As I work through the trauma of the past, there are my feelings in the past to deal with and then there are also my feelings in the present about the past. Sometime they are equally difficult.

Today, my feelings in the present about the past are difficult. They are so difficult it is hard to even say the thought the feelings are linked to.

Because what I am thinking is that being trafficked was actually better than living in my own house with my own family. Not because being trafficked was in any way good, but because life at home was so bad.

No one at home played a consistently nurturing or protective role. My mother was totally erratic. My sister maybe less so, but still totally untrustworthy. At Yuri’s place, there was Nata, but there were also the other girls, and they did care. I was the youngest by far and for a while Nata was too: the others weren’t children. They were older teenagers and young women. I wasn’t alone, because I was usually with them, or I was with Nata or we were all together. They weren’t protective during porn shoots—only Nata was. That was sort of the point when they broke down. They checked out. It was really too much to be present for. But, on the streets, when we were soliciting, they were protective. They were warm. I could turn to any of them for help and they would help me. I have a sense of being with them of being inside a warm bubble.

But, at home, I had no one. My father abused me in full view of my mother and my sister, and no one intervened. The sex trafficking was, oddly, secret, but nothing else was, and my mother and sister did nothing. There was never a moment, as there had been with Nata when my father crossed a line for either of them, and they felt compelled to speak up in spite of the danger of doing that. At home, no one ever shouted at my dad for almost killing me.

So that is one reason it was worse.

At home, there was my dad’s sadism and my mother’s and sister’s indifference and all of it is horrifying and inhuman. Yuri was brutal, but not exactly sadistic. He punishes us in unbelievable ways, but he’s doing it out of anger, and that is somehow less mind-boggling. We all get angry at want to hurt the people we are angry at. It’s quite a human reaction. We have learned to rein that impulse in is all, and our choice of weapons is decidedly less lethal. But Yuri doesn’t make my head spin in the way my father did. I hate him, but he’s not confusing.

My dad hurt me because he enjoyed it. He might have told me it was punishment, but it wasn’t punishment. He just liked doing it. It’s hard to comprehend that. It was really hard to comprehend when I was five or seven or even ten, and the confusion was part of the torture.

That was another reason.

At home, it was also infinitely more unpredictable. It wasn’t completely predictable at Yuri’s place either, but there were some other elements that made it seem that way. The soliciting had certain rituals to it that helped. We put our makeup on and got dressed, and went out, and the clothes we wore and the makeup we put on were not the same as if we were just heading down to the store for an ice cream cone. And then we came home and cleaned up and prayed and Nata opened up her arms for me to snuggle into and we slept. And no one came after that and forced us to have sex with them. No one came before. Until my dad came to take me home, the abuse was over. It was very definitely and recognizably over.

At home, that didn’t really happen. I was safe when no one was home. Otherwise, the abuse was totally unpredictable. It could happen at any time. It could be any type of abuse.

Anyway, it’s horrifying to think this. It seems like having your father loan you out to a Russian mobster to traffic for sex must be the absolute apex of horror, so it is terrible to think that it wasn’t. My homelife was actually worse.

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