This is a very special book review – because this is one of the most profound, moving and inspirational books I’ve ever read.

Why you should buy & read this book…

Image courtesy of ©SPACEintl.org

I recently visited Palma in Mallorca, where I was invited to speak at a conference. One of my fellow speakers there was Rachel Moran.

Rachel is a writer and a journalist. She is also an activist for reform of the way the world sees prostitution and the way governments legislate in relation to it. Rachel was abused through prostitution between the ages of 15 and 22.

She is now 20 years out from her experiences and this is her memoir.

But it’s so much more than that. As well as being a crystal clear illustration, from real life, about what poverty, mental illness, social exclusion and abuse can do to the life of a child now and to their future life chances…

  • It’s also a work of real catharsis
  • It’s a philosophical treatment of the concept and practice of prostitution
  • It’s a fly-on-the-wall record of the feelings of one caught up in that world
  • It’s an indictment of the men who abuse women through prostitution
  • It’s a challenge to governments and legislators to listen to the real experts
  • It’s a view into the long, painful, determined and ongoing recovery of one who refused to be kept down
  • It’s a work of real linguistic pleasure to read – erudite, clear and insightfully written

For me, perhaps most of all, this is a work of grace. Rachel is so thoughtful, honest and thorough in her examination of herself and her predicament, with all it’s agonising loss. And yet she is full of hope and is gracious in her view of what it all means and what can be done about it.

Quotations

Here are a few quotes from the book to give you a flavour (this was VERY hard to do, as there are so many vying for attention) – but please don’t use these as an excuse not to buy it. It’s worth every penny!

Life is, or ought to be, a participatory experience, but it is possible for a person to be so damaged by early lifetime exclusion as to believe their only role in life is that of an observer.‘ (p.4)

I saw that the situation was wrong, and I was right in thinking that it was; but my mistake was in believing that I was part of that wrongness.‘ (p.16)

Homelessness: my memories of it echo a time utterly imbued with the absence of prospects and vibrate with the opus of loss.‘ (p.42) ‘…Because homelessness is so thoroughly and relentlessly traumatic a person will take any route, however dangerous or disgusting, to escape it.’ (p.43)

Entering prostitution is to split from one world into another and to remember the transition is to mourn again the loss of something pure, something good.‘ (p.49)

The pimp… If there’s one thing more degrading for a woman than selling her body to a man, it’s selling her body to one man for the benefit of another.‘ (p.71)

I do not believe it is possible for a woman to wilfully involve herself in prostitution without there being some problem, sexual or otherwise, that precedes it. Everything I have seen in prostitution leads me to this conclusion.’ (p.97)

Prostitutes are exposed, over and over, to the soul-deadening vibration of sexual violation…‘ (p.103)

The truth is prostitution is the commercialisation of sexual abuse.’ (p.115)

In the lives of prostitutes (and unlike the actual act of violence), the anticipatory fear of violence is without end…This state of fearful expectation is broken only by violent events themselves, which, as they continue to occur, reinforce the prostitute’s sense of anticipation.‘ (p.124)

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I am not that woman anymore, but she has not disappeared either. She is the other side of me and her re-emergence is only ever a dirty look or a whispered word away.‘ (p.148)

Besides the men who’d come there to seek us out, I don’t think any member of the public ever walked by us without a wary glance and quickening of the step. Had any of them any idea what a normal casual ‘good evening girls’, would have meant, I wonder?’ (p.182)

…to support decriminalisation would be to support prostitution itself.’ (p.206) ‘The notion that decriminalisation and legislation serve to protect women in the trade is another of the myths of prostitution, and a particularly dangerous one.‘ (p.207)

To be prostituted is humiliating enough; to legalise prostitution is to condone that humiliation, and to absolve those who inflict it. It is an agonising insult.‘ (p.221)

There is no peace in prostitution. there is no peace in your body or your mind. there is no peace anywhere within you.‘ (p.283)

Prostitution might have made me cagey, wary, guarded, but it never robbed me of my love of men… My hate is directed, not towards men generally, but towards prostitution and all the other misogynistic structures in our world…‘ (p. 288)

…those with histories like mine should never consider men the enemy.’ (p.292-3)

Prostitution fell sharply in one place and one place only. That is the nation which suppressed demand. A global implementation of Sweden’s laws, which criminalise demand, is the one thing I’d most like to see before I die.‘ (p.293)

SPACE International

Rachel is the founder of SPACE international. Here’s what they do…

‘SPACE stands for ‘Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment’. We call for enlightenment because before we can expect social change, prostitution must be recognised for the abuse that it is. SPACE is committed both to raising the public’s consciousness of the harm of prostitution and to lobbying governments to do something about it.’ 

Application

If you work with abused people-whether children, teenagers or adults-you’ll get real insight and inspiration from this book.

Those working with CSA, CSE, HSB or sexual abuse of any kind involving children will see a technicolour illustration of how poverty, mental illness, abuse and social exclusion conspire to bring a life down to the lowest point.

Final word

Whilst the subject matter is far from cheery, this is ultimately a book of real grace that carries a weight of redemptive hope about it that I’ve rarely seen in other works. I finished the last page with tears in my eyes and a deep-seated sense of hope.

Hope that those who really believe in the need for change, can help others change their own lives for the better. And help governments to institute meaningful reform that will make improve people’s lives.

Just buy it – it’s brilliant!

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What do you think?…

  • What do you think about all this? Do you have anything to add? Have you read something else good on this subject?
  • Please let me know your thoughts… Leave a comment below.

Related previous posts:

– How to teach empathy to troubled teens – part 1…

How to teach empathy to troubled teens – part 2…

– Child first, offender second…

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© Jonny Matthew 2018

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Cheers, JM.