Rebecca Mott is British. She is a survivor of child sexual and mental abuse. When she was 14, she was a prostitute working in a club. The men that used her were into extreme sexual violence. These experiences made her a radical feminist. For she feels that feminism is working toward a future without sexual violence. She is a a (amazingly courageous) writer, in both performances of poetry and prose, and does some visual art. She recently emailed me this piece to publish:
***Warning: may be triggering***
by Rebecca Mott
I feel that I have come to a stage in my life where I am able to write. This is hard, because I can only remember in bits. Much of my life is full of gaps. Rape can be blanked out, in order to lead a “normal” life. Sometimes I remember events, without any feelings. Sometimes I remember feelings without understanding where they come from. This piece of writing is an exploration of my life between six and twenty-seven. I will write as clear as I can, but there will be gaps and silences.
I am drunk at a party. Round me, people are chatting about sex. I am calm, being sarcastic. I am laughing. A voice says, “that hole so small – just like a six-year-old.” I freeze. Whatever you do, don’t show that you are scared. I try laughing, but my throat jams. Suddenly it appears that everyone is talking about child-sex. From nowhere I am shouting, “shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Around me the child freezes. She doesn’t cry or speak. She just acts dead. Act dead and nothing matters.
I go to bed, but can’t sleep. Flashbacks of a six-year-old go round and round. I am crying. This isn’t true. It isn’t me, it’s just my imagination.
For two weeks, she keeps coming back. Always the same feelings. Same events. She says – look at me. I won’t go away. I am you. You are me. Look. See the dark. See you/me lying in the bed, we are safe. We are sleeping. Everything is quiet. We are safe. Remember being safe – so long ago. You/me hear the door open. It is our stepdad. We are not scared. We say goodnight. We want to like him. He loves our mum, we must love him. Goodnight. He’s just being friendly. My real dad doesn’t pull down my blankets. He doesn’t rub his hands on my chest. He doesn’t breathe like my stepdad. It is so strange. He rubs over my nightie. I feel sick. I don’t look at him. I hear him smiling, “I love you so much.” I think his hand is touching my skin. Nothing is happening. “I won’t hurt you – just lie still.” The hand moves to my bum. I stop hearing. Only a weird breathing. He is over me, blocking out the hall light. His hand is inside. It does hurt. I think I’m crying. Suddenly, he is not in the room. It is silent again. Maybe, I wasn’t awake. I was dreaming. But, the bed is wet. I am crying, then. My mum will kill me, coz I wet the bed. I drag the sheets off the bed, crumble them up. I kick at them, and hide them under the bed.
The flashback comes over and over. I know it is true. For each time, I would have an outrageous pain in my vagina. I was raped when I was six. I have no proof, only nightmares. And a pain that comes every time that I write, talk or just think about my six- year-old. I do believe her. Why would I make up such horror, with such detail? When I see her, I rediscover the anger that hid out of fear. I see how small she was. How she didn’t know danger. How she wanted to love her stepdad. How she wanted him to love her. For the first time, I don’t feel guilty. There was no reason for him to violate her. She did nothing. For the first time, I feel pure hate. For the first time, I don’t care what his reasons were. For the first time, he is unimportant. I look at my six-year-old and allow myself to feel compassion. I want to hold her, tell her that she is safe. I want to say it will get better. But I can’t lie to her. We both know it will get worse. All I can do is cry. I had stopped crying when I was six. I didn’t cry, because it made no difference. Now, all I cry is small tears. Thinking maybe we can learn to love each other.
I made this event invisible. I lived a normal family life. I went to school. I fought with my sister. I watch children’s TV, followed my football team. I was normal. I would be happy. But always following me was another girl. She was never happy. She didn’t care about anything. She felt nothing. She just dreamed of dying. Sometimes she would freeze. She was scared of breathing. Her stepdad could hear her every breath. Until I was twelve, I could imagine that I fitted in. Even though nothing made sense, I pretended that I understood. I disappeared into life outside of my home – into school and playing out on the streets. I never admitted to myself that I didn’t want to go home. No. I was happy. I had friends. I had many presents. I was fed. I was loved. I was happy. There was no reason not to be.
But, always she came. She was scared. She made plans to die. She would trash everything. When I wanted to play, she was clumsy. She didn’t talk to my stepdad. She was angry. She was never nice. She was ruining my life. She should be happy. She should give me a break. Looking back, I know nothing was normal. I know that I lived in fear. It was not a normal family.
