Here are some more of the #MeToo stories of the sex trade that we’ve received through our Share Your Story page.
“If sex work is work, then why does our value as women who may work in the flesh trade go DOWN over time? Why are there no increased rates and certain employment securities for long-term employees? Why do the owners of flesh trade establishments PREFER young, naive and inexperienced girls to work for them?”
I was raped at age 14 while I was living on the streets which led to drug misuse.
At age 21 I became pregnant to an abusive man who then introduced me to heroin. I fell in love with the drug as it numbed my pain and mental health issues.
Due to the abuse and life style that accompanies heroin use my daughter was given to her paternal grandmother who then used this power as another way to control and abuse me.
I left the town I was living in and ended up with a man who suggested I become a prostitute to fund both of our habits. For 8 years I was in and out of prostitution, telling myself it was my choice and believing I had some control over the abuse I suffered on a daily basis. I was lucky in that I mostly worked as an escort or in brothels and was paid pretty well. But as the heroin wrecked my looks I found myself taking risks and was raped, locked in flats and assaulted, being forced into situations I couldn’t get out of.
I would fantasize about stabbing clients while they were using my body, going home after work and being in physical pain, bleeding and shaking. I realized I was suffering symptoms of PTSD and got out, went to rehab and realized the effects of prostitution were going to be life long.
15 years later I still get flash backs, nightmares, panic attacks and have a deep mistrust of men. My daughter will often tell me I was screaming and crying in my sleep.
I thought I needed therapy but have found that most female therapists judge me and so I spend my day to day life feeling trapped by my past, not knowing if I will ever truly heal.
Fortunately I have rebuilt my life and work for a charity that understands my emotional scars and I work with women with complex needs which I love!
I also discovered true feminism and Julie Bindel who has helped me immeasurably!
No woman should ever enter prostitution believing she will come out unharmed! While you’re in the life you lie to yourself to ease the pain, keeping a smile on your face while wishing he’d just hurry up and finish. This feels like being repeatedly raped.
I was a sales woman… why would I ever be honest about hating my job? You just wouldn’t cos it’s bad for business and you’d have to face reality then wouldn’t you?
I’m recovering the last nine months from a span of about 20 years in the sex business. First I was a dancer. Then I met an abusive husband. I started escorting as a way to survive. At first it was liberating. Until the days they started crossing boundaries and finally I was brutally raped three years ago. HOW do I heal from this?
Your site is the only site that I can relate to or makes sense to me. It has made me examine things and understand feelings a lot better. It really has.
Most of us are brainwashed into thinking we chose it. It helps my self esteem to know that if it weren’t for poverty and mental illness… Hell no! I wouldn’t have chosen that life.
As a teenager, I was raped and my rapist made pornography of it. Despite being under 18 and my perpetrator being 20 years old he was not charged with manufacturing child pornography – in fact, I was charged with making a “false statement” to police because they asserted that the video meant I consented, despite the fact I was crying and pleading for him to stop as he told me he was going to choke me until I passed out. Because of this I became an alcoholic and an abuser of benzos.
Shortly after my 18th birthday, I was recruited by a woman who worked in a peepshow/strip joint who told me it would be a good way of “reclaiming” my sexuality by “exploiting men” and that a pretty girl like me would make a bucket load of money. Because my sense of self worth was so low I made the mistake of accepting her proposition.
For every $2 that was put into the peepshow coin machine, we would get 75 cents to $1. Lap dances/private shows were $100 for the men but we received only $40. The owners of the sex shop where these peep shows were available pocketed the rest. If we did not undress within a certain time limit we would have our earnings penalised. If the men who bought private shows ejaculated on the floor instead of the provided hand towels, WE were the ones that had our earnings penalised. As with any legal ‘sex work’ in Australia, you are considered a subcontractor which means that your taxes, GST, superannuation (retirement money,) etc. are not managed by the employer, but you, the “goods” for sale are responsible for all of it. As a result, there is no guarantee of shifts, no sick days (it’s typical for ‘peep show girls’ to be penalised for taking days off by being given less shifts, or shifts that are known to be slow and difficult to make money such as a 9-10am start and a lunchbreak finish.)
We were not permitted to turn down any man who requested a private and I learned very quickly that I was the one being exploited and I wasn’t making any money. The men were old men – grandfathers who you’d see at the farmers markets on the weekends with their grandchildren; they were normal 9-5 men in business suits who decided they needed a quick wank on their lunch break. There were young men who were the same age as me who thought it was funny because they were “seeing a hot chick degrade herself.” The young men were the worst, because instead of tipping with notes, they would literally pelt you with $1 and $2 coins and point and laugh at you picking them up as you left.
I had men old enough to be my father or grandfather asking me to repeat their pornographic scripts while masturbating in front of me. Many told them that they thought it was “hot” that I reminded them of their own daughters, their daughter’s friends or even their granddaughters. There were men who were very open about the fact that they were school teachers who requested that you acted like a schoolgirl and would tell you about the students they wanted to assault.
The rooms for the private shows all have “panic buttons” but many of the other young women who worked there told me tales of men who would forcibly digitally penetrate them, ask how much for intercourse or other sexual acts and get angry when refused. I knew of other young women there who had been raped on the job and let me tell you, the panic button didn’t save them and then they had their earnings with-held when they would want to finish their shift early. And they were specifically instructed to not go to the police and were told it was their fault for not pushing the panic button. Shifts would be anywhere from four to twelve hours so the loss of earnings could be enormous.
