Tuesday, 10 January 2012

How to Have Sex Like a Hooker (oops, I mean 'Pornstar')

Just a few tips I learned along the way, my experience of being used in pornography when I was pimped, and from a little research into the experience of other survivors of porn and prostitution. Oh yeah, and P.S., pornography is prostitution, in spite of the arbitrary line society chooses to draw: someone, be that the woman, her pimp or her agent is paid in exchange for the use of her body. Thus buyers of porn are johns, albeit one step removed, though they wouldn't like to be called that. Strange really, such sensitivity to words given the words used about the women in the porn they buy.


So, you're curious about having sex (definitely not making love) like a 'pornstar' (hooker)? Some handy hints:

- Disregard your body and its pain. Remember: this is not about you, it is about the johns and what they want to see, the men fucking you and what they want to do, and the men behind the camera and how much money they want to make. Your body is merely the vehicle for the sexual kicks of others, no matter how painful or perverse. As 'Buttman' John Stagliano put it, 'pleasure and pain are the same thing, right?' (1) . I guess that's empathy out the window.

- Expect to be humiliated. Much of the pleasure the punters take is from seeing you degraded, whether that be a cum facial, what they say to you (slut! whore! cunt! Say you're a cunt), or when they slap you or spit on you or do delightful stuff to you like ATMs and worse. That stuff that pro-porn peeps sometimes say about respecting the women in it for their choice to do it? BS all. They don't respect you one bit and the guys working you over won't either.

- View yourself from an outsider's perspective - a pornographer's perspective, a john's perspective. That's why you're here. Their attention's focussed largely between your legs, hence the close-ups. Oh yeah, and boobs and mouth have their uses too. That's where your value lies: in your availability to be used. Think they're bothered about how it feels for you, if you're in pain? There's no place for consideration when the camera's rolling and the johns are waiting, cheering on acts of aggression as a 'get even' with the women they can't have in their lives.

- Penetration, penetration, penetration. That's where it's at. If it can be done, someone'll want to see it, no matter how extreme. Vaginal, anal, oral... Now anal's become mainstream, the push is on for the next innovation, and your body's about to be tested to its limits, not thrilling but risky and painful, life and death. As one porn director, Mitchell Spinelli put it, 'People want more. They want to know how many dicks you can shove up an ass... It's like Fear Factor meets Jackass. Make it more hard, make it more nasty, make it more relentless.' (2) Endurance is the number one qualification you'll need here: this is not about loving sex and being proud of your body like they tell you in the magazines. Think it'll be an exciting sexual experience? Think again. We're talking prolonged rough fucking, every way possible risking tearing, being bruised so badly that sitting down hurts, and shitting blood afterwards. And they'll use anything, not just their cocks - objects or fists, anything they can force inside you. You are a set of holes to them, money to them, the more extreme the act the more they'll make. Hard to see the human when you have dollar signs in front of your eyes.

- Be prepared to thank the men abusing you, to ask them to hurt you more, fuck you harder. The physical assault's not enough: they demand to know, for the benefit of the guy sitting at home jerking off, to get him off, that you're loving it. We're treating her nasty, and the little slut can't get enough! Or some audiences want to know you're in pain, so be ready to cry. You might not be able to help that, anyway, don't beat yourself up for that, you don't know what you'll be up against, that the strongest resolve is no defence. They have a way of breaking you, shaming you, hurting you 'til your eyes water. And don't forget to say thank you like a good girl when they're done, and present to the camera: they want to see that damage!

- Lay aside any notions of choice, empowerment or control. What they say goes, to avoid more off screen violence. Obedience is demanded: they have the power, your body is their playground, to do to as they wish. No matter how aggressively they treat you while the camera's on, be aware it can and does get a lot worse when it's turned off.

- And finally, take and use anything that you can get your hands on to numb you out, to lessen the pain, mental and physical. What's going to happen will happen with or without your consent, whether you struggle or don't, whether they have to beat you or threaten you first or not. Your body is here, and it's going to be sorely misused. The best you can do is get yourself as far away as possible, whatever that takes. Drink, drugs, dissociation. That's it kid, I'm afraid that's your only weapon: you're on your own out there.

Don't confuse the lies about women in pornography being empowered or respected, being 'stars', it being a thrilling glamorous job, or anything about enjoying sex, liberating sex, with the reality. Pornography is all about money and power. Women's bodies are the means to the end, which is someone who has power over her getting rich by selling her, images of her abuse, and someone getting off on it. Maybe if they knew a little more of the reality, people would be less keen to have 'sex like a pornstar', or to emulate the dynamic of abuser and abused that we call porn.

