and experiences that I will undoubtedly find triggering, information that I already know through my own experiences and yet still find myself reading regardless.

Today it was a short article written by Rachel Lloyd regarding legalisation and trafficking; there was nothing in there that I hadn’t read or thought about previously, but it left me thinking a lot, since.  Some of those are things that I’ve been coming back to time after time since Amnesty voted in favour of full legalisation.  Sometimes, no matter how much I try and force my mind to stay away, it finds its way drifting back to my family and to my traffickers.  It’s taken a significantly long time for me to acknowledge my experiences as trafficking and there are still points where I find myself questioning; am I using the wrong words?  Was any of it really rape?  Does it make any difference that I was rarely moved any further than mainland Europe?  Does it make any difference that my ‘traffickers’ were my family or as good as?  Since Amnesty made their decision, I’ve been thinking more and more on just how amazing an opportunity this is for traffickers, eventually, I put this knowledge and my experiences together; this was not just an amazing opportunity for various traffickers worldwide, it was an amazing opportunity for my family, my traffickers.

I can’t stop myself thinking just how much they would benefit from full legalisation; their operation was large, much larger than any others in the areas.  They owned a number of brothels throughout the North-West and beyond; they owned a larger piece of property that was kept very under the radar but where some of the worst horrors happened.  The smaller brothels were what you’d expect; brothels with older women or girls that just about passed, small enough to rarely be bothered by the police (and in fact were often frequented by said protectors), hidden but clearly there.  These are exactly the places that would benefit greatly from legislation; no more efforts put into hiding their existence, no more need to bribe police with women’s and girl’s bodies, no more need for extensive security and secrecy.  My traffickers could work openly, increase their profits, increase the number of women ‘working’ for them and put less focus on maintaining their secrecy.

This would quite simply leave them free to put focus and effort into that other property, the property where I spent a significant proportion of my life.  Here were the children too young to pass in the more open brothels, here were the women newly trafficked who had not yet been trained well enough for our traffickers to feel secure enough to send them to the brothels, here were the women who had been trained well enough, were able to dissociate well enough, to endure some of the worst forms of abuse and torture, here was where videos of said torture were recorded and produced, here was the place with enough secrecy and privacy for high profile ‘clients’, here was the place with enough space to hold large parties; a girl trussed up as centre piece for all to enjoy and abuse and torture, here was where the few girls and young women who had been missed and their disappearance noticed were kept, here was where they made their real money; where their ‘best girls’ were kept.

Legalisation does nothing more than push these secret, torturous places further underground.  It does nothing more than provide a legitimate stream of money to further finance these worlds.  It does nothing more than create a distraction and a passable front for trafficking and abuse.

Legalisation would never have made my life better; it would have made it significantly worse.  Legalisation won’t make the lives of trafficked and prostituted women better; all it’ll do is legitimise their abuse and their rapes.

I know that place and the new ones opened since I was able to escape would thrive under full decriminalisation; my traffickers will get richer, more girls and women will be abducted, raped, abused and tortured for the pleasure of men.  The horrors there were never going to end, decriminalisation is going to make them worse.


Living My Truth

If there’s any part of the survivor’s journey I truly hold stock with, it’s living our truths.  It’s refusing to hold their secrets, their shame, their guilt and living openly as a survivor.  Whilst I truly believe that living openly is one of the most healing things that we can do, it is simultaneously one of the most painful and terrifying things we can do.  Each day we choose to expose a new, deeper and rawer level of pain and hurt to those around us.  To our friends, our families (if they were safe enough to keep around), to our lovers, to those that read our blogs and our posts.  Each day they learn something new about us; a new fear, a new hurt, a new trauma response, a new detail of our herstories and our traumas.

It’s only been the last few months where I’ve been living more openly as a trafficking survivor; I have done so tentatively and anonymously online (and to an extent this blog is still anonymous, though there are those that see these posts through my Facebook and know who I am) but in person it has been my deepest and darkest shame for many years.  I now live in a world where my closest friends, my adoptive family, know I was trafficked; where my girlfriend knows and has stood by me despite knowing my healing journey is going to be slow, long and painful; where I have trusted friends and radical allies who I trust enough to allow them to connect this blog with me.

