In the news today I am relieved to see that the man who held three women captive has not only got life imprisonment, but an additional 1000 years imprisonment. I realise he’s hardly likely to live for maybe more than 50 years, but hey…1000 years; he ain’t going anywhere for a while and for those poor women, I hope they feel safe and as though some form of justice was done…
I think they are three of the most inspirational strong women, and hearing about what they went through makes my blood run cold. It also reminds me of the fear…
I’ve never really talked about how it felt like for me, when I was kidnapped. It seems a bit daft; I was taken to the same place all the time, and okay against my will…but I always knew where I was going. But that’s not really the events I’m referring to. There’s been different kinds of “kidnap” in my life, as well as the “you’ve been a naughty girl, I’m going to drug you and bundle you up in the car and drive you to the place you always go when you’re naughty.” But reading their story in the news has brought the memories back fresh…the fear…and so I feel I need to talk about them a bit…
Frankly the most terrifying times for me concerning kidnap were outside of the abuse ring. I knew with the ring that I’d get back home, at some point; if I was missing too long then my school would notice. Even at six this was the logic I held onto when I was bundled into the back of a car and taken somewhere. It was how I kept going; hanging onto logical hope rather than simply “I hope this ends soon.”
A few months ago, I had fallen back down the hole of despair and was again convinced that my only worthiness was if I was being raped, or if my body was providing someone with pleasure who wasn’t me. Prostitution swallowed me for the second time in my life. Don’t judge me…you can see here (http://wp.me/p3xA2L-8N) why this is the case.
I get no kick from prostitution. I am not in it for any kind of pleasurable gain; it’s far from that. I need to feel worthwhile, and my past has taught me that I am only worthwhile if I am being used and hurt. But anyway, I was in this place. I was lost. Almost every night I would sneak out of the house, often not by simply using the front door but by climbing out the window and leaving it just open enough that I could use my nails to open it again. My tiny lace clothes would have been hidden under my pillows, along with my make up. Shivering and nervous, I’d take the 3 mile walk into town, wearing almost nothing except vaguely see-through clothes, and with a ridiculous level of make-up.
Please God…I need someone to make me feel worth something…otherwise I just want to die. If there is nobody, can you just let me drown in the river tonight?
What a prayer, huh?
Fairly soon someone in the street would give me the signal, and I’d go off to meet them. If I was ‘lucky’, it would all happen in some secluded place in my town, and I could get out fairly easily. Sometimes drugs were used; these were to keep me hooked, I guess.
One occasion, I wasn’t so lucky. I put myself into the car, after being pressurised. These were a new pair; I hadn’t seen them before. Maybe you are thinking “if you put yourself in the car, it’s not kidnap” but it’s not the case, not to me anyway. I didn’t want to go, but I felt I had no choice. Once in, one forced himself on me and kissed me…and in kissing me, passed some pill of some kind into my mouth. Within minutes I felt drowsy.
I felt rough hands push me onto the floor of the car, and heavy coats dropped onto me. I knew better than to scream; who would hear me? I’d signed myself up for this; I felt I could only blame myself.
I remember vaguely standing at the foot of a bed, and someone putting something in my mouth. I remember limply collapsing backwards onto the bed; still conscious but unable to respond. I remember them raping me. I remember the shame hurt more than anything they could have done. I remember staring out of the window at the streetlights thinking if my friends knew I was here, would they help? Or would they be ashamed of me? The idea they’d be disappointed with me seemed to affect me more than what was reasonable – probably pill enhanced – and the men didn’t notice that I was lying there crying silently. I had no idea where I was, except that the car journey had been long. My abusers from the past wouldn’t want me missing for too long, knowing that if police got involved then they’d be searched for first.
These men didn’t know me or my story, and were quite comfortable with the knowledge that they were virtually untrackable. If they didn’t want to return me, they didn’t have to. I could very well have been their sex-slave forever.