(1) Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, R Jensen, Southend Press, 2007, p117
(2) Ibid, p70

Sunday, 8 January 2012

What Lies Beneath

Someone wrote to me recently and what they said sparked me off thinking about appearances and reality. I have always possessed an uncanny knack for presenting well in even the most dire circumstances. In fact, in recovery I have found that my ability to seem confident, sorted and well have counted against me when I've reached out for help. People look at me and see nothing wrong - no help needed here! Move along! The reality, the damage, lies much deeper, can be hidden for the most part, though in extremis as of late my muteness and frozenness have been a little more difficult to stage manage. Dressed in long sleeves and gearing it up, meet the articulate, educated woman. Dressed in a vest top and playing it down, meet someone who's a little rough around the edges, a harder woman with tattoos and serious self harm scars. The language and the manner change to match.

Both are real, but which one is me?

Those are the public personas, and all the shades that lie between. I do believe to some extent that everybody adapts a little to suit their situation. The problem I have is one of degree. There are actually numerous personas my head flicks between, each one existing in its own right. I find it hard to remember quite how I am in one headspace if I'm in another. Cold, Detached, Savage, Angel, Emma, Destructive, Compassionate... The memory problem I find as I flick between personas adds to the fragmentation, the disconnection, my experience of life as a collection of snapshots, a series of events with little apparent connection, my difficulty with time. I find I lose track of days, that an hour can be a lifetime or else be gone in the blinking of an eye. Sometimes I look at the clock and an hour has passed, or more. I'm someplace else, gone, lost in a trance.

I have a love-hate relationship with my outward appearance of competence. There is power in wearing a mask. And I can be competent, so it's not a lie. Not always, anyway. Sometimes when I'm struggling, when the PTSD's bad I put on my outward appearance, Angel: hair done, makeup perfect, fresh clothes. Wearing it as a cloak, I interact with the world one step removed. I'm very well, thanks for asking, don't get too close there. But this mask, this cloak can also act as an iron maiden, closing me in, suffocating me - the metal digs into me and hurts me and it traps me there, alone.

I found this writing, something I wrote back in my drinking and using days, when I first felt myself splitting, found myself carved in two and me lost somewhere between, out in the ether. I fragmented further as things got worse, as I found myself beaten and sold. I became we, and we did what we had to do to get through. Sometimes all that can be done is to get through. Survival is everything, hour by hour, minute by minute, though one beating, then through another. Me but not me, there but someplace else, one but many, together yet apart.


I’d be sectioned if I told them what was really going on in my head, inside my mind. So instead I feign normality, humanity, I smile when someone cracks a joke, in fact I smile a lot, I’m known as the Smiley one, but it’s just pulling facial muscles, a dumb contortion of facial muscles that doesn’t mean anything, it’s just acting, it’s just pulling a face, just playing the part. I’m not smiling inside, and if they could see what was inside they wouldn’t be smiling much either.

Inside is darkness, brokenness and damage and a cloying, decaying sense of evil that feels somehow primeval and is shot through to my core. Don’t come near me or I’ll rub off my DAMAGE. I’m like putrefying meat, going bad from the inside out, this evil’s eating its way through me and the pretty smiling exterior just serves to make it all the more terrifying because if you met me just to chat with you might be mistaken in thinking there is Nothing Wrong and I’m a Lovely Girl. I see the devil sitting at the end of my bed. I want to inflict pain, pain like I’m feeling, I want to damage as I am damaged. I stop looking myself in the eye in the mirror.

I’m scared of myself and trust no one. I scorn the people around me. They see only what they want to see and that is not the real me. I am the consummate actress, the director, pulling the strings but they don’t see it. It is better, safer, to give nothing away, knowledge is power and I'm not about to hand that over to any fucker right now. It’s not that I lie, I just don’t tell the truth.

The divide between the Smiley me, the Normal me, that I present, and the Other me, my dark side, becomes cavernous. I feel caught between the two, detached and lost. I am living two lives, one visible and fake, one hidden but more real, those two aspects of myself meeting only because we share the same body. My body feels alien to me, separate from my mind and the darkness, just a canvas to etch with cuts, a vessel to indulge in the substances I choose, something I wear and flirt with and fuck with. My mind – that’s someplace else.

I am a voyeur in my own life.

