A woman who wants to remain anonymous sent us this powerful and moving story 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.
I was groomed into sex work by an ex; it started simple. Small, like drops of water into a bucket. At first it was camming, which at the time when my ex suggested it sounded easy enough. I thought, well I could make that work. At the time I was doing a shitty job, with shit pay, barely able to cover my bills, sometimes not even, and I wanted some financial security. I was wrong.
I thought it was to be on my terms, all I needed was an extra 200 a month. I thought it’d just be one or two hours. Well, I was inherently wrong.
When I announced to my ex, “Hey I thought about it, I might do it on the weekends,” he immediately became more controlling. At first it was “motivation.” He would come by my house after work, and would help me get my things ready, the camera. I would get showered, made up, and I would stream; he would politely direct me from his phone what to do.
I thought, hey this would be easy. I was fucking wrong. Weekends became weeknights, at first a few in the week, then gradually he moved further into the whole week. Two hours became three, then four, and I was getting exhausted.
The day came when his full mask came off. I’d had a rough day at work, and I didn’t want to stream so I went straight to bed. He wasn’t happy. At 1 a.m. he came into my bedroom, dragged me from my bed and beat me for well over an hour. When he was done, he told me I can have the week off, but I would now owe him double what he normally took from me.
My body was bruised all over, I contemplated calling the cops, but I was scared because he knew them, so I tried calling my grandma to take me away from where I was. I was accused of being drunk and then she hung up. I was at the time completely alone. I have autism, and this was my first chance at really being on my own. I never felt more alone than that night and I was scared.
That loneliness would haunt me throughout my whole ordeal. The streams continued after the bruises healed. Every night I would paint my face, dress up slutty, trying my best to mask the pain inside, just to put on show my body, to an uncaring audience for their sexual gratification. I mean after all why trouble people with your own problems when they came to have a good time? My ex would use the threat of brute force if I didn’t perform well. Every night I was just streaming myself into a void, to an audience that didn’t care there was a human behind it.
Yeah, sure, I wasn’t being pimped on the streets. I wasn’t forced to work in a strip club. But it was still hell. I was being intimidated to debase myself for an audience because I was scared, and alone. I had no support system, no help. Eventually I accepted my lot. I pretended I wasn’t there, that the person on the screen wasn’t me. What little profit I earned went to vodka, which made the whole experience bearable; I was scared and alone, and I did drink to forget that, and it never worked well for me.
Eventually the toll of working on top of streaming got too much and my job fired me. So now I was completely indebted to my ex. He would rack up bills and make me pay for them with streaming quotas; when the streaming quotas didn’t meet his expectations, he made me sign up for sugar dating sites.
I can’t remember any bit of my life at that point, I don’t want to.
Eventually it took a rape for my family to actually help me. I am not afraid anymore, but I am torn inside. I was happy once, and I can’t for the life of me even in my time of peace, be happy anymore.
Sure, it wasn’t the type of sex work normal people would think of as “exploitive” but it happened to me. I was forced into that. When you glamourize it, and scream that its empowering, you ignore reality. Just because you had a choice, doesn’t mean it’s the same for everyone.
I thought in the beginning I had a choice. I didn’t. It was my choice until it wasn’t; when you say sex work is a choice, it’s an ignorant lie. If I’d been paid well, I probably wouldn’t have considered it. It definitely became a non-choice when I was beat that night. I am pretty much sure I am not an exception, and I know you probably say it’s a choice to console yourself, just like I drank to forget.
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.