But each day I live with such wariness and cautiousness.  I’m constantly waiting for that other foot to fall; waiting for those I love and trust and respect to turn on me.  To tell me to be quiet, to be silent, to go back to living in that place of shame and guilt and self-blame.  To reject me; to see the dirt and the toxicity I see all over myself and distance themselves from me in case it’s contagious.  To start doubting my experiences and my reality; to doubt my pain and my trauma.

Next week I’m taking my next step in living my truth.  For the first time, I’m going to speaking in a semi-public light in a meeting with my local MP to discuss the Nordic Model and the dangers in supporting full decriminalisation.  I have never in my life made such a bold move in exposing myself as a trafficking survivor; I have spoken online, I have spoke to those close in my life, but to speak to somebody with such a level of authority is something so very new to me.  To associate my face, myself, with my own words is a terrifying thought.

I hate to admit it, but I’m scared.  I’m scared of exposing myself in such a way, yet at the same time I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do.  The sooner abolitionists are able to have their voices heard by Corbyn’s Labour, the better; we know that the pro-sex work lobby aren’t going to hesitate and I have a distinct advantage of living in a constituency with an MP with some degree of power.

I feel so very lost and unsure of myself.  Am I in the right place with my healing to do this?  Am I anywhere near enough of an eloquent activist to be able to do this?  Am I ready to expose myself and my traumas in such a way?  Will I even be believed?  Am I putting myself at risk by doing this?

I suppose that last question is what’s weighing heavily on my mind, at the moment.  I know this MP especially likes her photo opportunities; I’ve followed her blog long enough to know that and linking my face publicly as a trafficking survivor is something that terrifies me.  Terrifies me for my own sense of privacy and terrifies me for my sense of safety.  I am a trafficking survivor and I know more than my traffickers will want me to know; I know they’re still looking for me and I know I’m going to be spending a good majority of my life looking over my shoulder and exposing myself in such a way is a terrifying thought; even if my name is now one they would not recognise.  I’m also slightly worrying on the idea of the DWP finding out somehow and deeming me not disabled if I’m able to pull this off (but then this is a constant fear and somewhat unrelated).

I’m not even sure I can pull this off.  I’m nowhere near eloquent enough to get these words out; to paint the true reality of the trafficking and prostitution.  I’m not strong enough to do so without either dissociating or breaking down crying.

However, I know this is the right thing to do; I know this is something I need to do.  I’ve always known it on some level, I always knew that I was never the kind of person who could just focus on her own healing and leave the activism to others (though, of course, I would never shame survivors who have chosen to focus on their own healing); I’m too much of a class activist and I can never just focus on myself and my own needs, I always knew I was going to speak out one day, so why not now?  I need to live my truth, I know it’s so imperative to my own healing and I know how important and valuable my words and experiences are; even if few listen, I know I need to be another voice, a voice of lived experience and stand alongside my brave sisters who are already up there and facing these fears.

So I’m going to this meeting and I’m going to speak; I’m going to make sure my truth is heard and I’m going to do the best I can to ensure nobody leaves that room with any illusions that decriminalisation will be a good thing.  I’m a trafficking survivor; I know the reality of that world, I’ve known it since I was five years old and I’m going to use my voice to expose it for what it really is.


Finding My Voice.

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life wondering just how much it’s OK to talk about.  Whether it’s actually appropriate on any level to discuss my trauma, my pain, my herstory and if it is then how much is it OK for me to actually say?

I’ve had so many people tell me that I don’t have to expose myself, that I don’t have to say what happened to me, that I don’t have to tell the entire world.  I can see this coming from a good place, mostly, but to me it just feels like repeated silencing.  All I hear is that ‘this makes me feel uncomfortable, I’d prefer if you’d stay silent.’

