Would you believe me if I told you the truth about my life?
Since infancy I learned to please everyone around me in order to survive.
An apt learner, I adjusted quickly to the demands of my life, put on me by my family, they didn’t realize
The repercussions of neglect and abuse, a vicious pairing that left me clinging,
their shouts and silence ringing in my ears,
Afraid to sleep at night, the threat was always near.
I fought for my life by appeasing them all those long years.
I cried so much, I thought I would run out of tears.
I didn’t know how to stop my alarm bells from sounding,
sending my heart pounding,
I didn’t know any other way to be.
I automatically tried to please others, I had no idea how to begin to be me.
After I moved away from home and the violence left my life, I still felt afraid of everyone around me, so I continued to act obligingly, and that’s how I naturally attracted danger, letting myself get physically near people who harmed me.
Although old enough to stand on my own two feet, I continued to yield effortlessly to the desires of others, the way I had learned to do since infancy.
My mind screamed ‘No!’ while my mouth said ‘Yes’
to request after request, I got undressed.
It lead me under many covers.
The men were violators to me, but to them I was a lover.
And that is how I became a whore: by being a combination of pretty, people-pleasing and poor.
Tired of being broke,
I figured that since my whole life seemed a cruel joke,
And I was chained to an invisible yoke,
I might as well make some money,
No need to be both raped and hungry.
I excelled at being a prostitute
For that job, I was astute!
To some, it may sound insane,
But I was a natural at it because the pattern of pleasing others was deeply ingrained in my brain.
Being a working girl was a lot like my life already, except now I received cash in exchange for having sex when I didn’t want to, with people that I didn’t want to (I never want to have sex because it re-triggers trauma in my body).
I earned enough to pay my bills, save for the future and donate to charity for children on the other side of the world
So that they could get an education and have enough to eat.
I wanted to help them out of poverty, the way I wish someone would have done for me.
I must admit I wasn’t good at business and often gave my body away for free.
If you don’t get the cash up front, you’re never going to get paid.
Once a man has you behind closed doors, even if you signed up for just a hand job, if he wants it, he’ll get laid.
Because what are you going to do? Call the cops? Fight him off? Report the rape?
One day, in a moment of clarity, after I had some money squirreled away and I had grown tired of putting myself in danger, of feeling uncomfortable in my body, of worrying about getting HIV or violently murdered by disturbed men, I quit my job.
I stopped. I walked away from that world lucky to still have my life. At times I’ve been tempted to return to it because of the livable wage, but knowing that I would get violated again and put my health at risk, I resist.
And I persist. Now I rely on my mind to make money.
I still struggle to speak my truth, but I’ve come a long way, honey.
On the road to better living, I wrote this poem in the spirit of giving.
I want to give hope to women who can relate.
I want to say,
‘You are not alone, you are strong and you are great!’
I want to break the cycle of abuse that robs us
of our voices and our choices.
I want to help people avoid becoming a sex worker, get out of sex work, and I want to make sex work safer, with legal rights and social resources!
I want to prevent suffering.
I want to speak out about the horrendous experiences that lead to sex work, and the horrendous experiences that sex work leads to.
I want children to have happy childhoods.
I want to use my life for good.
I want more people to feel safe to share what happened to them by first sharing what happened to me.
I want all beings, everywhere, to be happy, healthy and free.