To understand prostitution you have to understand extreme trauma. It’s deeply political. Researchers have found that women in prostitution suffer from the same levels of trauma as the victims of state-sponsored torture. So the effects of prostitution are clinically equivalent to those of state-sponsored torture.
You’re with a desiccated man twenty years older than you. The cold flash in his half-closed eyes reveals he’s enraged he paid for sex. He’s got his hand way inside you so it feels like he’s trying to pull out your uterus. When you make a sound indicating pain he digs his fingernails into your cervix. If you ask him to stop, he pins you to the bed and digs harder.
This kind of John is ‘normal.’ Many men are far worse. Hour after hour of this, day after day, week after week. So those of us who survive this are left with crippling PTSD. And there are precious few resources available to survivors trying to heal. This puts us in a Catch 22 situation: When you have severe PTSD it shows. People instinctively shy away and you’re too scared to ask for help. It’ll be hard to make friends or find a job in this condition. You won’t be able to build the safety nets you need to escape. PTSD keeps you in prostitution.
The mental trauma (prostitution) causes serves to make women who have survived it incredibly vulnerable to going back - not because we want to (you can hear the johns rubbing their hands, gleefully saying see! They love it really!) but because in a society which has swallowed the lies and language of the sex industry, there’s quite simply no place else to go.
There have been times when I have thought about going back to prostitution. It felt to me, at times, inevitable that I would end up back there, as messed up by it as I have been and remain, with PTSD that makes everyday life almost impossible, with insomnia, when the splitting is frequent and time loses its meaning, when even being in a room with someone is too scary, too much. When things have been at their worst, I have felt any possibility of attempting ‘normal’ life to be laughable, and I have known the one place where I could go where I would be absolutely normal, where my fucked-upness would be not merely permissible but actually required. Prostitution. As a little girl I didn’t dream of one day growing up and having men fuck me for money. I don’t believe many little girls do. But we acquire damage on the way and end up there, getting more damaged day by day, desperate to get out, sometimes too damaged to get out, or out and sometimes too damaged to stay out.
I have had PTSD for more than a decade. It began with the violence of my ex, and continued throughout being pimped and then prostituting myself. Incapacitated by it, I struggled to speak or even move at times: I simply froze up. As the abuse continued and worsened, over time, the trauma continued to leave its record on my mind and body, layer on layer
- Looking for Unicorns: The Search for the “Happy Hooker” & the “Good Punter/John” (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- Terrible Beauty: Prostitution & the Inadequacy of Language (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- “I’m not the only one who was mistreated in prostitution” (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- Trapped Indoors: Survivor Interview (stellamarrundercovercallgirl.wordpress.com)
- The Sneaky Language of the Sex Industry Lobby (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- How a Holocaust Survivor Can Help Prostitution Survivors (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- Methods of the Pimp-Mind (survivorsconnect.wordpress.com)