I love and I hate the Smile, the Mask, it allows me to feel aloof and to pass unnoticed in a world in which I increasingly feel I don’t belong. I belong someplace else, someplace darker, and I find myself seeking out the dark and the dangerous. I flirt with it, it part scares me, part thrills me, it’s playing with fire and I know I’ll get burnt but I can’t leave it alone. I never can leave things alone: I’m an Addict, an Obsessive. The smaller part of me wishes people would notice, see my pain, see my turmoil, help me up and out of this Pit I’m in. But I’m way too far gone to be able to let people see the Real Me. My state is Unacceptable, and I know it.


It's slow progress, piecing Angel back together. I'm not where I was when I was when I was drinking and using, no longer the subject of chemical hallucinations and the added complications: I know now that what I'm dealing with is me, not the side effect of self medication. But in many respects it would be less painful, easier, to remain fragmented. Reintegrating involves acknowledging and experiencing the extreme trauma I endured as a battered woman, as a woman who was sold. At bottom, I want to be able to engage in authentic relationship with others, to not be alone, and that requires that I start with myself. Until I am whole I will remain at a distance, and liable to cause confusion and damage, to others who care and to myself. Trust is a big thing, to process and begin to heal and piece these shards back together, I need help. It's a tricky one. But I am getting there, even if it feels like one step forward and three backwards some days. I want to be able to say - what you see is what you get. Take it or leave it, but that's me. That's Angel.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

On Words In Favour of Prostitution and Other Madness

I came across an argument put forward by a French MP in the debate there about whether to adopt a Swedish model for prostitution, targeting the johns rather than the prostitutes. He couldn't see the problem with prostitution. He said: prostitution is the oldest profession. If it weren't for the safe and legal outlet of prostitution, there would be more sexual assaults. Prostitution should be regulated, not made illegal.

Further examination shows this argument to be unsound in every respect. Take the 'oldest profession' comment for example. This implies that prostitution has some kind of soundness as a system simply by virtue of being historic. Some women have always been fucked for money so it's okay. Bear baiting and gladiator contests are also historic but I'm sure no one would want to argue that we legalise those on that ground. Modern thinking has generally recognised many practices of yore as barbaric and cruel, and rightly so. So we may dismiss that 'old = good' line of reasoning. I'm not sure that being verbally, physically and sexually abused can be classed as a profession, anyhow.

This 'oldest profession' line also has about it the ring of inevitability: prostitution was and is and always will be. This is simply not true. There is nothing inevitable about prostitution. The way our society operates, the 'norms' it accepts and perpetuates, are social construct all. The sex industry seeks to naturalise inequalities between the sexes to strengthen its grip, to say this is how men are - needing a constant sexual outlet- this is how women are - able to make money for providing this 'service'. Once we see something as natural or inevitable, we cease to question its being or morality - something the sex industry desires us to do. Even if one were to argue that prostitution is inevitable, does that remove from us the responsibility to try and change that, to try and stop that, once we recognise it is deeply damaging? One might argue that domestic violence will never be completely wiped out, but does that mean we should stop trying, close the refuges, de-criminalise it?

Then the argument about prostitution preventing sexual assaults, a kind of safety valve if you will for the man who is desperate. To say prostitution is okay on the grounds that it stops more serious abuse is to offer up a group of people - prostitutes in this case - and say, let them be the victims here, we'll offer their blood to the beast in order that the rest of us, the majority social group, may be saved. It is to create a sub-class and justify their abuse as a means of protecting those with entitlement. We'll deny them their safety, their human rights, to ensure ours. Better them than us!

This argument implies that rapists and sexual offenders are in some way not responsible for their actions. It is a given that they will hurt people, so it is better that they hurt that woman over there than this socially acceptable woman over here. Do we really want to say that people's actions are pre-destined, inevitable? Doesn't that sanction them? Whatever happened to free will? And personal responsibility? If I hit you, it is because I decided to. My arm doesn't have a life force of its own. Similarly if a person rapes someone, that is a decision too. At the end of the day, the man who rapes makes a decision. He is not at the mercy of his penis! The man who sexually assaults makes a decision. As does the man who batters. The whole penal system is grounded upon this understanding that the individual is responsible for his actions.

If a man sexually assaults someone, he must be punished. The law exists to protect us. We can't offer excuses on his behalf, say he couldn't help himself, and classify abuse as okay because of the exchange of money. Pornography adds to the naturalising of this kind of thinking: that 'boys will be boys' and are fundamentally different to women, needing many sexual partners, visual stimulation and a constantly available sexual outlet, whether that be using women in porn or women in person, be they prostitutes or partners.

