Residues of the Past

I had to go into town yesterday and, being as it was such a lovely day, I didn’t want to take the car. I got off the dart at Connelly and walked though the station with the rest of the crowd until I was out in the Aungier Street sunshine. Then I walked around by Bus Aras and up to the junction where Gardiner Street meets the back of the Custom House. I was standing there alongside several other people, all of us waiting to cross the road, when I glanced over my shoulder at the buildings behind me. That’s when it arrived – the memory I’d really rather not have.

When I was fifteen and only a short time on the game I was taken back to a hotel room in one of those buildings and used sexually by an Asian man. I remember how insistent he was that he would not use a condom, and how insistent he was about everything else. I remember the bullying nature of the encounter, how his hands seemed to be everywhere at the same time and how he continually shoved his fingers into my vagina and anus although I repeatedly asked him to stop. He was a thirty-something man. I was less than half his age.

I was so innocent and so unused to what I was doing that I’d forgotten to ask him for the money first, and of course after he came he maintained he hadn’t got it. He told me to wait for him in MacDonalds on Grafton Street at two o’clock the next day, where he would pay me.

So there are two memories here, meshed into one, and for me somehow the second is more pitiable than the first. It is the image of my fifteen-year-old self waiting in MacDonalds for a man to show up so that I could buy myself a burger meal. Needless to say, I never got to eat a burger meal that day.

Every time I have turned that corner I have looked up at those buildings, but it was only yesterday that I was able to face the full reality of what caused me to turn and look. Up to now I had always snapped my neck away, pushed away the memory, refused to be submerged beneath the pain and the shame of being used like that, being made into nothing like that; and I had certainly not allowed my mind to wander back to sitting in Macdonalds on Grafton Street, feeling like the world’s emptiest, loneliest fool.

I was able to do that yesterday. I was able to let my mind go there; to remember being a hungry young girl who felt like a fool. I think I could do that because I know now that I was not a fool. I was just a young naive homeless teenager, with nobody to love her, and who it had never dawned on to love herself.

There are residues of the past. In a city as small as Dublin, they are everywhere you go. Yesterday I let the past settle into me in a way I’ve never done before. Maybe it’s because now I know the day would come when that girl would get a book deal, and have something to say about the past.


19 thoughts on “Residues of the Past

  1. this is so bittersweet….i’m so sorry for the trauma and the memories that are still with you….but am so proud of you for writing this story and having success come your way….congratulations on your book deal and i look forward to reading it….blessings to you!

  2. Pingback: Residues of the Past « Survivors Connect Network

  3. Pingback: War Zone | Spilled Perfume

    • If you ever get hold of a time machine will you wash my clothes for me while you’re at it? You could always use a bit of fabric conditioner if you really wanted to push the boat out! Ha ha! :) I don’t mean to be flippant, I just think we may as well inject a bit of humour into miserable subjects. Thank you for your kind comment, x

      • Reading your blogg then this reply puts a horrid picture in your mind …. But being able to light heartily reply like this has made me feel your in such a better place with yourself now ….. Your doing good girl … Keep going ! R u on twitter ?

        • Hi Kerry, and thank you. Yes I am in a much better place and have been for a long while, thank God.

          To be honest, the response by The Witches Promise made my eyes well with tears, it was so warm and so heartfelt. That is what we Irish do isn’t it, use humour to avoid being overtaken by our own emotions? And yes, I am on twitter, as of today! :)

          • Yes the Irish seem to have very strong willed girls ( DCG )
            Following u on twitter now kezuk999 , I’ll RT you :)

          • Yes DCG is a great example of Irish women at their best, I am so proud of that girl. Thank you for all your support.

