Myth: We Cannot Show Our Face or Names For Shame

Not so, there are SO many reasons why it is terrifying for anyone connected to the sex industry to show their face or name. Though I keep inching towards overcoming that (after what Stormont have done, it is a case of having to!), here are some of mine, as explained last year:

From: Gaye D [mailto:mechanima@gmail.com]

Sent: Thu 4/18/2013 10:28 PM

To: (Name of Journalist Redacted)

Subject: Better Explain Something IMPORTANT

Hi xxx,

Just realised you have probably completely misunderstood me. I have to write this because however articulate I may be about objective issues I come apart at the seams and often manage convey the opposite impression if I try to assert anything about me or my personal needs.

I can see how it looks like a good story to reveal my name and face, and it would be if I were really the sort of person you have every reason to assume I am, the only problem is that I am not. I am no Rachel Moran. She has set herself a lucrative career path as a “survivor of prostitution”, she has nothing to lose, and a great deal to gain. I am not in anything like the same position. When you print Rachel Moran’s name and photographs she gets to sell books and build a little NGO to get funding and a lucrative new life, if you print mine I lose what little I have left of the things I need to survive, and gain nothing at all.

This is no “clash of the similar-but-different opportunistic titans” here, I had to cancel a shedload of TV work earlier this year because the stress alone paralysed me even if it was anonymous (which was an option).

I am genuinely severely disabled with a combination of high function autism and compound Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that long predates my time in sex work and went a long way to leaving me with no option but sex work.

I am also what you see online. I know what I am talking about and how best to present it, but, in private I am a human being who can only function by minimising all contact with the world, not just recently, for all my life. The ordinary, even insignificant relationships everyone you see and deal with can take for granted, are impossible ordeals for me…I just cannot do them, and if I try, I tear myself to pieces making an horrific mess I cannot fix or live with. Even to go to a Doctor’s surgery is an ordeal I cannot usually face. I cannot let my neighbours help me with a broken leg in the middle of nowhere because I cannot cope with the level of interaction that would require of me. I rarely leave the house and never for purely social reasons, except for a couple of short trips a year to people I regard as family on the other side of the country. That is all I can cope with.

I do not have the social or internal tools to handle having my unusual name or my face exposed in the media. I do not have any neighbours and acquaintances who know me and the kind of person I am for decades and will stand by what they know. I am not part of any social group or community and never have been. I am a familiar unknown quantity at best, more usually just a mystery…and I am not sympathetic at all, like most autistics, however I try to hide it, every little thing about me is subtly “off” and alien. That gives people the creeps even though they cannot often explain why even to themselves. You could say I repel people without them even understanding why.  There is literally nothing standing between me and a witch-hunt.

On the plus side, I am very literal minded. I only remember things objectively, as they actually happened, with no subjective filters at all, and I hate telling lies even more than I hate being lied to.

I only do this because I have spent 20 years learning, from both observation and hard experience, how despicable and self serving the people and organisations behind “Turn Off the Red Light” really are and longer learning how disastrous the effect of the laws they demand with be. I get nothing for myself out of this except a quiet conscience, and there is nothing I want or would accept from this either.  I have pushed revealing my identity on line to the limit…absolutely to the red line (a little over it in places but I have got away with that so far), but print media has a very different impact and a very different public.

I really have spent the past few hours trying to work out, for real, whether I have enough existence and survival left to be worth protecting, the cuts are hitting me too hard, I will be lucky to be able to see out the year. Unlike most people I cannot “just move somewhere else” or “just find another income”, the trauma involved would be insurmountable, even if I knew where to start. There are no friends for me to turn to, and no organisations that would offer usable help even in extremis…I know, I have been there too often…I only survived because I am very, VERY intelligent…to be honest it would have been better for me if I were not, and had not survived LONG ago. There is no hope and no light at the end of the tunnel for someone like me and there never will be.

(One of the secondary reasons why I fight this is to highlight the way autistic adults are silenced, exploited and infantilised by an NGO sector that is unfit for purpose and has nothing honest, appropriate or useful to offer them in exchange.   I have had such a huge influence on the Sex Work consultation process (despite having a severe breakdown just after Christmas for unrelated reasons) yet I am not allowed to speak for myself as an adult autistic. Some people spot that irony and heed it, and when they do it is a little building block to make a better world for the next generation.)

I am happy to show you my passport and ID…I am happy for the (name of publication redacted) to hold that information in confidence, on record, and not only say so but make it formally and immediately available should they be requested by courts or government. I am also happy to give anything I say as sworn testimony, but you cannot print my name and you certainly cannot print photographs because to do so would place me in serious danger from the consequences.

Sincere Regards, Gaye

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