I am in my early thirties.
I first became involved in the sex industry in my early twenties and was in street prostitution until my late twenties.
I have exited the sex industry for over 3 years and I have no plans to return.
I love my home and it is my safe space for me and my son. I love spending time with him and our dog – we are a tight wee family unit.
I am now studying and on placement. I love reading and finding out new information.
I want to finish college and want a career helping other women with addictions or experiences in the sex industry.
I wouldn’t say I had a normal childhood.
My dad died when I turned a teenager. That was really hard. My step father was an alcoholic and a violent man. He was a nightmare but my mum was a constant. She always tried to protect me from all the wrongs and stuff that were going on in my life. She has always been the strong, main focus of my life, always been there. My brothers and sisters got on really well growing up – we were all close. We didn't have a lot of money but we always had clean clothes, food in our stomachs and were loved. I got where I didn’t ask for anything. Mum wanted to get me stuff but I knew she would go without dinner for however long it took to pay it off. I just accepted it, I just took on responsibility. I didn't want to make her feel bad or for her to be without. So I did without.
Around the time my dad died, we moved away from our home town to a new place. It was really tough – especially when you are that age. I had to leave my pals and the life that I'd had growing up.
I instantly got bullied at the new school. They didn't like the way I looked or spoke and that I was from another town. I had long blonde hair down my back, I wore makeup and I guess they didn't like it. I was called "Barbie" from the minute that I walked in there. Those wee differences were enough for them to just start on me. Pretty quickly kids realised that I was an easy target. I wasn't retaliating, opening my mouth when they were calling me names. I wasn't doing anything when somebody was hitting me. It became physical, sexual and mental torture, the horrendous things those kids did to me.
It didn't matter what I did, it was never right. It was just everyone didn't like me.
My mum had been up to the school. The teachers didn't listen to me, it was too vast to control. They didn't help me in any way, didn't want to know what was going on, no real interest in it. I was getting really good grades so I think that's all they cared about to be honest.
‘Cos of the bullyin’, I was very reluctant to go out. I didn’t know how I was gonna be treated. Boys who kissed me won money from bets, whether I wanted to kiss them or no. The only time I was accepted was if I was neckin’ half a bottle of cider and willin’ tae give one the boys a blowjob. Doin’ ‘hings wi’ boys that you didn’t like and didn’t wanna be doin’ but you were allowed in with in crowds, so I did it.
For the last Christmas dance before finishing school, mum saved to get me a beautiful dress – really special and got my hair all done. Six of them followed me to the toilet, kicked in the cubicle door, smashed it off my head and basically dragged me to put my head down the toilet. I had to walk out into the dance in front of everybody, wi’ my dress all soaked, my hair all ruined. That was shit. I was so withdrawn there was absolutely no need to degrade me like that.
I couldn't cope. I slit my wrists a few times. I overdosed on paracetamol. Buzzing gas just to get away.
There was no escaping fro’ people putting me down. I was the joke in my extended family. Everything I did was made fun of, they taunted me and brought me down. It was very easy to laugh and make a fool o’ me. I questioned why it was only me who got treated like this. I'd think "What have I done wrong? Why am I so different?" I actually asked my mum if I was adopted or why my family would not accept me. I was always chasing and wanting that acceptance, them all tae like and love me. It was very easy to say "Oh Wendy will do this and Wendy will do that." Instead of searching for acceptance, I accepted what I was given. That it was just the way it was for me. There was nobody there apart from my mum.
I had to do a lot of babysitting for relatives. One relative was ill and away in hospital so I had to go round and help her partner out. I never seen myself as anything more than his niece or a babysitter, one night he decided that he was going to make it more than that. I was raped over her dining table in her dining room at fifteen. I don't know what he was thinking. Before he did it that night I hadn't been, you know, touched I was a virgin.
