The local snow storms have prevented Diane from beginning her GED program, but she is still planning to enroll. She's still interested in a number of things, and I am still reminded, from time to time, that her being interested in anything is a triumph. When I drove her home the other week, she mentioned, out of nowhere, that former Baltimore Mayor Dixon (recently driven from office by a conviction for stealing, of all things, gift cards meant for the poor) said she had no regrets. I told Diane that saying you have no regrets seems to be the fashion now days, and that I thought it was ridiculous. I said I certainly regretted some of the things I've done, or failed to do. Diane said she had regrets as well. She regretted a 20 year drug addiction. I had to admit that was a pretty big thing to have to look back on.
Diane went on to tell me about she began. Apparently, not until she was almost out of her teens. She was pregnant, living with the baby's father, who told her he was going out to a job every morning. The job turned out to be a) dealing and b) stealing drugs from higher up dealers. She discovered his actual occupation when she came out of the bedroom one morning to find him dead, in a pool of his own blood. When I murmured whatever banality I came up with ("Sorry to hear it. Must have been hard for you" or the like), she segued effortlessly into memories of having been raped repeatedly by her stepfather as a child, starting at about the age of eight.
As people who read this blog know, childhood sexual trauma, especially within the family, usually precedes our clients' entry into prostitution. I've heard about so many forms of child molestation, so many times, that all I typically register is the extent to which the woman is comfortable talking about it. Usually, though, I'm spared any of the details and the resulting mental images. It was painful to hear that Diane's stepfather "used to put vaseline on his private parts" before raping her and her sister. And it is always painful for me to hear whom the women blame, whom they absolve from all blame.
In Diane's case, there was her sister, mentioned in tones equally wistful, bitter, and confused, who left home without protecting Diane. It sounded as being abandoned by her older sister, the only other person in the world who shared in Diane's secret torture, might have been almost as painful as the rapes themselves. But, Diane volunteered twice, in tones of satisfaction, her mother never knew anything about it. She had no idea at all.
Being raped by the men in the family is bad enough. Having a mother who either consented to the abuse, or was so far removed from her daughter's life that her child knew better than to go to her for protection is simply unbearable. That is the thing that can never be acknowledged.