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Stress, Stigma & Sexwork

There is a well known story that every parent can relate to…… child playing in the park, having a great time, then by no fault, the child slips, and crashes to the ground putting it’s tiny two front teeth through it’s lip. Blood is pouring down it’s trembling chin. The sound of all the other playing children is completely drowned out, by the screams of your tiny, fragile loved one. Nothing you do or say can stop it’s screaming, so you bundle the child up and gather your tupperware lunch, your thermal coffee cup, the discarded size 2 hat, bought for a fortune because it has an 50+ spf sun rating and you run to the car. From the amount of blood, you can see this is a job for the hospital, stitches are certainly in order. You hold this screaming child still while the doctor stitches up that lip that you have kissed a thousand times, all the while his/her accusing eyes are looking at you for comfort and reprieve from the pain. With a lollie-pop in hand in one hand and an exhausted child in the other donning seven new stitches, a swollen lip and a cheek bruise for good measure to take your still whimpering child home. When finally sleep befalls your young charge your shoulders finally slump a little, the wine you were holding almost evaporates, then you allow yourself to finally fall apart and let out all those tears you have been holding back that day. These are the actions of a true survivor.
I am a survivor. I can’t say that strongly enough; I am a survivor!
I have survived two violent sex attacks before I was twelve. I didn’t receive counselling but rather I was condemned by the police for my ‘provocative attire’. I tried to bury the incidents in my mind and rise above, as Taylor Swift may say, I tried to shake it off. Crumbling was not an alternative, as any form of vulnerability be it mental or emotional increased ones exposure to further harm. Predators only attack the weak, as the expression goes.
The scenes I have bared witness too still haunt me; death, murder, assault, violent abuses, parental neglect, and betrayal. Yet at the time your inner voice is telling you not to dwell on the ugliness you are witnessing, move on; survive. Dwelling on problems gets you nowhere, like a shark, keep moving, keep earning, keep vigilant.
By nineteen I was a single-parent, which gave me a whole new motivation to ignore all my emotions, you are the glue that holds this family together, she needs to know that you are happy and confident, show no doubt, handle every crisis with a grin.
My baby is still my baby but she is in her 20’s. She has become the girl that I dreamed she would become, so now I can pour my wine, and let the tears flow. Forty years worth.
Tears were a relatively new thing for me, I had fought them off for so many years, but now I found myself incapable of controlling them. It was like asking the tide to stop rolling in.
My husband had never seen me this way for that matter neither had I, so we sought some expertise.
After bareing my soul, I was quickly diagnosed with chronic anxiety disorder bought on my years as a sexworker. My tears dried up in a heartbeat. WTF? Blame my childhood, blame the loss of my daughter’s father to suicide, blame exhaustion for ten years of eighteen hour days, but why jump to sexwork? Hadn’t sexwork saved me from poverty? Hadn’t sexwork bought my financial freedom to choose my life goals?
I walk away and reflect on my holiday in depression land, I come to the conclusion that the stigma of sexwork pervades even the wisest of minds. The prejudice, and assumptions that surround this work choice are thick, ever present and counter productive.
I now know that I need to heal myself as I am not prepared to pay a fortune to convince a medical expert that my trauma lies outside sexwork.

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