I now see that he groomed me. I always felt uncomfortable with things he said, overstepping the mark. He’d ask me about boyfriends and if I had slept with them. I’d try to laugh and say "It's none of your business.” It didn't sit well with me but I was so bloody loyal to my family that I didn't want to not babysit. I wanted to do the things that were expected of me so I tolerated him. He knew I was bein’ bullied at school. He knew I was very broken spirited, had no confidence and was the family runaround and joke. It was very easy for him to do that to me. He scared me intae keepin’ my mouth shut, tellin’ me that nobody would believe me anyways.
I carried a hell of a lot at from a very young age. There’s things in my past that I just can’t and won’t speak about right now. The time is not right for me and not right for other people. It was the rape that really broke me though. I thought that’s the way that I was to be treated and my life was to be. I do wonder if I was one of those people are just born intae a life of misery. I don't feel it so much nowadays but I did for a very long time. I think it became very apparent that people could treat me like dirt and speak to me in any way, shape or form and there would be no real consequences. Nothin’, there wouldn’t even be a reaction back.
I look back on the rape and I’ve not accepted it but I can deal with it now. Back then I didn't know how to handle that situation at all. I didn't know how to tell anybody not even my own mother. My answer was to sign my papers to go into the military at fifteen and a half. I was leaving. That was the start of me running away. From the age of fifteen to the age of thirty two, I ran.
I got into the armed forces. It was a tough life but good at times. It was character building and I think I surprised people as well ‘cos the Barbie stereotype stuck with me. They called me Private Barbie. I was passing everything first time, they couldn't fail me which they were surprised at. Especially the physical aspects. They didn't expect me to excel in the way that I did. And I did. I proved them wrong in every sense.
I had all this male attention and all these boys wanting to be with me. I thought "Oh, this is great, I'm getting all of this attention" but the horrible thing was none of them would ever actually want to go out with me. I was popular but I was popular for all the wrong reasons. They were only ever wanting to sleep wi’ me. The minute they had sex you know, that attention stopped. They'd had you and now that was it. I was really just a bit of a piece of meat to them.
My close family all came down to London to watch my passing out parade. They were seeing me marching, doin’ rifle drills, saluting you know. All that was just amazing to them. I don't think I'll ever forget that look from my mum that day. I live for the day that I see that pride in my mum's eyes again like she was that day when I passed out of the military. Obviously they didn't know why I'd left or what had gone on to make me go.
I’ve left my home town for months and then come back for maybe a month and then go away again. I moved up to the islands, went from town to town. I've done all kinds of work all over the place. Running away really trying to find myself. My identity was always changing but I kept the Barbie label that everybody had put on me.
When I was about seventeen, I got involved in the party scene and began taking ecstasy. It was a bit of a blur. A lot of partying, a lot of being at parties just myself with a lot of guys and thinking that this was how it was ‘cos it was all I bloody knew.
I'd just turned twenty when I met Steve, I was very, very naïve. I fell in love very quickly. A cheeky chappy was Steve, a bit of a lovable rogue. Everybody loved him but he was unfortunately one of a group of boys who all very rapidly went downhill with heroin in the nineties. I believed he was in recovery. We were in a B&B and he didn't let me out for the first wee while. He left me locked in. I knew it wasn’t right that I was being locked in, I wasn't silly but I would say I was addicted to Steve. When he was away fae the house, it was like panic, this constant panic - was he going to get arrested? Was he going to come back? He’d arrive home either out of his face, just comatose or aggressive. There was a lot of times he beat me. I'm probably a bit too accepting of that to be honest. The drugs were just absolutely destroying him but you could still see that in there was a better person.
He'd been in prison and I'd managed to secure us a council flat. I done it all up for him, got him all new clothes and stuff, doing everything he wanted me to do. We were going to make a go of it this time, a fresh start . There was to be no violence, no drugs. That first night out, he beat me with a floor brush. He actually lifted a bit of my scalp on and it was gushing wi’ blood. I asked if he could go out and get me paracetamol as I couldn’t cope with the pain. He refused. He said, "I'm going to have a few lines. You should have a couple, it will take away your headache." I can remember saying, "No. You're not doing that in my house. It's not happening. This is not how it's meant to be." He got pretty forceful so I did what he wanted and I smoked it and it numbed every bit of mental and emotional pain, all the hatred and every bit of all that horribleness that I felt for myself. It took it away. That was just before 21st birthday.
