These powerful and moving pieces were sent to us through our Share Your Story page, which provides a space for women to tell of their experiences of the sex trade in their own words.
50 years ago, I worked in a strip club, then a massage parlour, then one of those upper crust places with champagne and swimming pools.
Still not over it. Still feel the shame, dissociation from the body, broken in pieces, lack of trust, feeling as if I cannot let anyone really know me because if they did, well, that would be the end of that relationship – as superficial as it is, it’s better than utter aloneness.
Prostitution and the pornography that supports it destroy women. Why is that so hard to understand?
Also, it’s impossible to assess the damage while you are in it because then, you would not do it. So obviously, you lie to yourself and everyone else. Lying becomes the norm. A hard habit to break, that lying. Especially to your children.
And yes, my father beat my mother and was planning to murder me and my brother when my uncle stopped him. Daddy issues, they say, nonchalantly. Daddy issues. Oh.
I had a beautiful home and a family with children I loved and took care of every day. Turned out after 20 years my ex-husband wanted all the money we had and didn’t give a damn about me. It left my son and I homeless for eight years.
I decided we’re going to get off the street one way or another so I started prostituting. Coming from somewhat of an educational background and working in medical, it was a complete change of career. I had only slept with seven men in my entire life at the age of 49. I didn’t even know how to prostitute myself.
I actually asked this girl in Vegas, a very young attractive black girl, would you help me break into hooking. She told me, honey, we don’t break into hooking. We just do it. Then she asked me, is that what you were doing yesterday? You looked like you were walking to the bus. Like you were on your way to work. She said you need to slow your walking down. You got nowhere to go.
She was right. Seven years later, here I am still prostituting myself. It is not a happy hooker situation at all. I don’t enjoy sex with strangers – but when I get the money, I feel like, oh my God I can feed my son. I can take care of my son. My son had a serious injury that almost killed him, so I never stop doing this. I got a job but until that job kicked in, I still had to do what I didn’t want to do.
There is no happy hooker situation here. I’ve been thrown out of a car. I’ve been beaten. I’ve been punched in the face. They take your money. They don’t give you the right amount of money that you asked for and they feel privileged to do so.
What kept me going is that I cared for my son who was severely injured. He doesn’t walk anymore and I pray one day he knows that I love him but not what I did because I love him. He’s not only my friend, he’s my son. I think he’d be mortified if he knew what I did. But it beat me watching him not being able to have a normal life like other teenagers
I only hope after I die my son can forgive me for what I’ve done – even if it was to help him.
And if I can say anything to you other ladies, thank you to the women who understood that I did it because I had to, not because I wanted to. And please ladies try your very best – don’t rely on anybody else and don’t fall into the same pitfalls I did.
God bless you all. Please be safe if you’re out there doing this – someone cares about you. It’s me.
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, please see our Share Your Story page.