And I think the most disturbing thing I found out about that place was the young woman who recruited me? The owners had hired her when she was 16 years old and were fully aware that she was underage. They didn’t give a shit because in their words “there was more money” in getting a 16 year old girl to take her clothes off while men masturbated than there was in say, a 30 year old.
If sex work is work, then why does our value as women who may work in the flesh trade go DOWN over time? Why are there no increased rates and certain employment securities for long-term employees? Why do the owners of flesh trade establishments PREFER young, naive and inexperienced girls to work for them?
Many years later, after managing to leave the peep show and move on with my life, and stay sober and clean, my de facto relationship went on a rapid and brutal downward spiral.
The funny, selfish and generous man I met became a mean, selfish and reclusive. He wouldn’t let me see my friends and he would get angry and threaten violence if I spoke to my parents. He would expect me to pay for everything.
Finally it culminated in him calling my friend the n word and calling her a bitch because she was talking about astrology with me. I told him not to talk to her like that and in response, he exploded with a stream of verbal abuse at me, shoving me violently and threatening me with more violence. He smashed my artwork that I’d decorated our home with. I knew I had to leave him and thankfully, I did. I reported him to Immigration as he was reliant on me for his Visa and he was removed from the country.
However, as I was attempting to study full time while on welfare and my ex had left me with several thousand dollars worth of debt because he made me pay for everything and contributed a small pittance when he felt like it (which was part of his controlling and abusive behaviour.) I didn’t want to end up homeless and I was struggling with debts.
So I ended up having to prostitute myself to make ends meet. It was even more awful than working in a peep show. I nearly ended up in a psychiatric hospital because of a massive relapse with my PTSD. It was more psychologically scarring than living with a man who had chipped away at everything I was as a person over five years.
The men were even worse than the peep show, because when men have given you money for sexual acts on them, they feel like they own you and they can do what they want. One night I had a man pull a knife on me and rob me of all the cash I had made that night. It was a fortnight’s worth of rent.
Thankfully, after seeing a social worker who referred me to an exit service, I managed to find an arrangement in order to keep my home and not have to return to selling my body to entitled men.
Strip clubs, peep shows, pornography and prostitution are NOT empowering, fiscally rewarding or an expression of one’s agency or an example of making a choice.
The women who charge several thousand dollars as “escorts” or “courtesans” or have sex with their boyfriends on webcam and repeat the mantra “sex work is work” are liars and do not represent the majority of us who end up in the flesh trade. They are a sheltered and well-funded minority who are the covers for pimps and men who feel entitled to sexual access to women’s bodies and lives.
If even ONE woman is for sale for men’s sexual entitlement, WE ALL ARE.
No girl or woman should ever have a dollar sign over their head or be for sale or rent, ever, anywhere.
I have many stories I could tell. I worked as a prostituted woman in Sydney when I was in my late teens, both in a brothel and on the streets of Kings Cross. Almost a decade later I worked for a number of years as a professional sub in a dungeon.
I have decided to briefly tell you about my first “job” working in a brothel.
The john was an older man who asked me to do a strip tease for him. As I was stripping he told me I reminded him of his daughter, he seemed pleased by this.
I know it’s a short anecdote, and I have definitely been treated worse by numerous other men, but it’s one small experience that has really stuck with me. That may be because he was the first man I ever saw as a prostituted woman, or maybe I remember it so well because it was so gross.
I started working the streets at 16 years old. My birth mother was a prostitute. She started at the age of 15 right after she had me at 14 years.
I started on the streets prostituting myself because I had low self-esteem and I wanted the attention and plus the money. I was born with FASD ADD. My grandmother adopted me but she kept me in contact with my mother so I knew what the streets was since I was a little girl.
I was a rope model at BDSM clubs/meetings for years. I convinced myself that it was art that I was doing and not porn. Men would proposition me all the time but I never said yes to sex for money in real life because I was terrified of these men. I saw what damage they could do with consent, and imagined what horrible things they might do without it.
The internet was a different story though. A man who had been following my blog since I was a teenager proposed to pay me for nudes the day I turned 18. I said no repeatedly, but eventually caved once he became threatening and I needed the money enough. I was given $150 for a video of myself masturbating. I made the video, and left it on my computer for a year. During that year, I met a guy who treated me very well and I moved in with him.
My boyfriend used that computer to check his email one night while I was at work. When I came home, he had it open with the video playing. He said he couldn’t stop watching it and couldn’t believe what a whore I was. He then proceeded to explain that he needed to do something to drive home the message that this was unacceptable, since I belonged to him. He raped me while beating me, telling me how worthless I was and making me repeat after him that I was his exclusively and would never show my body to other men again. He then moved the video to his hard drive. I stayed with him for three more years. When we broke up, he threatened to show it to all of his friends. I’m not sure if he did, but it seems likely that he put it on the internet.
The subculture I was involved in taught me that the more sex you were willing to have, the better a woman you were. Internet culture at the time taught me that it was easy money to make videos or pictures for men, and that it was something that could be fun. It also taught me there were no real life consequences for any of that. $150 is now the equivalent of what I make on a good night waitressing. The consequences of waitressing are that my feet hurt and sometimes I’m very tired at the end of a night. The consequences of making that video are that I still have trouble forming relationships with men, knowing that even a perfectly nice one might snap having heard about my past and assault me, because to men, what I did makes me lesser than other women.
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 anonymously, we’d love to hear from you.