Mid January 2012
The last time I’d slept well was in hospital, I thought getting this shit off my chest was going to enable me to somewhat relax; unclench my jaw, drop my shoulders, let my face unscrew itself. I was wrong. Sleep sounded like a luxury now with many other things such as trips to ‘Nandos’ or branded shampoo – hell even buying bloody tampons was a luxury because we were pretty damn skint since I’d walked away from Apartment 16.
I had nothing nice to wear to the video interview, I wanted to come across as somebody believable, someone different to what they were used to, in fact I was fixated on this because I was desperate for ‘R’ to get the justice he deserved. I knew what they thought of me, some troubled drug casualty who’d ended up selling herself – Lets be honest now thats what most people think right? Funny thing was, it just wasn’t the case for any of us except maybe Priya and that shouldn’t mean people like us are believed less. I was fully aware of victim-shaming much sooner than I realised because stereotypes are so ingrained in us that we are often oblivious to them. I was determined to get these officers understanding the seriousness of what ‘R’ had been up to. I wore all black, I just wanted to hide away and it matched my mood perfectly.
The police picked me up for my video interview which was going to be held in the little village down the road. The station was almost redundant so had been turned into a ‘deluxe’ video suite with a pile of toys from the 80’s in the corner and some ‘Women’s Weekly’ mags dating back to 2001 that sat untouched on the formica coffee table. I was offered a hot drink in a plastic cup and gladly took them up on their offer of instant coffee because that too was now a luxury. Coffee, Bacon and cheese – all the things commonly stolen by the poor and homeless in supermarkets and now I could see why. It was cold in the suite but it was January and I don’t think their budget stretched to the heating being put on. It was a good job that I still fit my expensive coat I’d bought just before I left New Zealand 18 months earlier – a time when I had money and had earned good bonuses through the designer shoe shop I managed. I could sell three pairs of designer boots in one hit to the Farmers wives of the Manawatu – no problem, I loved it and was well rewarded for it too;Long before I sold myself… and others.
There were four officers, three female and one male, the male officer was to do the actual recording and manage the technical side – typical. One of the female officers seemed more senior than the other two, she instructed them then left. They were nice, they made me feel at ease and told me to answer as honestly and openly as I could. One of the women would be in the room with me and the other one would be watching it in the little tech room with the male officer. Never one to mince my words I told them the brutal truth. They needed to hear it, you need to hear it, everybody needs to hear uncomfortable truths if we are to change. I swore when describing my hatred of ‘R’ and cried when I described how he had sexually assaulted me that day I went for my ‘job interview’ and shook when I told them about the rape of the likes of Ash, Serena and various underage girls. That is the day when the guilt and shame took a hold of me, the shame of not telling him where to go a long time before, the guilt of allowing other girls like me and even worse – kids, I had allowed kids to be abused and said nothing until now.
I remember my mum telling me’ Stand up and tell the truth, even if your voice shakes’ , today couldn’t have been any more fitting and I realised this wasn’t going to be the last time I recounted these horrible events, this was just the first time and I was going to have to prepare myself for more of this.
The interview was horrific, they asked me the questions that they had to but some enraged me such as
“Were you in a relationship with him?” And
“Were you in love with him?”
Christ. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I got angry instead, granted, I’d loved some real pieces of shit but not this guy. Even I’m incapable of loving such a monster and had only but hatred for him, he also wasn’t exactly my cuppa tea anyway.
I was in there for 4 hours. When I got out it was nearly dark just like when you go to the cinema except this was a film I wouldn’t have chosen to go and see. Exhausted, teary and frightened as well as being riddled with guilt I was now home back in the safety of Robbie’s arms and in the four safe walls of our little set. The police informed me that a specially assigned officer would be in touch and they would handle the collection of laptops and phones. Shit. I had no choice but to go to the apartment and collect my laptop. Plus after the police were done with it I’d sell it to get some money in.
I called Susie who was working as always, she agreed to meet me and give it to me the next day when ‘R’ wasn’t there. I knew he wouldn’t be there in the day time as he’d be pretending to be a decent human being, an upstanding member of society in his day job. Susie and I often couldn’t communicate very well but we weirdly understood each other. It’s funny that isn’t it? It’s funny how you can both have no idea what the other one is saying because you don’t speak their language but at the same time they get you. It’s a beautiful thing really, it shows us that we are all the same no matter where we come from. Susie got me. Susie knew I was struggling and I’d had enough, I saw her understanding in her eyes along with her own weariness that told me she too would be done very soon.
Once again the train journey into Liverpool was nerve-wracking, sweat-inducing and just plain bloody awful. I was going to grab the laptop through the door and peg it. Susie text to say she was the only one in, it had been quiet since I’d gone and it had only been her and Ash working. Penny had quit too, she was now making cash from the comfort of her own home doing webcamming, she said it was better than going to that hell-hole and that most of the men were really just lonely perverts. Good for her, at least she wasn’t doing anything face to face anymore I guess. I was to meet Susie just before 11am as she had bookings the rest of the day and was off out later. I told her that was fine because I didn’t plan on sticking around, hell no! I was going to be like a secret agent, grabbing and going.
Susie answered the door sans clothes, she was preparing for her booking, she was always naked so I was used to it. Part of me liked the European attitude to nudity and the other very British part of me was still shocked every time I saw tits and ass. She handed me my laptop through the door which felt heavier than usual and she smiled asking me if I was ok, I nodded and whispered
“Yes I’m fine, I’ll call you ok?”
I blew her a kiss and just like that she was gone, that was the last time I ever saw my Susie.
I shoved the laptop in my bag in the hallway of the block of apartments then legged it down the stairs, I was so scared ‘R’ would be there lurking in the lift or waiting to pounce and quiz me as to where I had been. I’d still not had a word from him but I had sent him one message during a brief moment of bravery on the train there and told him that I was leaving due to family circumstances – he hadn’t text me back and I was pleased. From the apartment block I ran straight for Liverpool central station to catch the next train home to my new haven.
As soon as I got into the set I felt a huge sense of relief, now I would be able to call the police back and let them know that I now had the phones and the laptop for them to collect. Robbie was asleep when I got back, once again he’d slogged his guts out on a nightshift for us. This guy had basically changed his entire life and living situation just to be with me, he’d gone from a stable home with a mortgage to being skint and providing for me, I felt like the luckiest girl alive and even though I had nothing I realised I had everything at the same time. It didn’t matter if I hadn’t got much money we only leave it to others when we die, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t afford nice things or trips out because if you are unhappy no amount of money or clothes or material things can ever make up for your lack of happiness – money doesn’t fix misery.
I rang the police up whilst Robbie slept like a baby so they could come and collect the equipment, upstairs above our set the couple started arguing, they were always arguing and it always began about mid afternoon. I would listen to him abuse her, call her every name under the sun for a good hour or so then he would leave. Probably to go to some twilight shift in one of the local factories and I would hear her cry. I wanted to help her but I had my own shit to deal with and Rob informed me time and time again that round here, you don’t intervene. Its not the done thing, apparently they have a saying ‘You don’t call police, ya call family’. Well I was breaking the code, but it needed to be done, the officer on the switchboard took my message and said someone would be in touch.
The next day I received a call from a male officer, he was jolly, friendly and sounded like he gave a shit. He used my name and in the 10 minutes that we were on the phone he restored my faith in the force’s ability to lock away nasty bastards. The officer ‘F’ was funny too, and he assured me he was on my side, he said he’d be out to me tomorrow with his colleague to collect the bits. Phew, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally an officer with some emotion, a human, not an android. I looked forward to meeting him.
Love Lo xxxxxxxx