He started taking me everywhere to houses now, I was part of the bit of his life that I was never accepted into before. I now had access to it. He used the way I looked to get dealers to give us drugs. He started the “You will do whatever I tell you to make money to get heroin and if you don't do it you're going to get beaten.” I was told, "You will shop lift."
We were managing to get by, only smoking a small bit. One day we had a big argument and he told me to get outta the house. My mind just couldn't process why, what was going on. I pretended I'd left the flat but I walked back into the kitchen and his friends and him were preparing an injection, a hit. It was like bloody hell, they're actually doin’ it! I'd watched Trainspotting but was the first time I'd ever seen needles or anything. It was bad enough I was smoking heroin but to them actually see injecting it. He said, "If you're wanting any of this, you gone have to hit it." I said, "No” and had to start withdrawing. I'd never gone through it and I'd no idea what it was like. I was so sick I couldn't stay at work. I came home and said, "I 'hink I've got the flu you know, I need flu capsules." His answer was, " Flu capsules won't help you, you're rattling. The only thing to help you is a hit." Steve did it, I couldn't inject myself, I didn't have a clue where to start.
That was my first real addiction. I always tried to maintain the hair, the makeup, the clean clothes. I tried to look alright even though the whole wide world round me knew I wasn't. It was clear I was addicted to heroin now. Everybody knew it. My mum detested him. My family hated him. My younger brother wanted to actually kill him.
On my twenty first birthday it all came out to my family. I went up to my mums and all the cards, all the gifts were on my bed. My mum had got me a beautiful silver necklace with a heart on and my sister got me the matching bracelet. All I was interested in was the cards to get the money. Steve was withdrawing and he wanted money to go and score. I knew he was waiting at home and knew our withdrawals were only going to get ten million times worse. They all came into my room. My mum just asked me, "Are you using heroin?" and I said "No." My wee brother pulled my jacket. The track marks were horrendous. Steve didn't have a clue how to inject himself half the time never mind me. They all saw the physical evidence then. My mum fell to her knees screaming. It's like that scream you hear whenever someone's died? That real raw, blood curdling noise.
I left and they were crying and shouting out the windows after me to come back, sayin’ they would help me. I can still hear them, so clearly.
Three days later, my bracelet and my necklace were sold for heroin. My twenty first birthday presents. Sold for two tenner bags of heroin. I had no choice in that. He probably decided to sell them when he saw them. He controlled everything, he controlled where the money got spent, what we ate, if we ate. If it was between food and heroin, it went on heroin. That was just the way it was.
Eventually we Steve and I split up. I started doing drugs on my own but I didn’t know to fund the habit. For a very long time I couldn't go to any dealer’s doors, Steve put the fear into me that they would batter me but I was beginning to find that dealers, male dealers would happily have me in their company. They happily fed me all the drugs I wanted with the hope that I would sleep with them. Which usually happened. They said I was a girlfriend but I was just there for the heroin. I hate the word "whore" and "heroin whore", is a horrible label to put on anyone but I can't explain it any other way.
I met a very influential man. Big dangers came wi’ being associated with him. I was his play thing, I was his entertainment. I was in a homeless hostel, getting phone calls at three o'clock in the morning. He said there was money to be made off of me and did I know how to make it? I didn't have a clue. He explained it, "There’s girls sell themselves all the time." He wanted to put me in a flat to do whatever he wanted me to. I was like, "No" but he kept on and on at me. I was worried, not only what he would do but what his associates might do to me. I ran away to Olivia’s, one of my friends who was also a drug user. There was just no money there. I had no family to beg, steal and borrow from. There wasn't anybody I could sleep with, I didn't know any of the dealers in the area. We had absolutely nothing.
