This is post that I need to write, for I feel there is little or no acknowledgment of the mental toll that exited women from the sex trade, when they make the choice to speak.
I write this from a place of pain, a place of deep grief – and a place of huge confusion that those who claimed to be our supporters take loads from us and give little in return.
The exited woman is placed up on a pedestal.
She is not seen as real, just an example who is there to educate other.
She is called strong – with little or no room to see her trauma, to notice her pain, to listen to her grief.
She is told is great to be angry – but not a rage, don’t scare the horses, be angry under our control.
She continually told how brave she is – but never allowed her terror, to say she has no choice but to be brave when surrounded by those who hate everything she is, and would kill her given the opportunity.
She praise for speaking out – but don’t be graphic, don’t get too emotional or show us emotions even if they are fake, speak but always compare it to rape, to battered women – never say too much of the horror, of the grief or that there no easy answers.
She must make her life into a linear pattern – beginning, an abused child, or inside care, or some “boyfriend” entice you into it – middle, just saying just the right amount to make it a human rights issue – end, how you exited and how everything is fine now, except a bit of trauma.
Well, sorry the vast majority of exited women cannot make their lives that neat and tidy – we are messy, we are too real.
We were abused so much for so long, that our lives are full of gaps and silences where we blanked the repetitive violence and hate we existed in. It was our routine – we need a language to say that.
Many of us do not understand how and why it begun – but listen to our words.
Believe when I say that being made to view hard-core porn as a child, being left often in red-light district as a child – was a much more important factor to me becoming a prostitute – than the years of sexual violence from my stepdad.
Believe women when they say they fall into sex trade because they thought it was cool, or would be a good way to shock others. Believe they were as trapped as any other woman in the sex trade.
Believe women can in the sex trade when they are middle-class or even rich. Believe women can be in the sex trade and come from loving families.
Believe it is more likely that if women in the sex trade are on drugs, it is far more likely that is a way of coping with the hell of that world, or that managers/pimps have given them drugs as one way to deaden them – less likely that women drug addicts turn to the sex trade to buy drugs.
Believe that the sex trade wants women and girls from all backgrounds, there is always a market and profit for any porn fantasy.
When you read or get exited women to speak out against the sex trade, you are using us. So it would be decent to give us something back in return.
Know as we write or speak out we are placing our mental healths on the line, we are placing ourselves in the line of fire of the sex trade that would not give a damn about utterly destroying us.
We want to fight hard against the sex trade, for many of us it our way to prove we were never destroyed – only we do live with loads of damage.
I want to say many of us feel used and betrayed by those who say they support us.
I have to want to give talks, especially to women’s groups, but I feel the less I could get is the recognition that when I speak out that it is traumatic. I deserved follow-up not half an hour later, but a phone call or email the next week or so.
I love doing this blog – but many take from this blog and never give me credit, or even my words in places that attack everything I say and do.
I want to campaign hard to end the sex trade – but I do with grief, remembering the unspeakable, and continual pain of that knowledge. If I am going to campaign, please know I cannot always be rational, often exhaustion gets in the way.
I know I speak for many amazing exited women – we want to fight hard, but we are not machines.
We have seen a world that we can only give you a surface view of – we lose words of the living inside such horror and a world based on death.
We choose to lead you through our horror, our pain, our grief – but let us also have rage.
Let us be full of messy emotions, let us speak to try fill our empty spaces. Let us lead the language round the campaign against the sex trade.
Do not fit us into your preconceived box of what an exited woman is – have the decency to shut up and listen.