‘It doesn’t have to be this way…’

Mar 08, 2016

‘If someone had said those words to me 3 years ago I would have laughed and told them they didn’t know what they were talking about. They didn’t know me and how bleak my life was and if they did they would surely understand that I had no options.
I’d lost custody of my children, my family didn’t want to know me, my kids Dad was in prison and the only people in my life were people in the same position as me, doomed to a life of drugs and getting money for them.  I had accepted that this was my lot in life and for a while I was so focused on smashing myself to pieces that it had got to the point where I didn’t care enough to even see it as a problem.
I spent day after day, night after night, allowing strangers access to my body while drugs had full control of my mind. I barely slept or ate and in hindsight probably looked like a walking corpse. I’d been funding my habit through street prostitution for quite a while and had been in the industry on and off for years to fund my ever increasing addiction.
During that time I’d had things happen to me but never did anything about it, I didn’t care about me so why would anyone else? One day that all changed.
I was picked up by a guy and we went to the usual place I took punters. As he was passing me the money he dropped it and as I leant to pick it up he put a knife to my neck and proceeded to assault me. I didn’t tell him to stop, I just pleaded with him to let me go. I thought by doing what he wanted I might survive long enough to escape. After what seemed like forever he let me go. He was very clear that he was doing this as he had been robbed by another girl and we “would all be paying for it”. Straight after I called the police and they came straight to me. I showed them where he had thrown the condoms out the window and told them about my money and phone he had taken. I went to the police station to make a statement, told them everything that had happened, and was told he would be arrested for theft (of my money and phone). The word rape wasn’t mentioned and I thought it must be my fault that I didn’t fight back or try to get him to stop or maybe it’s just my fault because I’m a prostitute. NONE OF THESE ARE RIGHT OR TRUE.
A few days later a lady I knew from the local drug care service came to see me, she had been informed about what happened and it seemed the police had changed their mind in between. She told me she would be there for me regardless of what I decided to do but the police were requesting a further interview and a forensic examination of me and my clothes. She knew me well and knew my history and said to me “this is your chance to be heard”, that stuck a major chord with me. When I was abused as a child no one heard me, when other people had violated me no one had and I realised she’s right.
So we went to all the appointments, it wasn’t easy especially the internal exam as I had been working on the street since the assault so had to admit to having had several punters since, I felt so ashamed but she stuck by me and never made me feel bad or dirty. I don’t think I could have done it without her.
Eventually the trial came and the defence used my history in what felt like a character assassination but I stuck with it. After the first trial it was a hung jury so we had to go to trial again, then during the second trial the police were willing to enter in evidence not used previously and he was found guilty of 2 counts of rape and robbery.
To be honest I didn’t feel glad when he was found guilty just relieved that he was seen for what he is. He was very young and I hope in prison he gets the help I’m assuming he needs. All I ever wanted was to make sure he couldn’t do this to someone else.
What made the difference to me was I found someone who cared enough to show me that this wasn’t right and I could do something about it. As I’ve already said I couldn’t have done it without her so getting support is so important.
It took me a while to get myself together afterwards but today my life is totally different. I’m on a methadone script and clean from drugs. I went back to college, got my family back in my life and see my kids every day.
These were all things that I didn’t know where even possible before this happened and in a way I’m glad it did, if that’s what it took for me to change for the better then I can live with that.
Life doesn’t have to be that way, and when you step away from the chaos and do a bit of soul searching, getting real with yourself and facing whatever demons are driving your pain you don’t know what can be repaired and received.  I really hope you get away from it too’. Anonymous, 8th March 2016.
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned and you would like some support, please visit www.beyondsupport.org.uk
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