The journey of one survivor and how she overcomes a history of sexual exploitation and unhealthy thought patterns.
I want to talk about sex today.
Leave behind your graphic imagery and self-flattering escapades with the partners that you’ve had, or only wish you had, your lofty ideas about your prowess and all the ways you’ve ascended over another through exertion of sheer will-power or cunning seduction. Let these demeaning, culturally-driven facades be set aside as one sets aside a kindergarten toy when attending college.
Conquering one another in sex never brought honor to one’s own person nor satiated the desire of one’s being. We play a fool’s game in searching for love where it cannot be found, or perhaps where it was lost. Like another hit, another high, one loses sight of the purpose and seeks only to be lost from the pain of never attaining or perhaps of attaining yet never being satisfied.
Let’s begin again.
From the time I was five years old I was a child prostitute. After the age of 20 I began to look for a way out of the hell I found myself in. It took nearly a decade of threats, violence and the very Might of God to bring me out. My “occupation” landed me in the beds of notable politicians and leaders, religious or otherwise, around the world. I could please anyone, anytime under any circumstances or level of pain. Performance was never an issue.
So what was my problem?
Behind every giving of my body, there was a rape that said my body was not mine to give. Beneath every emotional bond lay a betrayal so shattering that only shards of what once was endured. And at the root of every desire and every longing dwelt an unquenchable yearning to be loved, held, protected and cherished by a father.
It would have been no issue a few years back for me to mount a stage and perform the trade of my youth before hungry eyes, but quiet my body and solicit me to speak from my heart and panic would have ensued. No words would have come, terror would have filled my pallid face and a familiar, involuntary trembling would have seized my body.
My heart was “back there”…there where it opened, there where I reached out for love as a child and learned of violation for the first time from the man that meant the world to me. The only one that could have protected me delivered me over to that which would eat away my very soul for decades to come.
Anger, compulsory pleasure, confusion, nausea, pain and above all – shame. For in the act of taking my innocence, so too was my very sense of self taken. My honor, worth and value I now saw as inseparably linked to this man’s lust for pleasure.
But I want him to be pleased. I want him to love me and be loved by me. Then why does this hurt so much? After all, he says that I am responsible for this…this desire in him… I must go on.
Time would dull my sensitivity to the ache of my heart. I would grow to see my body as an extension of his desire for me…and even unto others.
I must please this strange man now…this is what Papa would want.
He died shortly after he broke me, condemning me to search for his face, the face of the dead, in the face of the living. God alone knew what drove me. God alone knew I had nowhere to turn, nowhere to escape. For he, my Papa, had given me over to this fate believing his eternal place would be more favorable if he left behind a token to his god. I was this token, dedicated to his god at his death.
Perhaps the only good that ever came to me through that man came through his greatest failure. He came to me once and opened a dusty, old black book and read to me red and black words about a God of love. In years to come these words would be re-interpreted and translated to mean something entirely different, but in the beginning their purity pierced my little soul, down into the depths and fibers of my being and brought the first breath of life to my spirit. I believed. I believed in this God of Love and His Son. I believed I was loved, for the first time, and that love was given freely but cost God everything in the form of His Son.
I will never forget the violence and rape of that day for that God was not my father’s god, and my belief in and open-hearted response to that God was received as treachery in the highest…but still “that God” never left me. Years driven by shame, anger, lust, greed, pride, perversion and death may have swallowed and cocooned that love and cut it off from my present day reality, but abide He did.
Do I miss my Papa?
I lived thinking I did. I think the naïve memory of what I thought and hoped he was is all that I had left to miss. I think the me before betrayal and the shattering of my heart is what I was looking for in all those men. I was looking for me before you…before you took the “me” unpenetrated by man’s wickedness. Much like waking up to a perfect stranger beside you – we tend to glamorize the memory of what was in an attempt to cling to something decent while being sobered to the truth of loss, shame and pretense. To be known intimately in the safety of commitment and self-sacrificing love is what the heart craves. How can one find something so pure in the tussled sheets of a stranger? And yet we keep searching…
But I don’t have to cling to the memory of a good Papa to have a good me. I don’t need to live out Papa’s future to please him and finally resolve his hatred and “love” for me. I do not need to mirror his rejection of my tender, vulnerable heart to preserve the event of my departure from the illusion that he loved me…an illusion I needed as a little girl to survive, but now only dooms me to continue looking for him in men of his equal. Above all, I don’t need to cling to his god in hopes that his death and subsequent damnation will be reversed.
He is dead. He never loved me. I loved him and I loved “that God” and he hated me for it. As a consequence and quest to regain his love, I lived decades as a whore, vehemently maligning and persecuting this God I had loved thinking perhaps He would kill me as He did my Papa. Then I could be with him…or if not, perhaps I could take his place and he would be free of his sin against me, seeing that I had proven myself to be the wicked girl he believed me to be, worthy of his behavior and accusation of fault.
But abide He did, for God does not change. He remained the same, patiently waiting letting time and discipline wear down my resistance to truth. He knew me then and He knows me now. He has made full provision.
I can accept death, loss, lack and pain the same way one accepts love, joy, rest and friendship…freely. I was a whore and God took my place. I was a victim of sexual exploitation, trafficking and sadistic ritual abuse and God took my place. I was “back there” where I lost myself, but God took my place so I can live in the here and now, today. I was defined by all of my father’s hopes, dreams, lusts and the perverse dictations of his god, but Jesus Christ took my place and now I have His Father and I am defined by His hopes, dreams and desires for me.
And that is a beginning.