I am going to leave this here now.
It’s hard to keep my nerve but I have a pretty firm grip on it.
I would say the next step is that some element of “Turn Off the Red Light” will try to drag me through the courts to shut me up.
I cannot retract the truth, I cannot enable lies, I cannot tolerate prison, so when it comes to that I will suicide. I have to get mentally and emotionally prepared now and so does anyone who cares about me.
I cannot win, they have too much money and too many connections, I have no-one, but I can let them destroy me and in so doing destroy themselves.
Naturally, something just as bad will rise up to take their place but not straight away.
That doesn’t take as much courage as you might suppose. I doubt if I have a life expectancy of more than 2 or 3 years anyway, for other reasons. I am not an Irish citizen, I am from the UK (now a foreign country to me after 35 years). If the UK votes to pull out of the EU I may well lose my entitlement to the benefits that keep me alive by 2017/18. I am already terrified of that.
The UK system not only has nothing to offer someone like me, of late it actively crushes us. I would not survive a week stripped of the only home I have ever known, let alone the isolation I need to be able to function. The UK system habitually leaves vulnerable people homeless and without funds for months now while coercing them into interactive situations I cannot face let alone cope with.
Bedsitters are beyond my coping skills let alone hostels. I would sleep on the street for preference and I have had nightmares about having to sleep on the street all my life.
I am dead woman walking at best.
Even as I type this I know there will be plenty rushing to find ways to exploit that vulnerability, and most will be part of “Civil Society”.
I am easy to destroy, but impossible to force into playing along with or enabling harmful lies.
A life on benefits was the last thing I wanted, but the help I needed to cope and come to terms with my autism and the staggering mental and emotional abuse of my childhood and young adulthood has never been available.
Since I left sex work in 1993, if anything the opposite…organisations like Ruhama have always dealt in the exact kind gaslighting and manipulation I need to recover from most. They never had any real educational or vocational options available for someone of my intelligence either.
I am not just smart. I cleared the 2% of the ability range required for a fully paid place in KEHS Birmingham in 1969 -despite a lot of serious problems. The girls I went to school with are lawyers and hospital consultants.
When I left home aged 13 because I couldn’t stand being beaten up any more (you can’t develop a healthy informed attitude to mental and emotional abuse while dodging fists) I was thrown into the now notorious Duncroft. Which I was just too intellectually precocious to fit into on any level.
That’s not snobbery…one of the things I love about Kamy is that she comes from a far more upmarket background than me but will turn her hand to anything, a building site, cleaning toilets, and convince you that whatever she is doing is the new black. I have a similar attitude (if not such a good grace) but acceptance is a two way street. As I was told by a FAS counsellor:
“There are bosses, and there are workers, you are so obviously a ‘boss’ that people are too uncomfortable to accept you as a worker”. I tried once or twice and it was hell. They only let me try at all because it was a government scheme that could not refuse me.
I could say “Ruhama offered years of remedial education to nowhere” and that would be true but it wouldn’t be relevant. Ruhama and the Women’s Health Project they work in tandem with had already done me so much damage and even spread some dangerous rumours. I had to look away and try not to think about them, much as I have to look away from the remarkably similar attitudes and tactics of SWAI now, just to keep a grip. I know it is history repeating itself. Ruhama and WHS were (supposedly) the front runners fighting for full decriminalisation in the 1990s…not many people realise that.
My first encounter with SWAI in 2011 was truly horrific – like getting into a tardis and popping up in the worst part of your past, and if anything it got worse since. There goals are identical to Ruhamas – using sex workers to establish themselves and get funding for power and ambition, no more, no less. They do not care what the legislation is, or even what the truth is, much less what happens to sex workers as long as they get that.
Knowing what will really happen places me in a totally different moral and ideological position than those who have no idea, it always has, and sadly I am always right at least to a significant extent.
The only way to be allowed near the public eye, by either side, is to reinforce a stereotype that presents sex workers as odd and not representative of most people or somehow children of a lesser god. That is why, internationally, the “professional survivors” are so obviously histrionic and manipulative…they are usually coarse and common too. They present a uniform image of stereotypical “brassers” albeit reformed, aimed at inducing pity and support for the rescue of inferiors rather than the empathy for equal human beings that sex workers need and deserve. They are supported, encouraged and reinforced in illogical and even blatant lies but only as evidence for the agenda of others, not as human beings, let alone equals. When their purpose is served they will be discarded like used tissues to face a world that without organisational reinforcement, no longer sees anything but the melodrama and deceit.
