Here are some more #MeToo stories that survivors of the sex trade have sent through our Share Your Story page. Thank you to every one who shared these powerful words.
“It hurts me when I read on twitter about how happy [prostitution] is and about choice and it’s empowering. Those people have never been in this situation. It is insulting to the reality of so so many women worldwide who are in this not through choice and who don’t have much of a voice.”
I was a ‘high end’ escort and a ‘porn star’ for a few years. It’s supposed to be the ‘glamorous’ end of the industry. In reality it’s anything but.
I was in a relationship with a man who would abuse and shame me for what I was doing but he would happily take the money I was earning for drugs. I had a rampant cocaine addiction, because I couldn’t cope with the reality of what I was doing if I was sober.
I was assaulted, had men tried to rob me or convince me they shouldn’t have to pay so much. I had my drink spiked on a shoot – and I still can’t remember what happened to me. Gang bangs, anal and men ejaculating on your face were mainstream in porn, and if you didn’t do them you didn’t get work.
I once shot a DVD series for Red Hot under terms that they were to be sold as DVDs only, with no channel time. They lied. Clips were shown on the free ten minute channel preview and people I know saw them. The bullying and stigma I received in my local community after that – and sexual harassment – meant I moved to a different city because I was terrified someone would say something to my children.
I lived a double life; mum by day, sex worker by night and when they were at school. I thought the money I was earning was giving them a better life than I had, but it was destroying me.
Before I ever entered the industry I had survived childhood sexual abuse and horrific domestic violence. This was a common story among the girls I escorted and performed with. At the end of the day when the men had gone we would swap stories of our traumas. There was no ‘empowerment.’
I’m now sober, work with prostituted women and am happily married to a lovely guy who is very anti-porn and completely supportive. I still get flashbacks. I feel messed up sexually – it’s a performance for me, I have no idea what I really want or enjoy.
I have A LOT of anger towards men.
I was in hospital for seven months under a section due to mental health issues. When I left hospital, suddenly, there was no follow-up, no day programme, no appointments, nothing. I managed. I was on ESA and DLA – not rich but I had enough to live on monthly and I coped.
Then I got a letter telling me about an assessment for my benefits. I went to the appointment and the woman was vile. She made massive assumptions about how I was coping, spoke out loud to answer the questions she asked me and said things like, “Yes you go out with your friends obviously don’t you?” without waiting for a reply.
I wasn’t prepared and I had no evidence, I didn’t realise you needed that and the letter didn’t say about that. I was kicked off the benefits with one month’s notice, scared the money would run out very fast and I would be left homeless.
I applied for hundreds of jobs, but due to having 185 sick days in the past year, no one would touch me. My job history now has a big gap, having worked since I was 16, always worked, it now has a big gap in it from the hospital stays.
I thought I was going to lose my home, I love it here so much. I needed the money, there were no two ways about it.
So I did it (sex work) to avoid ending up on the streets, where I thought I would be hurt anyway. So it hurts me when I read on twitter about how happy it is and about choice and it’s empowering. Those people have never been in this situation. It is insulting to the reality of so so many women worldwide who are in this not through choice and who don’t have much of a voice.
Literally no one knew I was doing this. No one. I went to get help from a project to try to exit and they kept talking about it as a lifestyle choice. They dismissed all of the medical problems I have and the pain I was in. So I disengaged from the whole system, everything, and went it alone. People like me are hidden, you don’t see us.
I was raised by paedophiles and brought up to think my best chance at life was to become a prostitute. For a while I managed to avoid it, I worked in a warehouse and then in hospitality. After being sexually abused by a self-professed psychotherapist I fell into deep despair and ended up working as a prostitute to try to prove to myself that I was really OK after all and if I just believed it, then everything would be OK.
It wasn’t OK, I only lasted eight clients. The first client was handsome and nice, I thought it would be OK – but when it happened I looked up at him, and I just realised that it had nothing to do with me. He was just getting off inside me as though I wasn’t even there.
It felt really lonely. It’s a weird thing to say. But when someone else has inhabited your body instead of you it is lonely. I thought maybe the next person would be better, no one was actually violent or mean to me – but by the time I’d seen eight clients I became acutely suicidal and left. It reinforced everything I’d grown up with knowing – I don’t exist, I don’t matter, no one is safe, my body is just a piece of trash…
It’s about nine years since that happened, I still look at men I’ve come to love and trust and I see the expressions of my clients’ faces overlaid on their faces at times and I have to turn away in disgust and horror. I pray for a world where no one has to offer their body as an object and we all treat each other with dignity and respect.
I blame myself for doing it, and I wish I’d never had to learn about it. Money doesn’t stop your soul from bleeding. In many ways I’ve put it all behind me, but the knowledge that so many normal, nice, ‘good’ men can do this has left me permanently changed. We buy goods and services for money, but I don’t think bodies can be totally separated from their souls.
Money is exchanged, but I really don’t think you can buy or sell bodies. I don’t think it works. You just buy the ‘right’ to invade without being prosecuted. You buy silence and you buy the destruction of another. Whoever thinks that’s ‘sexy’ is clearly in need of help.
I used to think that men bought sex because they couldn’t get it consensually for whatever reason. After my small experience in prostitution I realised that most of them could get it for free – they just don’t want to. They don’t want the give and take, they don’t want to have to consider their partner or their needs. They just want to be the centre of it and have every little wish and whim indulged. They are like emotional babies. I have remained single ever since, despite pleas from ‘nice’ guys and ‘good men.’ I know there are good men, but I can just never go through anything like that again.
All the men who try to say women should be more trusting and give them a chance would have way more success if so many women weren’t being harmed by men. They say that we have issues and we’re too screwed up, they should look to themselves and their friends and see who is screwing us up and how it is happening.
I’m 28 and already I feel bitter and twisted.
PS If you ask a man, how much money can they be paid before they don’t feel violated by your unwanted pinkie finger in their ass? They may begin to understand.
How much money would it take not to feel heartbroken that a woman was willing to shove a baseball bat in your butt just to get an orgasm?
Would having two hungry kids to feed soften the blow to your psyche?
There are more questions, but I’m feeling too angry to continue. Men seem to only understand harm when there’s a chance it might possibly relate to them. Like how torture is usually what we call severely awful stuff that happens to men, and abuse is what we usually call severely awful stuff that happens to women – even if it’s exactly the same acts.
I hope you have heard about the organisation called ‘Persons Against Non-state Torture.’ They are truly amazing. Some people in prostitution are tortured, I wasn’t, well not since I was a kid, but some people are.
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.