My name is Amanda and I am 9 years old. I’m one of hundreds of parts that make up the system of an extreme abuse survivor called A, who has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Our system is made up a mixture of spontaneously created parts (like me), and parts that were deliberately created by our abusers.
Amanda is not my real name. My real name is a bad word. Amanda is the name I chose for myself because I hated the horrible name they called me.
There is so much on twitter at the moment about child sexual exploitation, and I want to talk about it. I think when people try and understand what CSE is, they imagine teenagers being groomed and tricked into sex, just like the storyline in Coronation Street at the moment. It happens, and it’s awful. But it happens to much younger children too, and this is what people can’t imagine. People can’t conceive of 4 and 5 year olds being bought and sold as prostitutes. But this was what happened to me.
By the time I was 9 years old, I’d been bought and sold by men more times than I can remember or count. I had been gang raped, chained up, gagged, tortured, and forced to do things I’m not sure I’ll ever have the courage to speak of. Everything was filmed and photographed.
I understand why child sexual exploitation is a better term than “child prositute” for what happened to me, it is just that when that term is used it feels like my experience becomes invisible. I know some people might argue that the word “prostitute” implies a level of choice in the matter that I did not have. But when I define my own experiences in a way that feels true for me, I want to say I was a child prostitute so that my experience will be heard and seen. I also say it to honour the very traumatised little 4, 5 and 6 year old parts inside of us who believe it is their purpose in life to please the men, those parts who are proud of doing a good job and still want to do that job now, and those parts for whom every moment of torture and humiliation made them feel like they had died.
I say it because I can define my past however I choose.
But however you define it, the lasting damage caused by this kind of exploitative sexual abuse is immeasurable. It forms and deforms your sexual identity.
It means, for our system; that whilst we know how to give the best blow job in the world, we do not know how to be close to a partner. Touch that doesn’t hurt is confusing and scary. When someone tells us they want to just hold us without expecting or wanting sex, we feel like we must have done something wrong. We can’t just relax. We can’t just enjoy it. Our feelings switch on and off uncontrollably. One minute we want you, the next we cannot bear you anywhere near us. Sex, for us, is meaningless. It’s a transaction.
I want to believe that one day we will understand and embrace our sexuality in the way non abused people do.
I’d settle for being able to tolerate A’s boyfriend.