This argument also implies that johns are rapists and sexual aggressors. If this is the case, if we acknowledge that the Pretty Woman portrayal of the average john was just a tad optimistic, why should we then expect the prostitute to deal with him, and then also say, her choice, her problem? This argument makes prostitutes a 'necessary evil' as an outlet for the frustrated sexual desire of violent perverts.

Then we have the idea of regulating prostitution. To say we should legalise prostitution and regulate it is to imply that there is such a thing as safety for a prostitute. It is to say, if we put you in a nice room with a lovely bed spread, it's okay for you to be fucked: nothing bad will happen to you. In reality, you can change the setting but you can't change the nature of the act. Prostitution is all about power: the john has all the power because he has the money and has physical strength on his side. The prostitute is the object of his fantasies, his fuck doll to be used and abused as he will. The very nature of the act is aggressive.

There is no such thing as safe prostitution, wherever it might take place. At the end of the day there will always be an inequality there, a naked vulnerable woman and a man (or maybe more than one depending), her very presence there being for the purposes of his sexual pleasure, whatever that takes. And safety implies boundaries, limitations, and back up. Where are the boundaries when a john fucks a prostitute? When he slips off the condom when he's behind her, even on a nice bedspread, where is her backup? Does having a pretty receptionist or someone on the door help her when she's alone with him and he does as he wishes? Or when he fucks her harder because it hurts her, thrusts deeper down her throat to see her gag? He can just as easily rape her, just as easily hurt her, in a nice room with a nice bed spread as on the street corner. It simply offers a veneer of respectability to the punter, and to the pimp. The prostitute is not any better off. The onus will still be on her to swallow down what he did to her, not to tell, her shame not his, her fault for being there. The words he whispers in her ear, telling her all the sick things he wants to do to her, will be no different in that context, and the feeling of her body being violated, being used, having him inside her, will be no different for the woman. She is there for his pleasure, his sexual gratification, whatever that means. End of story.

In the context of legalised prostitution, the pimp becomes a business man, the john a client. Everyone breathes easy, without moral compunction, because the harms have become invisible. The damage done the prostitute becomes invisible because the language with which to address it has vanished. We already have little enough real vocabulary used in debating prostitution. Discussion tends towards vacuousness, limited as it is to abstract concepts of liberation, empowerment and choice. Keep it real people!

Demands to legalise prostitution and regulate it are purely in the interest of the pimps and johns. 68% of women in prostitution suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as torture victims and combat veterans (see www.object.org.uk). Regulating prostitution isn't the answer. Throwing up our hands and saying it's inevitable isn't the answer. Educating people about the realities of prostitution, dispensing with the sanitised, meaningless bleating about choice, liberation, empowerment for women and offering real choices to women who find themselves facing desperate times are what is needed. Until women know the realities of prostitution, they will continue to be vulnerable to being groomed for its use. Until women see other options in the face of mental health problems, poverty and addictions, they will continue to be vulnerable. And until women recognise the personal nature of prostitution in all its glory - cum and fear and aggression and pain and degradation, physical and mental scars, johns who in no way resemble Richard Gere - many will continue to fight for the right of women to continue to be abused and damaged in prostitution.

Don't fight for that in my name. Know the truth: you are fighting for the rights of the pimps and johns. That's real madness.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Pretty Woman?

I recently rediscovered this piece, written by me a while back. A reminder in gratitude for being out of the sex industry and in recovery for my addiction...

Fast forward a year and I’m out, up up and away from my partner. Well, away, anyhow – I can’t say I’ve come up. I’m actually still playing the game, albeit in a different setting surrounded by different characters in a different time. I’m no longer subject to his violence, to the punishments he meted out, I am no longer made to perform for his friends to pay for the drugs and drink he uses, but I’m still trapped. I got my leg caught in the trap and it’s not coming out. I still have a little habit of my own to support, drugs and alcohol, the drugs have a price and that price is me. I’m too fucked up with men, too fucked up with the drugs and booze and the constant replays of the past violence to do a normal job. I feel shitty and worthless and so I find myself turning to the only industry where that’s more or less a prerequisite for work. I’ve become a prostitute, a hooker, a sex worker – the names may vary but the work doesn’t. I tell myself I can close my mind off, this isn’t really happening to me, I have a work name, it’s just acting again, just another role, it won’t affect me, these fuckers won’t get to me. I keep telling myself that, if I tell it to myself enough perhaps it will become true.

