Lorri's Story
I felt that people could beat you up, rape you because that was all you were worth

I never met a prostitute who didn’t come from a background of sexual abuse. None of the prostitutes I worked with as a sexual abuse counsellor ever knew a prostitute, male or female, who hadn’t been sexually abused. People who have been sexually abused feel worthless. They feel that’s all they’re good for. Many feel that for the whole of their life people have “been getting this for nothing”. So there’s a false sense of power in prostitution; they make people pay for it, and they feel in charge now. But the reality is that they are continuing to be abused.

When I realised I was pregnant, I was delighted because I felt I would have someone who would love me – this little baby. One night when I was about three months pregnant I was out drinking with a friend who took off, and a guy offered me a lift home. In the car he came on to me. I said no, and he started punching me. I punched him back, but he was bigger and stronger. When he punched me in the stomach, I said “be careful, I don’t want you to hurt the baby”. So he had me: you stop fighting or I’ll kill the baby.

He raped me. Afterwards he told me to get out of the car and fix my clothes, and as I was doing so, a police car came along. They had this guy before he had his pants back on, and this hysterical woman who was black and blue from being beaten up and raped and terrified because she might lose her baby. But these detectives knew me, and their attitude was “what do you expect?” They took me down to the station, but they wouldn’t get a doctor. They got a statement from the man saying he’d done it, but they were trying to convince me to let them charge him with something minor. As dawn was breaking, I ran out of rage and said “just take me home”. They did charge him with something minor.

I felt the police had raped me too by not dealing with my rape properly. One of the reasons they hated me was because some of my friends were Aboriginal women, and these policemen used to go into the hotels and say to them “you come with us”. They used to tell the women they had a choice – have sex with them or be put in jail for the night. It was rape, but for these women it was just part of life.

When my parents found out I was pregnant my father came to the boarding house and said, “This is killing your mother. You’ve got to come home.” So I went home. The police not charging the man who raped me with rape had been the last straw. I felt that people could beat you up, rape you, do whatever they liked to you because that was all you were worth.

I had my baby and worked in the local pub as a waitress. My sister was working in a cray-fishing village up the coast and she invited me there for a party. I met up with the guy I’d been living with who I believed was the father of my baby. He asked me to move up there, and because it was a way out of home and I thought he’d take care of me, I did.

But he was incredibly violent and controlling. If he found out that I’d left the flat, even to take the rubbish out, he’d beat me up. I got away a few times but while part of me was relieved, another part would pick up the phone and tell him to come and get me.

Then I had to have an operation because I had to have an ovary removed because of cysts. I wasn’t allowed to have sex but when I went home, my partner raped me. I was bleeding and had to get the doctor, and he told me off for having sex. I thought the only way out would be to go crazy, and then I’d be locked in a padded room. So I got hammers and nails and locked the windows and barred the door, and sat in a corner of the bathroom rocking and screaming – going crazy. I wanted my partner to call an ambulance but he just got drunk with his friends. Every now and again someone would come and try to get through to me. This went on for days.

My partner tried to make me stop and ended up splitting my head open with his fist. When they were all asleep I just walked out and hitchhiked to my parents’ house. My mother’s attitude was “you made your bed, you lie in it”. But she wasn’t there, and my father got a doctor and went back with me to collect my 20-month-old baby. I told the police about the burglaries my partner and his mates had done. So I burnt my bridges. I had no doubt he would kill me if he could get his hands on me.

I thought there was nothing to do but be how my parents wanted me to be. Obviously acting out didn’t get anyone to realise something was wrong or get me any help. And a guy wasn’t going to protect me. You find one man to protect you from men, but who’s going to protect you from that man? I still didn’t get that I was the one who had to learn how to protect me.

I started going out with a policeman, Rod. He was separated and rented a house with a couple of friends. He trained horses for a mate who had a trotting stable, and I used to get up early and do this with him. One day my father went into a tirade and told me I had to leave home, and I rang Rod and asked if I could stay at his flat. I moved into his room, as there was no other, and into his bed, and we had another bed for my daughter.

Rod had two girlfriends he used to go and stay with, and I really liked that set-up because I didn’t feel he owned me. I felt we were friends. But then he decided that he loved me, and started saying “do you love me?” I said, “I don’t know what love is, but if I did, I’m sure I would.” He said either I had to become his partner or we’d have to stop seeing each other. So I decided I loved him too. I felt I’d been blackmailed into it because otherwise I’d lose the only support I’d ever had.