I have been ill, ill from exiting, ill from knowing the unknowable, ill from not knowing why I am alive when so many prostituted are dead.
My last post was on how pimp-language increases that illness, an illness with no real name just infecting all the brave exited folks I know or have not meet yet.
This post is a stream of consciousness exploring how hard exiting is – how it affects every moment, even the many moments of joy and sense of moving forward.
Exiting prostitution is never easy, time makes it less painful – but the pain is always background noise.
I truly believed that those who have exited or are on the way to exiting the sex trade are some of the most courageous people that I had the privilege to know and to work alongside with.
They all are warriors – warriors who let in the pain even when it is unbearable, warriors who have the silent screaming of embedded grief, warriors who ask questions without wanting or needing simple answers.
They are looking through the eyes of the warrior who understand genocide was their norm.
They speak through mouths that have been blocked by silence and the violence of male violence.
They listen remembering the sound of lost hope, and hear now the call to freedom and dignity.
They find it hard to smell, as every breath brings dead semen, sweat and cold fear.
They can learn to touch skin without having to be dead inside, without becoming a role, without dreaming of suicide.
I would say if you role-models, heroes, or even a route to a better – look, listen and learn from exited prostituted folks.
We have so much to give, so much knowledge that is constantly silenced.
We can be teachers, we are fighters, we can teach how to laugh at hell at the same as planning to destroy it at its roots.
The lesson I would want all abolitionists to take on board, is not to be afraid of grief, pain and the slowness of real long-term change.
The prostituted have live with that grief, pain and lack of apparent progress for many centuries – and we have through silent passing down of ways of dealing, built up our inner strength and desire to live whatever is thrown at us.
Abolition is slow most of time – but it not going backwards, it is moving forward.
Sometimes there are giant leaps – such as seeing the demand and supply must be criminalized; or seeing that abolition of the sex trade is a human issue, not an issue of labour.
Mostly it is small steps forward, often feeling like we are struck or going backward.
But I do believe the more we allow exited folks to be leaders in the abolition movement – the more the human damage and courage is seen, and the more likely that abolition will come.
We need to learn that pain should always be pushed away.
The more you avoid or bury the pain of the prostituted – the more it screams and crawls it way to have a voice.
The pain that the prostituted have known cannot just be placed into a box, it can learn to be quiet, but always waiting for the time and place to have expression.
It is a pain that all can learn from.
It is a pain that has touch and been inside genocide, and is now a witness to the deadened soul and deep silence that was one reason some of the prostituted survived.
It is a pain that has learnt that male violence is pre-planned, is organised, is not an act of passion but cold hate.
It is a pain where every cell of the prostitute’s body is used and thrown – a pain that there never anything personal about rape, torture or murder of the prostituted, just a consumer with his goods.
That pain must be used as teaching-tool.
We can speak to what male violence is, we know too much, too much so we are told not to speak for male violence gains power by becoming the unspeakable.
To build a permanent road to abolition, we must speak to grief, we must face the depths of grief that is always with the exited.
We carry the grief of knowing the majority of the prostituted have or will never be able to exit.
Oh, some may exit with so much mental damage that in many ways the sex trade still imprisoned, some may exit with illnesses or injuries that shortened their futures, some may not live and commit suicide as the past blocks a route to freedom, and too many are killed coz they seen as throwaway goods.
Every exited person I know of, have the grief of losing prostituted friends – we could not grieve then, but now we fight so no more prostitute goes missing.
A great many exited folks have survivor grief and guilt.
We have no idea why we survived, and too often we collapse thinking of the beautiful and strong prostituted folks who are gone.
It is just luck that we survived – for suicide was our norm or living in order to die, for at any moment we could have been murdered.
All exited folks have experienced near-death on several occasion, whether through self-destruction or male violence.
I attempted suicide at least every 6 months or so, I can remembered punters almost killing me on at least 4 to 7 times.
Living with death was our norm – so no wonder our grief is endless.
Grief is a powerful tool to making real change to justice and returning dignity to all the prostituted.
To allow that silent screaming an expression, is the opening to deeper approach to abolition, is to let out the warrior-spirit, and learn that in silence knowledge can grow.
It is learning to be still enough to see that slow progress is going forward.
Grief open us up to being vulnerable, being confused – but that is not a weakness, it give the humbleness to see we can ask and receive help, as well knowing we will be the helpers.