Looking back, I see a child left on London streets at all hours. I was fed, but I stole food, after missing meals. I got presents, after my stepdad had been in my bed. Nothing was normal. Nothing was safe. I just wanted to fit in.
Pictures come back. Pictures of an unhappy child Picture this. A nine-year-old sitting by a window, staring down. She is measuring how she could fall head first, seeing if she would die. She is calm. She doesn’t want to live with him forever. She knows he will never leave her alone. It will never stop hurting. She doesn’t fall. It would be just her luck to injure herself, and not to die. Picture this. A seven-year-old with meningitis. She has a fever. “I hate him. I want him dead.” This is not true, of course. She lies in hospital, she is safe. When her mum visits, she is shaking, she stops speaking. Only to the nurse – “I don’t want to go home.” This is the fever talking. Picture this. A nine-year-old standing outside her stepdad’s office in Soho. Her mum is inside. She is alone. “I won’t be long,” her mum says. She doesn’t speak. Just stares out with hate. She hates all adults. Inside, she whispers, “Bastards, bastards, bastards.” But she knows she is safe. No one will hurt her.
I could not stay happy. I lost my temper easily. I had fights with friends, I wanted to hurt them bad. I hurt my dad’s son. I wanted to kill him. I hated him because he was happy. When he smiled, I wanted him to cry. I tried to make my dad hate by hitting his son. I was becoming ill. I blame myself. My mum sent me to therapy. For I was violent for no reason.
In therapy, my stepdad was never mentioned. My mum spoke for me. She said I had brain damage, which made me aggressive. That I made no effort to like her new husband. It was because I was dyslexic. I had my brain scanned. Questions asked – Do you love your dad? – Yes. Do you love your mum? – Yes. What do you think of your stepdad? – I hate him. It was replayed. She is jealous of your new marriage. She says she is scared of her stepdad. She has a strong imagination. I remember that I said that he hurt me. No one listened. They looked into my head. They did not see my bum was burning. Yes, your child is ill. Give her time, she will adjust.
The years between six and twelve were my desert years. I cannot see that child as me. I cannot see how she stayed alive. She was a scavenger. She loved being on the streets. She wandered round King’s Cross and Soho. She cannot see anything. All she knew was that she was not at home.
I take two buses from school. I change at King’s Cross. I enjoy walking here. When cars slow down, I stare out. “Bastard.” Women yell. “Get out of here, kid.” I am no kid. I am strong. I can kill. I am safe. I am just going through King’s Cross, home to Barnsbury. I am not lost. I walk in a straight line. Nothing gets in my way. I bomb everything out my way.
Looking back, I see a damaged child walking the streets. She was so unsafe, she had lost awareness. She would cross roads, never looking out for cars. Once, she was knocked down. She didn’t care, coz nothing mattered. She thought she was street-wise. But she was never safe. Always she was avoiding going home. She couldn’t remember why she didn’t go home. For on the streets, she was blank. That was good.
In Soho, I stand outside my stepdad’s office. I am still. I make wisecracks to men in cars. I know what they want. I pretend that I don’t care. I don’t want their pity. They don’t see my face – only my bum. I don’t care, they won’t touch me. I don’t see why their eyes remind me of my stepdad. Once a car stopped. “Do you want to make some money?” I know what he means. “You’re get a room. Food. Why not?” I was tempted. I wanted to be away from home. I will do sex, and get paid. It wouldn’t matter. No – “I love you.” As they hurt me. I am tempted. But, I say, “fuck off – pervert.”
Sometimes on the news, I see murders of streetwise kids. I yell at the TV. “They didn’t know anything.” I thought I knew everything. Thought I was protected from all danger. I thought that if I acted hard, I would be safe. I was so wrong. Looking back, I see I was just lucky. I was felt up on buses. But, I wasn’t raped, wasn’t murdered, I wasn’t hurt. I just all feelings. But I was safe.
I was getting more and more separate from my family. They were not my family. I ignored the silence of my mum. I forgot my sister and brother. I had no family. Maybe I was an alien that had landed in this house. Or my mum was given the wrong baby. I never thought why I felt this. I just did.
I didn’t think of how every time my stepdad looked at me, I felt sick. Maybe I was getting sick. Maybe I had brain damage.
I spent more and more time on my own. I pretended that I had friends, or I would run away to America. I didn’t want reality. I would be dead soon. Or someone would realise that I didn’t belong with this family, and return me to my real family.
