Going to do a slightly controversial blog post today, so anyone who’s likely to be offended by me talking about judgement and prostitutes, I’d advise you not to read… 🙂
I went to bed last night in the baking heat. (It’s mental, I know. Suddenly the UK is in summer but my not-so-long-ago used winter coat is waiting for me). I woke up at 3am unable to sleep, not due to anything in particular: between 3 and 4am I quite often wake up. I once bought one of those sleep monitor graph things, it was very interesting. It showed how I have a hypervigilant state even when asleep: I continuously went from deep asleep to wide awake in half a second…and then straight back to deep sleep. Random.
Anyway, I woke up at 3am and sat looking out of the window. I was half-tempted to go for a walk (risky) but with no other intentions than to cool off and go and see the river on a summer night. I like watching the bats darting around. However, I thought better of it and instead sat on the front lawn for a bit. From here I can look down on the city, and at 3am on a clear summer night, it’s nothing short of beautiful. I felt very peaceful sitting there, and it was gently cool.
I thought about the people living on the street,and was thankful it was a warm night. I have met a few of the homeless people in my town, and it saddens me when I see people shying away from them. Almost every one of them have their own terribly heartbreaking story, and yet when you give them the chance to talk, they also have a huge amount of courage. I walked past a homeless couple a couple of weeks ago. They looked around 17/18 years old, and were hugging together in their sleep, fighting the cold. I could only guess as to why they had to leave home, but the beautiful thing was that their unconditional love for each other was clear in an instant. And it’s love, generally, that gives us courage. I’m not trying to be all soppy and cheesey here (trust me, I hate it) but even in my own life…it’s love for others, and knowing I was loved by others…that’s the only reason I kept fighting.
I also sat there and thought of the young women who are dotted around the world, and selling themselves at night-time in some dark room to a stranger.
Now tell me…would you judge that woman? Here’s a thought for you…
If you’ve spent your entire life being sexually abused, and seeing that people using you for sex makes them happy but anything else about you is “worthless,” then where does that woman inevitably place her self-worth? In her ability to make men (in this case) happy by her being a compliant “good girl.” Repeatedly she’s told she’s worthless, disgusting, deserves to be dead, good-for-nothing etc etc… *until* the poor frightened little girl is being raped by said abuser. Suddenly, he’s getting a kick. Suddenly, she’s worth something.
Now, as an adult, I can see that it doesn’t mean the only bit about me that’s worthwhile is the fact I’m female and can provide sick men with some kick. But, and I only realised this properly the other day, I have put a lot of my self-worth into this random area of my life. Sex. I’ve heard of other women who’ve said the same, and we can go about resolving it in two different ways…depending on how we feel. I personally avoid anything intimate at all costs, partly because I’m scared of flashbacks…but also because if it’s the only thing about me that’s worthwhile, I want to protect it. I want it to be only under my terms that it is used. Other women think that because it’s the only thing about them that’s worthwhile, they should spend their entire lives using it, so that they constantly feel worthwhile.
And so, some of the poor women who think they’re only worth something if they’re being compliant and helping some man get his fantasy in place, end up working as prostitutes. NOT ALL OF THEM. Not even close to all of them and I’m not trying to generalise here. I just know that a few of the women I’ve met who are survivors, deal with their self-worth issues in this way. They walk the streets in heavy make-up and almost no clothes, and wait for the next man to re-light the only bit of her that’s ever been “worth something.” Although as an adult she may well know this is not true, her younger self and unconscious self was only ever told she was a “good girl” when she was being compliant. So what if she was in pain… she was worth something. This has to be clung onto with desperation.
Now do you judge them? Or do you judge the abusers who screwed with their heads and self-worth so terribly?
I’m not saying that every single prostitute is a woman who’s been abused. I hope to God that it’s not even a large proportion of the women. However, I have met women who’ve been judged before they’ve had a chance to speak. And where does that leave them? Thinking that more than ever the only thing worthwhile about them is giving themselves to someone else.
I was like that for 2 periods of my life. One, actually, not in the distant past. I had fallen down the depression hole, felt entirely worthless and suddenly thought “what is it about me that’s worth anything?” I remembered being called a “good girl” or seeing the men’s sick smiles when I was compliant. Next thing I knew, I was walking the streets with ridiculous make-up and almost no clothes, shivering with cold and fear…and hoping someone would make me feel worth something. I didn’t want their money. I wanted them to make me feel worth living. I could find nothing else about me that deserved to live. If they could make me feel worthwhile, then I would stay alive. It was that desperate, and extremely lonely.
The other time was when I was a teenager. I’d ran away from home and was picked up by some nice looking man in a suit. He didn’t “hurt” me and this was a first. I knew no better. I had never experienced “real” life. If he wasn’t hurting me, then I supposed this was what normality was. He repeatedly called me a good girl, and how lovely I was, and so pretty, and *thanked* me. Suddenly I had a revelation – I was worth something if I was pleasing a man.
I am awake from this now. The idea of walking the streets looking for someone to make me feel worthwhile makes me shiver. But so many of you have been commenting on my bravery and strength, and at this point in time it doesn’t matter if I agree. It’s what you’ve been feeling.
So tell me, if I’d told you on the onset – before you knew I was abused – that I’d worked as a prostitute for two periods of my life, would you have judged me? Would you spit at me and cross the street when you saw me? Would you whisper about me being a whore? Would you have looked down on me? Would you have avoided me?
Would you have asked me, at any point, “why?” I sadly doubt it…
Now you know my story. And now you know what effects being abused and being told the only thing worth something about me was to be used. Would you judge me the same now? Can you see how it happened? It’s nothing I’m proud of. But it was the only thing that made sense at the time. Sick people screwed with my head. It is them who should be judged, not I.
Listen…before you judge. Maybe the girl is doing it simply because she enjoys it (her prerogative). Or maybe she has a story which she’s holding close to her heart. Maybe she’s lost, and needs someone to hold her and say “it’ll be okay. You’re worth more than that.”
If you judge her before you listen, or even attempt to understand…then you lock her in her silence. If you give her room to talk, then maybe you could be a hero.
Just something to think about…