"Learning to Defrost" by Rebecca Mott
I am writing this piece, because I want to show how I learned to connect my different types of abuses. By making these connections, I was able to live with hope, not just to live by remembering to breathe.
Like many people who have survived multiple types of abuse, I survived by living moment by moment. For much of my life, I would see that there were connections which made me suicidal. I could not face my own reality so I learned to freeze it out.
I have decided to separate out parts of my life. I will always remember that each abuse led to the next piece of abuse.
Meeting my Stepdad
I was seven when I met my stepdad. He unnerved me. I felt a fear which I did understand, for I had not feared an adult before.
It was the way that he looked at me. He would look at my body - up and down, down and up. As he looked I felt he had me.
But I knew how to smile. After all my mum liked him. I would learn how to like him too.
In this part I write of an event, that my stepdad denies. For most of my life I have blanked this event out, for it was too confusing and painful to recollect. I lived in a family where I was told that I was a liar, or that I was mentally ill. So, when I recall my experiences, I still can find it difficult to believe. All I can say, is when I think of this event I get massive body memories, and a great desire to run away from myself.
There was a night when my stepdad was putting me to bed. After he had turned out the light he came back to tuck me in. I began to feel nervous, for his hands reached under my bedclothes. I remember it was the first time I froze. I remember his fingers going into me. The pain is still there. As he finger-fucked me I tried to imagine that I was not there. No, I had entered a world underwater and I was safe as I joined mermaids. In this world adults were not allowed. In this world I could cry and no-one would know. Only in reality, I lie in the wet he had left me in. I was bleeding. There was yellow stuff, that I know was my piss. I was scared. Scared that my bed was wet. Scared that I was in pain. Scared that I was bad. I knew how to clean the bed for I did not want my mum to be angry with me.
His Stash of Porn
My stepdad was obsessed with hard-core porn. He made me look at his collection. It caused me a great deal of mental damage. I look back and know hard-core porn taught me how not to complain when I was sexually abused. I was taught to be submissive. And always to look as if I was having fun. These lessons did lots of damage to much of my life. My stepdad’s interests included Hustler, images of true-sex murders, images of S/M enactments, images with children or models dressed as children. This is what I can remember, although I find the memories so frightening that I have blanked many of these images from my mind. He enjoyed my fear, because it made him believe that he owned me. I felt like I was inside the images. I could feel their pain and terror. I could feel men’s hatred as they viewed these children’s and women’s suffering. As I was forced to look and look again at these images, I thought I was entering hell.
The thing I feared the most was the look in eyes of the women and children in the images. It was a look that had lost all hope. It was a look that was dead.
As I grew older, I learned to understand and imitate that look.
Chester the Molester
What upsets me the most about hard-core porn is that it is meant to be funny. At an early age I learned women had no sense of humour. The worst thing is when it comes to the cartoons in hard-core porn. They attacked and wanted to offend everything. A child seeing this hatred, can only feel fear. Whilst this is happening to a child, an adult is laughing saying “they are only pictures.” For me the worst was the series of “Chester the Molester” in Hustler. This is a world which celebrates sexual violence committed against children, and the instigators find it funny to mentally abuse children.
For much of my childhood, I had loved reading cartoons and comics. I was brought up on my grandmother’s collection of Charles Adams. I loved English comics. I read Marvel comics, especially Spiderman. Cartoons were a world I loved to disappear into. I thought I understood the rules of the cartoon world.
But seeing “Chester the Molester” destroyed my love of cartoons. I could not understand this world. I just understood that it would become my world. A world where I would be watched as an object wherever or whatever I was doing. I could be sitting on a toilet and a man would staring at me. As I walked to school, abusers would hide in bushes. Always, men would watch in order to wank. In some of the series, there were images which made it clear a man had sexually abused a young girl by putting his penis in her vagina and it was shown as if the girl was either scared or she had enjoyed the man sexually abusing her. The messages I received from these cartoons made me go silent and still. I felt resistance was futile because a molester would wait until I was too tired to protect myself.
When He Thought the Abuse Began
All families make their own myths to destroy the truth. My family’s myth is that my stepdad began to sexually abuse me when I was 12. This supposedly makes it all right. I suppose I was seen as being old enough to say no or to fight back.
But, I know that I was abused before I was 12, for my body revolts with sickness as it remembers. Also when I was 12, I knew how to behave and how to obey him. I can remember feeling completely empty as he abused me. I knew that I should not protest, only be still and quiet. When I was 12 I felt no surprise as he reached into me. The abuse had become a habit with my stepdad. Although he still would finger me or French kiss when he thought no one was watching, it became an enjoyable routine for him. He would have a bath with me each Friday night.
In the bath he would be slow and gentle, nothing like the images I had seen. He would make me wash his penis, letting it go hard. He would wash me. He would wash all over my skin. And, he would wash inside of me. It would scare me, but I didn’t understand why. He was not meaning to hurt, instead it was accidental. I didn’t understand why it made me feel so sad, I was shaking, but I wanted to freeze.