Perhaps you all judge me now, those of you who’ve called me strong. I certainly despised myself at that moment. Even with their “you’re so beautiful…a beautiful, toned young woman. Well done. Good girl.” It repulsed me. These, for some reason, didn’t make me feel worth anything. Maybe it was for the fact they didn’t recognise my tears, and didn’t care that I was immobile. They wanted an object, not a human.
At some point I think I threw up, the pill not being so good for me. They laughed and forced my face into it, before quickly wiping it off so that they could carry on. I didn’t know if it’d ever end, and was scared. But exhausted, and unable to do anything. What would screaming do? It was still in the early hours of the morning. Nobody would notice me gone, and even if they did…they’d look in entirely the wrong place.
At some point I was lifted and put onto the bed properly, rather than my haphazard vaguely collapsed self on the end of the bed. I think I dozed off, aching and frightened. When I woke, one man was stroking my face, calling me his “sweetie pie.” He gave me a cup of tea. I sat with my knees under my chin, shivering because I was now in no clothes. I felt very exposed and beyond scared. I stared at the tea and it reminded me of safety. I think I mumbled “can I go home now?”
He said: “fuck yes. You’re a useless whore. Boring shit.”
It sounds crazy, but it was the worst thing he could have said. I think I’d actually have preferred “no, we like you,” because then I might have felt worth something. But nothing from my terrifying night meant a thing to him. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t even worth their time. I felt myself fill with despair and a sense of hopelessness, and swore that I’d kill myself at first chance. I burst into tears in front of his face, and he looked amused – “it’s okay sweetie. You’re pretty enough. Just practice a bit.”
They did take me home. Well, back to my town. Somehow I got home. This is where DID is helpful I think; I switch off and another personality takes over so I can get home safely. One of the younger ones was in tears; deeply frightened and upset by the whole ordeal. I got home just before 6am. I was stunned. I could have been there for years, or minutes…I couldn’t tell. I realised I was in shock and going to sleep wouldn’t be sensible. But I was so tired, and after shakily pulling my night clothes back on, I collapsed into a deep sleep and waited for the drugs to leave my system. When I woke much later on, I sobbed heavily for a good hour, curled right up.
Another terrifying occasion was when I was younger. I won’t go into the details of context because frankly it’s too complicated. But suddenly I felt rough hands grab me, around my waist and my mouth, and I was dragged into the back of a 4 by 4. I was screaming this time, and kicking, and fighting. I was trying to claw at the man but he was strong, and I could hear his mates laughing. Someone put a sack over my head, I struggled some more and then BAM. Sharp pain on the back of my head, and a second or so later…all black.
When I woke up I was disoriented. I was no longer in the vehicle. I was vaguely aware of a tremendous pain in my arms, and then realised they’d been forced behind me and chained to a stone wall. I was in just my underwear, my tiny under-fed body very exposed and vulnerable. I had absolutely no idea where I was, but it was the beginning of the summer holiday so I knew that I could be there for anything up to 6 weeks.
I also knew not to cry. Crack on day one, and you’re finished. I just had to be focussed, and stay in some form of control. I made myself blink every four seconds. That was my source of control. One, two, three, four, BLINK, one, two, three, four, BLINK. Over and over. This also helped me keep track of time a little better. Oh I’ve blinked 12 times, it’s been a minute. And so on.
I was there for a few days, allowed half a piece of bread in the morning and the other half in the evening. Some form of liquid would be poured over me, and it was up to me to find the strength to lift my head and swallow…whilst making sure I didn’t actually drown myself. Trust me, at times I just wished I would hurry up and die.
But I refused to give in. I knew I’d be here for a reason. By starving me I made a tentative guess that they wanted me skinnier for something. I wasn’t being harmed in any other way. Filming?
Got it in one. After a few days I was taken out of my prison. I remember almost screaming as my arms moved back into their usual position; the cramp and stiffness was beyond painful. My shoulders are very weak, and it is due to experiences such as this. I was taken to a room with a huge bed. I was filmed doing hideous things, just for their pleasure. They wanted me skinny so I looked more like a little girl..
