This is the fourth article in our Your Teen 360° on teenage prostitution.
It all started when I was 17-years-old, a month or two after I graduated from high school. I was having a hard time getting a job. I had no real job experience and the economy was down: even for a position at Starbucks, I was competing against people with college degrees and far more impressive resumes. I quickly became frustrated with my search.
One day, while browsing the jobs on Craigslist, I spotted the “Adult Gigs” and “Adult Entertainment” section. I decided to check it out, mere curiosity at the time. The moment I clicked the link, I was met with hundreds and hundreds of links and posts from various men and women (mostly women) offering their “companionship” or “GFE” (Girl Friend Experience), in exchange for “roses” (i.e. monetary compensation). I was awed by how much money they made. Anywhere from $100 for 15 minutes to $600 an hour was the going rate. So, just for the hell of it, I posted my own ad.
Next thing I knew, I was getting calls and texts from a bunch of men who saw my ad. At first, I hesitated to reply, but I finally did and went to meet one man. He was in his mid-30s, and I met him at his house while his wife was out getting her nails done. It was a nice place, and he looked normal, which made me feel more at ease. We had sex for 15 minutes. He tried to coax me into not using a condom, but I insisted, and he eventually agreed. He gave me $150 for the deed, and I was on my way.
I’m a very shy person and have always avoided social situations. I didn’t have any real close friends, and I was picked on in school. At first, escorting helped me feel beautiful… wanted. But, it was all just a lie, and it soon became a path filled with sexual abuse and beatings. I was robbed and raped several times, and I internalized the hurt, hating myself more and more every time.
It was my mom who busted me. Even though I was really angry at the time, deep inside, I felt grateful. Without her intervention, I don’t know if I could have stopped. I was caught in a vicious cycle of feeling bad, getting money to get drugs to feel better again, only to feel bad again. Today, I am 21, sober and a lot wiser than I was at 19. The experience changed me. I look at everyone differently now. I now know how very dangerous the Internet can be. It’s a portal to everything, with only your keyboard acting as the barrier.
Note: Thanks to the efforts of advocates for victims of the sex trade, Craigslist shut down it’s “adult” section in 2010. Unfortunately, however, the Internet continues to serve as a primary way for perpetrators to find victims.