It wasn't like I just got up one morning and said, "Today I'm going to do prostitution." It wasn't like that. There'd been a sort of build up to it ‘cos I already had been sleeping with men, whether it was their gratification or whether to get drugs or sometimes just to have a place to crash overnight. To get a roof over my head.
Olivia and I, we talked about prostitution loads of times. She had already slept with local men people for money but it wasn't a case of walking the streets. I thought that if I worked the streets then I would only be hurting myself. I'm not out shop lifting getting charges mounting up against me. I just knew that jail wasn't for me and what I'd faced out here would be nothin’ compared to in there. You can't escape, there's nowhere you can go. I did think working the street was a means to an end, I have to do it and that’s that. If you don't do this, you're just not going to be able to feed your habit.
I don't know how I managed to take that first step. That first night I remember getting a bath, shaving my legs, putting on perfume and picking out nice underwear. I made myself look nice. I think I was telling myself, "You're going on a date. You know?”
Olivia was supposed to come but she didn't even get ready. Looking back now she knew fine well that I would go ahead wi’ it. She said she couldn't face it, she didn't have a clue what to do to start prostituting streets. I didnt either.
I went on my own. I knew there was an area called "The Drag" where the women worked but didn't have a clue. As corny and as silly as this sounds I saw this woman and I just knew that if I followed her I would get to where I had to be. I said to her, "Am I in the right bit? I'm looking to work." She looked at men and asked "Is this your first time?" I knew the streets would be tough so I turned round and told her all these lies that I'd worked in Edinburgh and all over. I didnt want to show anyone I was terrified. I was that scared of somebody trying to pimp me out or rob me. If I was doing this, I wanted it on my terms, the money I earned would be mine.
I really should have spoken to her ‘cos I didn't have a clue what to charge, didn't have a clue how to get into a car, didn't know how I would know if a car wanted to pull over or anything but it turned out to be very, very easy. The drivers made it pretty obvious they wanted to speak to you. He normally gave you the offer. I was always told in the beginning that my prices were too high. The punters, the John's, the clients, I don't know what to call them - the men, they’d be like, "What you chargin’ that for? Some lassies are doing it for a tenner?” I wouldn't. I dropped my prices over the years as the years went on but for what you have to endure, £50 for an hour is nothin’.
I remember my first punter an’ I remember the first time. He was about eighteen /nineteen. He'd been out at a dance and thought that I'd been on a night out too. He started chatting me up and I said to him, you know, "Look, I'm not looking for a date. I'm working." I was very lucky in the sense that he paid me, was very pleasant and he was very nice.
The next guy in the car was a different ball game all together. He was really abusive. He approached, flashed his lights and I went over. He asked my prices for oral and a hand job. He kind of argued with me for a while, saying who did I think I was charging that amount and all the rest of it. He said, "But I suppose, aye you've got a body that maybe is worth paying for it” and how at least I was clean. I told him I was taking his reg plate to text to a friend so she knew I was ok. He says, "Aye 'cos that's really going to matter if I'm going to kill you."
He drove us out to a car park and soon as he stopped the car he literally grabbed me by the head and flung my face into his lap. Panic set in. I really did panic. I couldn't breathe for a start. He started shouting, swearing at me, "Come on you fucking know what you're meant to do." "You dirty cow, dirty whore."
He was very much a grabber, a hands round the necker as well. I really thought, "This guy's going to kill me"and there's nothin’ I can do about it 'cos I'm stuck in a fucking car wi' him. How stupid are you? What are you doing?" It only lasted about twenty minutes or so. I kind of toughed it out, shut off to it, I had to shut off.
I made three hundred pound on my first night. Which is a phenomenal amount of money. I went home to Olivia. She was amazed by it, couldn't believe it, thought it was absolutely brilliant. Happy enough to spend it, didn't want to go out and earn it though. Needless to say the three hundred pound was done within 2 nights.
