I don’t know where to start this post, so I’m going to start somewhere. It’s possible it’s not the best place.

When you are in parts, you don’t get to be the same person all the time. You end up feeling like all different people. This might seem obvious, but it has an outcome that is not so obvious.

The parts come out for certain things: there are certain experiences that are “theirs” and when I am having experience, they come out to be in it. Annoushka, for example, came out for a certain kind of deliciously pleasant physical touch or for internal emotional experiences. She came out for tickling and she came out for some aspects of being in love and she came out for jumping around with punk music playing. You might sum up her experiences as fun. That’s her slice of things.

Being in parts means that I only get to be the person who feels those things when they are happening or when they are being strongly remembered. I don’t get to be Anoushka, who has the capacity to play and have fun, any of the rest of the time. The capacity for play and fun is not a part of my identity and it’s not even something I particularly remember. Which is a shame, but that’s how it is.

I have been thinking about this in the context of being with the girls, that I was a particular person when I was them—maybe not one part, but a set of parts perhaps. And when I escaped, I never got to be that person again.

Because I was trafficked when I was with them, this seems like a good thing, and yet it’s not. It’s not for a lot of different reasons, but it comes down to the idea that that person lies closer to a core sense of myself than a lot of other ways of being.

It is that way because I was relatively safer with them than I was in other contexts. Until very, very recently, this was hard for me to grasp, because being trafficked is so very traumatizing. It’s terrifying between johns and it is overwhelming and disgusting and completely violating with the johns. What I hadn’t grasped is that my homelife was more or less the same minus the warmth and nurturing and protection the girls brought to it. They were both hell. Being trafficked was hell with some nice people around.

I also identify really strongly with them, and it was hard for me to grasp this too, because my assumption was that I identify with them because of something negative. I identified with them because we were victims, because we were being trafficked, because we were treated as though we had no rights or dignity. Maybe, but the main thing is that they were decent people, and I had very few decent people in my life that I could be sure were actually decent when you got them behind closed doors.

The other thing is that victims are more or less like everyone else. Perpetrators are usually psychologically different than non-perpetrators, but victims are mostly the same as non-victims. You end up in another country being trafficked for sex for many different reasons: lack of active parental or societal protection for children is one of them; a societal backdrop of lawlessness is another of them (that is what leads to lack of societal protection). But the girls this happened to are often not very different from other girls.

They are mostly victimized because they are girls doing what girls do. They are looking for someone to love them, or looking for opportunities, or looking for excitement, and they are young and naïve and don’t understand how to spot a sociopath who wishes to manipulate and deceive them. Girls who don’t end up trafficked are looking for those things too and they are usually equally naïve, because they have not lived long enough not to be. But they have someone or a societal structure that prevents them from coming under the control of a trafficker.

It is true, of course, that trafficked young people are often from families where there is active abuse going on, and because of that abuse they lack a sense of ownership over their own bodies. This makes it easier for someone to traffic them. But girls who aren’t trafficked come from families like that too.

So I don’t identify with the girls because they were victims. I identify with them because I am actually more like them, and I am more like them because I am not a sociopath and I am not on the verge of psychosis and I am not utterly self-focused and selfish. I don’t believe I have more rights than other people, and I don’t go around violating the rights of others because I think that I am entitled to. And so what was able to develop with them were relationships.

In other words, I miss them now because they were my friends. I miss them for the same reasons I miss some of the people I worked with at other schools before I came here to Country X, only maybe more so, because our lives were lived a bit more intensely.

But this sense of myself that developed with them is a self I don’t completely have access to without them. I’m not even sure I remember it properly. The cues aren’t there. That slice is not something. So I have to do something about this. I have to get to that person and see what she’s all about. I don’t know how though.