Sometimes in bed, I realised that everything was wrong. I knew I was being hurt. Picture this. Mum reading me bedtime stories. “I don’t like them.” Pages turn. Stories of rapes,children dying. I don’t understand the words.Manson – de Sade – Moors Murders.The light goes off. Leaving images of cut up bodies round and round my head. Until I’m blind. Picture this. People round for dinner talking of sex. What’s wrong with sex with children? We should be free. I am pinned to my chair. I am waiting -waiting. Only, no one does anything. Picture this. At nine, I begin to cut myself. I start to miss meals. I hid in a cupboard, eating nuts. But, nothing was wrong. Only I was out of control.
Looking back, I see I was a feral child. I stole from my mother, so I could save in order to run away. I didn’t eat during meals. I had arguments so I would be sent to my room. There I didn’t have to look at my stepdad. I did not have to put up with him playing footsie. Whilst he appeared to be a normal caring father. I learnt to be on my own. I learnt to survive without parents. I was just a child, I had no power. My stepdad and mum showed me that I had no control. They took me away from London – away from my sister, my real dad, school and my friends. I was taken to the depths of Norfolk. Once in Norfolk, I lost hope.
Norfolk was always my stepdad’s territory. He had bought the cottage, he had planted the plants. It was the middle of nowhere. There was no cinema, no youth club and no police station. No roads lead to London – only to another bloody field.
Constantly, I tried to walk to London, I wanted to get home. I would just keep walking. In my dreams, the country roads go on and on. Everything always looks the same. Same fields, same grey buildings – but no buses, no trains – no escape. I could hitchhike – but there were no cars. I would just walk.
When I think of Norfolk, I feel terror. I don’t remember my stepdad being sexual with me there. But, there was a constant drip of mental abuse. I was always cold in Norfolk. I always thought of death. I would cut myself with mouldy sticks. I would dig holes to bury myself in. I would cover myself with leaves and dirt. Only then he would not find me. I would be safe.
Looking out of my bedroom window, I can see a graveyard. I have been told tales of how half the village died during the Black Plague. He is in my room. I lie frozen in my bed, pulling the blankets up to my chin. He can’t see my body. But, I know that he see every part of me. He talks in a dull monotone. “You know, children disappear all the time. Some run away – and no one finds them. Children just vanish. See, it would be so easy to kill a child. No one would miss them. Children die, just like that, see.” He laughs. “Of course, I’m just joking.”
When I think of Norfolk, I just see places where I could be made to disappear. I could have been buried in a field, or in the graveyard. I could have been thrown away in a hedge, where no one would pass by. I would just disappear. It would be sad. But then, I was always running away. I was always disturbed. I was always trouble. See, I was mentally ill.
In Norfolk, I learnt about terror. There I discovered that I was not strong. In Norfolk, I learnt to be invisible. There I felt my stepdad was in every part of me. I was just his toy. Now, I realise that he decided not to kill me. He wanted me always there. So he could pick me up, or leave me alone. In Norfolk, I lost all hope. I just kept myself alive, I didn’t know what else to do.
Norfolk is full of gaps. I cannot remember any physical abuse. I just know I was in constant fear. When I was eleven, I was there for two school terms. From aged seven to seventeen, I was there most weekends and some holidays. Norfolk is a huge muddle. In my nightmares, I am always cold, always wanting to die. In my nightmares, I never know what my age is. Sometimes, I see Norfolk on the TV, and I begin to shake. Often I just go blank. I don’t, I can’t see Norfolk.
Picture this. A child smashing a dead a rabbit with a cricket bat. She doesn’t cry, only screams, “Die – bastard – die.” She knows that she is mad. Picture this. She is lying on a bed – frozen, listening for every footstep. She can tell whose is whose. Relaxing, she hears her brother or sister. Frozen, she hears her stepdad. He stops by her bedroom window, stares down into her bed. She pretends to be dead, as then nothing will matter. But all she can feel is his eyes staring down into her. Always, her breathing betrays her. Picture this. A child staring blankly at magazines. They are showing bodies lying dead, with objects struck into them. They must be dead – coz no one could bear that much pain. She can see dead children. She doesn’t think – only she knows – that they are her.
In Norfolk, my mind was twisted by images of torture. I thought that my stepdad was going to kill me. He was just waiting for the right moment. Looking back, I can see how evil he was. He showed me that death was the result of sex. So, when he did sexually abuse me, he could do what he liked, as I felt nothing. It meant nothing, for I was already dead.
