Jane's story - 28/06/2021
“The thing is, prostitution makes people feel uncomfortable, so they look away. Close their eyes and ignore it. Pretend it’s not happening in their town. They think it’s the woman’s fault, and that they chose this life. When the reality is, it could be anyone. Anyone you know”, says Jane.
“I’ve been a street prostitute twice in my life. I was abused as a child, but didn’t talk about it to anyone. Nobody did back then. PTSD wasn’t a thing, unless you’d been in the army, or seen horrific accidents. Nobody was talking about how kids could suffer extreme trauma after abuse that they carry into their adult life. I started using drugs as I wanted oblivion. I was getting angrier and angrier, and drugs helped me forget. Especially heroin. By 16 or 17 I was on the streets.”
“I first encountered SWWOP around that time, on West Street. It was just a van then, and I met Sali, told her everything and she helped me get sorted. I got clean when I was 20, and met a lovely man. I was clean for 12 years and doing well, but then he sadly passed away from cancer. I now know that I hadn’t dealt with the underlying trauma. I just went back to what I knew, hit the drugs hard and endured 8 months of absolute hell.”
“If SWWOP hadn’t been there for me a second time, I would be dead by now. I’m certain of that. I was wasting away, less than 5 stone, very sick. But as they always do, SWWOP continued to offer support until I was ready to accept it. There’s no judgement, they are just always there. I said to them I needed to get away from my area, and within 2 months they’d helped me to move away, and I’ve been clean ever since.”
“I’ve had some terrible things happen to me. I’ve been raped numerous times, had a knife held to my throat. Friends have died. There’s a huge shame involved, but it becomes a vicious cycle - you need drugs to work so that you can forget what you are doing, but you need to work to buy drugs. And it goes on and on until you can break that cycle. Police attitudes have changed a lot in recent times. They seem to understand the issues more now, and know that women are being controlled and coerced, and are hugely vulnerable.”
“I’m still involved with SWWOP now - I take their craft classes, and starting next month I’m going to be volunteering on their outreach van, trying to help the girls still out there. That’s somewhere where I think I can make a real difference, and it’s my way of giving back after all they’ve done for me.”
Alison Wise for Help us Help, June 2021