“Childhood was rough. My mom is white and my dad is black. The white side of our family is racist. My mom was homeless with us for a long time because we were mixed kids. I didn’t meet my grandmother until we were six. My mom married a man who sexually abused me when I was 7 to 15, but he gave us a home. I wanted to tell someone, but he told me if I told, I would be taken from my mom. I believed him. My mom worked 24-hour shifts for home healthcare and was almost never home. My best friend in high school said that her real father was doing the same things to her, so we made a pact to tell someone. After we told, I was shipped off to a group home for teenagers. My mom blamed me and is still married to him. I was a lonely kid with a lot of hatred for my family.
When I was 19, I fell in love with a guy and he asked me to go to California with him. I got there and he spent all of my money and the next day he was gone. I was by myself on the street with my stuff with no one to call. A guy offered me $200 to have sex with him. I needed it because I was stuck. Then I realized that is what I could do to survive. For two months I was by myself, then I met my pimp. He provided companionship, like a boyfriend, and made me feel like what I was doing was okay and I was taking care of myself. Then bad things started happening. I gave him all of my money for protection, but I was still getting robbed, kidnapped, punched in my face. There was no protection. At one point, I was so brainwashed I thought if you weren’t a prostitute, you were nothing. I thought this was what I was supposed to be doing in life.
It is disgusting to be a prostitute. The men aren’t attractive. If he smelled bad, I made him take a shower first. My quota was $1500 a night and I would have to stay out until I got it. I would charge for everything and try to get it from four or five men. My pimp had rules. No drinking or smoking before you went to work because he wanted you fully aware of what you were doing. I had to close my eyes focus on what I was going to buy with the money or pretend I was somewhere else because I couldn’t think about the man. The johns were always married white men talking bad about their wives. She wouldn’t let him do this, or he wants something new and different. I didn’t want to get married because of those men.
They ask you to do crazy stuff. In Texas, a military man had me and a friend meet him at his apartment. There were guns everywhere. He paid us $1,000 apiece to tie him up and beat him. A man paid me $250 to lick mud off my heels. A military guy in Gulfport had PTSD and paid me $250 an hour just to tell me about his stories in Afghanistan.
I was jailed approximately 20 times for prostitution and solicitation, mostly in California. Pimps recruit girls in prison. My pimp would talk to me on the phone and ask if there were girls there who could work with him. They sit outside of courthouses and wait for girls to come out of court or sit at the bus station and look for little stragglers. Girls who have no place to go. A pimp wants a female who no one is looking for and who will depend solely on him. When my pimp decided to quit, he stole all of the money he was saving for me.
There aren’t a lot of girls who are in the prostitution game because they want to be in it. It often starts years before with sexual abuse. Looking back I realize how much being raped and molested affected me. Everyone looks at a prostitute like a dirty, slutbag female. It is hard to settle down after you have done something like that because people will always see you as once prostitute, always a prostitute. I am engaged now, but for a long time he thought of all of the other men I had been with. I have a real job, but when money gets tight, there is still a pull to go back to prostitution and the easy money. I don’t want a kid because I don’t want my kid to go through what I went through. I have a good relationship with my mom now.
I have ‘Love Yourself’ tattooed to my wrist because every time I hand someone something, I want them to see those words. I loved myself enough to do what I had to do to get out of the bullshit I was in. You are a star. You need to shine bright. I was a prostitute. I am not now.”
This is Angel’s story from “The Secrets Inside.” Part two in the series “Sexual Slavery in South Alabama.” It is in the Lagniappe this week or you can read it online at www.lagniappemobile.com.