Cathryn Berarovich is something of a renaissance sex worker; she is currently employed as a pro-dommeÂ but has held numerous interesting jobs in the industry. She usually shares her stories each Monday inÂ Harlotryâ€“however, for the next five weeks, sheâ€™ll be writing specifically about her experience with domestic abuse and sexual assault. Here isÂ part oneÂ and part two.
When Stanley and I finally broke up, it didnâ€™t feel the way I expected it to feel. I had expected freedom, I had expected joy, but I didnâ€™t feel any of those things. Mostly I felt alone and confused and so, so afraid. My identity had been so wrapped up in being Stanley’s Wife that I wasnâ€™t sure who I was without the title. It was over, I knew, but it was easier to cling to him than to be a person again. Besides, he wanted me to keep clinging… Besides, it was easy to pretend it might not be over forever… Besides, for the first time in our relationship, we had some level of communication. I began to really believe that things could go on like this forever, so long as we just never said we were together. The lack of a title was like a kind of magic, I thought. We could grow old together like this, a couple, but not a couple. We could start a family, strange as the arrangement might be, things would work out.
But shortly after I had become really convinced of the viability of our non-relationship things started to fall apart. He started threatening suicide, not seriously, but in order to hurt me. He started invading my privacy again, reading a journal he found hidden among my clothes, getting into my email again, and trying to go through my phone even as he railed against the government for employing similar tactics with its citizens. He began to accuse me of lying and cheating, though how I could cheat on a man I wasnâ€™t officially involved with, I donâ€™t know. He gave cryptic clues about what he knew, or thought he knew, or wanted me to think he knew, trying to trick me into a confession.
It was back to the beginning, and his habits were intensifying.
Once again I began to wonder if he might kill me, but at that point I was so depressed I hardly cared. I knew, on some level, that much of my depression was caused by Stanley, but I clung to him still. Why? Because I still loved him? Because I felt sorry for him? Because I had forgotten how to stand alone? Because I was so depleted that I was no longer sure if I had the energy to go my own way? Because he didnâ€™t have the money to move to an apartment farther away than just downstairs and so it was easy? I canâ€™t say. I ought to have cut and run as soon as I was free.
(Image viaÂ Christopher Saunders)