I Became His Sex Object
My stepdad knew the most damaging way that he could abuse was by gradually building up the violence. He brainwashed me into thinking each time he increased the sexual torture that I endured, I was lucky because it was not as bad as I had imagined. After seeing so many images of hard-core porn, I thought I was going to be murdered by my stepdad. Looking back, I feel great anger at his mental abuse of me. By showing me violent porn, I was taught to accept the unacceptable.
The main effect that my stepdad had on me was that I became dead inside. I felt his presence all the time, whether he was in the house or not. I felt that I belonged to him and had no will of my own. He abused me until I left at 19. By the end, I would lie in his bed dead still. I had found that he did not need to speak to me, for me to know how to obey him. For instance, I would get undressed by him just looking at me. By the end, my stepdad would touch me wherever he wanted. His pleasure was my torture. He would rub all over as slowly as possible. Often he did this in the dark and in silence. He enjoyed doing oral sex on me. He would put his hand into me.
I felt I was dead, that my existence meant nothing. When my stepdad made me come, I was angry for it meant I was alive. Part of his mental and sexual abuse was get me to climax and then to blame me for making him go too far. I felt that I was his whore.
Doing It for Money
My entrance into prostitution overlapped with my stepdad’s sexual abuse of me. For me, it was a logical move, after all I was already having sex and getting gifts. I knew I was nothing more than some holes for men to use. So when I stayed up late and went to clubs, I was attracted to sleaze. I wanted to be the “bad girl” because being good never stopped the pain.
From a young age, round about 7 or 8, I had run away from home and school. When young, I would hang around in areas where prostitutes were common. I felt oddly safe in those areas. This was ridiculous, for they were very dangerous areas. Life was cheap. Looking back, I see how warped my home life was, that I was more relaxed in red-light districts. As a child, I looked up to prostitutes. I still don’t know why, but it was a seed in my head. Maybe I thought being a prostitute would force my mother to take care of me.
From aged 12, I had started drinking. It deadened my pain. It made me not care how I was treated. I drank because than I forgot for a while. It was also a slow way of killing myself. It was within this head-space that I entered into paid sex. I was aged 14 when I first had sex for money. I thought I knew what I was doing but I had no idea.
Eye to Eye with Hate
I went to a club which let in under aged girls for free after midnight. It was exciting for a young teen to be entering an adult world. Only I refused to it see as it was. In my imagination it was glamourous, like entering a James Bond film set. I couldn’t face the truth because it would destroy me.
What I remember is the darkness of the place, and that it was cramped. I remember that it was full of men, mostly middle-aged or older. I remember sitting by the bar, drinking free cocktails. I remember young girls sitting up at the bar. We were silent. I remember we always left with some men. All I see is a haze because when I see I do not want to remember. I know it happened, but it makes me feel so worthless.
I would go to some man’s flat. Usually there was a group of men. Once the door was shut I knew what they wanted. I knew to be naked and how to lie as still as I could. All this I learned from my stepdad. But it went further.
They would speak to me as if I was a piece of shit. Calling me a “dirty whore and bitch”, saying they would give what I deserved. They sometimes tied me up, often to do anal sex. Often as one raped me, the others would stand round the bed watching. Then, they would rape in turn. I had to suck them all off. If I was not quick enough or if I spoke I was battered. This is how I remember, but because the men committed so much sexual cruelty against me I have blanked it out. My brain has created its own safety blanket, not letting in the full horror of their actions. I just know that my body remembers the pain because now I am safe to feel. I feel pain in every cell of my body. I hate who those men were. Men who thought throwing a small amount of money at a girl or woman, entitles them to use her body as a dustbin for their hatred. Such men use prostituted women because they pretend their actions are not violent. Because prostituted women have no feelings and will never say no. Since these men knew I was a child it was a bonus for them. It meant that they could pay me less.
I Had Lost Hope
By the time I was 17, I had given up on hope. I thought my only worth was in sexually servicing men. I could not understand a “normal life” any more. I was doing as much self- harm as I could.
I had first cut myself when I was 9. I loved seeing the blood, for I felt I had some control. I fall in love with the idea of death. I felt Death was a friend. Maybe, it was because I read Edgar Allan Poe, but I thought death would so calm. Looking back, I don’t think I wanted to commit suicide rather I just wanted everything to stop.
By the time I was 17 I was an alcoholic, I ate little and then only trash food. I was trying not to sleep. I was scared to stop, in case I felt something. I thought I was mad but I thought it did not matter since I was just a piece of trash.
Sex Until I Die
I was having sex too much. I had sex, but I had no love or affection. I had decided I was just an object for men to fuck. I had lost who I was. Now, I had hit on a form of self-harm that fitted me. I find it so hard to see that time, for I was so scared and abandoned. I see that time, and all I think is that I was recreating the images I had seen in hard-core porn. For, as I was being raped over and over again by these men, I had learned to act as if I was enjoying it.
I was so dead inside, that after many acts of violence, I would “act normal” afterward. I could not allow myself to think of what had happened, because then I would lose my mind.
