increasingly deviant if not seriously criminal behaviour as the women get more and more demoralised.
Kim was aged 21 when she was first interviewed in prison. She had been in care since the age of 5 when it had come to light that her father had sexually assaulted her when she was 3 years old. Both her mother and father were alcoholics and she herself had been on drugs since she was 14 years old and involved in prostitution since the age of 11.
I was working the streets between eleven and twelve – for the geezer I was with. He was 21, but I was 11 and told him I was 18. He was nice at first and I fell in love with him. He made me feel special. I think I saw him more as a father figure – sort of father I’d never had. And then he got me working the streets. I can’t remember how he got me into working, but I thought it was the right thing to do. Then I got pregnant when I was twelve. I didn’t tell him for a while, and when I did tell him he was alright with it at first, and then he started having these mood swings and that was when he started beating me up. He just started slapping me a few times; and then I was putting on weight with the baby and he was still making me work the streets, and because I wasn’t coming back with the money, the beatings started getting worse. Just before I was turned 13 I had my baby. It died a week old of meningitis and it was like he was over the moon that it had happened. All I can remember then is me life going downhill from then. He was constantly putting me out on the streets, beating me up. One time he put me in a cupboard with ammonium chloride and when I come round he’d raped me. He’s buggered me, he’s done me bad and everything. I got pregnant again at 13 and he beat up the baby inside me. The hospital knew what was going on but they couldn’t prove it. They used to get the police and I’d say I’d fallen down the stairs. I kept taking off from him, but he’d report me missing to the police, and I’d go back. Sometimes I went back to kids’ homes and social services should have opened their eyes a bit more: they said I kept running off, but he was coming and taking me away. He got me back on the streets and then he found out I was on drugs – Oh, my God. I remember him dragging me along behind a car when I was pregnant. I had my daughter when I was 15, but couldn’t keep her. I couldn’t do it to her: I’m working the streets, I’m on drugs. [The baby was put into the care of the Kim’s father who had sexually abused her when she was 3.]
None of the appalling abuse which she had suffered had made Kim decide to have nothing more to do with men, nor to become independent of them via welfare grants. When asked whether she had all the information about her welfare entitlements, she replied, ‘No, not really, I don’t know about them things’ and went on to explain that she was now under the protection of her ‘Sugar Daddy’ whom she professed not to like, but who gave her accommodation and money, and had met her when she had left prison just after her first interview with us.
He was just a normal punter. Twenty pounds he used to come and pay. Then my geezer says, ‘Here you are, have her a bit longer but come back to my flat. Give her sixty quid and you can come and visit her at her flat’. And then it ended up with me going to his for eighty quid and then he decided not to have business with me any more, but was still giving me a hundred pound a week. Then giving me three hundred pound once a month. Now he’s got dead possessive over me, thinks I’m asking everyone to be my pimp.
Staying with her ‘Sugar Daddy’ did not prove a success:
I don’t want to go back to my Sugar Daddy. He’ll give me a home but he drives me insane…I’m greedy. I’m used to £100-£200 a day, and my Sugar Daddy won’t give me that much. I can spend a lot on drugs, and he likes to buy me what he thinks I need if I ask for it.
And she was still in touch with the pimp who had put her on the streets when she was 11 years old, and also had another boyfriend who was on drugs and to whom she referred alternately as her ‘partner’ or ‘best mate’. Her criminal career had certainly been precipitated by male exploitation and, insofar as at the time of interview she still saw men as being the only sources of funding for her drug habit, one might argue that she was now also dependent upon males.