In the second part we will talk about how human trafficking benefits from transphobia and how threats to out a trans person in a hostile climate, make her a victim of rape.
Maria was contacted in Facebook by an acquaintance for whom she knew that he had moved to Germany and was working there as a gigolo. At the time when he contacted her, he was back to his hometown and he insisted on meeting her there. Maria was reluctant at first, but then he started threatening her by telling her that he knew her secret and he would out her to her family, friends and by that, her life in the town would become impossible. Moreover, he made threatening comments about her sister, in case Maria would not agree on meeting him.
Not surprisingly, after meeting, he brought her to his house, locked her in the room and revealed to her his plan: he wanted to sell her to his pimp in Germany. He said that she could benefit financially by that, if she would not make any problems.
Then he made her undress and forced her to have oral sex with him. Afterwards he took pictures of her in different poses and told her, he would send the pictures to the pimp. The next step was a physical rape with an object and Maria told me that in this moment, she had switched on all her psychological self-defenses in order to survive mentally what was happening to her. After hours she was set free and was told that she would be „trained“ every day or every second day by him for her „future work“ and that she had to be always available.
Maria went to a friend and told him what had just happened to her, without naming the rapist. At that point, I asked her why she did not consider going to the police. She made clear her distrust in this institution, something that all other interviewees have also stressed. She told me that some time before the rape experience, she had been robbed and beaten on the street and she had reported to the police, including the name and the address of the offender, and bringing medical report, which proved her injuries were due to the attack, but „nothing happened“. Another factor, which made her unwilling to report the rape were her traumatic experiences at school, where she had been bullied for years without receiving any help from any teacher or the school administration. She found no other way than constantly skipping school in order to escape the terrific bullying.
On the day after the rape, Maria received a call by the rapist and an order to meet him again. He talked to her using a feminine pronoun and during the interview, we commented on the absurdity of the situation: the abuser was the only person who knew that she identified as a woman and referred to her as a woman. This second time the rape lasted for hours and she considered it a mere luck that the abuser’s father returned home, so she could leave after that. After leaving the place, she went to a friend to whom she was feeling attracted. He recognized soon that something had happened to her and insisted on knowing what it was. She was in a state of shock and had difficulties talking.
Some days later, the rapist contacted her once again and she went inside his car, but let the door open. She told him that she confessed all to her parents and stressed the connections her father had with people from the police. (Once again, her statement makes clear, how unreliable the police institution is in Bulgaria. A victim needs to have special connections to the police in order to receive proper treatment.) While talking to him, two friends of hers approached the car. The one who she went to after the second rape, and a friend of him. They took the law into their own hands, while Maria was deleting her naked pictures from the rapist’s phone. The three left before the police arrived. Since then, she has met the rapist several times in the same town, but he avoided eye contact with her.
Maria began dating the man who helped her to end the series of rapes, and is still together with him. During the interview she mentioned shortly a moment of sexual abuse conducted by her boyfriend, however she is reluctant to perceive it as a rape. The sexual assault by a partner is a very sensitive topic, even more under these circumstances, in which she had received help only by him and she perceives him as her „savior“. Can a savior also be a rapist at the same time and how would this influence her perception about him? I would just describe what Maria shared with me, without taking a position, however mine is different from hers. She told me about an accident between them in which her boyfriend wanted to have sex. She refused and ran away to the balcony, but he trapped her there and got what he wanted.
At the end, I would like to thank Maria for the courage to share her story and for her agreement to publish it in the blog.
The interview with Maria was conducted in August 2015 by the Bilitis staff member Lora Novachkova, who also wrote after Maria’s approval the two-parts of the article „What does it Mean to be a Trans Woman in Bulgaria?“.