Let me try to explain and hope I can make you see the truth of this, not for my sake, but for the sake of so many others in similar positions.
It is frightening to challenge the things I do as hard as I do. I dread every morning, I dread the postman, I dread the backlash. I am so vulnerable.
I do not have family and community supports. I am autistic and not enough of me made it through the other trips to hell and back that were piled on my life (just fate, the way the cards were dealt) long before I ever sold sex. If I weren’t so smart I shouldn’t think I would have found a way to survive to see 30. In other ways, under the circumstances I have lived my life in, that intelligence has often been a secondary disability.
I am just as much at the mercy of the people and institutions I challenge whether I challenge them or not, and intelligent enough to have learned that they *HAVE* no real mercy. I have seen things done and funded through the public purse as a matter of routine that, in any other context would be considered serious abuse or even outright crimes. As though any form of vulnerability is an automatic exemption from the usual protection of the law. Lip service is as good as it gets within much of the voluntary and community sector, and there is no process of appeal to reason or better nature when you are trapped there.
It goes beyond abuse into a realm where it is assumed you will be able to abandon everything you are, think, believe and feel in favour of everything that is most to the advantage of the institution in question, just because you are cornered with no option.
For me, never mind worse than sex work, that would be worse than death.
I was not born believing these things. I had to learn them all in the hardest ways.
(Yes, of COURSE there are good and genuine people, but you will never see me challenge them. They can’t really relate to me, I wouldn’t have a clue how to begin to relate to them, so we live in parallel worlds that never meet, but I do acknowledge and appreciate their existence, it just doesn’t make any difference to me. )
After I left sex work, I wasted more than 20 years of my life, hiding, trying not to attract the hostile attention of roughly the people I challenge now (Ruhama was my first taste of how much exploitation and abuse is hidden in NGOs in the guise of “help” but it was far from my last). I dreaded every morning, I dreaded the postman, I dreaded the backlash. I was so vulnerable…I knew that the slightest crisis would leave me trapped and at the mercy of organisations that I know, from hard experience, to be morally bankrupt, self serving and abusive, and that would be the end for me. I am totally absent the ability to appease or tolerate abuse and corruption even with my life at stake. It isn’t just an ethical decision, I do not have the requisite social skills to pull it off for a day. I even hid from life itself, to minimise the chance of a crisis, all the way from 1997 until 2012.
It was a personal death row with no recourse to appeal or hope of reprieve…I have absolutely no idea how I managed to get up on my feet and start fighting…none…
Last week, with no hope left, I tried to go back to hiding…but I was too much of a coward to be able to stay there. As long as I fight, even with no hope of any personal gain at all, at least the adrenaline keeps the fear at bay.
Sex work did not do this to me. Sex work gave me an income that let me survive when all else had already failed and in so doing left me as good as dead inside, that is all.
Without sex work there is no way I would be alive today, or for a very long time. That is reality, all the abolitionist talk is irrelevant bullshit. (There is absolutely nothing to be gained from being “rescued” and assured you are worth more than selling sex while your life bleeds out anyway.)
The institutions I now challenge did this to me, cognisantly and totally unnecessarily (you would be truly astonished at the names I could slot, directly as well as indirectly, into the course of the devastation of my own life, like some horrible, soulless jigsaw puzzle) and that is why I challenge them, just because I cannot bear the thought of them doing this kind of damage to anyone else without seeing some objection being raised, however futile
I never had a prayer as a human being…but that does not mean I can stand by in silence while others are corralled into a similar fate in front of my eyes…
…and I am too afraid to avert my eyes now.