Survivor Stories

Bronwen’s Story

Bronwen's Story

I was a good kid. I had the grades to get into university, to study film.
I tried pot. It led to other drugs.
At 18, I tried heroin and within 2 weeks I was using it every day.
I got fired from my regular job selling tickets at a cinema.
I was a drug addict.
I couldn’t stop.
I had sold everything, stolen from family and friends.
I had nothing left.
All I had left was my body.

I opened up the yellow pages to ‘escort agencies’.

It was Brisbane in 1995.
It was an illegal industry.
I made one phone call.
The woman on the other end only asked, “how old are you?”. I said 20.
“Are you pretty?”. I replied, “my mum says I am”… her reply, “can you come for an
interview, come dressed ready for work”.
I walked 90 minutes to get there, I had no money. She saw me, got another woman to give
me a tour of the illegal brothel on St Pauls Terrace in Spring Hill who told me “the rules” as
we walked around. Basically, “no kissing” (it’s sex, not intimacy, remember), “you must use
a condom” and “whatever you do behind the closed door, we can half the money”.
After the 5 minute tour, she said, “can you start tonight?” … she gave me an ‘outfit’, if you
could call it that.
I stood in the lounge room, barely dressed, and made eye and boob contact with the
potential men. And by some, I was ‘chosen’.

I’d never felt more dirty in my life.

That night I had sex with 5 strangers. I got 50% of the money and left with $350 in my hand.
I cried all the way home in the taxi. Then spent all of the money on heroin to numb my pain.
And I did that every night for 12 months.
Even the nights I got beaten or had knives at my throat or guns at my head.
The darkest, loneliest and most soul-destroying time of my life.
I was 20 years old.
I weighed 42 kilograms.
I used up to $1000 worth of heroin a day.
I barely slept. I barely ate.
I had sex with between 5-12 men a night.

Men aged 18-88.
I was asked for, and offered money for, all manner of sexual activities.
Most of which made my skin crawl and my guts wrench.
My ‘security’ guy was a drug addict, also one of my drug dealers. My meth dealer.
He would drive me to strangers houses – all over SE Qld, drop me off & pick me up.
I would walk inside their houses, units, hotel rooms and hope with all hope that they were
home alone; that I wasn’t going to be gang raped, beaten or murdered.
Remember, I was a 20 year old drug addict who weighed 42 kilos, I couldn’t protect myself,
even if my life depended on it.
I was a tragedy waiting to happen, that I survived was a miracle. Literally.
The men, the sex, the drugs, the destruction, the danger, the violent jealous other sex
workers – I was the pretty new kid on the block.
One day, after having my skull bashed into the gutter by an angry madam, I ran away from
the sex industry and I promised myself that I wouldn’t go back. Even if it killed me. Hoping
that nobody would find me and kill me.
I was already dead on the inside.
That was back in 1996. 28 long years ago.
The journey out was horrific. There’s trauma moments that still haunt me.
The sound of heels on the pavement, the smell of certain after shaves and alcohols,
unshaven faces.

I carry scars on my heart and my mind.

Now here I am, 49 years old, a mother of 3 young adult daughters.
I want more for them that the life that I chose.
I don’t want the sex industry to be considered as a potential job selection for them or their
friends; not after what I survived through, and the brave and brutal stories that I have
journeyed alongside.
I want my past to help change other people’s futures, including theirs.
I want them to know that every choice has a consequence.
I want them to be proud of my choice to stand; not just as a survivor, but as a thriver.
If you increase the demand you have to increase the supply.
May it not be our daughters.

Survivors need to be heard. Listen to their stories.

Do you have a story of survival that needs to be shared?