My name is “Roxanne.” I am in a recovery program/safe house, so I won’t use my real name.
I am 34 years old and I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. I am the youngest of eleven kids. I have six sisters and four brothers. All the kids are a mixture from previous marriages and then children from my parent’s marriage. The oldest sibling is 60 something years old. I am closest to the next two youngest siblings. My parents were married for almost 40 years. My dad died last year from old age. He was 84 years old. My mom is still in Oklahoma.
Our farm produced mainly for the family. Our school was rural. All the grades, K through 12th were in the same building. I did 4H, FFA, and rodeo. I liked to read and I still do. My favorite author is Robert Green. I loved science and math. I wanted to be a vet when I was young. Now that I have felonies, I can’t be a vet because of the narcotics. I did not graduate high school but I did get my GED when I was 17 years old.
I hated growing up in a large family. I was picked on and made fun of a lot. I became really independent as a teenager and felt that no one could tell me what I could or couldn’t do, especially my parents. When I was 12 I met a guy who was 19 years old. I met him through mutual friends. We were a couple and having sex.
When I met my first pimp, I never had attention from people really. I was really big, at that point in time I was probably 300 plus pounds, and people were now paying attention to me. They liked me and I was good at making money. That’s what I thought I was going to be for the rest of my life. I was going to be a ho for life.
I started doing Backpage in my 20’s. After I discovered Backpage (a version of Craigslist for sex work) I stopped working the tracks. I prefer working Backpage. I just sit in my hotel room, I get calls, we meet, and then I am done. No walking the streets and being offered $20 for a trick. Much better money.
I have three children with a man I met in a gang situation. After I found out I was pregnant the first time, he and I went back to Oklahoma. I was not prostituting but we were still selling drugs. I had a boy and then a girl 9 1/2 months later. We were okay for a while but then he went to jail, so I went back to Backpage to make a living.
I got pregnant a third time with the same man, even though we weren’t together as a couple. He was married to another woman when I got pregnant and I became very depressed. I started using crack again and used through the pregnancy. The baby was crack addicted when it was born at seven months. The baby was taken away right after birth and my other two kids, who were both only 2 years old, were taken away from me.
Luckily, I was able to get into a recovery program. After being in a program for a few months, I realized that I want to do this type of work. I want to help other women who have been or are in the industry. I want to be able to say that I have been there and that I know what it means to live out there. I am working on reclaiming my life and my identity. I am working on getting the tattoos removed. I get profiled a lot because of the way I look and I want to be treated normally.
I am in a good place, happy, and have dreams. I want to get a car and an apartment. Eventually I want to have property with a home where my kids can be with me. I want to go to school and get a degree. I will start community college in fall 2015. I want to get a Ph.D. in human services to fight human trafficking and study criminal psychology.
Do you feel like there is anything that could make you backslide?
"No. No. I don’t think anything. Now that I see that I can do something else and that my life isn’t just based on that for the rest of my life. No. Things that are worth having isn’t easy to get."
He always wanted me to have sex with his friends. I thought it made him love me more but really he was just selling me. I had a pimp and did not know it. He had me sell drugs too. This is the man who set the standard of what I thought relationships were supposed to be. Since that point, I don’t think I have ever been in love. All my relationships have been about people taking from me. I don’t know how to be in a relationship that is based on equality.
I broke up with my boyfriend when I was 18. I got a job with Avis and was dealing drugs (meth) through the business. The drug business got busted and the Avis center was closed down. I decided to move to Arizona with a friend when I was 19 and I had a pimp within my first week. He was a black man. I have always felt more comfortable with black people. Black people judge less and black men have always liked me.
We took a road trip with two other women to Vegas and then to L.A. for tricks. I was arrested in L.A. and spent three days in jail. We went back to Vegas and set up for a while. I was working the “track” on Boulder highway during the day and at night working The Strip. I was making at least a $1,000 a day in the beginning.
I wasn’t doing drugs when I was with my pimp. He didn’t allow his girls to do drugs. I stayed in Vegas for three years, then I “chose up” with a different pimp. We did a lot of back and forth between Vegas and Phoenix, just working the different tracks. I never felt like I had a choice. It seemed like the only thing I had ever been good at and I felt like my family never really cared. “The most love I ever felt was when I was 14 and initiated into a gang, more than I ever felt at home.” I moved a lot between pimps and most of the tattoos on my body, including my face, are the names of my pimps. This is called branding. Sometimes I chose my pimps and sometimes I was sold to other pimps.
I lost my mind for a long time. I went back to prostituting and heavy into drugs. The two oldest kids ended up with their dad and his wife but the youngest kid had too many problems and was adopted out. I last saw my two oldest kids three years ago. I have not seen my youngest since he was born.
My second to latest pimp caught a charge a couple of years ago and dipped out on it. He got caught again and was in jail but was still my pimp. He sold me to another pimp while he was in jail who had multiple girls on Backpage. I oversaw and trained some of the girls.
One of the new girls he brought in was under age but I didn’t know. Her ID said she was over 18. He knew she was underage though. We were busted by the feds and I turned evidence for a sentence reduction. It was okay. I was tired. It was my way to get out. No more beatings, sex, and ownership.