The high-class escort
My name is Megan King and I am a survivor of prostitution. I was advertised as a “high class escort”, pitched as a middle-class, well-educated young woman choosing this as a ‘career path’ out of my own free will. There seems to be this assumption within the world of prostitution that ‘escorts’ selling online are freely and willingly engaging because they ‘just love sex’ compared with the women who work on the streets who are viewed as exploited and deprived. […]
However, I am proof that this comparison is a myth and it is my strongly held belief, that there is little difference between where you sell sex and how much you charge, to the impact on the women involved.
Whether the punters truly believed the notion that I was free and liberated or whether this was just something they latched on to in order to justify their actions is unknown, but now I have the ability, after exiting prostitution to tell you about the reality of life for the women involved, and ultimately why I wholeheartedly support the sex buyer law or Nordic Model as the best model for protecting women.
Firstly, entry into prostitution is often complex. Although to the punter it appeared as though I had a choice in the matter, given the background of sexualised trauma I had experienced, to what extent did I really have a choice about my actions? To what degree were my experiences linked to my distorted view of sex already imposed on me by men earlier in my life?
Just because I was from a middle-class family and was well-spoken that didn’t automatically mean that the same complexities surrounding prostitution didn’t apply to me. Having never fully processed the childhood trauma, I suffered with complex PTSD into adulthood. At the point in my life that I entered prostitution, I was particularly vulnerable, even if the punter was unable, or simply too in denial, to recognise this.
A few months after suffering a bereavement, feeling lonely and looking for a partner, like many others in their early twenties, I turned to dating apps. Not long had I been on these apps than an older ‘gentleman’ approached me and feeling lonely at the time, I engaged in conversation with him and was drawn by his attention. Our conversations rapidly progressed to him telling me about some parties that he would like me to attend.
During this time, my mental health was particularly low, my son was staying with his father and I was signed off long-term sick from work due to my emotional wellbeing. So the thought of ‘fun parties’ sounded like a great way to get out of the flat and enjoy myself. When this man, I’ll call him Paul, told me he would pay me £75 an hour to attend these parties I thought even better. All it involved, he said, was dressing up nicely, complimenting two or three men, having a drink with them and providing them some company. It didn’t even occur to me at this point that I would be providing any kind of sexual service. It sounded like great fun and good money.
So I agreed to meet Paul. I even thought I was being self-protective by sending a friend of mine his vehicle registration plate and details of where I was headed. Once in the car, Paul was immediately inappropriate with me, using words that objectified me and touching me wherever and whenever he wished. That night Paul drove me to a B&B near Heathrow Airport. I remember feeling confused… what kind of party would be at a B&B?
Once there, he asked me to wait in the car. He shook the hand of another man, we’ll call him Charlie, they smoked together. Then Paul got back in the car and explained “Charlie will give you £150, £75 of that is yours and £75 is mine. I will be in the car. Take some condoms just in case”.
This was the first sign, as far as I was aware, that sex would be part of this deal… Paul assured me it was ‘just in case’ and that what happened with me and Charlie is between two consenting adults but that I was to return to the car after one hour.
Not really feeling like I had much choice as I was over an hour away from home and in the presence of two men I did not know, I followed Charlie to his room. It was quickly apparent that sex was not an ‘option.’ It was an obligation, with Charlie quickly demanding I take my clothes off so he could sniff some cocaine over my body.
During this time, I felt as though I had no say in what happened in that room. Charlie did what he wanted, took photos of what he wanted and at the end of the time, shook Paul’s hand and said Paul ought to keep me, as If I belonged to Paul.
That night, Paul didn’t return me home… Unbeknown to me he had set about creating an online profile for me as an ‘employee’ of his ‘agency’. Charlie sent him the photos taken in the room and these were uploaded, the more ‘intimate’ of which were allocated to a private gallery that made Paul extra money.
Paul then took me to two other locations that night and by the third, I’d learnt the ritual. Take the money, do whatever the man wants for the time allocated however disgusting or uncomfortable it makes me feel, then give 50% of my earnings to Paul who would drop me home whenever he felt he wanted to finish the night. On the way home it was also routine for Paul to expect and demand unprotected sex or oral sex on the basis that he needed to ‘test me out’ or because I owed it to him as he was making me a lot of money.
One would expect that after that night, I would have found a way to not repeat the experiences. However, Paul knew my address, had all my contact details and his compliments kept flowing. He was very manipulative. After seeing him a few times, believing he cared about me, I opened up a little about my personal situation to which he responded that ‘all his girls were messed up’.
Over time I even learnt that one girl who ‘worked’ for him, had taken her own life, about which he was rather blasé and showed little care or remorse for her or the three children she left behind.
Paul booked clients for me regularly and my life became a cycle of being paid for sex and crying on my bed wishing for my life to end.
Now I was caught up in it, I didn’t know how to escape it. But when I was with Paul or with clients, I was my alter-ego ‘Posh-Penelope.’ I learnt how to put on an act. I came to feel like Penelope was all I had and was the only glimmer of light on my miserable existence, even though, as soon as the booking was finished, the suicidal ideation returned.
After ‘working’ for Paul for a few months, I began to poach some of the clients and took some bookings on my own too, as I thought, perhaps if I do this independently and no longer see Paul, I’ll be happier. But I found it almost impossible to escape him completely, and working ‘independently’ didn’t change anything other than I had one less person to have sex with that night and kept a little more of the money.
It is also important for me to address that being ‘paid for sex’ is not simply ‘being paid for sex’. It is being paid for whatever desire or fantasy that man wants. On one occasion, after a very public handover of me from my pimp to the client, at Gatwick airport arrivals, I was merely beaten for an entire hour in the name of the ‘BDSM fantasy.’ There was no sex at all, just physical violence.
Another occasion, I arrived at a 70+ year old drunken man’s house who got angry when I insisted on the use of a condom. He demanded his money back, leading to a situation whereby the pimp and the client negotiated a ‘fair price’ for me. Other occasions and the one that will stay with me forever entailed visiting a man who graphically told me about his desire for child pornography, expecting me to ‘pretend to be a child’ and then acknowledging that he could tell I was a mother. I also found out through another woman selling sex that a man I was seeing regularly was on the run from the police for severe domestic abuse.
I met many other women through my time in prostitution and learnt their stories and am confident that the majority of these women are not free and liberated. When you are involved, you convince yourself that you are happy, as it’s the only way to stay sane in a world where you are bought and sold as an item and then reviewed online like an Ebay product. It is only upon finally finding the courage as well as the ability to leave, that you can truly objectively review your experiences and see it for what it was.
Although not all the men I saw were violent or abusive like some of the examples above, I was still always an object or a product to them due to the very fact that they were purchasing me. The only feasible way for us to tackle prostitution and help women such as the woman I once was, is to understand the root cause of prostitution which is the demand. Women like me should be able to report people like Paul to the police for inciting and controlling prostitution for financial gain. If prostitution was decriminalised, what he did to me would be perfectly legal.
If something positive can come from me being paid for sex, it’s that I will do everything in my power to share my story to encourage as many people as possible to join us in advocating for the Nordic Model approach.
And if there are any men here who have paid for sex, your ‘happy ending’ is anything but happy for the women being paid.