In the real world I do not think I have ever met a stereotypical “brasser”. Like all stereotypes, they do not really exist.
I was a lot younger and physically stronger when I finally got disability and the first financial security of my life in 2001 (I wrote a lot about my attitudes down at the time here). I took it as a chance to finally tread water at zero and get a career and support myself at last. But I don’t fit the programs so I was told to go away and be grateful I had disability allowance.
In the end I gave up.
I am getting older, my health is breaking down, I have no family, and no community supports in any normal sense. There is nowhere I can go for any help with anything. There is no way I can trust the organisation that are ignorant enough to sign up to “Turn Off the Red Light” with so little integrity that they have never even been willing to treat sex workers as people and listen to them. That kind of ignorance and misinformation seldom, if ever, exists in isolation. Where people have got one thing so horribly, abusively wrong you can bet they have got other things the same way.
I cannot even bring myself to deal with any politician in the same position.
I know, first hand, how corrupt and ruthless the whole agenda is…nobody with a shred of sanity would knowingly leave themselves vulnerable to that.
For now I have my sanctuary to hide in (exposing my address did far more damage on far more levels than it would usually do and those responsible knew that), I have lovely interesting things to do too…but my head is too damaged to be able to concentrate most days.
I have never had a chance to heal enough to be able to start learning how to develop relationships of any kind. A budding friendship or a mild flirtation is just an ordeal to me. This comes from autism compounded by the family and the time I was in care. The simple, clearly defined interactive structures of sex work helped me overcome some of that, but the abuses of Ruhama et al put me back to square one with interest.
I don’t have a big sense of entitlement, I don’t think the world owes me a living, it was the parading around telling people how much help and support they were offering while they cut the ground out from under us that disgusted me.
If anything that just got worse and more sophisticated today. In those days the Women’s Health Project was the lead org, part funded by Europap on condition that they included sex workers on the board and at decision making levels. That was all a sham. I fought for years to get them to include even one sex worker (not me) as an equal and the response was consistent stonewalling.
Ruhama has been a gateway to understanding, a rosetta stone if you like that has unlocked the rot at the heart of the whole NGO sector to me. The simple version is that whatever the original intent of the Charities that became NGOs and are now referred to as “Civil Society” today it is all about power and ambition, and marketing dressed up as “awareness raising”
The commodity they market is self righteousness and a sense of having “helped” someone…a powerful drug that hijacks the compassion and empathy most people have in abundance and renders all real need and all realistic solutions invisible.
This pays very well in money, as well as power and influence, but very little of that money goes to any kind of real help for anyone who really needs it. It goes on big salaries, eye watering expenses, junketing, self congratulation and MORE marketing.
I wish Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” were the only organisations I have ever seen mount a determined campaign to impose a worst case scenario on the people actually affected by the issue that they use as marketing bait, but they are not, it seems to me more the rule than any kind of exception to do that.
Can you imagine what it feels like to be one of those desperate people not only listening to this, but only allowed survival, let alone “resources” (that are usually disenabling and dependency forming, if not out right useless or even harmful) in terms of it, often on condition that they endorse it too?
Most people deny this truth or shy away from looking at it at all. I am just too intelligent and literal in my awareness to ever be able to do that.
“Turn Off the Red Light” is the point at which I cannot bear to watch any more. It is all too personal and painful.
They are lying for power and ambition, using outright fraud to evidence that and there is nothing misunderstood or well-intentioned about it.
They know exactly what they are doing and they do not care as long as they get their salaries and status out of it and the only “resource” they have to offer any sex worker is more harm and more damage.
The cruellest part of the irony is that many women who definately do not want to sell sex were trapped into it by similar (and even literally affiliated) agenda in the first place, and “Turn Off the Red Light” is just another brick in the wall – or several that will keep them there.
On of the most terrible parts of the wrong help organisations like Ruhama sell is that once it has been marketed aggressively enough nobody is even prepared to explore any kind of real help at all.
