In one hour, I have to go meet David. He says we’re flying to Montreal for a weekend festival. He says there will be lots of “great sales opportunities”. I know this means my body will be sore and my mind will be blank for 3 days. I want out of this! I just- don’t know how to get out… but I don’t know, because David loves me, right?
In the last 5 years, I have made some friends in this industry. I learned quickly that some girls are not really friends; just pimps in disguise out to get you. But some of the girls are just like me – kind hearted, taken advantage of, and with no way out.
Lots of times we go to L.A. for porn conventions. On the outside, this means smiling faces and a glamorous event. But when the sun goes down, this means we are harshly abused for hours on end. I remember the first time, me and my friend Shana were ushered into a dirty hotel room and told to get on the bed. The next two hours, a strange man filmed, while 5 men penetrated us, harshly and powerfully. I saw this video on the internet 2 days later – 500 000 views, grossing $20 000. I felt sick to my stomach. I cried that day. I wish people knew that we were forced into those videos… cause then they wouldn’t watch them…right?
I’ve been doing this for too long. But I know I’m lucky- I mean, David treats me okay, better than some other girls. He helped me find an apartment downtown…with Shana and other girls, but still it’s something! David says I’m not allowed to contact my mum. He doesn’t know I tried to call her once. If he found out, he would kill her. That’s usually what he says when he is upset with me. But I know he has my best interest in mind, so after he sometimes hits me, I usually apologize, and then he kisses me and tells me how beautiful I am. David loves me like I wish my dad would have. Mum and dad fought a lot, my dad would get mad at mum for everything. We were poor, and he blamed this on mum, hitting her and yelling.
When I turned 12, dad started treating me the same as mum. Except instead yelling, he touched me. When mum found out, she didn’t do anything about it. She was too scared. So she kept quiet, I kept quiet. One day, when I was 15 making breakfast in the kitchen, he suddenly grabbed me around the neck, and pushed me against the wall. He touched me in all the places I hated, and whispered gross things in my ear. When he was finished, he released my neck, and I slid down the wall to the kitchen floor. I was frozen, and felt the cold tiles beneath my fingertips. I could not do this anymore. I got up and walked like a
zombie to my bedroom. I grabbed my red backpack, and 2 changes of clothes. Then I got on the bus downtown. Since we’d moved from the out of country, we had no family in Calgary. I didn’t know where to go, but I vowed I would never go back again.
One night, after months of sleeping in shelters and doorways, a man pulled up in a car. “You look cold”, he said. “Do you want to come warm up?” I saw a woman and two kids with him, which made me feel safe. I nodded and got into the car, then we all went out for hot chocolate. I told them why I was sleeping on the streets, and after his wife and kids got in back in the car, the man gave me his card ‘David Jones, Marketing Associate with J.R. Consulting’, the card read. He said to call if I ever needed anything. “Really!” he said. I put the card in my pocket, and then they dropped me off at a shelter.
I was really lonely and broke, and Calgary winter was coming. I didn’t want to be on the streets in the winter! So out of desperation, I called this ‘David Jones’, and he came and took me for dinner. Over the next weeks, he bought me flowers, jewelry, and clothes… he made me feel loved and special. One Saturday night, he invited me to a party. “It will be just smashing”, he said. He bought me a new dress and a necklace, and we went. It was very fancy. I noticed a lot of women going in and out of rooms with men. I saw one girl my age crying, and when I asked why, he smiled and said not to worry, enjoy the party! So I did. At the end of the night, he asked if I wanted him to help me find an apartment, to help me get on my feet he said. I was so grateful!
One night we went to another party. He held my hand as we went in, I was smiling in another new dress, so happy to have found this man to love me. This party wasn’t as fancy as the other one… it was in small apartment, and there was lots of smoke. I was starting to feel a bit funny, when David suddenly pulled me into a hallway and said: “Dear, you have a friend who wants to get to know you. He may want you to take off your clothes. You will do whatever he tells you to, because you need to pay the rent somehow Sweetie”. I was confused, and I felt that something was wrong, so I said no and turned to leave. But he grabbed my wrist tightly, and pulled me back, thrusting me into a bedroom. He looked at me sharply, with his hand on the doorknob. “Darling, you need to do this, it’s time to grown up and take responsibility.” The door slammed, and before I could try to leave, a tall man in a suit came into the room. He had a greedy smile, shiny shoes, and a wedding ring. He unbuckled his belt and grabbed my hair. The next hour was painful, exhausting, and just the beginning of my new life.
That was when I was 15. Since then, I’ve had many of these nights. But now, they are normal. Sometimes David sends me two men per night, sometimes ten, sometimes more – usually more. I cried and yelled the first week of this all happening. David told me to cry more, because the men liked it. So I stopped crying, and did nothing, lay limp –they still kept showing up. When I am with a John, I have to leave my mind. I usually prefer speed, but if I can’t get that I just drink. It’s hard to be sober while strangers rape you, ya know? I say rape because I don’t want this, I never did… I consent now, because… well, I think I owe it to David, and I really have no other choice. But this was never my life plan.
I used to want to be a teacher. I used to walk along dirt pathways with stick in hand, drawing pictures in the mud. I dressed my dog in doll clothes, and paraded him around the neighbourhood. I had chicken pox when I was 5, and my mom held me close while I cried. I liked ice cream, and Happy Meals, and cartoons. I was just a girl. I am just a girl… I’m a woman, I’m a human.
Shana and I have been with David the longest, and we see him recruit new girls almost daily. 13 year old runaways, desperate moms, naïve immigrants… it’s really hard to watch. I know that they are ignorant and trusting, just like I was, and I know what they will become… depressed, hurt women like Shana and I. I want out! But I don’t know how… I have been living like this for years, where would I even start? Who would even believe me? Would David kill my mum? What about Shana? I can’t leave her behind… And in the midst of all this, I know David cares about me, he would miss me! And I would miss him. But I
don’t want this life…
Sometimes I wish all the Johns would stop showing up. If they didn’t call David for girls, then we would be out of work. Maybe then we could start over. Maybe then I could go to school! Maybe if they knew… if they knew that we were daughters, wives, mothers, sisters… would they still crave and pay for us the way they do? Or would they stop coming? …I wonder these things sometimes.
David tells me to smile, and act like I’m enjoying the sex while I’m working. If I don’t, he takes a bigger cut from my pay, or he hits me, depending on the day.
But I wonder…Yeah… If in the middle of a trick, I looked into a man’s eyes and said “I don’t want to be here; I also went to kindergarten with your daughter”, would he cry, stop, leave? Or would he play deaf, and just press harder, and deeper inside of me?
I’m truly, not sure…
This fictional piece is based on the reality of prostituted and trafficked women and children around the world. It was originally written and performed by Rheanna Lauren, a former Servant Team member with Word Made Flesh Bolivia. The dance show Invisible, held at The Grand Junction Theatre in Calgary, revealed the vulnerabilities of women and the role of culture in bringing these vulnerabilities down.