I used to tell punters that I was doing it to pay Uni. It was feasible at that point, I could get away with that 'cos I was a new face and I was clean and tidy. Compared, God love them, to some of the girls. I mean I've seen girls that there's no light left in their eyes at all. All those girls that the spark has very truly gone out you know? A lot of those girls had been pimped out by a man or men. Girls get out of cars and men take the money straight off them. Every penny they got.
You get a sixth sense. I used to get in a car and chat, break the ice, make things a bit sorta light-hearted. I always tried to be nice in the hope they would be nice to me. The ones that are bad don't really talk to you.
One taxi driver picked me up. I just knew. The minute I got in the taxi I just felt really uncomfortable with him. I said, "You know what? Pull over. I'm not feeling too good." He didn't let me out and he didn't acknowledge that I'd said anything either. He just ignored me and said, "You'll do what I say you'll do." He took me to a car park and dragged me into the back. I remember him being quite violent. He was pulling my hair really bad. He was almost slamming my head. My head was getting continuously banged off this thing the seat belt plugs into. That was the sorest bit of it. I remember the bruise it had left. I must have focused on that quite a lot throughout what was going on. He raped me both vaginally and anally. No condom, nothin’. He just said well, "What's the point in going to the fucking Police?"
I kept our habits and the house going for three month. I kept us in food, clothes. The drugs, paying for it all. Olivia and I hadn't been getting on very well. Things were coming to a head, I was tired, exhausted. I mean I was out nearly all night, every night. Some nights it was really slow and you'd have no choice but to stay out all night. Other nights you would be lucky enough and get home for half past one. Just depended on who was out, what night it was, what the weather was like, what was going on in the city. I left.
Olivia and I bumped into each other again when she moved to my town. We were both now working the streets in Glasgow. We got the night bus up every Friday and Saturday night when we were guaranteed to get a good turn. We didn’t want stranded if we didn't make our bus fare back down the road.
One night, she'd gone with somebody, I'd gone with somebody and we agreed to meet at our meeting point. This Police car pulled up alongside me. This officer was like “Get in the car.” I said, "Sorry. What am I getting in the car for?" trying to play the, "I'm on a night out, who are you talking to?" kinda thing. He rolled down the back window and there was Olivia. He says, "Yous are getting taken in for soliciting. You're under arrest. We can do it easy, you can get in the car or I get out and get you. It's up to you." I could see this fear and dread in Olivia’s eyes. I get in with her and says, "It's alright, we got lifted for charges. We'll be alright, we'll stick together."
We didn't get lifted and charged, we got took up to Glasgow Green. We were basically told that if we didn't perform oral sex on both, both police men and each other - we would be arrested and get done for all sorts of charges. A man was robbed by a prostitute and they were going to put it on us. I never robbed a client. Oh, I've been raped and I've been bumped my money but I never once robbed a client - that wasn't my style. It hadn’t been Olivia's either.
I just thought, "Well who am I? I'm a junky prostitute working the streets" and "Who are they? They're law enforcement.” A power imbalance.
They filmed it on his wee fecking phone. I'll never forget, he took videos of it. He said it was for his own entertainment later. The boys at the station would love it. It eventually ended when he ejaculated. Urgh. He ejaculated.
I asked if we were getting a lift back and pretty much got put in my place with a slap to the mouth. We were left to make our way back over to the Drag. What they had just done to us was completely fucking so wrong. Olivia... the light went out of her eyes that night. It switched right off. She lost it, didn't care after that. She became one of the ones robbing punters their wallets and stuff. She developed this resentment to everything. I can understand it but I've processed things differently I guess. I see it as, "Well, it was wrong but not everyone’s the same. Not every policeman is like that." I mean I met policemen who are ok but there’s no trust there.
Very few prostitution rapes go to court. I don't actually know the statistics but I imagine very little if any actually get a conviction. What is the point of going to the Police?