When I was twelve, I moved to Cambridge. Once again, I was with a family. Only this time, I was a zombie. I lived with my family until I was nineteen, but I had no existence. Nothing affected me. I tried to appear ordinary. All I could do was to just keep breathing. I was really dead. For when dead, no pain reached me. No violent words reached me. I would not be lonely. I did not need to hide away. I would be normal. I would be happy. I would not go mad.
But always, she was hurting, crying, screaming inside. She just wanted to die. She could not stop seeing. Seeing her mother’s blankness as she enters a room. Seeing the wetness on her bed – sometimes yellow, sometimes red. The wet was too real, she had to tidy it away. And, seeing his eyes piercing into her. Whether he was near her or not, she felt his eyes going up and down her body – stopping at her bum. She could not stop feeling. Feeling pain in her bed, as he leaves the room. Feeling headaches, until she thought she had a brain tumour. She felt too much too often. She could not stop tasting. Tasting sick as she remembered his penis in her mouth, jamming semen down her throat. Tasting the dryness of that throat, even after drinking water and orange juice. The dryness only stopped when drinking alcohol. She could not stop smelling. Smelling piss in her knickers, when he played footsie, smiling as he was eating. Smelling sweat, when the room was cold. And she couldn’t stop hearing. Hearing his footsteps in her room. How they stopped. Hearing him looking round – not going to her, just waiting, Waiting, Hearing – “I won’t ever hurt you. I love you.” “It only hurts if you move.” No, she couldn’t be dead, not with all her senses exploding. Why couldn’t she just be a robot?
When I was in Cambridge, my stepdad gradually became more and more sexual towards me. He did it cleverly, he would be “gentle”, while he increased the abuse. This made me confused, as I had so much violent images of porn. I just felt that everything was unreal. I think that is why I don’t remember much, because I felt like it was not happening. After all, it was just affection.
But it was not real, when he rubbed my legs during dinner. It was an accident, when his hand went into my knickers, as his fingers made circles in my cunt. It was not happening. It was not real, when he kissed me, his tongue suffocating me. He was smiling, especially as he kissed me in front of other people. It was not real, that I always felt naked in front of my stepdad. I felt that my clothes just showed him where to touch me. I always felt that I was his toy. This was not real. It cannot be real.
Between the ages of twelve and fourteen, I cannot remember much of home. I think I was still in shock after Norfolk. I was constantly thinking something terrible was going to happen to me. I knew I would disappear soon. In those years, I tried to be good, so there would be no reason to murder me. But, I didn’t understand the rules of being good. Nothing I did pleased my mum and stepdad. I was always wrong. I knew it was my fault that I was hurting. It was my fault because I didn’t say no. “If you don’t say no, you must really want it.”
In those years, I would lie in my bedroom. I would line up my toy soldiers with their guns pointing at the door. They would protect me. They would kill him. But always, he would kick them away. “You’re such a funny girl. Playing with boys’ toys.” Their grenades did nothing, as he reached for my tits, rubbing his hand over my cunt. They did nothing- only watched. After he went, I bit their heads off, melted them with matches, threw them out the window. They were useless, useless, useless.
At twelve, my stepdad started to have baths with me. It became a routine. Each Friday, at about six, we would have a bath. I would become a robot. It was the beginning of the end, and I was accepting it. It was all that I deserved.
On Fridays, I was always sick. I was sick from Wednesdays, as I waited for Friday. Many Fridays, I would run away. I would stay out all night. I would wander round the streets. I could not see or hear. Friday did not exist.
I learnt to avoid home, to avoid school. I would spend more and more time on my own. I would go to clubs, looking for danger. I chose to be with violent men. Maybe they would kill me. I no longer cared about my safety. For I did not matter.
If I was at home on Fridays, I would perform the ritual. After watching children’s TV, he would run the bath. I would get undressed as he watched. I would sit in the bath – waiting. He would get in. He would wash me inside. His fingers cleaning out my cunt. His eyes would look at the wall. He would put his penis in my hand. “Wash it.” I would rub it feebly, not allowing myself to think, just rubbing. It would harden. I would refuse to listen to his juddering breathing. No, this is not happening. It means nothing. Suddenly, he would get out the bath. He would go to the toilet.
After the bath, life went on as normal. We had our family supper. We would be a happy family. I sat, eating flesh. I couldn’t speak, only eat. I would sit up straight, not moving. I tried to look normal. I would be happy. There was no past, only this moment, with my family.
