I have this idea that Katya’s sort of a made-up person. I don’t know a lot about her still, except that she seems to have a good handle on the 2×2 stuff—she knows how that’s affected me and can discuss it very reasonably. And she likes pink.

I think she likes pink because it’s an approved girl-colour. I think she’s trying to be an approved kind of person, and that she’s following rules about how she’s allowed to be. When you’re seven, that’s kind of all you have—the hope that maybe you can make an abuser happy and he won’t hurt you so much. And I think also Yuri liked little girls to be very feminine and, in fact, the only possible way to avoid savage abuse sometimes was to try to seem too cute and pretty and compliant to do those things to. And I think maybe we all did that—absolutely all of the girls turned on this compliant, hyper-feminine act to get out of certain kinds of savagery. I think that happened.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t, but a certain degree of deceptiveness had to be tried at least.

In the past, I’ve felt ashamed of that. It makes me feel like I sold my soul to the devil, and it doesn’t fit with other things I know about myself or even the way I behaved at other times, but then I remember I was seven. And I wanted to live. I wanted to live and I didn’t want to go in the freezer and I didn’t want Nata to get hurt to teach me a lesson and I didn’t want to be eviscerated.

There were johns like Yuri—men with the same kinds of sick tastes in little girls. Yuri was not really a pedophile. He was indiscriminate. He raped me. He raped girls in their 20s. Yuri liked power, and having the power to get sex from any female he chose was a great thing for him.

But there were pedophiles who were very much like him, who also wanted a girl who was very pretty and very seductive and very “girl” to violate. This created two problems with this: one is that if I weren’t those things, they would not pick me up, and then there wouldn’t be enough to bring home to Yuri and in the freezer I would go. If they did pick me up, and I disappointed in that regard, then it could end in physical violence and I was alone with them and totally helpless. They could hurt me however they wanted. Nata was not there to protect me in any way. She could screen the johns to some extent and at least provide me with the illusion that I wasn’t getting in the car with a serial killer, but it was up to me to get back to her alive. Fulfilling a man’s fantasy who was sick enough to pay for sex with a little girl was part of that.

So that is what I did.

A lot of the pain of being trafficked and of the other sexual abuse is about having to pretend I was someone I wasn’t and I wanted things I didn’t want and I felt things I didn’t feel.

I didn’t understand that before. People-pleasing is always discussed in our culture as kind of a personality trait, or maybe a personality flaw. But when I was seven, it was really the only option. Dying, at that age, isn’t even a real option. You don’t have the internal resources to overcome your innate fear of death to choose. I had those resources when I was 13, and I could start to choose, but at seven, I did not. I was acting purely on animal instincts, even if they were somewhat sophisticated instincts.

Katya, you did fine. You kept us alive and now we get to go to help little kids and hopefully do some good in the world. And what you did never hurt anyone. Someone was hurting you, but you never hurt anyone. You helped us all get hurt less. You helped all the other little parts inside.

Now, you don’t have to do it anymore. All that perceptiveness about other people and what they want and need can get turned to other ends. You can stop using it to fulfill the wishes of adults and use it to meet the real needs of children. You can do all of that, too, without twisting yourself into a pretzel or pretending to be someone you aren’t.

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