I saw quite a few foreign girls especially towards the end of my time on the streets. One of the worst for me was a wee girl, I think she was Romanian. I'd seen her working the streets quite a lot and I thought she looked really young. She was so frail. You could just tell that she did not want to be there. I'd smile and say "Hello" to her when I past her. One summer night I just got off the bus and I passed a doorway. She was in there with her wee skinny legs wi' her underwear right at her ankles and this guy was obviously having his way wi' her. She was just a bag of bones, just bein’ used in a doorway. I remember turning and her eyes met mine. She looked fucking dead inside, like she had so given up. While he was doing what he was doing to her there was nothin’ absolutely nothin’ there. Nothin’. She was so young. I saw the fucking arsehole that used to collect her money, he took her all money. I gave her half my money so she could get somethin’ to eat.
The pain I felt for her was unbelievable. Seeing that nothin’ness in her eyes that night was kind of the start of the end for me when it came to prostitution. I thought the light had already gone out of my eyes but it hadn't gone entirely. It hadn't gone out in my heart and in my head. I still had a wee bit of life left in me and I knew I had more to give. I had to give myself a chance to be a different person.
I dream about her sometimes. I cannot get her out of my head. She is one of my flashbacks.
It’s a very dark, lonely, dangerous, scary seedy place. I have never met anybody that works in the sex industry without some sort of substance abuse issue. Whether they need to neck a bottle and a half of vodka to do it, or they have to shoot up four bags of heroin. You cannot do that in a clear state of mind, you have to be so obliterated or oblivious that you’re so numb, you just cannot feel what is happenin’ to you and what the reality is. You’ve been abused and used by all these men, these men don’t care for you. They have no respect for you ‘cos if they had respect for you, they wouldn’t be buyin’ sex off you. I look back and think, "Holy shit you know I could have been murdered.” There but for the grace of God, I'm still alive ‘cos situations I was in, the cars I was getting into it. You don't know what they're going to do, if they want to be violent. You don't know what their intentions are. If somebody took me away and done whatever they wanted to me, put me somewhere, it would never have mattered.
No matter how willingly you were giving your body to them and letting them use your body, you had to detach your mind. If you were to listen to your mind, you would be fighting them off, screaming "No" and that would become a dangerous situation.
When I speak about bein’ raped and other girls being raped too, it makes me emotional. Don’t think it doesn’t, ‘cos it does. It was such a common occurrence and happened that many times that I just accepted it. This word acceptance keeps comin’ in.
Nine times outta ten when you get in that car you know you don’t wanna do it, you don’t wanna be there. Who wants to get in a car wi’ a man forty, fifty years their senior? You’re gettin’ pawed and touched and all manner of sexual things by a man that you don’t know. There’s nothin’ invitin’, nothin’ warm, and nothin’ welcoming. All that lies at the end of prostitution is a whole lot of nothin’. I look back and think what would have happened if I had never got out of it? I know I woulda been dead. Either heroin or somebody else woulda took my life.
None of my family knew what I was doing at that point or how deep in I was.
There was TV programme about prostitution. They had filmed the "Drag." My mum had been sitting watching the lunchtime news and there was me. There was her daughter. My face was blurred out but as a mother, she could just tell. She knew it was me. She said, "I know you've got that blue coat and I know the way you stand. I know that's you.” I watched the night time edition later on and yep, sure as fate, there was me standing waiting on a client. I was like, "Well that's me on the news for prostitution." That was how my family found out
I don't know what I thought of myself back then. I would never have called myself a sex worker. I would have said "prostitute" ‘cos that was the word put on me by other people. I was a very mixed up girl putting herself through a lot o’ abuse. There was a time I thought it’s okay ‘cos I’m doin’ it for my own reasons and own terms. When you’re in it, I suppose you kinda tell yourself you’re in control. You don’t wanna admit the way the men are treating you is all wrong. Admittin’ that, it’s like saying is there somethin’ wrong wi’ me? While you’re in it, and you’re still usin’, you don’t realize how detrimental it is. You don’t realize the damage.