Afterwards, the beatings began. I was back in my prison, chained to the wall, sitting in my own dry blood. I hated the vile sensation of dried blood sticking on my skin. It was always tight and it made me feel hideously dirty. I was aware of a throbbing pain just above my eyebrow and knew there was a bad bruise, though generally I don’t bruise easily – amazingly.
I’d be raped three or four times a day, sometimes with objects….and then beaten for being the “devil.” Then I’d be chained back to the wall (if I hadn’t actually been raped whilst chained to the wall – extremely painful, my poor arms carrying a lot of weight at an awkward angle) and left there kneeling on the ground, shivering with cold and fear and caked in dry blood.
I remember staring at my reflection in the mirror in the bathroom on one of the precious occasions where I’d been allowed to go to an actual toilet. I wasn’t shocked; my treatment had alerted me that I’d look like death warmed up. But I looked tiny, fragile. I think I was 12? Not sure. I just remember feeling indescribably sad. Just staring at my reflection and thinking, this has got to stop…
It did, not long after. I told them I would kill them. They didn’t believe me. I didn’t believe me either but I’d realised they were fearful of the devil, and convinced I was the devil. I bit one of them, and even when he shook me violently and had a friend kicking me with all his force, I did not let go. When I did, I snarled at him in an animal-kind of way, trying everything I could think of to behave like the “devil.” He shrieked.
I was cleaned up a few hours later, and taken back from that hell.
What strikes me is the difference in my behaviour in the two places. The first…I was resigned, I was tearful, I was scared and feeling little. The latter, despite me being younger…I was scared, and frightened, but I was also stronger somehow…more able to use my head, and less able to give up at the drop of a hat.
I guess it’s because the latter was purely about someone else’s needs. I wasn’t there by any degree of choice. I also felt like there was a life worth fighting for.
The first was initiated because my self-worth was already at rock bottom. I didn’t feel like I had a right to defend myself. I didn’t feel like there was a life worth fighting for.
I think what is apparent after these two recollections is just how powerful the human spirit is. If I’d allowed myself to give up in the latter event, then I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t have survived, and who knows how much longer I’d have had to stay there.
There are many other occasions where I’ve been taken against my will, and each are just as terrifying as the last. Each time I’ll have the obvious “oh my god will I ever get back” terrifying thoughts, but also silly ones like “crap, I haven’t returned the keyboard” or “I’m going to be in trouble for not getting my homework in”. It’s mad, but I think maybe it’s some process in the human mind that acts as a protection mechanism; hang onto anything relating to the normal safe world, and then you won’t lose sight of what you’re fighting for.
I guess that’s why when all I could think about in the first event was the imagined disappointment of my friends, I could only cry. Because that’s all I could hang on to, and my own shame…and that didn’t feel like something worth fighting for.
Not every situation is survivable. But every situation has a greater risk of survival, no matter how extreme, if you hang onto what you’re fighting for, and don’t let yourself get swallowed by terror. It’s hard. But I remember as a small child thinking, what point is there in being scared and crying so much I can’t do anything? It’s not making the problem go away. It really isn’t making me safer. It’s just making me tireder. I could use this time to make plans instead. Cry later, when it’s safe.
That safe time is now, so only now can I think back on that thought process, at the age of 6 or 7…and be utterly heartbroken that any child should be in that position. Only now can I cry…
and for the fact I can now cry means I am safe, and for that I am grateful…for safety felt like a miraculous dream for 18 years of my life.
Never, ever give up. If you give up whilst you’re in the fire, you’ll never see the beautiful new green shoots that sprout from the newly fertilised ground the fire provided. Hope is our strongest weapon. Fear is only deadly if you let it break you. Remember what you deserve, and what you need, and who you are and what you are fighting for…and do not let go.
Because that is your identity. And nobody can force that away from you, if you hang on tightly enough.