As I eat, the food becomes impossible to swallow. In each mouthful, I taste his sperm. As I eat, I breathe through my ears, else I will choke. As I eat, I can feel ice growing from my feet. I try to move to place food into my mouth. I must look normal. I will not show that anything is wrong.
Life was becoming hellish. I find this time of my life difficult to see. I had turned myself into a machine, and because of that I find hard to remember my emotions. All I know is that as I write of that time, I feel sicker and sicker. I can feel some outrage about that time, but most of it is in hindsight. Back then, I had shut away my feelings. At that time, I could not show my fear, pain, anger and confusion, I just had to stay alive. If I had felt the feelings, I would have given up, I may have died. I put away into a box the violence that was done to me. Now, the feelings are coming back to me. Now, I can face my teenager, and try to show her that I love her. I can listen and believe her story.
I spent less and less time at home, especially at the weekends. As Friday came, I would stay out. I stay out with friends who didn’t want to go home. We never asked each other why we stayed out. I would go out later and later. I would get drunk. I would act hard. Outside, I always felt safe. I knew that whatever happened to me, it was my fault. When I was fourteen, I started to go to clubs. I went looking for danger.
The owners of the clubs never worried about my age, as long as I had money. Young flesh brought more customers.
Those clubs had bad reputations. I went looking for violent men. They would not say, “I love you.” They did not speak to me. They would just hit me – they may even kill me. So as they pushed me into the bed, screwing me. I thought, kill me, please, kill me. Give me what I want. I went to those men for some escape. I went because I was bad. I deserved pain. I was a whore.
I could not allow myself to see what was happening to me. As I lay in men’s beds, as they hit, poked and squeezed me. I would be a corpse.
I still went to school. I could not take anything in. At school, I was teased for four years. School became the same as home. I had no rest. This was because I had become a bad person. Why else would everyone hate me so much?When I went to secondary school, I was tired of life. I didn’t want to be nice any more. I wanted to be invisible.
When I was in a class, I felt too visible. They all hated me. I was hated because I was from London, I was a snob. I was hated because I was dyslexic, I was stupid. I was hated because I stammered. I was hated because I liked English and History. I could not be invisible. When not in the class, I was waited for. Girls waited for me in corridors. They hid behind coats. They would pinch and push me. “Your mum’s a slut.” “You’re mental.” Words went over and over me. Words copying my home life. I knew I was mental, it was why these awful things were happening to me. I tried to find a safe place. The only place was my bedroom, for a short time. I would sit in my bedroom, cutting my arm. This was private. I watched the blood, knowing no one could hurt me as much as I hurt myself.
In the years until I was seventeen, life seemed pointless. I acted the delinquent, but I did not understand the role. For me, being bad was to be with violent men. Not caring if I lived or died. They would rape me without speaking. They would not look at my face. Sometimes, the pain went through my freezing. I would think – I deserve this. I am bad. Being bad meant not going to school. I would get registered and walk out. I would wander round the streets, not knowing where I was. I just walked until I was tired. I would go to pubs. There I did not taste the drink. I was just waiting for men to pick me up. For I was bad. Sometimes, I found myself standing on railway bridges. Waiting for a train to cut me in half. Sometimes, I would sit in alleyways, cutting at my wrists. Sometimes, I got drunk and would overdose. After I would walk, so I would not faint. I could not die. I was too bad to die.
I could not do my homework, for he would lean over me. Reaching down, he would grab my tits. Saying, “I don’t why you bother. You’re stupid.” Sometimes, he would rip up my books and homework. If he didn’t, I would tear it up. It was pointless working.
When I went to school, I was asked for my homework. I would run out of school. I could not say why I had no homework. So I appeared stupid and bad. I could not show my panic when homework was mentioned. Once a teacher caught me. “How come, when you are at school, you’re clever. Whilst your homework so awful.” If I told you – would you listen? How when I do my homework, I am sick in every cell. So I rip it up. I do not want a future. How I hate being clever, for it does not stop the hurting. Anyhow, I am not clever enough to kill myself.
I learnt to hide everything. I hide all emotions. I tried to be cold. I did not want anyone to know me. Always, my stepdad’s voice went, “I know you better than you know yourself.” I needed something that just belonged to me. I chose cutting. I would watch the blood. This is mine. I would hear his footsteps on the stairs. I hid under the bed. I would hide in the attic. I shut off the lights. I would not move. I was scared. Only I was dead. Always. Always, he would find me, he would laugh. “You’re crap at hiding.”