I eventually shut off to it so it’s deeply buried that touching it or looking at it again is hard. There can be just moments where it can just take your breath away. It hits me. It can hit me anytime. I've had, you know like panic attacks? I get flashes of all these different cars and all these different men and all these different smells, you know? All those hands on me. It’s as if all their hands are on me at once. All the flashes of faces just going continuously in front o’ me. It's like as if they're all there and they're all touching me all at the same time. Like every single one of them is back with me again. Sometimes I'll see a man on the high street and I look at him and think, "I know your face." Part of my brain automatically tries to put that man in a car and, "Is that how I know you?" It takes a lot for me to bring myself out of it, that's when I really have to breathe.
I have to put it all away in a box. Sometimes the lid comes off but then the lid goes back on again. It has to ‘cos of the panic and the overwhelming feelings. The box is there, it’s very much there and you can only open it bit by bit ‘cos if you were to let all of it out, you would be in self-destruct mode. It would be an instant overload of I’ve done this, these things have happened to me.
I got very ill at one stage. I couldn’t even get outta bed to give maself a hit anymore. I just couldn’t do anything. I was gettin’ chest pains all the time and I remember lyin’ in my old bed at mums with my wee boy Jackson beside me, just lyin’ strokin’ my head. My mum said “Look, we need to phone somebody, you’re gonna die.” I was like “I’m not gonna die I’m just not well.” Tryin’ to convince myself that nothin’ was wrong. The ambulance came out and my fever was so high they took me straight to hospital. I had a big abscess in my groin where I’d been injectin’ and I had septicemia in my heart valves. I was dyin.’ If my mum hadn’t phoned the ambulance when she did I would’ve died within hours. I was in hospital for a month. It was tough. I got clean but the pain, the hurt and the craving was all there.
I remember sitting on the toilet floor crying. A wee nurse found me. She sat with me and says, “I can sit right here right now wi’ ya and you can tell me everythin’ that’s inside you. All the poison, all the hurt cos there must be to have given you these scars.” She sat on the bathroom floor, I had my head on her knee and she was stroking my hair and I just cried solid for about forty minutes. I told her the stuff that was eatin’ me up, the stuff that rotted me away inside. She came back every single day for the rest of my time in the hospital. I told her everythin’, every horrible memory, every dirty detail, everything that made me feel so worthless and so vile about myself. I said “You know you’re just like an angel” and she said to me “We’re all angels darling. It’s just some of us have dirty faces but there’s no face that can’t be cleaned.” She told me that I was important and I had to learn that. I came home and the first thing I did was sit mum down and tell her I’d been raped by my uncle at fifteen. I telt her everything about what had happened and why I started runnin.’
Everybody puts the girls in the wrong. It's always the girls' fault , People just presume a girl’s goin’ out there, gettin’ paid quite happy and she’s well up for it. They can make as many judgments as they want but they really don’t know. If I did not have a heroin addiction I would not have been out there walking the streets. I had to use heroin to walk the streets but I had to walk the streets to get heroin. You cannot do it without your substances - there's no separating them. That's just the way it goes. Eventually I stopped using heroin and I no longer had a need to sell my body to get money. Coming off heroin, the aftermath hit of everything that had happened when I had worked the streets.
The way I have been treated by men taught me that my body is not mine. I wouldn't say I'm unlovable but I don't know if I'll ever be able to love properly. I can be sexual with someone but I cannot sit and hug them. That closeness of lyin’ watching a movie and making out together, I can't do it. I cannot. It physically makes me uncomfortable, the thought makes me feel sick. Even now – I feel sick. The whole hand in hand thing, the touching your face, watching you while you're sleeping - all that just terrifies me. I have tried. I was seeing somebody for a wee bit but I couldn't be the person that he wanted me to be. I was right in every way for him and he was probably quite good for me but I couldn't give him the whole intimacy thing. That's the first time I've said that out loud to anybody but I can't, I can't handle it. I'm sitting here rigid right now thinking of it.
