Waking at 4am, shaking, sweating as the alcohol and drugs leave your system, and just not knowing what to pray for. You're terrified there on your own in the night ill and alone but when morning comes it'll be the same old merry-go-round, the same old stuff, being fucked by men and you don't want to be touched but you need the money for the drink and drugs cos you can't get off them, can't do it without them, they go hand in hand the addiction and the prostitution, the self abuse and the abuse. Your heart's racing out of sync, your liver's throbbing, stomach burning, sore between your legs from the men who fucked you today. You feel terribly terribly stuck and you hate yourself and you find yourself around people who hate you, play back that image to you.
You thought you were worthless, your ex told you you were worthless, and the johns treat you like you are, tell you that you are, that you like how they abuse you, they whisper sordid, sick fantasies into your ear before they act them out on you and they say 'and you'd like that, wouldn't you?' and you hear the sound of your own voice, though far off and disconnected like it's not really you saying, 'oh yeah, baby, that makes me cum'. You feel that knife twisting in your side, you're selling yourself out, any shred of self respect you might have had dies as those words exit your lips.
Your body's not your own, your words aren't your own, even your pain's not your own: sometimes they want to know you don't like it, what they do to you, they demand to see your tears, see your pain. You will the tears from your eyes but they won't come, they don't come, you're not connected, can't reach this body of yours. You know in a distant way that it will be safer for you to cry, to get it over with, so they'll finish, climaxing to your suffering, your humiliation, so they'll stop. No tears come. They keep doing what they're doing, or something more sadistic, til you either pass out or beg for mercy, their orgasm your final destruction. Or else you find the tears streaming down your cheeks, powerless to hold them back, feel the warm glow of shame and pain, and feel utterly betrayed by this body of yours, by yourself. You have nothing to hold onto, nothing is yours anymore: their hands touching you all over, inside and out, your mouth used for their pleasure, every bit of you used for their pleasure, their gratification, the open target of their body fluids, their sick and twisted fantasies, your pain their thrill. Consumed by them.
The drink helps, the drugs help, they numb you out, help take you away from what they do to you, from yourself, but also serve to keep you there, the need for funds keeps you there, locked in this cycle of abuse and self abuse, you know that you're killing yourself, know you may be killed, but how to get away from that? It seems impossible.
So crushed that to dare to even hope for something more, for anything more, seems frightening: you'll get hurt, it won't work out, best to endure, best to forget, best to keep your head down and survive. Normality is just a word to you, an unknown quantity, but surely something other, something better, than this.
Getting out, and you're one of the lucky ones, not everyone makes it, one of the lonely ones, the chasm between you and others around you, without your past, is unbridgeable. Every day you thank God for being clean and sober, every day you deal with the aftermath of what happened to you, what it is to be prostituted, to prostitute yourself. You lack the language, can't articulate, what happened, even to yourself, your past's a series of disjointed technicolour images, scents and sounds with blackouts inbetween, the result of the drink and the drugs and the head injuries, a jumbled non-narrative of horror, burned into your skull. When you sleep you get nightmares, when you wake they continue: panic attacks, re-living, triggered off by the everpresent background hum of the sex industry. Every film has sex in it, every ad has semi clad women in it, every newsagents has porn in it, women for sale everywhere, inequality sold as equality. You just can't get away.
You begin to piece together what happened, put words to what happened, inadequate as they are, words like 'pimp', 'rape', 'gang rape'. You start to realise that when even the most mild forms of abuse you suffered seem unspeakable, unacceptable, that your truth separates you, is too much for most people to hear. When being gang raped was just another day for you, just another day surviving, enduring as best you could, the only way you know how. Treated like an animal you became an animal to survive, and the shame burns you, the guilt burns you, the sickness of what was done to you, what you did to get by eats away at you. You live knowing that there are images of you out there, images of the abuse, men wanking over them, making money from them, your pain their thrill, their profit.
You realise you are one of too few who know that prostitution and porn and lapdancing are all the same, selling women is all the same, there are no boundaries, no distinctions. Your ex made you perform for them, made you dance for them, made you strip for them, made you entertain them whatever that required, and made money from your abuse. The johns photographed you, the dealer videoed you... No distinctions, no boundaries left to break though, every last piece of your humanity trampled down for power and for profit.
You live knowing first hand just what people are capable of, hearing people all around you defending porn, defending men like your abusers, calling people like Maxx Hardcore 'groundbreaking' and 'inspired', hearing ill informed arguments denouncing women like you who speak a truth no one wants to hear. You know that just because she's smiling doesn't mean she likes it, just because she's saying 'fuck me harder' doesn't mean she wants to be there, is free to choose to be there.
To be a prostituted woman is to be in hell. To be a woman who has exited prostitution is to live in that knowledge, knowing where you've been, living with trauma, and being dismissed as an abberation - or a fruitcake. The mental health problems you now suffer as a result of the abuse are used against you. Even those who believe you dismiss you as exceptionally unlucky - 'it's not like that for most women in porn'! And you're afraid to speak out anyhow, mistrustful anyhow, scared of being alone with your head but scared to let others in in case you're hurt again, fucked over again.
You feel overwhelmed, invalidated. You feel scared and alone, scarred and broken, and lost. Painfully lost.
Imagine that and you have some insight into what it is to be me, to be a prostituted woman, a survivor. Take that knowledge and take action, to help a little, change something a little, maybe not laugh along when someone jokes about porn, maybe not join in the consensus when people say about the sex industry 'well, lads will be lads'. Maybe stand alongside me, alongside us, make it a little less lonely.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.