'I somehow managed to turn existing into living again'
Miriam’s Story – A Paradox (from Ruhama’s Annual Report 2011)
I HAD an expensive habit but crossing the line into crime, robbery, was not an option for me – but I knew I had a valuable commodity, for I had a female body which I could sell.
And so the paradox begins; at first you believe you can be strong enough to cope for a short time until you sort your mind out, [and] figure out getting clean. I had a sick child at home so she was my priority – I was her full-time carer.
I never believed when I walked out on the street that first night that it would not only own me within a very short time but that it would take from me everything I thought I once was.
Initially it does what it’s intended to do; it pays for your habit; but other things were happening that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time. I was now completely cut off from family; the shame was too much for them. I hadn’t a friend in the world that could maybe remind me of who I was.
My only human contact was with the men who bought me and the women who sold themselves beside me. That isolation is painful, but the most dangerous thing for me was I had become comfortably numb – I had to, and how I did that was increase my heroin habit in order to remain numb. Although I never got stoned, I always had enough inside me to shut out what I couldn’t face.
And then the inevitable happens – rape/sexual assault. For me it came in the form of a gang rape that lasted what seemed like forever, and in many ways it will, for from that night on I no longer lived, I just existed.
Not only did I continue to see the world in a different way, I no longer saw humanity . . . You now take heroin to cope with being bought, where it began with selling yourself to cope with heroin.
Welcome to the paradox that unfortunately very few of us escape from. I am one of those lucky few and have somehow managed to turn existing into living again, but it took an incredible amount of inner strength and tears, some of which I have still to shed, backed up by support from a team of people who believed in me.