Perhaps many people dream of being born in California, but for me, it wasn’t such a stroke of luck. Born first in a family of five, I had to take up responsibilities pretty early. My parents did not have the best jobs, and we lived a hand-to-mouth life. As if that was not enough bad luck, we lost our dad when I was 19 years old. This was the lowest point of our lives, and my mum was devastated. We all were. My mum and I, the only adults in the family, had no idea where to begin taking care of my siblings. Since my mum was now the only source of income, I had to drop out of school and help raise the rest.
I could barely sleep, as I tried to gather myself together and come up with a plan that would help us out in this situation. That’s when I was introduced to Mason, who was known in town for his wealth, though the source of his wealth was not known to us. He promised to give me a job that would get me out of this abject squalor. I thought this was the moment, and I grabbed the chance without thinking about what I was getting myself into. According to Mason, the job description was being a good host and “taking care” of his guests. That didn’t sound bad at all—at least that’s what I thought.
The news of my new job was well received at home, considering the amount I was being paid just to host. The day came and I reported to work on my first day. I met Mason at a very well-furnished apartment that I had never seen before. I was introduced to ten other ladies who were my colleagues. This wasn’t bad at all: I was not alone. We were taken through the house’s rooms, and also the rules. Our first batch of clients was to come in that evening and we had to be prepared and well dressed to receive them. The bar was well stocked and the lights were dim, and that’s when I realized this was a party. We did our job as advised and everything was going on well.
Hours later in the night, Mason called one of my colleagues and left with her, and she didn’t come back. Then he called me next, and showed me to one of the rooms. A man was waiting for me, and Mason just ordered me to make him happy. That’s when I realized this was a brothel, and I had just been turned into a sex worker, not a host. The man did all sorts of things to me and I just couldn’t stop him, because I needed the money. I thought this was illegal business in the United States. I asked myself why it was happening. This went on for days, weeks, months, and years and I could not get myself out of it. I was sleeping with at least five men a night, and business was booming for Mason and us. My life had changed for the better, although not although not very much.
One night, when I was on my off day, the business was raided by the authorities. I was lucky not to have been arrested with the rest, but this was bad news: Our only source of income had been closed down. The ladies I thought were my colleagues had been trafficked from outside the U.S. and forced to work for Mason. They had been threatened to stay silent, and this is what kept us all in darkness over what was going on. I learned from one of my clients that Mason and his accomplices were charged with sex trafficking and the operation of an illegal sex den with unwilling ladies.
Through that same client, I was able to secure a job and continued to take care of my family and myself. I would not wish this kind of desperation on anyone else. Poverty is real and it makes people do the unthinkable. I am living proof of this. I wish the U.S. government could work something out and come up with a plan to take care of people living on and below the poverty line.