I work in a massage parlour, seeing up to 8 men a day. Sometimes there’s just time to go down to the poky bathroom and mop up, add a bit of lippy, have a bit of vodka and then it’s back up to the next punter. It’s quite incredible to me that it’s come to this, that my life has come to this, me who had the world at her feet, who was top of her year, could be anyone, anything, go anywhere. How on earth did I end up here, selling my body at £45 a go, with men I wouldn’t normally give the time of day to cumming on my boobs or in my face (they claim a misaim)?

It shouldn’t surprise me, not after everything that happened with my partner, not with the addiction and the mental health shit I put up with, but it still does. I had a long way to fall. Oh how the mighty have fallen! It’s kind of ironic too that I should be selling myself like this at the time when I am actually losing my looks to the booze and the drugs. I’ve got that bloated, pale look with the red cheeks worn by all alcoholics of a certain fervour. I’m the biggest I’ve ever been and yet men pay me for sex. It makes me almost gleeful in a bitter and twisted way, my ex always told me no one’d fancy me if I let myself go, we don’t want you becoming any more of a fat cow than you already are do we? I’ve proved him wrong.

Maybe not. The guys who come here aren’t exactly Richard Gere. It’s not like they’d have the pick of the women. Most are old, most are fucking ugly bastards, most hate women for rejecting them and have scores to settle. These are the worst. They act like sadists, they hurt me on purpose, to get a rise. I don’t respond, I hurt but I don’t respond, and they hate that and they hurt me some more. I resolved after my ex never to show a man that he’s hurt me, him and his friends would do stuff to me to get me to cry. The shame I feel about crying in front of them, about giving them that pleasure (my tears made them laugh) stays with me. The shame and the scars have stayed with me.

I have scars all over my body, the backs of my legs, my thighs, my belly, my arse. He glassed me on several occasions, and beat me frequently and severely, sometimes with a belt. Everytime I take a shower, everytime I look at myself, there they are, it’s like I got away from him but he’s still there, he’s left his marks on me, the blood and cum may have washed off but the feeling of dirt remains, sometimes I feel like the scars are burning into me, a sign that his malevolent presence will never be gone from my life. The punters don’t care, their gaze is fixated: boobs and holes are all they give a fuck about.

I get flashbacks, I get nauseous and shaky when that happens, I feel like I’m right back there with my ex, my chest and throat go all tight and I feel like I can’t breathe, I’m being choked, being strangled, having the life drain away from me. Sometimes, I’d pass out when it was happening for real. I still get the feelings. I feel like I’m going mad. I sleep with the light on. The booze knocks me out, I’m on a litre and a half of vodka a day plus top ups, but I awaken in the night, bed clothes soaked with sweat, heart going nineteen to the dozen. I hear voices, my ex’s voice and the voices of the other men who used me, they are so real I can’t believe there’s no one there. I sit on the floor by the toilet, vomiting my guts up and shaking.

Sometimes I ask God to get me out of this mess, I plead with him, I get down on my hands and knees and say, hey God, if you’re really up there, please help me out of this shit. I make bargains and promises – help me to stop drinking, to get sorted out and I’ll do anything you want God, anything at all, just please help me. Met by a deafening silence, I figure God hates me, which makes sense: I feel like the anthichrist.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

On Choice: Invisible Cages and Language Traps

It seems so simple when they say it, so reasonable when they say it. If he hits her, she should leave him, and if she doesn't, that's her choice and her problem. If she didn't like what they did to her in pornography, she wouldn't be smiling and saying fuck me harder, and she wouldn't choose to be in it. If she didn't make good money in prostitution (include escorting and lapdancing - the same thing) she wouldn't choose to do it.


There it is, that little word, so small and seemingly innocuous. A word bandied about freely and unthinkingly with regards to the abuse of women. Such a killer to the spirit of women trapped in violence, in being sold! That little word 'choice' holds the key to society washing its hands of responsibility, of empathy, of any attempt to care or understand women living a half life.

We love the word choice here in the West. How tightly we grasp onto our choices and our freedoms, our rights. We forget that with rights come responsibility. Freedom is a beautiful thing, and choice. But we forget that some choices are less free than others, that some choices made freely then limit us and our future choices, trap us and end up destroying our freedom.

These things are rarely so simple as they sound. To suppose that they are and that we understand women in complex situations, usually without taking the time to know them, to ask them, to understand them, is to do them a huge disservice. It is to cast judgment, to hint at stupidity, to lay blame and assign fault to women who are trapped in the system, legs caught in the trap.

