Handbook for Universities: 9. The last word

This is the ninth chapter in the Nordic Model Now! Handbook for Universities.

Survivor voices: Andrea Heinz

Andrea Heinz had $60,000 of debt at the age of 22. She says, “I was struggling really bad. I wanted to go to university and naively saw escorting and massage as a way to clear my debts and pay my tuition”. These are her reflections nearly a decade after exiting the commercial sex trade in Canada.

What was said to me:

“Sex work is work”

“It’s a job like any other”

What happened:

The first man I saw forced sex acts on me that I wasn’t comfortable with.

Most of the men were married with children and were two, if not three (or four) times my age.

Men were repulsively unhygienic – refusing to shower beforehand, wanting to finger me with long dirty nails, breathing rancid breath two inches from my face as the smell of their body odour filled the room.

Men would arrive with skin tags, warts, ringworm, oozing sores, and other unknown rashes or bumps. They’d try to conceal it with dim lighting or excuse it away as “irritation from shaving”.

Men would try to secretly remove condoms; they were always trying to remove condoms. There was also no shortage of men pressuring me for a blowjob without a condom. That happened near daily.

Men would film me and photograph me without my consent. They’d hide their cell phones on record, or come wearing hidden camera items such as watches, or eyeglasses.

Men would choke me regularly. A couple times I thought I was about to black out and lose consciousness.

Men would make sexual references to children, asking me how old I was when I lost my virginity, and if I bled or cried when it happened. “You’re a good girl” was said to me countless times, and a schoolgirl outfit with pigtails was always the top request.

Men would make sexual references to animals and request urine/faecal play.

The dehumanizing and demeaning remarks were so hard on my spirit. I had to learn to dissociate and mentally leave my body each time my clothes would come off. Many nights I would cry in my bed before falling asleep.

Men became obsessed with me and would call and text me incessantly. One man followed me home from the brothel, shouted my alias name in the middle of my street at 2 a.m. and left love notes in my mailbox.

I got banned from America for ten years and labelled a “prostitute” for travelling there with a man who booked me for a weekend. Nothing happened to him.

The women I sold sex alongside were not happy or “empowered”. They were like robots operating on autopilot. Few had good support from friends and family. Very few had stable partners. All of them were in debt, most had no viable skills or education; many had addictions and/or untreated mental health issues.

I sold sex alongside a trafficking victim and women who were controlled by pimps.

I (unknowingly) sold sex alongside a 16-year-old girl even though the brothel was licensed and regulated by my city for “harm reduction”.

A woman I sold sex alongside was strangled to death and dumped in a farmer’s field. She was a single mom to a seven-year-old boy.

I witnessed women break down crying saying that it felt like being molested, like being raped in exchange for a few hundred bucks.

Relationships with my friends and family became extremely strained.

I became suicidal in the moments I wasn’t emotionally numb. I came close to ending my life on more than one occasion.

I spent two years desperately trying to exit before I was finally able to at age 29.

I ended up diagnosed with “Unspecified Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorder” by a psychologist I now pay $125 an hour to see regularly, nine years after exiting and still struggling to heal.

The money never made any of it worth it. All of the money I made is gone.   

What was said to me:

“Sex work is work”

“It’s a job like any other”

Don’t fall for it like I did.

Further reading

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