Here are some more #MeToo stories that survivors of the sex trade have sent us on social media or through our Share Your Story page. Thank you to every one of you who shared these powerful words.
“I was beaten, set on fire, cut, bitten, choked, robbed and raped, sometimes by men who were high up in the police or were judges, doctors, politicians.”
I started in high end escorting because I had just escaped a violent partner who would let his friends rape me if they gave him beer. It was the only way I could see to pay off the huge debts he’d run up in my name, rent a flat and pay the deposit, buy clothes because I’d left in what I was wearing. He had taken all my wages every month. I had worked in a restaurant, who sacked me because he rang them and caused trouble. I have no family who could have helped.
I was OK for a while. I ended up meeting a man who offered to drive me to jobs for another agency. He slowly took over. He wouldn’t let me turn jobs down. The agency knew this and I was sent to the worst places. I was beaten, set on fire, cut, bitten, choked, robbed and raped, sometimes by men who were high up in the police or were judges, doctors, politicians.
I was sent to at most 10 men a night. At least 4-5. They knew I couldn’t say no. I was never allowed a night off. I wasn’t allowed to see a doctor. I was often very much in need of medical attention. Some days I wasn’t allowed to eat. I didn’t get to keep the money I earned. I lost my flat, all my possessions. He kept me locked in his house.
When I finally managed to run away he found me and beat me in the head with a crowbar. The police wouldn’t help, because prostitution is legal where I live, and they said he hadn’t done anything wrong in making me work – and that I couldn’t prove it was him who beat me. Which I couldn’t.
I tried to commit suicide. I was sent to a mental hospital. After that I was put in a refuge. When I left there I was homeless and worked on the street. I did that for two years.
I got sepsis from another beating and couldn’t work. Once I was better I found a charity that helps women in street prostitution and they helped me get a place to live.
I don’t work any more. I survived but only just, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t.
I simply know that prostitution is the most evil thing ever. It uses girls’ bodies for men’s pleasure. Over 5,000 men raped me coz I never once wanted sex, so I didn’t consent. That’s the reality of being a prostitute. I feel so ashamed.
When I was 19 I started seeing johns or “clients” through online ad sites for extra cash. I had bought into the “sex work is work” line and expected it to not be that bad. It was horrific. Sometimes they would get away with doing violent and disgusting things to me. Sometimes they’d get away with not even paying. Even the “good” johns traumatized me, as they got off on having more power than I did.
I stopped, and thankfully I have better things going for me now. But the horror and PTSD will stick with me forever. I have trouble with sex and don’t really feel sexual pleasure anymore. I can’t sleep many nights. I was also harassed when I was prostituting by other women who thought I was “lesser.” Never once did they care that it was the johns who were raping and hurting me.
One of the biggest barriers of supporting women exploited by the sex trade, in my view, is the denial. Of the former ‘sex workers’ (inverted commas intentional) I know… they all say that at the time, they believed they were strong and free and liberated because they were choosing this.
But upon leaving they realised the opposite was true.
They weren’t free, they were not liberated and they absolutely did not have a choice or were incapable of making an informed choice at the time due to mental health struggles or the control of a pimp or the ‘love’ of their ‘partner’ who didn’t take earnings off them but bought their affection and encouraged them into the industry.
When leaving, they describe a mental battle of trying to ascertain freedom. Is freedom the ability to “sleep with who they want and earn money at the same time” or is that in fact total bondage?
Luckily the girls I know who have escaped, eventually came to the second conclusion.
If there is a pimp involved or a partner, it can be a little like Stockholm syndrome.
When time passes and healing happens, they realise that escaping is the true freedom.
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.