The intimacy of undisturbed visits

In the prison to be relations And intimacy is very important. Sometimes love stories happen in the institution itself, precisely because it is very difficult to maintain a relationship with someone from the outside. Only through visits can detainees maintain this bond. Can a married couple really escape the prison system?

There is such a thing as “Quiet visits” Which aims to give relatives a moment of intimacy without the supervision of guards. To receive this type of visitation, a family member must either be a legal partner or be able to demonstrate the validity of the relationship. These visits take place in a studio, between the four prison walls and last longer than a traditional visit. In addition to the undisturbed visit, there is also the visit behind the glass, where a glass wall separates the two parties from each other and the visit to the table where only physical contact is allowed.

After a few months in Bergen, Florence* was imprisoned in Birkendale for a few years. She and her partner Daniel* try to keep their relationship alive despite the obstacles between them. They do this mainly through undisturbed visits. But the prison system inevitably prevents them from enjoying their love life to the fullest. Although the Basic Law on Prisons and the Legal Status of Detainees, or in short the DuPont Law which has been in force in Belgium since 2005, prisoners should only be deprived of their freedom of movement in society. Their love life should not suffer from their family. However, the reality does not match the theory. This is due in particular to prison overcrowding, which has led to a deterioration in the living conditions in the prison camps. However, since 1975, sexual well-being has been recognized as a health factor by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Florence from her cell and Daniel from his living room entrusted us with their story of their relationship. Even after many years, both of them remember well their first visit, which was undisturbed.

Florence: “While waiting for the next moment, I make myself pretty: makeup and my hair. I wait with nerves that get worse by the second. My cell door opens and they ask me if I’m ready. I say yes, but I’m not actually. The guard takes me through the unfamiliar corridors. Everyone you pass looks on. To you with big, curious eyes screaming “Would you like to fuck?” Then there will be verbal, sloppy and particularly unwanted comments from the guards. As I walk the halls, I think of the man who makes my heart beat faster. I tend to this special tenderness that I don’t give It’s only physical love. I’m about to get there, even if I don’t know it myself. They threw me a blanket and towel. I entered a new section with a long corridor full of doors. I threw vile comments through my head: ‘Bitch, you’re going to be caught, you’re going to suck. Do you love’ Big cocks? It just goes on nonstop. I want to run, run. Suddenly my cell feels like a safe haven I want to be in and stay in. I’m scared and embarrassed The guard laughs. He opens a door for me and I come in. He tells me that my love is on his way and he’s going to bring him The ground is wet, And the sofa bed is moldy in the room.There is also a chemical toilet and shower that doesn’t even work as warned Other women. It smells like sweat and sex, and everything seems to be polluted by what God knows. Then the door opens and my love comes in, with “getting each other good,” the guard closes the door again. Thanks for the encouragement, but it wasn’t necessary.”

Daniel: “It was a hellish experience, a real nightmare. You get a bottom sheet, not even a blanket, no blanket, no pillow case…if there’s a pillow at all. Everything is covered in plastic. No radio to hide the noise of the screaming other guests, nor ours There are condoms. Once the guard closes the door behind him, it’s just the two of us, trying to forget where we are. You really should do it if you’re a little quality time Want to spend together. So we just throw ourselves in each other’s arms and cuddle all the time.”

Florence: “We flew into each other’s arms. I cried so hard, I was trembling. We stood there, hugging each other. It felt like the days had passed, but in fact it was only 45 minutes when we looked at the clock. The screaming said, but it never stopped. We opened the sofa that turns to a bed and we put the sheets on her and then put her naked, in symbiosis with each other. Our bodies together, without penetration. Affection is a lustful sensation when sex ends or does not happen. We stayed there, silent, not moving, without saying anything We both thought the same. We’re not talking about the toxic environment we find ourselves in. Since then, our sexual relationship has been reduced to this practice.”

Daniel: “Undisturbed visitation is first and foremost a form of tenderness. Sensuality and sex are added almost systematically, and this is inevitable. But for us it is mostly intimacy, not necessarily sex. It is the ability to hold and kiss each other without ulterior motives. , without looking at it, without thinking that it will take so long and they will have to tear us apart. To coexist in a more natural way because we know that there are no cameras or guards. In prison, during a quiet visit, there is no room for imagination and shovels. Even underwear is impossible there. The idea That this is our future for years to come is not a pleasant idea. But there is no way to rebel.”

Florence: “We had sex on our fourth visit and no one bothered. You should not underestimate the flexibility of a person: we are used to a lot and can ignore everything. We adapt. Making love while ignoring location, location, and comments, because you’re in the dungeon lobby. There is no heating and we have to lie in the middle of the sofa bed because it is quite unstable. We’ve fallen a few times and laughed at this ridiculous fourth dimension. We don’t have sex every time, although this may sound weird, but I can’t separate myself from my fantasies. I admit, I’m sexually frustrated.”

Daniel: “I think you have to be madly in love first, because that’s all you do. It’s not a satisfying intimate life, but you make the most of what you have. It won’t replace that feeling of sleeping with her in my arms and waking up next to her in the morning. The sensuality we experience is forced It’s a totally forced sex life and a love life. We’re told we have a right to love and be intimate on this and day from 2:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Unfortunately, that’s life and how the prison system works. Seven years later And a half, you forgot it. It’s like living next to a train track, but you no longer hear the train go by, even though it’s there. It’s exactly the same for us. With the constraints on us, our love life is as satisfying as possible. You can’t beat a system Prisons Difficulties, screaming or trying to harass the guards will never help. You have to take what you can, be happy with what you have and enjoy it to the fullest. Do we have a perfect sex life? Of course not. There are big holes on every level, it’s painful and difficult. She says we feel the same pain. We have a little more freedom in everyday life, but psychologically We experience the same suffering as the other half.

These testimonies are excerpts from the “Sexualité sous Surveillance” podcast series dealing with the sexual lives of women in prison. Available on Spotify.

*Real names are known to the editors.

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