‘Sex work is a special hell that men have created for women’

Or ‘The costs of selling your soul to survive: it’s priceless’

A woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent this powerful and harrowing piece in 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.

When I close my eyes, I can remember it. I am not going to mince words here. My life was hell. There has never been a time when I wasn’t unhappy, or depressed.

My own family scapegoated me and taught me that my worth was dependent on how well I pleased them – that not only should I not expect love or happiness, but pain and cruelty instead. Because of my disabilities, I was a prime target for bullying, I was never encouraged to be something beyond what others thought of me. I was told time and again how useless I was.

When you spent your childhood and adolescent years having that drummed into you, you no longer aspire to be anything but meek and humble. You don’t learn how to form boundaries. You don’t learn how to stick up for yourself. You only learn how to avoid pain further.

Being disabled, I was expected to act normal. My family left me on my own and I fell into the trap that was sex work. I got into it because of an ex who behaved like both my parents in one. This was the familiar feeling – that I both hated and feared and felt drawn to, because that is what I knew at the time. No one helped me or looked out for me. No one cared about what I felt.

I can’t talk in detail about what happened to me, because it’s blacked out. I don’t want to remember it. Sometimes it creeps up on me in an instant, and I am back in that room. I can sometimes smell the cheap vodka and perfume, mixed with cigarette smoke.

Even if I were to remember… When I pleaded with my own mother for help, she slapped me and told me that I was a pushover. Not knowing that in my formative years it was her lessons that taught me to believe in the lie that pain=love.

There was nowhere else I could go to, no shelter, no help, no nothing, and if I were to speak out publicly, people would denounce me and talk about “well not all…”

It’s because no one wants to acknowledge the cancer that is sex work on our society. No one wants to, because it brings men pleasure.

It’s not just average turning tricks, it’s that, plus cam work, plus OnlyFans, plus shooting videos to upload to a porn site in a seedy motel. A lot of the amateur content creators that I knew on PornHub worked on other things besides filming videos, because not one stream of income is enough to make a living on. Unless you have a massive following, and have money to start from the get go, you need to do more than one thing to earn money in sex work.

Those who make money on only one avenue like camming or OnlyFans, are the exception, not the rule. Unlike in the past where prostitution was done in person, a proposition and exchange was simply two clicks away. Just arrange a place to meet, then done.

It’s no longer just one way of prostitution; it’s online, it’s massive and it’s too easy to do.

My family failed me, from the start. Society failed me because they have nothing for mildly disabled people. I am not functional enough to get a steady job, but I am not disabled enough to get benefits.

When I prostituted myself, it was to subsist and survive, not live lavishly. I wasn’t buying extravagant things, or living my best life.

I was eating whatever was available at the gas stations at 2am and washing it down with a bottle of cheap vodka; hoping whatever god on this earth would do me the small favour and kill me with alcohol poisoning to release me from the waking hell I was in. I would get close to blackout drunk praying to whatever kind benevolent being would end this nightmare in my sleep. I’d wake up the next morning disappointed I was still alive.

I didn’t care about living at that point. Living was just too painful for me. The amount of hurt I was in, the suffering I had to keep quiet on, was too much for me to bear. Yet I could never actively harm myself in the sense of taking it into my own hands. I just wanted to be gone.

I was in hell. Pure hell. I can’t speak publicly because no one knows the truth, but at least I can say it here. Sex work is a special hell that men have created for women. It’s not empowerment, not once did I feel empowered.

I felt like dying each moment I was still involved. I hated every man involved. I dreamt of strangling them in my sleep.

Yes, every man who’s reading this and is watching porn or hiring prostitutes, I hate you. I wished in a just world, you would be taken from society, because whatever person I could’ve been at this point in my life is gone; you’ve killed her, and now here stands her corpse; ridden with all the scars, and imbued with all the pain, shambling lifelessly, pretending that life is normal.

I am not the only one, but men like you killed me, in the sense that whatever hopes and dreams are dead, whatever happiness gone, and you did it for the sake of your pleasure. I hate you.

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.

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