Invisible Chains

I have been reading a piece by End Human Trafficking on the invisible chains that traffickers use to keep their victims silent.

I found it very triggering, and thought if you replace “trafficker” with manager, or with johns – then much of what traffickers do was familiar to me.

To be prostituted is to be trapped inside mental abuse.

To know not to be silent, is a freedom most prostituted women and girls cannot imagine.

I will use quotes, and then be personal.

But know my personal is just a small part of prostituted women and girls lived through every second of every day.

“Traffickers  control victim’s perception of their situation and the world by being the their primary or only source of information ….  The traffickers have also told you that you have no rights.”

I lived inside their reality, I came to believe that non-prostituted world was a delusion.

I was told I was safe, I was protected, I was understood, I could leave everything up to men.

I could not think, could not say, could not allow it to compute that if I so safe and protected – how come I was raped, beaten and degraded so often, too often.

No, I had to live so I believe this was my only world.

For I know, without their word, no-one would believe there was such a hell.

“They may force or entice you to take drugs or to drink alcohol and become addicted.”

Of course, for young girls this is not hard. It can be rebellious, wearing away awareness that the drink and or alcohol are being used to make you pliable.

When at 14, I was given free drinks, access to some drugs, I thought I was so hard.

I became a drunk without noticing.

I did not notice the pain as much if I drink enough spirits. I could not care.

I did think that all this free stuff had a price.

“Sometimes hope is the strongest weapon.”

God, hope nearly murdered me.

Hope is always held out by managers and or johns.

For them it all part of the game – for the prostituted woman or girl it is an erosion of their ability to be human.

Manager give me hope by saying it was wrong that one particular john was so violent. They would apologise, say they should protected me better.

Only to send me back to more and usually worse violence.

Sorry was a word of hope.

Sorry now is a word I cannot hear without proof of real change.

Johns held out hope as a prize I would never reach.

Hope that they would rescue me, married me, take me away. Hope that I would be an ordinary girlfriend.

Hope that love was real. Hope that they saw I was human.

Hope that this it will just “normal” sex without beating, anal, deep-throated, or constant name-calling.

Hope that I would not have to be detached, but might be connected.

Johns love dashing the hopes of prostitutes, it grind them into the dirt.

To survive, I learnt to throw away hope.

“One strong control tactic for creating emotional dependencies is providing occasional indulgences, like gifts, affection or information. These indulgences, especially when coupled with false promises, lure you into a false sense of security and trust.”

Here, I feel a deep sickness.

This trick kept me trapped for many years. It made me feel stupid for falling for their charm and ability to flash their cash.

I was often with johns who buy me expensive meals in posh hotels or restaurants – I choose to be in that moment, and forget what would do to me later.

I love being spoilt, so I easier cut out the rapes, the beatings and the hate in their eyes – as I eat and chatted lightly.

I could imagine that they cared a small bit.

I was given gifts – books, tapes, pictures etc. Stuff surrounded me.

Stuff could take away my deadness, that I had felt terror, that my body was screaming in agony.

But stuff give me false hope.

I thought I could trust the giver – then knew I was stupid as the raped, beat and call me whore.

I shut it down again.

“They may repeatedly tell you are alone in your situation, that no one will help or believe you, that you have no rights, that what has happened is your fault, or that there is no hope.”

Isolation is a powerful weapon in prostitution, it completely destroyed any essence that has managed to survive.

I knew as somehow crawled away from their sadistic violence that I was alone, I would never be believed, I should not even think to ask for help.

How could I get help when I brought it on myself. I was dirt, I had been fucked over and into over and over and over and over.

How dare I want help, when real women were being beaten and raped. Women who were innocent and deserving of help.

Whores like me don’t need help – just need to get on with doing their job.

Even when my pain was close to killing me, I did not imagine I could ask for help.

I had been made sub-human so why would I care about my welfare.

“Sometimes, sexual harassment and threatened sexual violence are even more effective tools of control. The traffickers may call you sexual names or threaten rape or assault.”

I find it odd, but some of the worse parts of my trauma is knowing this constant threats and harassment.

Many times, I work with managers who would feel me up, say how much they wanted to fuck me it just a joke, would call me slut whore and money-grabbing bitch.

They never raped me – only sent to johns to rape and rape and rape.

I get nightmares of johns who threaten me with burying my body somewhere, maybe chopping me up. That was a great joke.

I had johns who would strangle me till I nearly stopped breathing. God, that was so funny.

I was stalked by johns who had sadistically raped me. But now, they just want to be friends, say sorry – they won’t hurt me.

Gentle johns would laugh about how other johns might hurt me, they won’t, of course.

But I see how turn on they are talking about the violence.

This all I can write, for I see the darkness of that world. I see I was trapped, and only survived by not knowing that.

2 responses to “Invisible Chains

  1. I was stalked by johns who had sadistically raped me. But now, they just want to be friends, say sorry – they won’t hurt me.

    Rebecca, your entire post, as usual, is so powerful and truth-telling. I want to respond to every word. This line stood out to me because it caused me to recall a line in a book about surviving abuse. A woman wrote to say her abusive ex wanted to be friends, and since she had kids with him, shouldn’t she try to be his friend? The author asked her, “Has he been a friend to you? Is that the way you want to be treated by your friends?”

    The hideousness of these men’s mental processes blows me away. Of course they want us to be their friends because it helps them erase how they have brutalized us, helps them live with themselves.

    There’s another line in that same book that I have written out and posted prominently where I can see it every day. It says, “From now on, all of your relationships will be on your terms.”



  2. This is a very important post. I think I’ve said this to you before, but I find it hard to believe that people cannot comprehend the psychological restraints on prostituted women. Either they deny that these exist and wallow in the bullshit language of choice, or they act as if psychological pressures – the results of bullying, torture and manipulation – are not ‘real’ at all. If the chain isn’t metal, it doesn’t exist to them; and if you’re wearing the chain and smiling, they will call it ‘choice’.

    Generally speaking feminist women accept that there are psychological factors that prevent women from leaving abusive relationships with men. Sex ‘positive’ feminists understand that, but they seem utterly incapable of (or unwilling to) transfer that understanding to situations of sexual slavery.

    This ignorance and arrogance is killing and destroying prostituted women.


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