‘The sex industry preys upon poor, abused and mentally ill women’

Here are some more #MeToo stories of the sex trade we’ve received through our Share Your Story page. We do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed, but each story is important, moving and powerful, and reveals yet again the awful truth about prostitution – that it is neither easy money nor a route out of poverty for disadvantaged women.

“The issue is so much bigger than just the sex industry. I was treated like a sexual object and commodity from an incredibly young age and still am. I can’t walk down the street without being catcalled or harassed. It really hurts to know these men are so willing to use my body but have absolutely no concern for me as a person or my wellbeing. Things have to change.”

Gabriella

I grew up being abused by my mother verbally, emotionally and physically. I had an absent father and no other family in the country. I was home educated and an only child – so incredibly isolated.

There were many points in my life where I felt sex work was the only way out for me. It was the only thing I could think of to escape my mother’s abuse. At 13 I was giving Web cam shows to 20 something year old guys for free and sending naked pictures to anyone who would ask. I contemplated stripping and arranged auditions at clubs.

Later on I became a lingerie model and would also do topless pictures for money. I had a brief stint as a cam girl. My life changed for the better and now I don’t do any of those things but I know without question that, had it not, I would probably be on a porn set somewhere or selling sex.

It breaks my heart to know there’s women out there doing this because I know how desperate, broken and lacking in self worth you have to be to even consider it. The sex industry preys upon poor, abused and mentally ill women because they are the only people who will do it, and society at large doesn’t care about them.

The issue is so much bigger than just the sex industry. I was treated like a sexual object and commodity from an incredibly young age and still am. I can’t walk down the street without being catcalled or harassed. It really hurts to know these men are so willing to use my body but have absolutely no concern for me as a person or my wellbeing. Things have to change.

Anonymous

I was 14 but said that I was 15 because I thought they wouldn’t want to buy from me otherwise.

A man, maybe 50? Asked me how old I was, and I said 15.

His answer was “Great. I love younger.”

Nickey

Bella was the most beautiful and strongest girl I ever had the privilege of meeting. She was Albanian, and though she didn’t speak English well at all, the two of us had an instant connection, and a lasting understanding of each other. Her story broke me, and the pain she must have felt I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

She was young, only 19, and had been raised by her grandmother her whole life, probably happily, until her grandmother passed and Bella was lost. She had connected with someone she thought was a smart young girl and had left her home country, flown to this country, and met with the girl she had been communicating with online for months. But it wasn’t a girl, when she arrived she was met by a man in his 20s, but it was too late for her. From the second she had stepped on that plane it was too late for her.

At the time I was also being controlled by a pimp, who after months of controlling me, was starting to gain some trust in me. He let me manage the other girls and as long as I still made my quota, he always made sure I was fed and had a roof over my head. I was almost delusional, thinking he actually cared about me, but my story with him is for another time.

I didn’t meet Bella until a few weeks after she had landed, when the man brought her to us, and pulled my pimp aside to explain. She was a mess, she was bawling, and I knew I had to comfort her. That was always my job, comfort the new ones, but there was something different about this one.

My pimp later explained it to me, she had been brought over, and she had made no money, and the man was giving her over saying she was a useless liability. I didn’t know if she understood what we were saying, but I knew I had to help her. First, I had to figure her out. We were sent to the other room to take pictures, set up an ad, and I was to teach her how to be “useful” to our group. But I used that time differently. I used it to talk to her, and to let her know she was safe… Or as safe as she could be at that moment.

She didn’t know the language well, but translator apps helped me get the message across, and helped her get a message across to me. A message that truly broke my heart. Bella knew what was expected of her, but she wasn’t like other girls. Bella was a lesbian, and I knew in that moment how to help her the best I could. I told her that. I told her with as much sincerity as I could manage, “You don’t have to do anything, just trust me, and I will keep you safe” and she kissed me. A long passionate kiss, and I knew she understood.

There was no need for a separate ad for her, all we needed was the pictures, and I would take care of the rest to protect her. She couldn’t see clients alone, and I would make sure she wouldn’t have to. I added her pictures to my ad and posted as a duo, explaining to my pimp that I was just “teaching her what to do,” the truth being that I was making sure she wouldn’t have to sleep with a man.

In that first night, in only one client, the two of us as a duo made over $2600 entirely in $100 bills. My pimp was happy, she was happy, and I felt like maybe for just a second I had done a little good towards the girl, I felt like I had helped her feel more comfortable in this new country. I knew if we continued I’d soon be able to get her a ticket and send her home.

But it wasn’t meant to be. We only got a week together and that week was the most wonderful whirlwind of love between the two of us. Until the man returned, having heard of Bella’s sudden success. I knew the second I saw him I would never see Bella again.

Bella came to me then, a smile on her face, but her words were not happy.

“He has things that belonged to my grandmother back in Albania. He says I can have them back I just need to earn them…” I stopped her there.

“I won’t be going with you Bella,” thinking that would make her reconsider. She shook her head, kissed me quick, and said, “I know what to do now, I’ll be back in a week, and we won’t have to worry.”

I knew those words were a lie the man had fed her, I knew she wouldn’t be back, I knew that if she walked out of our room with that man I would never see her again. But when I tried to tell her, she simply shook her head, telling me not to worry, and repeating that she would be back in a week.

I kissed her one last time, and never saw her again.

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.

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