Family Relations and Prostitution
# Prostitution and neglect in childhood
"Nobody ever cared about me, I was nobody's girl" (from the testimony of a prostitution survivor)
Quite a few women who came to us suffered from parental neglect in their childhood. Neglect unlike abuse is not an active act (like violence or sexual abuse of a child) Neglect is indifference, ignoring, passivity and the lack of protection for a child.
Neglect has many definitions and cultural differences between policies (the laws that define neglect differ from country to country) and because it is less visible to the eye, the researchers claim that the field of "neglect has been neglected" and for many years they did not pay attention to it due to its being "under the radar".
It is usually divided into 5 categories:
"therapeutic neglect" (inability to provide basic needs such as food)
"Environmental neglect" (dangerous living environment),
"Educational neglect" (lack of concern for the child's intellectual development and education),
"Medical neglect" (lack of health care), "supervisory neglect" (a situation in which a parent abandons the child or exposes him to factors that may physically or sexually abuse him, injure him, etc.).
Neglect has many faces and forms, and does not exist in a vacuum. Some researchers claim that its results are no less serious than active abuse.
Some of the reasons for entering the circle of prostitution as minors are related to the fact that neglected girls receive attention from pimps and prostitutes, to "warmth and love", attention and compliments that they did not receive before.
A 2018 meta-analytic study by Mulder and his colleagues found that "lack of supervision" neglect is the most common, over 72% of the neglect reports dealt with this.
# Prostitution and relationships after rehabilitation
Many survivors share with us the difficulty of maintaining healthy marital relationships after recovering from a life of prostitution.
This requires a special effort on both sides. The survivor is required to be able to place emotional trust in the partner, trust him and surrender without being triggered by triggers. And from the partner - to accommodate, understand the difficulty and go at the pace of the partner.
Since prostitution is a continuous sexual trauma, its damage affects marital life and courage and patience are needed to overcome the challenges.
In her beautiful way, a young survivor writes to us about her relationship:
"My stomach is inflamed,
my heart is pus,
And you are here next to me, all the time touching
And I scream
And you don't understand
When your hand touches the fire
can you not hurt not to scream in pain?
you are not normal
out of control
You don't understand, do you?
Everything is inflamed
You touch a little
And the stomach is burning
My chest is burning
And I fight - not to be defeated again
As usual, my throat fights back
becomes narrow and suffocating
Have you ever tried to hold your breath?
I do, but not by choice
The air is running out
Every organ burns and closes on me
Until the body defeats the remnants of logic
The voice rushes out of the throat
The tears wash away all the pain that has ever been created inside me.
And you're on the couch
in a panic
I understand -
I was also scared for the first time.
# Prostitution and sexual abuse in childhood by mothers
There is an unspoken issue, paralyzed and hidden under the surface, like all sexual injuries.
Some researchers link between childhood sexual abuse by fathers in their daughters and prostitution, evidence of this can be found in the huge numbers of women victims of incest in prostitution.
But there is sexual abuse that can also lead to prostitution - mothers harming their daughters.
These vulnerabilities are less known, less recognized and less talked about, but they are not as rare as is commonly thought.
Mothers' vulnerability to girls sometimes occurs under the guise of physical care and concern
(For example, a mother bathing her child).
Whether due to homophobic reasons or due to the myth that all mothers in the world are benevolent and loving, the issue is not talked about or treated enough and the public is not aware of it.
But as vulnerable as it is, it also leads to a severe trauma that is sometimes embodied in adulthood in prostitution, just like in being hurt by men.
# What do the childhoods of women in prostitution who were given up for adoption or raised in foster care feel?
Before us is a sad testimony of an impressive woman who shares her feelings with us.
"The woman who gave birth to me was a prostitute. Writes and deletes, corrects: she was in the circle of prostitution. Sitting and writing in a coffee shop in an industrial area in the city of Sharon, not far from the hospital where she gave birth to me (I want to write "medical center" and laugh in my heart: medical bullshit. How can you heal such an injured mind and body?
A waiter smilingly serves me "morning all day", an omelet and a festive salad with tahini and grain bread, and I choke back tears in my throat, who knows if she has ever had a hot meal, if she has ever had nutritional security in her life.
