Guest Survivor Blog Post
Remember the recent controversy over gender critical campaigners getting an hour on each of three successive days on “Liveline”? I was reading Aoife Martin “When you question trans people’s rights, it shows you see us as second-class citizens” and it hit me like a sledgehammer blow.
Is that what 3 hours of discussion that is spun to agenda actually does to a human being?
The people who sell sex have been excluded from discussion and subjected to thousands of hours, that are often far more insulting, degrading and dehumanising, for decades, in the media and politics. Worse again, in Ireland, those objecting most loudly to the same 3 hours of discussion about transgender people are often leading the charge when it comes to misrepresenting and discussing the people who sell sex while excluding us from any right to reply.
I have been trying to set this down for a month and it has been almost impossible, due, in no small part, to having to run the gauntlet of some very deep trauma triggers and find ways over, round and through apparently endless mental blocks.
I could relate to a random twitter account halfway across the world explaining her own chronic PTSD (I am paraphrasing to protect anonymity). “My abuser’s face was plastered everywhere I looked as the face of kindness in the community I live in. This terrorised me.”
How on earth could I ever avoid mental and emotional damage when, every time I turn around I am being confronted by formal assurances that I am a very different person who had lived a very different life, with entirely different options, outlook and needs, and see those assurances routinely reinforced by millions of euros from the public purse that are unavailable to address even the greatest real desperation?
How could anyone avoid mental and emotional damage on those terms?
The narrative about people who sell sex in Ireland, and, by extension, globally, contains a huge element of muscle flexing and sabre rattling, as if daring us to prove otherwise and abusing significant power and influence to shut down and silence us every time we try.
But guess what? Even if you can silence me, or worse, browbeat me into an appearance of compliance, my subconscious only reacts to and develops in terms of the hard facts it experiences and observes, oblivious to propaganda and political influence, and remains at odds with the narrative.
That is the way all of our minds work.
The inevitable result is to find yourself trapped in a bubble of cognitive dissonance where your own mind and recall contradict everything that is established about you in politics and the media by sources touted as “expert” and “authoritative”. That means something has to give to reduce the distress either:
Your trust in your own recall and judgement
Your regard for established experts and authorities
That is not as easy to call as it sounds, though you should always trust your own recall and judgement above all things, the established experts and authorities you must recognise as untruthful and/or misinformed and reject to cleave to your own recall and judgement are often gatekeepers, not just in terms of resources connected to commercial sex, but for more diverse resources too.
Remember there are two kinds of trust:
Trust based on faith in the other’s good intentions
Trust based on faith in the other’s competence
When the narrative at play bears no resemblance to your reality there is no alternative to the bearers of that narrative being malignant, incompetent or a little of both.
If you have ever sold sex, in order to retain faith in your own judgement and perception you may well have to, for example, recognise and reject the entire rape crisis network and Women’s Aid as untruthful and/or misinformed and, potentially either unscrupulous or incompetent, but a useless threat either way, not just once, but as a default.
At this point you have no alternative to experiencing the world in a very different way to the people around you.
This cuts both ways, even where there is goodwill and sincere misguidance, the only way to be deemed truthful is to go along with a narrative that you know to be made of misinformation and irrelevant to your personal truth. This created a particularly difficult position for me because I am literal, and honest, to a fault. I cannot even live with participating in the range of lies and manipulation that are considered normal and healthy, there was never a pathway to me and my needs being visible, let alone acknowledged and addressed, not just through the “prostitution specific” resources, but also through every service they are state funded to train in who I am and what I need.
I could either strive to share the truth and be deemed a liar, misguided and/or delusional, or I could play along and be deemed honest, but a totally different person with totally different needs. That is NEVER going to end well, for anyone, and it applies to pretty much everyone.
In those terms it is impossible to find enough safe and solid ground to stand on in order to find ways to develop the resilience needed to conquer PTSD, not just from the walls of misinformation that surround you, but also from any pre-existing trauma.
I suspect that is usually how CPTSD is made.
One thing you can be certain of is that there will be no closure as long as the state, representitive of the society and community you are somehow supposed to feel part of, continues to throw money and influence at upholding the misinformation that has such a stranglehold on your life and mental wellbeing.
How are you supposed to believe that there is help, support or even anything you can trust when it is part of your everyday life to be bombarded by a psychopathic level of disregard for your needs, your voice, your pain, your fear and your damage by the very people who are funded to help and support you?
I would have to know more about being a normal person living in a normal world to even be able to tell you how that feels, you need something to compare with to assess the alternative and evaluate the damage.
What I can tell you is after all these years I have no sense of a right to life, let alone quality of life, I do not trust ANYONE, no exceptions, to be capable of empathy or sincere concern, and I find it impossible to rely on anyone to know what they are doing. That can never change as long as those feelings are compounded by a ton of, often state funded, evidence that supports them, every single day. It is only rational, self protection, to assume that every person I must deal with is capable of behaving at least as badly and doing me at least as much harm as those funded to help and support me. There is literally no way off that merry go round, ever.
Trying to put this into words has forced me towards questioning every aspect of who I am and the society I live in.
Who would I be now if, instead, I had always been treated the way that the majority of people are treated?
Are the majority of people treated any better, or abused just as much in different terms?
Is it my fault?
Am I a burden on society because denial never really “takes” on me?
Does denial ever really “take” on anyone?
Do I deserve the right to life if I cannot uphold a false narrative at government policy level?
Would worthwhile people be happier if I just shut up and let them accept a false narrative as true?
Do people have this little regard for right, wrong, truth, lies and the harm they do in personal relationships too (Note to self: No need to explore that at your age)?
Does anybody ever tell the truth?
Does anybody ever care about anyone except themselves?
Am I an alien from another planet and hopelessly out of step with this one?
What will become of me when I am too old and/or sick to isolate completely?
What will become of me if I need anything from anyone else at all?