My name is Anita and I am 50 years old. I come from a Baptist family and grew up in Missouri, about 20 miles east of Kansas City. My dad was a mechanic for a trucking company and later became a manager. He was a union man. My mom worked in a popcorn store.
The man I call my dad came into my life when I was one and a half years old. My dad was a loving, caring, and sweet person. He was in the Army when he first met my mom. They got married when my twin sister and I were three years old. He took on my mom and five kids, and he made no difference between us and the two kids that came after in the marriage. He had two kids from a previous marriage as well, but they did not come into my life until I was eleven. One time I asked him why he loved me so much. He said the moment he laid his eyes on me, he knew I was the sweetest girl in the world and he fell in love with me.
On our 23rd birthday, my twin sister killed herself. Her husband left her for a younger woman and the pain was too much for her to bear. I lost half of myself when she died.
When I was dating the man who would be my second husband, I hooked up with a sugar daddy. That is how I started into the sex industry. I started prostitution because I was broke and wanted a crack hit.
A dope dealer told me that if I had sex with him, he would give me a hit. Then he brought more people with him and said that if I had sex with them I could have more crack. I lived like that for a while. Eventually, another prostitute said I should be doing it for more than just dope, so I started working the streets. I made $400 in the first two hours on my first try. There was no way I was making that much money anywhere else.
When I married my second husband he did not accept my two sons from my first marriage. I was only married to my second husband for a year. In that time, we had twin sons together. I lost one of my twin sons when he was older to double pneumonia caused by HIV.
I am over two years clean from drugs and out of the business. This year, 2015, I completed my GED. I tried one of the recovery programs a few years ago, like Street’s Hope, but didn’t finish. Even so, I finally got out. On a daily basis, I deal with my mental illness issues and worry about the stomach cancer I was previously treated for. I had a heart attack not that long ago too. You never know when things like that might come back.
I live in a one bedroom section-8 apartment with one of my younger brothers, a young woman I call my daughter, and her boyfriend. I sleep in the bedroom, my brother on the couch, and the other two sleep on a blowup mattress in the living room. My therapy pet is a rat. He sleeps in my bed with me and gives me comfort. My brother and I just reconnected recently after not seeing each other for a very long time. He is several years younger than me. He is a military veteran who suffers from seizures every day. My rat always curls up on my brother’s neck when he starts of have a seizure. He keeps having tests to figure out why the seizures happen but the doctors can’t seem to find a reason. We go to the hospital a lot for his seizures.
I would still like to be a music therapist. I very much want to write and play music again. My keyboard is in storage someplace. Maybe my brother can help get it for me.
So many things are unknown in my future. My physical health, the stability of my mental health, and my financial situation. I live day to day. So many things have happened in my life but I am not gone yet. I have plenty of stuff yet to do.
What do you want others to know about you?
“Come walk a mile in my shoes. Come stay and do a day of my day. Do what I have to do to survive….See how I hurt, see where my pain comes from.”
There were good things in my childhood. I remember my dad building us a go cart and I got a keyboard when I was ten. I liked to play music and I was good at writing music too. I wanted to be a music therapist, using music to help people relate to emotional issues.
My twin and I were molested by our biological dad. I don’t remember at what age that happened though. One of my half-brothers did molest me when I was 11 and I became pregnant. I gave birth to my oldest daughter when I was 12 years old. Social services tried to take her but my mom and dad said no, and took custody of her until I was 18. I continued going to school and trying to have a normal life, although I ended up not graduating from high school. I started taking speed when I was 15 or 16, then started crack at 17 or 18. I stayed on crack for 12 years. When I was 16, my boyfriend and I had a daughter but I didn’t marry him. I married Mike. I was 18 and he was 21. I didn’t love Mike when I married him but he was good for me at the time. We were married for two years. We had a son while we were married and I was pregnant when we separated.
Eventually I did five years in a federal penitentiary on a dope case and another four years on a fraud case. When I got out, I went right back into the game. I spent a lot of time on Backpage (a version of Craigslist for sex work) but I preferred street work. I moved to Denver in 1999 for a fresh start. I was good for a year but then started selling dope at night. I was a truck driver with a partner from 2001-2006. We trafficked drugs across the country. He was possessive and abusive. One beating broke both my arms and my jaw.
It is hard for me to remember all that has happened in my life. I struggle with personality disorder, bi-polar disorder, and schizophrenia.
I call the young woman living with me my daughter. She is not my biological daughter but we became good friends while in Street’s Hope and have helped each other out. My ‘daughter’ is still in the business. Her work helps provide for the household. She has a regular trick who is a butcher and she brings home fresh meat every couple of weeks. All of us help decide what to ask for when she sets up her time with the butcher. Her boyfriend deals drugs. He is in and out of jail but he brings home food and money too.
I am hoping to get into a new housing unit soon. My current complex is full of drugs and brutality. Several women have been raped in their apartments and in the parking lot.