The universe continues to tease me and challenge the tears that are already hard for them when Michael Kiwanuka's Home Again plays in the background. I wonder if there was a single day in her life when she felt at home. that she received a good and pure love, a free love that does not depend on anything, a day when they hugged her without hurting or touching the parts that were only hers, if they asked her how she was, if she had a warm bed, comforting food and one memory that makes the heart happy.
I always knew I was adopted. Only the second time I opened the adoption file did I get full confirmation that the woman who gave birth to me was part of a prostitution ring. By the way, even then (when I'm already a 29-year-old woman, 11 years after the first time I was there) it still wasn't explicitly said. Because even the child service official who knew her, according to her, is unable to say such a word. A prostitute is marginal, it is far from us, it is her, it is not us.
The twist that happened recently is the discovery that I suddenly agreed to feel now: it is not only her who was part of the prostitution ring, it is also me who was born as a result of severe violence and rape. It's an intergenerational communication that passed and passes to me involuntarily, and involuntarily because of a man or a million who felt owned. who slaughtered and trampled and destroyed and broke and murdered so many souls. Amounts of injustices that continue to happen and may never stop.
And now a call from the garage: "The car is ready, it passed the test. You can come pick it up." I'm glad it was quick, less than two hours in which I got so much done. Hangs up and wonders if she ever had freedom of movement, if she could get from place to place on her own, or if she always needed the approval of a man-monster who determined when and where she would go.
About two weeks ago I found the book "Far from the Tree - Parents and Children and the Search for Identity", by Andrew Solomon. I read it with eagerness and sadness at the same time, finding words of research that at the same time give knowledge that strengthens confidence, also shake and crush my soul that so longs to know more and more and more. And the thought of the amount of injustices that happen in this world does not give rest. Even the thought that she is already dead and feels nothing and her suffering has stopped is not reassuring, because who knows what caused her death and how much she suffered in her last moments. Was there anyone to bury her with dignity? To give her one last kiss on the forehead a second after she took her last breath? To say last words before the final farewell? To come sweep the tombstone? Who even cares about her proper condition in such cases? Sometimes I want to die with her just for one moment, get back into her womb and ask for everything to stop, to stop hurting her, to let her rest. I want us to rest together and for everything to calm down for a second. just for one moment.
Asking for an account, the tears can no longer hold. closing I'll come back later."
Following on from the previous post written by the daughter of a survivor who was taken for adoption, below is the continuation of her response:
"Starting by saying thank you. Thank you for every like, heart, crying emoji or hug. Thanks for any and all feedback. I read everything, I saw every like. I also felt the members of the community who are my friends and acquaintances in life outside of Facebook and did not respond to maintain my privacy. I also saw someone who asked for permission to take what I wrote outside the group and distribute it for the benefit of public relations and raising awareness. I thought about it a lot, and decided I needed my time to do it my way. Guarantees that the repair and healing will be done, the world will know. My biological mother brought me into this world to make amends, and that is stronger than me. In part it's not even about me, I'm just the tool, the conduit, to pass it on.
No, I haven't found the answers yet, I'm just looking for a place in my memories [...]
No, I haven't forgotten where I came from and where I'm going,
If I moved away, it's because I was looking for a place for your sake' (place, Hanan Ben-Ari).
Crying tears of disintegration every time you hear Hanan Ben-Ari sing it. Even if it is several times in the same day.
Actually, I never forgot her. Even as a child when I still had no idea why I was given up for adoption, even when I opened the adoption file and discovered scraps of information. The thought of the suffering she suffered, of the impossible life she had, does not let up. And suddenly, in the moments of the day when my strength is zero, when I'm nervous, tired and unmotivated, I think it's worth giving one more little effort. for her Because even if I don't have the strength to get in the car and go to work, or it's hard for me to convince my beloved son to do something, I close my eyes and think about her. I do it for her. Because she had no freedom of movement, certainly not a car. I get up in the morning and go to work, leaving my heart soft and open, the money I earned is only mine. No one will ever take it from me. my son is mine forever. All the time, no matter what. No one will take it from me. He sleeps with me, he wakes up with me, he tells me: Mom, I love you the most out of all the people in the world. I will never stop loving you! Remember this for the rest of your life!". That's what he tells me. And together with him I have another family and friends and a whole life, which she didn't have. So my life is full. Thanks to my parents who waited so many years until they accepted me, and gave me a whole world But also a lot thanks to her.
