"Living Behind the Camera" by Rebecca Mott
I was abused for too many years, I learnt to survive by never allowing it in. I was obsessed with film and TV, so I made it fiction. Then I thought none of the pain and humiliation would go into me. It was not me that was being treated like a piece of dirt. It was an actress. I thought if it was a only a film, then I could make a happy ending. I thought I had that much control.
Now I want to cry as I see me needing that control so much. I see me vanishing piece by piece as the violence increases. I love that I try to make myself dream. I love that I could still believe in hope.
I had always loved films. Before I was abused, films brought me close to adults that I loved. I felt safe watching musicals with my grandmother. I had chats with my Dad and his brothers about old Westerns. Film was my happiness. I was the same with TV, it was like a comfort blanket. I would watch with my sister, laughing at childrenís telly, hiding behind the sofa at Star Trek. It was so normal. It was lovely.
And it would be bombed away.
When my stepdad entered my life, he came with a camera. He worked in advertising, and was continually filming still or moving pictures.
I slowly learnt to hate the camera.
He would photograph me when I was relaxed. He would photograph me climbing trees. Camera angled to show my knickers, He photographed me eating. Me in the bath. Me sleeping. Me painting.
The camera followed me everywhere. I could not breathe without another photo being taken. I felt trapped.
Even now, I still hate having my photo taken. I feel I lose control unless I really know the person taking the photo.
I try to imagine the photos my stepdad took were innocent images. I had always liked my real dad taking snapshots of me. I try hard to imagine my stepdad filmed me coz I was such a jolly child. It must be just fun.
Only I know, my stomach knotted with sickness each time he asked me to stay still. I know as more and more he posed my body. I know as he kept waiting, taking too many shots of me. I know I was being stolen by the camera.
When I saw him pass around photos of me to other men, who passed him more photos, I was not surprised. I just went dead inside. Then pretended I had not seen what I saw.
Years later, he phoned saying there was pictures of me on internet. I choose not to believe that. But inside I feel exhausted thinking maybe pictures of me trying to be a child are being wanked over by men like my stepdad. I canít bear to know if the images are there or not.
I was growing to fear film, when he brought in pictures of hard-core porn.
This destroyed my dreams that the camera could ever be safe, as I saw trapped behind the lens images that burnt through my whole body.
I looked and I saw my future in those images. I looked and saw that hope was a wasted emotion.
When I looked as briefly as I could get away with, I saw pain going straight into my heart. So, I chose to deaden my heart. What I saw was pure torture, and I was told it was acting. But, I looked hard and knew it was real. For as I looked I saw the fear of knowing there is nothing that can be done to stop it.
Hard-core porn killed my love affair with film. It replaced it with entering world where the camera entered my nightmares. It suffocated me when I shut my eyes.
I learnt to not sleep too much. As I dreamt of the images they changed and my face was on each torture victim. I would wake sweating, as I heard - Smile for the camera.
I was right to believe that those images were my future. When I reached my teens and twenties, I had become real-life porn for violent men. I had become nothing but an image they had seen in a photo or a film.
They would pose my body as the images they had seen. I was told not to move, to be silent. This made it not real, it was just part of some film in their head. As they fucked me, other men would stand round watching like an audience. As each man poured his images of hate into me, I had to vanish.
Desperately, I cling on my memories of films. As I was beaten up, raped and tortured, I would disappear to my imagination. I thought I was Betty Davis alone smoking a cigarette. I became Scarlett OíHara speaking back to men. I was Joan Crawford smacking a man in his face.
I had to have some dreams, or I would have died.
I had to not know my reality. To know that the men who were destroying me had planned everything they did, that was too much to bear. To know that each time I thought they had done the worst I could imagine to my body, there was always yet another form of torture. That was too much to bear.
And that to them I was not some glamourous actress, but a common whore. I could not bear that.
I choose not to accept that I was prostituted. Even when I got money, free drinks and food. Even when each man that used me had no name, I hardly know what they looked like. Even when I was with many men in one night. Even when I know I could not say no to any sick idea they had. Even when I know I was being passed around by men.
I could not see myself as a prostitute. That was never in any film I had loved. In my film, women have strength and were listened to. No-one would dare to rape the actresses I imagined I was.
But, in the end I could dream no more. It was beaten out of me. In the end, the only way I could survive was emptying my mind of any idea of hope.
I had to be dead to live. As the violence increased, I felt less.
In the end, I lose myself. All I was, was a fuck-object. I was what my stepdad trained me to be. I was part of the photos in hard-core porn. I had disappeared.
Now, that was many years ago, but the impact is massive.
I have lost my vision imagination. I have stopped seeing films in my head, so I choose to see nothing. I still find it hard to take photos of people, or have my photo taken. I am very cynical about filming.
But on a positive note to end. I have back my love of films and TV. Now, I watch and can escape.
It was stolen from me for many years, but in the end my love for the fun of film and TV stayed in my heart.
Men try to destroy my heart, but they had no idea how to reach it.Back to Survivor Stories