If we say that a woman who stays in a violent relationship should just leave, we imply that she can, that she has freedom to make that choice as an equal choice out of various choices. It is to ignore or wilfully dismiss the other factors at work here: financial insecurities, the problem of where she is to go, whether she has anyone offering her emotional and practical support, her mental health... Women experiencing trauma, as a battered woman or a woman in prostitution or pornography, will be traumatised. This is perhaps obvious, but largely unacknowledged. It is rarely something one hears taken account of in conversations around the abuse of women. Should we castigate the traumatised for not thinking more clearly?

When you've had your self esteem chipped away at day by day by what your partner says to you, by what he does to you, you feel like you can't cope anymore, can't make it on your own. He treats you like shit and tells you you are shit and deserve it, and you find the voices of total strangers in chorus with him, saying you must like it or you wouldn't go back. Or else disbelieving you - he's such a nice man! From the outside anyway. As you go in on yourself, a result of the humiliation and the pain, you retreat from people, as you recede he expands. Outsiders see what they want and judge you - you're not as sociable now, now you know what people can do to you, what people think of you. Your lack of trust, a direct result of the abuse, now works against you, discredits you further. You become invisible.

Encountering abuse, maybe you drank more or used substances to take away the pain, anything to help. A choice? Maybe to start with, but then you couldn't stop. Up to 95% of women in prostitution are problematic drug users (see www.object.org.uk for statistics). The two things go together, the self abuse and the abuse, and the need for funds traps you there. 74% of women cite poverty as the primary motivator for entering prostitution. Women experiencing domestic abuse may find themselves trapped by finances and homeless if they leave.

I've heard it said that there is help out there, so if women don't access that help, that is their choice. A beaten down woman, who is just surviving, just concentrating on getting through, isn't always in the best headspace to evaluate options, to see choices, or strong enough to act. Living in constant fear is utterly debilitating. Studies show that the most dangerous time for a woman who is experiencing domestic abuse is when she decides to leave. Battered women are not stupid - we learn quickly, we dissociate and numb out, we live in denial at times, just to survive. It's hard to reach out for help when you've been slapped down, when you've trusted the wrong people in the past, when you risk more violence, are scared he'll kill you, maybe he's told you he will or you know what he's like. I tried to leave once before I got lucky and got away to safety and the lesson he taught me after that, when he found out, stayed with me. I couldn't walk for days.

Choices choices choices eh.

As long as the discussion around prostitution and pornography is couched in the language of fun, empowerment and liberation, as long as the voices of women who have been used and abused by the industry continue to be muted and invalidated, the language of choice is meaningless. We live in a culture that grooms women, where school girls dream of being glamour models, where the reality of the sex industry is papered over with a veneer of respectability, porn stars on chat shows, pro-sex industry stories in women's magazines and the expectation of easy money and harmless fun - just a job like any other.

I don't know of any other job outside prostitution and pornography where a body and mind is so abused, where complete strangers fuck you in every hole and in every way possible, where 68% of women experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as torture victims and combat veterans undergoing treatment, where violence is the routine, where you are verbally, physically and sexually abused for the sexual kicks of others. I had men spit in my mouth, call me a bitch, a slut, a whore, tell me it was all I was good for, that they'd like to kill me when they were done raping me, I was told to perform for the camera or else, I was given tablets to 'help me' relax. I could go on for pages. The abuse was endless.

We need to keep the language around violence towards women real. Change the language and you silence the debate. In the face of mental health issues, poverty, violence, misinformation and addiction, the language of choice is meaningless. We need to make the realities visible. With porn and prostitution we need to tell the truth and not sanitise it: it's about money and power, inequalities and the infliction of pain, aggression and cum, women's bodies being sold and abused. It's about what happens to the women after, should they be lucky enough to escape it - nightmares, panic attacks, re-living, trust issues, dissociation, addictions, serious physical and mental scars that will take years to heal, and will never be forgotten.

The next time we hear someone blithely casting judgments about women, and condemning them for their choices, we need to shift the language. It's uncomfortable - and it needs to be. As long as we continue to simplistically apply the word 'choice' about the women in prostitution and pornography, we wash our hands from all responsibility. It means I can justify my use of porn, enjoy laughing about it and have a wank to it, guilt free. The sex industry is as powerful as it is, as omnipresent as it is, as mainstream as it is through our collusion, our denial. We need to break through that denial and the first way to make a chink in the armour is to stop clinging to the simplistic defence of the abuse of women as choice.