The 25 years I have spent learning this…for the second time…have been killing me from the inside out anyway. I had learned it once already before I ever sold sex. But I came out of sex work having learned more about the better side of people than I ever knew before. I believed all politicians were like Mary Henry and all the people who claimed they were offering help were at least as genuine and decent as my clients and the women I worked with.
Learning the truth from Ruhama and all affiliates had destroyed a huge piece of me for good by 1998. I was never easy for me to collaborate or be around people but since that it became impossible for me to feel anything around people except alien and defensive, which, in itself, made any quality of life for me in the terms most people take for granted, impossible.
Do not ever think that I am unloved.
I owe my beautiful home, the only one I have ever had, to the detached decency and empathy of my landlord and family…who knowing nothing of the facts, saw more than anyone of how those fact impacted on me on a day to day basis, as well as the fundamental, bone deep decency and honesty in me (self praise is no praise but honesty and decency are the tyrants I choose to run my life).
I owe my survival to a queer kindred soul I met through sex work who became, over time, my only real family and in those same asexual terms gave me the only love, support and safe harbour in desperation I ever had since I was born. He has also tended to wind up giving me most of his savings – just to live on when I couldn’t find a way to make enough money to live even from sewing things 18 hours a day for 7 days weeks, or while I waited 3 years for Ruhama to get back to me and let me know if I was entitled to claim benefits.
He also drove out here in the middle of the night in March 2013 to nurse me for months when I broke my leg. There is literally nobody else I could even ask to give me a lift to a hospital appointment. When he dies I will have nowhere to turn for anything at all.
But don’t think I live that way because the people around me are callous or cruel…my landlady ate me for not calling them to sit with me till the ambulance came. My neighbours would have come in a moment…even though it is so long since most of them have seen me they would barely recognise me.
They could tell you that I was not always as withdrawn as I am now. Once upon a time I used venture out shyly…and then I stopped…for no reason they ever knew because things like this made it impossible for me to feel anything around people except alien and defensive – I withdrew.
Even so…people I had never seen before made excuses to run me 10 miles to a proper supermarket in a 4 wheel drive in the snow in 2012…and when I “came out” on radio so local it carried the village notices great trouble was gone to to assure me I had their full support.
These are super people around me, and it breaks my heart that I am too damaged to be able to cope with getting to know them and sharing part of their lives.
My Doctor has been great despite the fact that, for years it was too much of an ordeal to negotiate to visit or even call the surgery most of the time (I have COPD and need ongoing medical attention for life, to which very painful arthritis in my spine is a new addition). I think we have arrived at a place where we laugh a lot…and she knows I don’t even want her to give me too many tranquillisers or pain pills…I dread addiction. I have told her myself that I can see no justification for arriving at the surgery to burden a young Mum with a hairy dogs with the nightmares I have to live on a regular basis. Counselling could be available to me but who could counsel me in any effective way on this?
…and how could I trust anyone affiliated with those who have abused me most?
I have some wonderful friends too…people who accept that I cannot cope with them too much but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.
I also have the perfect Grandsprog for me…who has a straight choice between accepting me and deep seated issues of self esteem in most areas.
I last had sex in 2008. I really dislike casual sex and just feel used unless I get paid for it, and I do not have any way to develop the kind of relationship that includes the sort of sex I would find fulfilling…
There is usually an exceptionally intelligent clinical psychopath hanging out of me in some sense. Perversely I can relate to them more easily than normal people, they are what I was raised with after all, and I don’t have to care how I affect them, which is a huge factor in tying me in knots around other people.
They are just as toxic to me as to anyone else and no substitute for a life, just a little better than the endless emptiness on the rare occasions they behave.
My every chance of having any real life died long ago, and there is no way to undo that.
You may tell yourself that organisation like Ruhama only damage me because I am unusual…and I can see your reasoning, but ponder this…
I don’t know anything of Rachel Moran before she became a great big lie For all I know she might have been capable of a full, successful, healthy and honest life, but since Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” made all her dreams come true in return for telling the right lies she will never be able to do that.
In fact, from now on, if she ever tells the truth she will also lose everything.
I cannot help wondering if (whatever her real needs about which I know nothing) she was ever offered an alternative that did not involve living a lie?
That is also damage.
I just realised, it doesn’t matter whether I keep my nerve, I will still have no alternative…and I never have had.
So now, until then, I am going to do the thing I enjoy and keep telling the truth until sentence is passed and it is time to die.