Hello, I’m Lori from Kink, etc… Recently I shared a bit about my story about being a victim of the industry and a little about how my views of the sex workers has changed. In case you missed it you can find it on Sortify. Today, I wanted to share a bit more about it and how my views of sex workers and their rights has been changed.
For ten years I worked in the sex industry of New Orleans as a stripper and prostitute. A victim in every sense of the word, being a sex worker wasn’t my choice.
I was taken off the streets as a runaway and introduced to cocaine by a man who was connect to the World Famous Big Daddy’s of bourbon Street. At first I had no idea the danger I was in. Strung out and sexually abused by this man’s friends, I’m not really sure how much time passed until I was passed off to my handler/pimp. It wasn’t wrong before reality set in; I was trapped.
I was in debt to the club for the drugs I was given, the clothes that were bought for me, even the food I ate; nothing was free.
Beaten on an almost daily basis, my will was broken and I learned to do exactly what I was told.
Taught how to hustle and turn tricks, I was forced to work in the clubs and on the streets to pay back my debt and make my handler’s daily quota of five hundred dollars a day. No matter how hard I worked I remained in debt to those who I worked for. Although, I knew the drugs I was given added to that debt, I sought them out as a way to escape the reality of my life.
It took me years but with the help of a very kind FBI agent, I found the strength to leave. With one bay and another on the way, I tried to figure out how to navigate the real world. That was probably the hardest thing I’d ever done. I was lucky and a man come into my life who truly loved me. He devoted himself to raising my children as his own and helping me get my head on straight.
For years after I left, my views of sex were tainted by my past. Sex was a necessary evil that I avoided like the plague. I didn’t want to watch T.V. shows or movies that had sex scenes. I felt like all forms of sexual expression was wrong. I saw all sex workers, no matter what aspect of the industry they working in, as victims or contributing to the pain of victims.
After about seventeen years of avoiding sex, I began to open up sexually. I even began to show my new found love for sexual exploration on the internet. My thoughts of sex had completely changed. But even though I had become a sex positive blogger, I had deep reservations about sex workers.
I never spoke openly about my feelings and kept my opinions to myself. Then I had an epiphany while attending CCON East this past March. It all began when I attended the Sex Worker Meet and Greet. I’m not sure why I signed up, but I did. Nervous, I walked in and sat a table by myself. Watching and listening the ladies at another table, I was stunned to see that they were happy and enjoying themselves. Not anything like the sex works that I’d know from my past, they ware normal; just like anyone else in the world. They didn’t loo strung out, they weren’t a group of drunks. If I hadn’t know that they were sex workers, I would have never guessed.
I didn’t sit along for long until a few of the ladies came over and started talking to me. They were friendly and tried to make me feel at ease. I was taken back a bit when Savannah Darling who was hosting the meet and greet came over and handed me a card with a little gift in it. The girls from the French Quarter were nothing like this. Sure in the dressing room we had our favorite saying “Big Daddy’s Gils against the world”. But it was only words. In reality it was every girl for herself to make the money we needed for our men, drugs and debts. But sitting in that room, it was apparent that these ladies were part of a truly supportive community. I was puzzled and left perplexed bay it all. I didn’t think much about it and went on with the weekend’s events.
Sunday, I was thumbing through the CCON booklet to find what panels I wanted to sit in on that day when I saw a panel No Longer Voiceless: Telling the True Stories of Sex Work and Human Trafficking. Being a victim of the sex trade/industry, I went to the panel. I never dreamed that one hour could affect me so profoundly.
Sitting in a room full of strangers, listening to Sabrina Morgan, Siouxsie Q, and Serpent Libertine talk I was in awe. These ladies weren’t what I had ever dreamed a sex worker to be. Not a single bit. I guess I had expected to hear ladies that were broken by the sex industry, like myself. But they weren’t. These were powerful women who were smart and had themselves together. Listening to each one speak, I realized that they were in the sex industry because they choose to be there. They weren’t forced there by addiction or by another person; they were doing a job and loving the profession they had chosen. But what brought me to tears was their passion to help victims. Unlike the laws that are designed to protect victims or the police who say they want to help but then release victims’ right back to the men who are forcing them into the industry, they truly wanted to help victims. Unlike the law makers, these ladies have a passion to truly help people who are like I was while protecting those who have chosen a profession. Not only a passion, they’re actively working to changed and help create laws that will protect those who freely choose to be a sex worker and create safe work environments and provide a way for those who are forced into the industry to break free.
Then it hit me. These ladies were not part of the problem, they were the solution to the problem. Right there with tears rolling down my face, the years of judgments and perceptions that I had faded away.
People who aren’t part of the sex industry might be able to spot a victim, but they typically pass harsh judgments and blame the victim for putting themselves in that situation. The men who use their services are definitely not going to report a victim. There’s generally no help for them. But, those who are in the industry can spot a victim a mile away and can truly make a difference in their lives. However, the way the laws are written now, if a consensual sex worker reports and tries to help a victim, they themselves face being charged. This is wrong, so very wrong.
Since sitting in on this CCON panel, my entire mind has been changed about sex workers. I now support these ladies and men. I want to help them with their fight. I might not have much money; who does in this day and age. But I have a voice and my story may be able to help change people’s views of sex workers and how to help victims. I can no longer sit silent, I have to speak out. That’s why I jumped at the chance to share my story on whoreophobia’s twitter feed. I hope some way, somehow it makes a difference.