By Kitty Stryker
While the plight of the survivors of trafficking are brought up in modern discourse around whether or not sex work should be legal or good for women, little actual space is given for survivors to come forward and share their stories.
Mercedes is a survivor of trafficking who approached us to present her experiences of being a survivor of trafficking so that she and other survivors can be heard in a debate that so often pointedly excludes them.
How did you end up in the sex industry?
I was physically and sexually abused at home and regularly ran away and by age 12, had learned survival sex from a gang of older teenagers I’d met on the streets. I had a brief stint in foster care, but was soon put back with my family and started running away again. At 15, I met a charming man in a record shop who offered his friendship. He took me in and provided for all my needs, as well as offered a familial love and drugs.
Six months or so later, when I was completely dependant on him, he turned and demanded payment for his “kindness”. He kept me locked in a room and would send in his friends to rape and abuse me. I can’t say how long I was locked in the room for.