My name is Laurallee. I am 48 years old. I grew up in Carthage, a little town about 15 miles from Rushville, IN where I was born. Although my childhood was dysfunctional, I do have some fond memories. Every year we went to Lake Cumberland, KY to go trout fishing and camping. We would go to the bottom of the dam and night fish. In the morning when the horn sounded, we had to grab all our gear and run to the top, or get swept up when the dam was opened. I also loved sports when I was young. I really liked basketball. Art was also my thing, and still is my thing.
I have a sister and a brother. I always felt like the black sheep of the family. “I wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box but I sure was the brightest.” My dad was intelligent and a very functional alcoholic. He was a tool and die maker for General Motors. We always hoped he was too drunk when he came home to mess with us. He was mentally and physically abusive, but not sexually. “My grandfather took care of that part for me.” My grandfather started molesting me when I was seven years old. Later in life, I discovered that weed numbed out my grandfather and the male babysitters that molested me, and all the ugliness from my dad.
Neither of my parents asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I didn’t think college was an option. “I just figured I would grow up and work someplace, like a factory job.” I have always worked, except when I was on the streets and homeless.
“At a very early age, I knew I kind of liked women.” I was in a relationship for 17 years with a woman who was 11 years older than myself. She was in jail for 8 years of that time and it was a toxic relationship. She was way lost, still is probably. Having somebody was better than having nobody at all though. “You see somebody that needs to be loved so much, even more so than probably yourself, and you put all their needs and wants before your own.” She was a user but she did not allow me to use any drugs other than marijuana. She taught me how to shoplift and finally started shooting me up with heroin. She was originally from Denver and that is where we finally ended up.
It was hard being a lesbian with a mainly male clientele but I just looked at that as work. This work became my life. Eventually, I needed to be done with that life. The night before I entered the recovery program, my old partner beat me up, and I went in with a black eye.
“Can I do this on my own?” I was in a controlled relationship for so long and didn’t really know how to take care of myself. Street’s Hope was good for me. Therapy has been life changing, especially EMDR (eye movement desensitizing and reprocessing.) I don’t have to hold onto any anger. I don’t have to be mad at somebody. I can just let it go and let it go for real. I look at things a lot differently now that I have been through therapy and a recovery program.
I don’t feel like I have ever had a positive relationship but I wouldn’t change anything in my past because it has made me who I am. This is where I am supposed to be, by God’s will.
What do you think about stereotyping sex workers?
How do you know what she’s been through? How you going to sit there and point your finger at her...It’s not a life that they choose. It’s not like you wake up one day and say, ‘I think I wanna be a drug addict and prostitute. Yeah!!! Let’s roll baby!!!’ Some people need to have their eyes opened to more things and some people need to close their mouth to more things. They really do. It’s all the human race. You’re going to have good, bad, right, wrong, indifferent, whatever…with any subject, anywhere. Before people open their mouth about a stigma, what they think is politically correct and incorrect, or why they think this and why they think that…I think that they should just open up their ears and their heart, and look and see what is going on around them.
My mom had several jobs when I was young. She worked as a janitor in a children’s home and wrapped vinyl records for RCA on an assembly line. My mom still lives in Carthage. My parents divorced when I was 12 years old. My dad quit drinking, cold turkey, after the divorce. It was a tremendous personality change for him. He remarried and was with my step-mom for 32 years. My dad passed away two years ago from cancer that came out of remission after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My step-mom also died from cancer.
My mother has been married five times. My mom’s second husband shot and killed himself. He was mentally unstable. My mom had a restraining order against him and I believe he planned to shoot me too. I found him dead with a big hole in his neck. My mom was married to her third husband for six months. He was a sailor. The fourth marriage was with Marvin. He was a nice guy and they stayed together until he didn’t have any money left. Then she married Kinley. He died a year ago.
At some point I was picked up on a traffic violation. My partner’s mother posted bond but then my partner told her mother to revoke the bond. I ended up spending five days in jail for traffic court. It was my first time in jail. When I got out, I had no place to live and no money. I was homeless and penniless.
This guy told me, ’you’re a woman, you can make money.’ He kind of gave me a rundown of how things worked and I watched. About an hour later, I got into my first vehicle. It was really odd and weird. My circumstance got me into that but I’ll tell you what though, when I found crack cocaine, that stuff just numbed me from all the kinds of pain I ever felt.
I tried going back to school, but after Street’s Hope, I quit. I don’t know what I want to do. I am good with my hands and my favorite job is driving a fork lift. That is what I want to do as a permanent job. I don’t have a good support system now to help with the hurdles, and I get discouraged. I became depressed after completing my program. I always had people around and a great support system. After the program was done, it felt like everything was ripped from me and I was alone again. I should be doing Narcotics Anonymous but I find the discussions to be unproductive. Sometimes I just don’t get it, what people are talking about.
I do sometimes think of going back to the streets, because I know how to make money and survive out there. I don’t know how to make things work in ‘normal’ life. I know that going back on the streets is bad. Selling my body to make money leads to drugs, then needing drugs leads to selling my body for money. Getting a real job is hard with a felony record and no traditional work skills.