And besides me there were other children she gave birth to and were taken from her, either by the establishment or by death. And the thought of being a mother to so many children who are not with her. The thought of not being sure if she knew who the fathers of each of the children were. But what does it matter if they are monsters in human form, if they are the embodiment of evil. The thought of the yelling and violence, the crying, the hunger that my biological brothers and sisters and I suffered while we were in the womb. Even before we went out into the air of this delusional world. All this does not give rest. It doesn't make sense, it's inhumane. It can not be!!!
On page 539 of the book "Far from the tree - parents and children and the search for identity", by Andrew Solomon, there is a quote from a woman who describes how the representative of the establishment advised her not to report that the child is biracial, and not to report her drug use, so as not to reduce potential dates for adoption. It drives me crazy as an idea, and more than that - because it's personal. it's me. There is a high probability that this is what happened to my biological mother with me and with other children she gave birth to. How can it be?? How can it be that someone, a man, a representative of the establishment, takes responsibility for the lives of so many people? How can it be that a baby was born in a crisis and is not treated because it was not reported?
On page 535 it is written that mothers in the ancient world and in the Middle Ages were allowed to abandon their children who were born as a result of rape - to die. Maybe it's a little reassuring that one of us is dead. It is better to die quickly and disappear from an inferno like the one you were born into. But how did he die? Someone couldn't stand a newborn crying when he raped the mother so he killed him? Did he die of hunger and cold? Who even buries a baby like that? How do you bury a baby like that? Did she know where he was? I have no idea.
# Do women in prostitution reproduce a bad parental model for their children?
Many of the women in prostitution were raised as children by abusive mothers at worst or dysfunctional and helpless at worst (there are also benevolent mothers, but this is rarer).
Growing up in the shadow of such a mother does not produce a successful parental model for an adult daughter and the signals of the relationship between the two and its influence resonate in women for life.
However, this says nothing and a half about the parenting of a prostitution survivor. Women in prostitution can be wonderful, protective, giving and loving mothers who strive to correct everything they experienced as children and enable a normal and pleasant childhood for their children.
On the other hand, there are also those who will restore their parentage: they will neglect and abuse.
It is impossible to know and predict in advance how a woman will function as a mother, and any such hypothesis does injustice to women.
In other words: the fact that a woman is in prostitution, the daughter of an abusive mother, is not conclusive evidence of the mother she is in any way.
*The post was written in collaboration with B, the survivor of our community.
# Prostitution and loneliness during the holidays
And this is what a survivor wrote to us this week:
"Don't be a whore in this house" my mother told me. I don't spend holidays with my family. You can say that from the age of 18 I went maybe four times.
Today I called my mother to find out why I'm not invited to the holidays (not that I intended to go.. but still)
She said "You can't mix in the family, there are children at home and brothers who have built families, it's not healthy for anyone to get close to you. You can't get involved in your situation.'
As long as I'm in prostitution I'm probably contagious in something. I told her that maybe warmth and family could have been a motive to get me out of drugs and prostitution, I said it to touch her. The loneliness of the holidays comes from this feeling they give me... like I'm a leper."
Passover in general, and Seder night in particular, symbolizes for many and many of us an atmosphere of festivities, family, holiday meals and fellowship.
At the same time, there are many women among us for whom this period is not a holiday and certainly not a joy. For these women, holidays in general, and Passover in particular, are a time that symbolizes sadness, pain, loneliness, alienation and loss.
Many prostitution survivors are separated from their families - either by their own initiative or by the family's initiative. For them, the family is not the safe, loving and protected place, but the place that most of all hurt them, abandoned and betrayed them. What is even more terrible is that it is not enough to be without a family in the world, many of the above families also alienate themselves from the damage they themselves caused, deny the damage and blame the survivors because they are the ones who are damaged, sick and problematic.
Thus, the survivors are tasked with a double journey - also dealing with the very absence of family during a period that is all family and holiday, this alongside the knowledge that in those hours of the holiday eve, when they will be alone, while most of the people are celebrating around the holiday table - their family will also be around the holiday table - enjoy, Celebrate and eat holiday foods, and above all act as if everything is fine - without thinking about them at all - as if nothing happened.
In light of this, for many survivors the days before Passover constitute one of the most complex and difficult periods of the year - with Seder night being the peak of this.
Know that we are with you in our thoughts
*The post was written in collaboration with "Shelgia", a survivor of our community.