Well, my life, my experiences, my trauma don’t exactly leave me feeling comfortable and my aim isn’t to leave others feeling comfortable.  I want someone to hear me.  I need someone to hear me.  I need others to hear my story.  Both on a personal and selfish level; I need someone to tell me that they believe me, that they hear me, that they care but it’s also on a much bigger scale.  We live in a world where the vast majority will argue that pornography and prostitution is empowering and amazing, we live in a world where so many genuinely believe that trafficking and violence and rape and abuse and murder is rare, just the experiences of a few unlucky people within the industry.

There have been times where I’ve even doubted myself; where I’ve found myself questioning as to whether or not I was just incredibly unlucky and that really the vast majority of the ‘industry’ is much safer, much more empowering.  It takes a lot to pull myself out of that thinking.

There’s so few of us out there speaking our truths, there’s so few people listening to us.  I feel the need to add my voice, in the hopes that collectively we can be just a little louder, that a few more people may listen, that more people will see the realities of this so called ’empowering’ and amazing ‘industry’.  A friend said to me recently that for every one of us there’s a hundred happy hookers, cam-girls and strippers.  We’re repeatedly silenced; both by the pro-sex work lobby and by those around us who can’t deal with our truths, who don’t want to hear our truth.

But our truths are never gonna be pretty; if you can find a pretty way to talk about trauma, rape, abuse, torture and murder, I’d be glad to know it, but otherwise, this is the best I have.

Sometimes I question whether I’m ready for this.  Whether I’m ready for those around me and the wider world (as such is the nature of blogs, I guess) to know intimate details of my past.  I wonder if I have the emotional strength to do this; I’m nowhere near far enough in my healing to be an activist of any description but at the same time, I can’t let myself sit here in silence.  I wonder if sharing each and every little detail is the right thing; if it’s just over-kill?  But then, I personally find it healing to get those details out of my head and frankly, what’s the point in pussy-footing around it?  We live in a world that’s incredibly de-sensitised to violence and abuse, we live in a world where people refuse to hear the details, in a world where many of us don’t feel able to share those details and for me that’s exactly why I feel the need to share them.  So many people are so quick to dismiss or skim over even the words ‘rape’ and ‘trafficking’ and ‘abuse’, but if I let my pain and my memories and those details reach my writing, then maybe, just maybe, someone will really take in what I’m saying, no matter how difficult it is to read (and write).

I spent the weekend panicking that I was letting too much of myself slip, that I was dumping too much on the womyn around me, that I was just feeling too safe and too comfortable in a womyn only space that I was losing hold of my ability to stay silent, to keep ‘their’ secrets, to maintain at least some semblance of sanity and normality (bursting in to tears once or twice definitely didn’t help with that <_<).  But, I shouldn’t have to worry about that, my truth is my truth, the instinct to hide it is an instinct based in shame and guilt and a sense of being dirty and disgusting; silencing myself is exactly what ‘they’ want and I refuse to do what they want any longer.  Yes, I will always feel guilty for putting my trauma on the womyn around me, the last thing I want to do is cause pain to other womyn, but at the same time, maybe, just maybe my words will reach another survivor, maybe, just maybe my words will reach someone who’s pro-sex work and change their thinking even if just a little.

I do so much believe that the onus should never be on exited womyn, on trafficking survivors, to do this work.  That we should never be expected or forced or made to believe that it’s our job to speak out, especially not before we’ve done the healing work that we need to do, but at the same time, I know that, at least for myself, I need to do this.  I need to speak out.  I need to be heard.  I need to be believed.  I need to hope that maybe, just maybe, if there’s enough of us then things might start to change.

I’m not going to deliberately and actively silence myself any more; I’m going to speak my truth, even if it leaves others feeling uncomfortable and wishing that I’d just shut up.  I’m not here to help others keep their rose-tinted glasses on.  I’m here to speak my truth and the truth of womyn and girls like me.  And if that truth gets a little dark and detailed, sometimes, well so be it.