My stepdad still worked in London as an advertiser. He only came home at weekends. But his presence infected my every day. I felt that I was never out of his mind. I felt I had to be careful all the time, or he would punish me. I felt that if I acted hard, he would be disgusted by me. I just wanted him to leave me alone, but I did not know how to stop him. Looking back, I see how desperate I was. I could not understand the rules. I did not see how the rules were always changed. One thing stayed the same – whatever I did, it did not stop him. Always he abused me. This was because I was bad, I was his little whore. I was abused for being good, when I was his little princess.
My stepdad grew tired of just having baths. He would take me on walks, where he molested me in a light-hearted way. It meant nothing. He could do what he liked. I belonged to him. He became tired of just seeing me in Cambridge. He wanted me in London. When I was seventeen, I began to go. I would go by train. As the train moved, I became a corpse.
Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one, I would go to London. There he would always abuse me. But always, I went with hope. He would lie to me, saying he would help me to get on with my mum. I always thought that he would not abuse me. I thought we would talk, I thought we would be normal. Always, I would come back knowing that I was stupid. But always I thought he would change.
I would get off the underground to Soho. In a dream, I would walk to his office. I was his captive. I would drink coffee and read magazines. I would wait. He would watch me. He would say how proud he was of his stepdaughter, joking, “Isn’t she sexy. I could sleep with her myself.” I was silent. The others would laugh. He was their boss. We would go. We would talk about school and family. It would be all right this time. This time, we would just chat. I was given comics and presents. I would watch TV. We would go to an Italian restaurant. He would joke. “Do you like my young mistress?” The waiters laughed. He would pour me more wine. I got more and more drunk. He had stopped drinking. He would place his hand on my leg. It was always the same. Always the same. Back at his flat, I would go dead. I would get into the bath. He would wash me. I would go to his bed, naked. I would watch TV, as he had a bath. He would get into the bed. With my back turned to him, I would watch TV. I would lie still. His hand went slowly over my skin. The TV keeps disappearing. I do not say that I am going blind. I do not say that I am scared, when his hand reaches into me. He keeps calling out other women’s names. Never my name. As he finger-fucks me, he is thinking of others. I am nothing to him. He would turn me onto my back, and do oral sex. His beard would scrape me. I would say nothing. I do not get angry. I do not cry. I do not feel. I am a robot. He does not let me touch him. He does not let me move. He just makes me come. “See, that’s what you wanted, isn’t it.” He would push me off the bed. “Look what you made me do. Whore.”
Looking back, I can see how he brainwashed me. I know that I would do anything that he told me to do. I couldn’t think of the danger and pain. I had lost my self-respect. I had learnt self-hatred. As I went to London, I went blind into danger. I just went over and over.Sometimes, I thought that I wanted it. Why else would I be going? But, always, there was another part of me that was crying. Even as a robot, I could feel grief. I tried not to think. Tried not to remember. Tried not to see or hear the bad. I tried not to breathe.
I was becoming more and more split. For I had no life outside my stepdad, he was my existence. At nineteen, I left home, but I still went to him if he asked. He was in my head. When he wasn’t there, I didn’t exist. I would go with violent men. I would get drunk. I knew that I existed if I was hurting. I gave my body no rest. I would try not to sleep. I would only eat trash food, I would try not to eat. I would walk and walk. I just knew I could not stop. For if I was still, I would die.
I was becoming more and more alienated. But, somewhere inside I had a strong life-force. I knew there must be more than pain, humiliation and thinking of suicide. I knew what was happening was wrong. I just didn’t know how to stop it.
I went into voluntary work. At work, I felt good. There, people liked me. There, I was not used. There, I found I was good at listening. There, I could be an advocate for others. I could enjoy being in at atmosphere of crisis, for I was in a place where people were doing something about it. I was working at Women’s Aid. I found the work enjoyable, but I didn’t know why. It came naturally to me. I was scared for I felt so at home there.
Whilst working at Women’s Aid, I learnt how to stop my stepdad. This was slow. It came though a drip effect, when listening to other women’s stories. Their words reminded me of his words. Over and over I heard his lies. “I will always own you.” “I only do this coz I love you.” “It’s coz you’re mad. You deserve it.” Slowly, I saw that my stepdad was a criminal.Slowly, I stopped blaming myself.I was beginning to break down. I was seeing how he would always plan before abusing me. How he was always calm.