  4. Thanks for that. I really like your posts and am very pleased to see your book deal.
    A strange thing happened to me yesterday. I had reacted to the article in the Cork Independent about the raids on brothels, because I was upset at a lot of the reactions on there. I wrote that everyone should have a look at Ruhanna’s site and your and the blogs like yours and other prostitution survivors’.
    Not even half an hour later I got a private message in my inbox of someone telling me not to believe ‘abolitionists’ and sending me a link to some sex-worker’s blog, where you and other blogs were completely dismissed, in not very eloquent language.
    I thought it was pretty creepy, and deleted it. I should have kept it and forwarded it to Ruhanna, but thought of that too late.

    • I’d imagine Ruhama wouldn’t be terribly interested Roos, and I know I certainly wouldn’t . The thing is, there are a lot of sick people out there, and I refuse to energize my enemies by focusing on what they are doing.

      Thank you so much for your support, x

      • I’ve seen this negative stuff … But to be honest with you weither these survivors are real or part of an organisation or attacted on escort sites it really doesn’t matter in the big picture … The’re informing people what these girls have to endure and changing many people perseptions on prostitutes ( over 60,000 readers on DCGs blog and so many positive comments ) keep writting girls its working :) ….. I believe these girls are real victims by the way and am keen to get the word out there about humantrafficking in this trade , as you once said ” they all end up in the same place ”
        Don’t ever be scared of bullying on here ….. You’ve got me and so many more in your corner .

        • Thanks again Kerry. The thing is, the usual threat these sickos hold over us survivor bloggers is revealing our identities, or ‘outing’ us, as they call it. They’re wasting their time in my case. I’ll be outing myself next spring so if that should happen sooner than I plan for, *shrug* so be it.

  5. Hi FreeIrishWoman,

    I have been reading your blog regularly. You are an amazing writer and an all around courageous human being. You have so much to offer those who are willing to listen.

    I’ve hesitated to respond to your posts, in part because I’m afraid I don’t have the right words to respond.

    The story described here is so vivid and really struck me.
    The part that really tugged at my heartstrings was this:

    “I was able to do that yesterday. I was able to let my mind go there; to remember being a hungry young girl who felt like a fool. I think I could do that because I know now that I was not a fool. I was just a young naive homeless teenager, with nobody to love her, and who it had never dawned on to love herself.”

    Being able to have compassion for yourself…that’s a sign of real maturity, I think.

    I am so happy for your book deal; I wish you more success with it–whatever that looks like for you–than you could possibly envision!

    • Thank you Womanonajourney (I love your username by the way!)

      Your response reminded me of a funny experience I had the other day. A friend of mine who knows I’ve been writing a book about my experiences rang me and I told her my news, that I’d just gotten signed to Gill and Macmillan, and she said to me “Hold on a minute – are you writing a blog?!” I said yes and she said “Are you FreeIrishWoman??!” I told her I am and she said “Oh God – Oh Jesus, I’ve been reading that blog for weeks not knowing it was you! – God I am so moved!” Then she went on to explain how she’d often wanted to respond but hadn’t because she couldn’t find the words to say. That was the thing I was reminded of by your response. I can’t help wondering how many other people read this blog and others and don’t say what’s on their minds because they feel they can’t find the words to say.

      I’d say it’s a baseless worry in most cases. It certainly was in yours; you found just the right words to say! Thank you, x

      • Hi FreeIrishWoman,

        Thanks so much for your warm words! It’s always a relief to know one’s comment on a blog, especially a personal one as this one is, were heard and appreciated.

        That’s amazing that a friend of yours was reading the blog and didn’t know it was yours! Yeah, I generally would rather get comments, too, at least supportive ones, then have people hold off because they’re worried they won’t say the “right” thing.

        I don’t usually get personal responses on a blog, so this was a nice surprise!!!

        • Ha ha, you’re very welcome!

          I think I have a different view of blogs and other sorts of electronic communication than a lot of people because I’m kind of old-school; I was twenty-four before I even learned to turn on a computer. This was because I was so young when I left school. When I’m reading the responses on here I just kind of feel similar to the way I’d feel if someone engaged me in conversation in a cafe.

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