Sometimes cuddling me is like cuddling stone.
It's heart wrenching for me to say that. At the minute relationships make me uncomfortable. I've got so used to being on my own that I'm in this safety wee bubble. I never want to go through the same hurt that I have went through. The hurt from other people deciding to treat me in a certain way. I just done things just to please everybody all the time. I might have screaming, "No what are you doing?!" Big alarm bells, sirens going off but I did it. To please. I don't need a man in my house. If I don't want to sleep with someone, I wont. I'm not going to do anythin’ I don't want to. Never again.
I’m always cuddling Jackson though. Holdin’ and squeezing him, telling him I love him. When he is going into school, he says “Oh, mummy I love you." and I'm "Oh, I love you too." My boy needs to know it's alright to have emotions, love someone and have them love you too. The things that I didn't. It's alright to make mistakes, it's about what you do to fix it. My hope is that he will learn be a gentleman and treat women wi’ respect, not as commodities and things to be used.
Prostitution happens. It’s more common than people think, and it is on their doorstep whether they like it or not. They think it doesn’t affect these wee, quaint towns. Ye kiddin’? I know where it happens here. I’ve been in services for years and whenever you discuss workin’ the streets, people don’t want to speak about it, don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to know. People are supposed to be able to deal with this kinda thing but they’re shuttin’ down on and tryin’ to get you to discuss other stuff that has no significance whatsoever to where you are. It just makes ‘em so uncomfortable, you can see that they think it’s dirty, it’s appalling, it’s disgraceful. It’s filthy and it’s wrong. People need to talk about it and women need to be allowed to tell it like it is. It might be unpleasant but these girls need to speak to somebody to deal wi’ the demons, the scars and the wounds and the dirt. That silencing is like a gag.
I got clean. You think when you’re recovery, you’ll get "Well done. You've done great." It wasn't the case for me. No matter how far on I get, it's never gonna be enough. Small town, small mental attitude you know. They all knew who I was and that I'd been a drug addict, working the streets. People who bullied me have kids at my son's school so I am facing the bullies of my childhood again the playground. They'll be chit chatting, waiting on their kids and I walk in. Almost silence falls you know. I get sniggers, looking me up and down like the mean girls at school again. It's horrible. I was called "Black Junkie," "Dirty Prostitute," "Heroin Whore" in front of my son. It’s not pleasant to explain to your four year old what a junkie prostitute is. It's hard to face it every day. Abuse and hatred.
I don't let him see that it bothers me. I used to take everything everybody said to me onboard. I'm trying to give him a more care-free attitude. I develop this persona like, "Well, I really don't care what you're saying. I can't even hear it." I put on this the mask every day with the makeup, the hair and the outfit. I do not let them see they're grinding me down. It becomes tiring ‘cos you're constantly having to be strong. I come home and I take the mask off. I can start to be a human bein’ for a bit. Be myself. That's when I'm most vulnerable ‘cos there's no pretense. I hear every word that's been said to me that day. Sometimes it all sort of hits me. I don’t want them to like what I did, to give me praise, I don’t want them, I just want them to just leave me alone.
All that matters to me is that I know the truth, my family know the truth. I know what I want for my wee boy and for myself and I won’t give up on that. Life, it’s not easy, it’s not fantastic but it’s livable and it’s at times enjoyable. We’re in our own house, the first house I've ever felt safe. This house has to be pure and clean. Somewhere Jackson, my wee dog and I want to be.
Getting my story out has freed me in ways…You know it’s like somebody just cut the strings and my wings and now they can go. If I can stop just one girl sufferin’ and endurin’ all the stuff in my life then everything I’ve gone through and worked to achieve will’ve been well worth it.
Society shut me in a box for so long. Now I’m smashin’ that box and will keep on smashin’ it and every box they put me in.