I can remember his control. How he would rub me slowly. How he would watch my eyes. He was always calm. Once, he had lain on top of me. I had thought he was going out of control. I thought that he would penetrate me. I thought – rape me, you bastard. Then I’ve got you. Then I can call the police. Rape me, and I’ll kill you. He was on top of me. His penis was rubbing my clitoris and cervix. Then he just stopped. He was calm. He pushed me away. “Look, bitch, you made me lose control.”
When I worked at Women’s Aid, I was leading a double life. At work, I was good. Outside work, I lived in madness. I spent my time with men that treated me like dirt. I know that I wanted it to stop. But all I could do was to keep going round and round in pain. I was just a machine for men to poke.
I did not have the strength to leave my stepdad. But, the more I saw him, the more I hated him. He wanted me to go London, I said – no. He just laughed. This time, he had pushed me over the limit. I wrote to him. “You are a criminal. I will not go to London, just to be your sex toy. If you touch me again, I will call the police. I have had enough. So you had better leave me alone.” I thought that the letter would work. It just backfired, as he read it to my mum. He told her that he abused me, occasionally. This was only since I had been seventeen. He said that he could not help himself, it was because he was depressed. He said that he had nearly penetrated me. At the time, he had been drunk. Only, my stepdad very rarely drunk. He said that I had forced myself onto him. My mum phoned. “Slut. Are you trying to wreck my marriage?” “Can’t you see that he is ill? Don’t you care?” My mum did not talk to me for three years.
Although this was devastating, I felt that I was free from my stepdad. I would not see him. I would not let him near me. I just stared at him with hate. He was getting scared of me. He saw that he could not use me any more. His toy had become out of control, it had become unpredictable. I could see that he was scared. He could not tell whether I might be violent to him. He could not understand what was happening. I loved to see him scared. This was nothing compared to what he had put me through.
One Christmas, he thought that I was still his toy. All day he tried to get me alone. I avoided him. I did not talk to him. I could not see my mum’s anger. I was doing the washing up. I was alone. I was afraid, I was alone in his house. I could not be strong. Again, I found that I was listening to every noise in the house. I was listening for his footsteps. I can hear him coming up behind me. I can hear his breathing. I am beginning to freeze. I am furious. I just keep washing up. His breath is on my neck. “I have missed you so much.” His hand is going down my shirt. He is grabbing at my tits. He places his leg between my legs. Suddenly, I feel a cold anger. There no way I would let him inside me again. He is nothing now. I reach into the water, and find a carving knife. I turn around and hold it to his throat. “Just leave me alone,” I say calmly. I see him shaking. He is wide-eyed with fear. He has frozen. I just laugh at him. My sister comes in, and can see his fear. “Everything all right?” I say, “yes, everything is fine.”
When I left, I was in a zombie-state. For six years, I continued to be abused by men. But, I had left my stepdad. There were slow changes happening in me. I could see that the violence was not normal. I wanted to escape. But, I was in a trap. I thought that maybe I had chosen to be a victim. Maybe pain was all that I deserved. The more I tried to get away, the worse the violence got.
I do not know how I stayed alive in Cambridge. I would spend my time, getting drunk, trying not to eat, trying not to sleep. I would throw myself into voluntary work. I would not break down. Instead, I surrounded myself with violence. I grew to expect nothing, only hate. I did not care what was done to me, so long as I did not have to think. But sometimes, the violence was so bad. It scared even me. Picture this. Me going to pubs. Going to meet an old man. I am drinking spirits. I know that I will go home with him. I know that whisky does not stop the pain. He will push me against the wall. Slams my face up into the wall. He puts my legs together. As he forces his penis up my anus. I just keep fainting. Picture this. I am drunk at a friend’s party. I know that I am angry, but I blank it out with drink. I get more and more silly. A man invites me back to his house. He is my friend. There I drink some more. I smoke some grass. He is my friend, I can trust him. I say that I want to go home. He wants to walk me home. I can be safe with him. We get home at three. I want him to go. Only then, his eyes change. He is not my friend. He just stares at me coldly. He shuts the bedroom door saying, “You know why I’m here.” At first, I think that he is joking. I tell him to go. Then, he hits me in my stomach. I am flying across the room, hitting my head on the wall. He says. “Get undressed. Get on the bed.” I say no, he just hits me. I get undressed, trying not to cry. I get onto the bed. He gets on top of me. He is asking me what I don’t like, and then he does it. If I don’t speak, he talks to me as if I am a child. He is talking of how my stepdad was gentle to me, so he will be violent. See it as alternative therapy. He will give me someone else to think about. He is tying me up. He scratches and bites inside my vagina. He puts his penis into my mouth, anus and an ear. I will not let him penetrate me. From somewhere, I have the strength to stop him from doing that. This makes him furious. But there is no way he can do that. He will not make me pregnant. So he rubs his sperm all over my body. At one point, he puts a pillow over my head, puts his penis in my mouth, puts his fist up my anus. The pain was horrific. I was not breathing. I was dead. Only then, the pain went. I could be happy. Everything would be over. But, but he brought me back to life. “Don’t die on me, bitch. I want to remember everything that I do to you.” Somehow, I got the strength to get off the bed. I got dressed. I told him to leave. He just laughed. I said I would get the police. He just laughed, saying why you have taken drugs, why you are drunk. I said I would call his girlfriend. He just laughed – explain what he was doing in my room. I know that nothing would scare him. So I left. After I was gone for two hours, I went home. He was still there. This time I did not struggle. I was blank. I no longer cared. For I was nothing. When it was eight, my alarm went off, and he left.
