A few days ago we published a new Share your story page. We asked you to help us gather real experiences of the sex trade, to help put the record straight, to counteract the “Happy Hooker” myths and explain the truth, to say #MeToo, and #TimesUp for the sex industry. The responses have been overwhelming and heartbreaking and we want to thank everyone who has shared their story. This is a selection of the responses we’ve received so far.
Please keep the stories coming. They are powerful and moving and courageous. They will help people understand that prostitution, along with the entire sex trade, is harmful; first and foremost to those caught up in it, but ultimately to every single one of us.
All throughout my teenage years I was abused and raped by different men and boys. I got to the point where sex was just something I lay there and did. I realised at 18 that I had never actually had an orgasm from sex and I thought maybe there was something wrong with me. Sex was meaningless to me. It was sensationless.
When I was 18, I escaped the abuse after 7 years and even though I was working part time, I couldn’t afford my rent, the bills – and I also had a baby from one of the abusers who I needed to be able to clothe and feed and so on.
The part time job gave me around £900 a month which was nowhere near enough considering the rent was £550.
I decided to ‘do sex work’. I didn’t really know much about it but it made sense. I could have sex with men like I used to, but this time I would get paid for it. It seemed a win win.
I cannot express to you the dark empty echoing feeling of having sex with men who have paid to use your body and go back to their wives and girlfriends. The sex was sensationless. No orgasms. No fun. No pleasure. Just sex with some guy I didn’t know, who wanted to do stuff to me. The men did what they wanted to me, or I did what they wanted me to do to them, and they chucked me the folded up money and left to get on with their lives. Meanwhile, I’d be getting another text or call from some guy who wanted sex with me.
One time, after having sex with a bank manager and him flicking £100 at me, he walked out of the room and I curled up in a ball and sobbed for hours. I was empty. Sex was nothing. Nothing felt like anything. I drank myself into oblivion. I was 18 years old and I was still masking all of this with a respectable part time job in accounts. I was trying to recover from all of the abuse but also had completely disconnected myself from what sex was. I thought I was only worth sex. I had never known any different.
I stopped doing it at 19 and never did it again. The memories of doing it haunt me. The feeling of emptiness and hollowness of my body and my mind will stick with me forever. I have no idea how women cope with sex work/prostitution for years and years. Explains clearly to me why so many of them drink or take drugs. It took me YEARS to be able to have normal consensual sex with someone I loved and for it to feel like something.
The first time I sold sex for money was two years after the abuse, when I was offered as a 17 year old girl $300 for anal sex by one of my guy friends.
First thought it was easy-earned money considering what I had been through earlier so I agreed.
After a while, I was booked for sex through a chat online of many older men who wanted to meet me in their cars or on a street corner to walk to the nearest park for a blowjob.
One after another they were more and more scabbier and disgusting and forced me into more and more disgusting sexual things for payment. I did not manage to touch the money I received because it reminded of all the dirt I had to go through to get it.
In a terrible and brutal way, I learned to be a sex toy for men and listen to their wills. Yet today I have difficulty saying no. Do not want people disappointed. Even though I am on my way now, the shame is still in me and the fear of those men who showed me the worst sides of humanity.
Massage parlors early 70s. Dissociated, numb for so long, took over 40 years for me to realize the splitting of my soul.
My story is about the impact of pornography and sexual assault. As a girl growing up in the 1950s /60s both were normalised and minimised in my experience.
So what was the impact on me? Coming across pornography by accident in a wood as a young teenager it rocked my world. I felt belittled, confused, angry and afraid. Men it seems were really predators and sex and sexuality something that was there to exploit you.
Since then, I have been sexually assaulted twice, both times in public and both times ignored or belittled by those around me (female and male); been raped and subsequently felt belittled and betrayed by a partner who uses porn.
Do I cower in a corner? No, I have a successful career, 2 children, 4 grand children, a current partner and full life.
There are a lot of walking wounded in life but that in no way lessens the impact of pornography and prostitution. The hi-jacking of our sexuality by pornography and prostitution is so sad as is the normalisation of these forms of self soothing. We must do better.
I lived next to a red light district. Day or night, it was impossible to walk anywhere without being propositioned. Walking the dog, doing the shopping, or taking the kids to the park; they didn’t care.
I offered my services as a masseuse. I received so many men asking, expecting and demanding to have a sexual release, even after I said “No” during our initial communication.
This felt wounding for me to be sexually objectified, disrespected and not listened to, even though I was an older woman.
It truly was/is shocking for me to experience men’s endless chronic focus on getting off. They certainly seem to have no interest in learning communication skills.
And even today, at 65 years young, I still have men messaging me with their lies about meditation and their relentless focus on using my energy to get off.
Share your story
If you’ve been in the sex trade, or have been affected by it in other less direct ways, and would like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you.