I Woke Up
I had become a zombie. Nothing seemed to matter any more. My body and mind was so used to abuse that it could not remember to care.
I was pushing the barriers of pain and degradation. I thought one day I may shock myself into caring. And I did.
I thought myself worthy of the male violence I was put though, because I believed I was scum. Only, somewhere deep inside was a voice speaking to me – “There is more to life than this. Please, stop it now. Or you will die.” I heard this voice and tried to ignore it, but in my twenties it got louder and louder. I know I had to save myself, but I had no idea how.
Gone Too Far
The time near the end of the violence was terrifying. I was beginning to know what was happening to and I was starting to feel outrage. I needed an end, but I felt powerless. I felt vulnerable. In that state, the last few acts of sexual violence left deep scars. I was seeing how my rapes were re-enactments of pornified minds.
One man, who I thought was a friend, raped me for 6 hours. Because I attempted to take some control by not allowing him to penetrate me, he used extreme sexual and mental violence on me. Although I prevented him from putting his penis into my vagina, he put his penis in every other orifice he could find. This included my left ear which affected my hearing, especially when I am stressed. If I did not do what he wanted, he would hit so hard that I lost who I was. At one point, he put a pillow over my eyes, his penis in my mouth and fisted my anus. The pain was so horrific. But I could not move, I could not scream. But, I could die. I stopped breathing.
At the time, I exited my body. I remember that I looked at me being raped, and thought nothing. Only, I felt so peaceful, and the pain had gone.
But, he brought me back to life -
“Don’t die on me, bitch.”
I came back, and the pain went on.
Beginning of an End
The day-to-day violence in my life came to an end when I reached my limit.
I still worked as a part-time prostituted woman. I went towards paid sex, as my way of killing myself. I did not need the money. I was not trapped by a pimp. I just saw myself as a sex object. In my low self-esteem and anger I thought that if men were to have sex with me, I may as well get something out of it. I was so stupid because these thoughts ignored the danger.
My last punter was the most dangerous, for he hated everything about women. I was in my early twenties, he was in his late sixties. He paid more than I could ever have imagined but he treated me so violently and cruelly. I would take the money and try to blank out his hatred.
His habit was for anal sex but not as I had experienced it.
He would force me to face against a wall, and pull down my trousers a little. Just enough to keep my legs together. He would hold my hands above my head. Then without warning, he would force his penis into my anus. The shock was so intense that I felt I was going to get a heart attack. Often I would faint.
Each time I saw him I would drink whisky, in the hope it would deaden the pain he inflicted on me. But each time the fear and pain always sobered me up. I ended up one night with severe injuries.
I went to hospital because I couldn’t stop bleeding and could not sit down. There I was treated badly by a female nurse because she had decided I was a slut and did not deserve decent treatment. So, when she sewed up my anus, she did not give me a painkiller. Although I was supposed to spend the night in hospital, I ran away to my own bed.
Choosing to Live
The next time I woke up, I found that I could not move, only my eyes. I tried to turn on my radio but I could not reach it. I was still in pain, but immobile. At first I was not worried, but as time went by I still could not move. I thought this is how I will die. Not murder or suicide - just a slow death as my body gives up hope.
I had always thought that you could will yourself to die. When I was young I had seen a kitten refuse to live. It had stopped eating, ceased cleaning itself. It had just decided there was no point to its life. So the kitten lay down in the corner of a drawer and died.
As I lay on my bed, I knew I had to make a choice whether I could live. My choices were to stay in my home-town, and continue living with violence. Or, to run away and maybe find that there could be hope. I knew if I stayed I would die soon. I would be “accidentally killed” if a man went too far.
Or I could lose the will to live since my body could not live with so much pain any more - so I would die. I had no choice but to leave. I left, and very slowly I built a new life.
As I write this piece I see with compassion how trapped I was.
When I view my past I see how pornography brainwashed me into believing I deserved all the pain men inflicted on me. At the time it was safer to blame myself than to recognise how men chose to sexually torture me. When I write, I write against those who believe that pornography is harmless. I know the men who raped me brought into and accepted the culture of porn.
They saw me as an object to be used and used again, until they decided to throw me away. What they did to me was not personal. It could have been any girl or woman they chose to abuse, for they believe that all women and girls are objects for their sexual gratification. For much of my life, I almost drove myself mad by trying to understand why I was so constantly abused. I thought I must have made these men commit acts of sexual torture on me. Now, I can see that I did nothing, but being in the wrong place.
One thing that help built myself a life, was finding feminism. As I began to regain myself I read Andrea Dworkin, and found she gave me a voice. No, she allowed me to scream. As the years became more secure, I learned to grieve for my past. I feel my past killed the child who could trust. But I was transformed by my past. It has made me stronger, for I had to discover how to live. I find that I have empathy with others who have extreme trauma. I feel that I am a fighter, especially in showing the truth of male violence to women and children.
I hope my story can show the harms of a porn culture. Also that it can remind the reader that prostituted women are individuals who deserve safety and compassion.
Finally, I write to thank my past self for living, when death was so welcoming.Back to Survivor Stories