Gradually, the violence was getting too much. Slowly, I was beginning to care about myself. I knew that I did not deserve all this violence. I needed a way out. I needed to fight the brainwashing. I knew I was not a slut. I knew I was not a piece of shit. I knew that if I was going to live, I had to leave Cambridge.
I was slowly dying in Cambridge. My body had given up. I had worse and worse headaches and stomach pains. I was so weak. Worse of all, I was becoming blank, I couldn’t feel the pain. Once, after being anally raped, I went straight to a party. I just ignored the pain. I just walked from one end of Cambridge to the other. I ignored that my bum was hurting. The pain went down my left side, into my legs. I just keep walking. The pain is not there. I will just walk through it. I am at the party. I am drinking. I am dancing. But, the pain will not go. I need to sit down. The pain shoots though me. It is hitting my heart. I am shaking. I want to get up, but my legs collapse. Somehow, I am being driven to hospital. There, I am blank again. The nurse briskly examines me. Seeing my anus, saying, “You got what you deserve.” I get a taxi, and go home. I am in my bedroom. I have collapsed. The next day, I cannot get up – I cannot move. I am paralysed. All I can move is my eyes. For three days, I cannot move. I cannot read, watch TV, or listen to the radio. I know that I can choose whether I live or die. I could let my body close down. I could will my own death. I had to change so I could live. I know that I have to leave Cambridge. I had to find a new life. I needed to discover hope.
So, I chose to live. I forced myself out of that bed. I was extremely sick. I did not understand why I wanted to live. I just ran away to Manchester. I did not know if I had a future. All I knew was that I had to keep breathing.
My first three years in Manchester were a nightmare. The sexual violence continued. I lived in hostels and B and Bs. But, I had stopped being scared. I would not go back to my past life. I had a new life. But still, I did not understand why I had chosen to live. All I knew was that I was getting more and more angry at the sexual violence. I could not take it any more. I was so angry, I would kill someone who abused me. I knew I needed help. I just didn’t know how to ask for it.
I could feel that the sexual violence was coming to an end. But, I couldn’t recover from the mental abuse. It was so deep. When the physical violence had stopped, I still got body memories. I could not stop the nightmares or flashbacks. I thought I was going mad. But, I had stopped the sexual violence.I was listened to for the first time. I was believed. I found that once I hadbeen raped, and it was noticed. This time, the police were called. He was not prosecuted, but I was sent to counselling.
There, I was not talking of that one rape. Rather, I spoke of my childhood. I just talked and talked – for three years. I found that I wanted to live. I found that someone cared. I found that I wanted to tell my story.
It took about a year for the sexual violence to stop. But, I had changed I know that I did not deserve the violence. I was beginning to believe that I had a future. I was beginning to believe that I was capable of being good. As I write this, I know that I am a long way from recovering. Only now, I can see my life clearer, I do not hide from the past. For me, the hardest part is knowing there can be no justice. My stepdad can never feel my pain and desperation. He will always believe that he did nothing wrong. He will die believing nothing much happened. This is very hard to live with. But now, I have no connection with him. So it does not matter if he stays the same. I feel that this piece of writing is a reward to my child and teenager. I am rewarding their life force, that was there even when they were desperate to die. I am rewarding their bravery, which was there even when they wanted to run away and hide. I write so they can cry. Then we can feel compassion for so much pain. I write so that the guilt can go. I write in order to show who is to blame. I write to show that my stepdad did not destroy my mind. I write because he did not make me go mad.
Another article by Rebecca Mott, Always Remember can be found here.