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I think it is time that I tell a small portion of my story…I started working in the sex trade after I was introduced to the industry by an older female friend in grade 9 at the age of 15. Prior to ever entering the sex trade I was exposed to numerous prostitutes and pimps involved in the lifestyle-these people were my friends (so I thought) and the lifestyle was normalized prior to ever stepping a foot on the stroll. I left the city in which I was raised and engaged in the sex trade on a daily basis regardless of the weather conditions, my health and well-being, my safety, and mental capacity from the age of 15 to just shy of my 20th Birthday. My family looked everywhere for me, contacted friends and eventually listed me as a missing person. I had a fake name; however, used my real name and age when dealing with the authorities. I was charged and convicted numerous times with “Communication for the Purpose of Prostitution” however, I was never apprehended nor was my family ever contacted that I had been located. I was just another run away, a hooker. I was forgotten…

I worked in the majority of Canadian cities coast to coast. I worked on the streets, in massage parlors, escort agencies, bars/taverns/pubs/hotel lobbies/strip clubs, the news paper, off the telephone, from a vehicle/taxi. Anywhere a man would attend or frequent there was a potential to engage in prostitution.

I had numerous pimps over the years-some treated me better than others, some were better liars, some were more physically aggressive, some were more sexually demented. I was exploited, beaten, humiliated, arrested, traded, raped, used, abused, robbed, and deprived the necessities of life on a continual basis. I came to a point that I no longer wanted the “protection” of a pimp. I lied and made up a fictional pimp-the recourse for that was physical retribution from the other girls on the stroll and the pimps that had the girls working for them. There were rules to the lifestyle and they had to be followed or you would suffer the consequences; therefore, I was back at the mercy of a pimp.

I had so many bad dates. These “Johns” felt that they could violate me in any way they so desired for there own sexual gratification and there would be no recourse. When mainstream society conjures up an image of what an individual that pays for sex they have a stereotypical view that they are the rejects/misfits of society, they can not get a woman or have a relationship, they are sexual predators’ etcetera. Yes those types of men do frequent sex trade workers and exploited children; however, the majority have middle class to upper class social standing; they are professionals, husbands, brothers, friends-the unsuspecting type usually between the ages of 20-60 years old.

Two of the worst dates I ever had were at the hands of affluent men within the community. The first physically assaulted me, emotionally toyed with me and eventually raped me. After he was finished with me he threw me out of a moving vehicle and threw monies at me for “services rendered”. At that exact moment police happened to drive past and see me being thrown from a moving vehicle and pursued him. As it turns out, that individual was the head psychiatrist at a University Hospital across the boarder. He was charged and received a slap on the wrist.

The second date slit my throat and beat me with a crescent wrench. I received numerous stitches and staples to my head and various other parts of my body. The neighbors heard me yelling as I was able to make it out of the private residence. The individual was detained and charged by the police. This bad date was an architect that assisted in the design of the new city hall. I went through the court process in which I was victimized all over again by the judicial system, the perpetrator, his family and myself. I ended up agreeing to a plea bargain as I was 6 months pregnant, trying to exit the sex trade, and was finally going to reunite with my family after so many lost years.

I returned to my native city, had my fist born child, entered therapy, and returned to school-I was assessed at a grade 8 level. I graduated from high school and went on to University where I studied Social Work. I have been professionally employed as a social worker and have had the role of counsellor and am currently working at Children’s Aid as an Investigator. I investigate allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. By no means is that a perfect system; however, it is something to help assist in the abuse and exploitation of children. Do changes need to be made? Absolutely. I try to help one child and family at a time.

Statistically, I shouldn’t have made it out but I did. Some of the friends that I made along the way have been successful at exiting. However, most are still entrenched in the lifestyle, dead at the hands of johns and tricks, missing, permanently disfigured, brain damaged, addicted, succumbed to their addiction and overdosed, incarcerated, judged, and forgotten.

Exiting the sex trade has been difficult. I have made poor decisions in regards to my intimate partners- I have been in relationships riddled with infidelity issues, substance abuse issues, domestic violence and disharmony, and emotional abuse. I am proud to say that through therapy and over time; I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect-I will settle for no less. I am in a relationship with a loving, caring, healthy man that treats me the way every woman deserves to be treated. I have 2 wonderful children. The eldest recently graduated from high school.

During all of my time I was never offered any type of assistance for any professional agency to assist in exiting the sex trade. I was never even approached by any professional aside from vice and individuals providing condoms and bad date lists. I am so happy to see that there are numerous agencies offering women a new way of life, hope, resources, a voice, and advocacy. I live my life in anonymity (for now anyways) as there is a bias of individuals that have been or are involved in the sex trade and I have a family to support.

All of you survivors that have been successful at exiting or that have been directly affected from sexual exploitation and are working diligently at making changes on both a micro and macro level-Kudos for all the work that you do. You provide an alternative, awareness, a voice, and an option.

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