When I was 5 years old I liked butterflies. I remember running around my back garden wearing a polka dot dress on a beautiful sunny day chasing a butterfly, admiring the beauty and grace of its delicate wings as it danced around. I remember the light that peeped through the gaps of the tree branches and the warmth of those beams. I remember making perfumes out of mushed up petals and water from the garden tap.

For some people innocence is taken away by a single one-off event that comes into a virtually perfect life as a shock and changes the world as you know it. For some, like me it was a series let downs and disappointments that left questions in my heart. Questions like “who am I” and “am I loveable?”  I began to question everything about myself, not just physically but the very core of who I am, was in question.

There must have been something about me that gave me away.  Maybe it was the way I looked up to him and admired his cocky confidence. I was drawn in by the attention he gave me, the way he looked at me. How does a young child understand how wrong it is when it seems to answer all the questions. Someone has noticed me and finally I’m not alone. Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter that now I have an unspeakable secret that must be kept from my parents, it doesn’t matter that the shame I feel when I am around people has caused me to hide inside myself, it doesn’t matter that I can’t bear to be looked at because I’m so scared that I’ll be found out and exposed. At least somebody loved me, right?

It wasn’t long before I was dropped and discarded, I believed It was my fault. The final word on my value had been spoken and there was no other way but to reinvent myself, become someone else. I began to copy other people’s personality traits. Things I liked, tones of voice, hair style, dress sense, behaviour. Every change I made took me further away from that little girl in the garden who loved butterflies and perfumes, yet nothing made me feel better about myself.

The cycle of abuse played over and over again through my early teens each time I believed it was genuine affection and each time I was eventually discarded.

I entered prostitution accidentally. I needed money. I thought I was going to be an escort, as in ‘escorting’ men out for dinner. I was blown away by the fact that a man would pay for my company. The questions at my interview made it very clear that actually the men would be paying for something else. The idea of it didn’t seem that alien to me because my life had been a series of sexually abusive situations up until that point and I couldn’t see it was ever going to be any different so I might as well have something in return.

To me sex was never and had never been about my desires or needs it was always about being who the other person wanted me to be. I was like a relational/sexual chameleon, I was a trained performer in this area so this job seemed like a good step forward for me. I could finally make money out of the only thing I felt I was good at.

Before I began working as a prostitute all my abusers had been similar types of guys not respectable, professional guys like fathers, married men, school teachers, people in positions of authority and trust.  I had managed to hold onto some respect for men because I thought that there were ‘good ones’ but I realised that there is no ‘type’ who use women they come from all walks of life. After a year of working as a prostitute my respect for men was destroyed, I became hard hearted towards them, I didn’t know how to relate to them in anything other than a sexual way, I didn’t trust them, didn’t like them in fact I would say that I eventually began to hate them. I went into prostitution thinking it was a good choice when I had very few options to choose from and came out a year later traumatised and more broken than ever.

Everything we do in life has a consequence and everything that is done to us has a consequence. As a child I believed many untrue things about myself, I accepted answers from unreliable sources and drew the conclusion that I wasn’t good enough and I had to make people want me and love me. Prostitution was the destination I ended up in because I took a path that led me far from who I truly was. The path I then took away from prostitution led me to where I am today

Restoration was a long road of learning to trust, learning to love and be loved and learning boundaries physically and emotionally. I have learned that there are good trustworthy men, and those men have earned my respect. I have learned to live without shame and to help others to let go of shame too. Without the abuse and violation of the past I have found the beauty in life again.

I have discovered who I am and that it is ok to be me.

I am loved, I am valuable, I am worth more than money can buy and so are you.