Dear Hon. Nicola Centofanti and those this may concern,
I am happy to share my story in the hopes that others know that they are not alone and can talk to other people who can relate to their stories and
have 100 per cent understanding, who are not judgemental or critical but understanding and supportive.
I was a child 10 years old when I was first bought by men. No one ever asked me if I needed help, not one man who bought me for sex asked me if I needed help to get out, or even asked why I was there. How is it that no one cared about the little boy on the streets of Canberra and that I was being bought for sex by men. I often wondered if I had been a little white boy and not indigenous would there have been more help, would someone have given a shit, would someone have gotten me out.
My entire life I lived thinking this was it for me; that this was as good as it got.
I haven’t seen any stories from men, many from women. The stories from the women, especially Ally-Marie Diamond inspired me to share mine. Ally taught me that we all have a story and that we all deserve to be heard, seen and valued. She taught me that when one finds the strength to share their experiences there will be many more ready to share theirs.
She taught me that my courage would be a gift of courage and hope to others like me out there.We may be two different genders but the violence I endured was all from men. Married, straight, professional, Christian, older, gay, confused, political, white men.
Prostitution is not a choice, not when it comes to humanity and equality.
Prostitution discriminates, is racist and attacks those who already have new to limited opportunities in life as it is. We deserve better. We may not be rich, white, privileged, or educated. We may not have been to private schools or had two loving parents. We may not have been surrounded by unconditional love, let alone have been sutured, we may not have the
latest technology, and some of us barely have shoes growing up. But just because we may have fewer choices already in life does not mean we deserve to always have fewer choices. We deserve so much more, and we definitely deserve to be seen and heard.
If it hadn’t been for Wahine Toa Rising and Ally-Marie, I can honestly say I would be dead, or worse, still in that life. I was exploited as a child, and then as an adult.
They say it is a choice. I’m not sure how people work that out when this life is the only one I ever knew. Guess they have never suffered in the way I have. Guess the life they always knew was a good one. Lucky them.
I guess this is why services like Wahine Toa Rising are so important. They get it; they are survivors like me. They gave me hope. They didn’t care about my gender, or that I was gay. They saw me regardless of colour, gender, or belief. They saw me for who I really am: a man who had been abandoned as a child and now as an adult was still lost.
Wahine Toa Rising found me and they gave me their hands to help me out. We need more services like Wahine Toa Rising. Selfless, caring people who give a shit about those with nothing. Why can’t more see us like they do? Why can’t more help us like they do? Why do you sit behind your suits, your money, your big houses? Why don’t you see us calling for help? Why won’t you help us? Why do you walk past us in the street and look down on us, or look past us, or turn your noses up?
Why is it so hard for you to see us?
We deserve opportunities too. Maybe if you actually saw us, you would learn more about us. Or is it that you actually don’t care? If I was white, would you have cared more?
As a survivor from Canberra, I support the Hon. Nicola Centofanti MLC and the Equality Bill because unlike many, she sees.
This is my story.
My story begins in a suburb of Canberra as a fun-loving, energetic, happy child full of life and adventure. I remember having many friends, going on play dates and birthday parties – until the day my mum met a man in the adult section of our local newspaper.
We thought he was caring, and I was excited that I would finally have a dad. My own father had left my mum when I was just six months old, leaving her as a single mum of two.
It wouldn’t be long before my mum and this man were married and had their first child together. It was then the abuse began. My now stepfather began to be verbally abusive.
My sister and I would be locked in our rooms, while they drank.
Every now and then, they would come in with food and drinks for us. We were so young that we didn’t think anything of it. We would just play with our toys. This was normal for us. After a while, you could hear my stepfather yelling at my mother. It was then I began to zone out. I’d pretend I was living in a different world just to escape the noise and the yelling.
If I made a sound or was naughty, he would call me the c-word, useless, worthless, and any other swear word he could think of. He would flog me with belts, cooking utensils, his hand, and a walking stick that had lots of little branches sticking out of it.
School was the hardest: going to school with no lunch and being beaten up continuously. I would be so hungry that I’d steal other kids’ lunches. I learnt to be cunning and sneaky and find or steal food wherever I could. Our stepfather would lock us out of the house, sometimes for days; the fridge and cupboards were always locked. As a young boy I was learning to steal to survive.
When I was eight years old, my uncle invited me to stay at his.
Of course, my mum let me go. They were more interested in drinking than looking after me. I remember feeling a little weird and wanting to go home, but he said he’d take me to the Telstra Tower if I stayed over. Being a young child, this was exciting. The tower stood on top of the hill in Canberra like a proud statue. It was huge, so of course I said OK.
That night he took me to our local pub as they were playing a country movie on a projector. He would sneak me his beer when no one was looking, which I thought was great, because here I was a kid in a pub, drinking like an adult. I wish I had known then what I know now; I would have said no.
That night my uncle told me I needed to take my clothes off as he needed to put my clothes in the wash so they were clean the next day, as I had no spare clothes. I climbed under the sheets, and after I closed my eyes, I don’t remember anything until I woke up the next day, except my arms, back and bottom were really sore.
As I grew, I began to notice things about my stepdad. He would watch me when I was in the shower, and touch me as I hopped out with a creepy smile and then walk away. He was a horrible man, and my mum would do nothing. This is the woman who was supposed to nurture and protect me, but did quite the opposite.
It wasn’t long before the abuse I was enduring tipped me over the edge.
I just wanted to die, and I tried to take my own life. That night I tried to hang myself, but as I lost consciousness, the skylight broke, and I fell to the floor. I must have been lying there for a while. When I woke up, I realised I was alone, and my mum had not even tried to find me. I tried to talk to her about it, but my stepfather beat me.
I would have been just 10 when I ran away. With nowhere safe to go, the streets became my home.
With no food, no shelter, and no parents, I needed to find a way to survive. I started hanging around a group of homeless men who slept under bridges and in the bushland. They gave me food, but it wasn’t free.
They always wanted something in return, and this mostly involved blow jobs. It wouldn’t be long before they also introduced me to crack, and instead of food being what was traded, it soon became drugs and alcohol.
Looking back this is where everything became so normalised, in regards to being abused by men. 10 years old and I was already a prostituted sex toy for men. A punching bag. I would be thrown around if I refused, bashed. I remember being forced into gang bangs, tied down and beaten.
I wanted my life to be over.
Now my life as a prostitute was so normalised (not that I realised what I was doing, I remember thinking it was completely normal – this was what happened, and what was expected of me if I wanted to survive), I would find men walking the streets and ask them if they wanted a fuck or wanted their dick sucked. Crazy how nearly always they would say yes.
Some would pay me in cash, but others would hold me down and fuck me forcefully before walking away. I was so young all I wanted was a home, but no home ever came.
At night in the park after being held down by a group of men who took turns having sex with me, I curled up in a ball and cried, and cried. I wanted my mum. I wanted her to love me and hold me and tell me everything was OK and she was taking me home. But she would never come and I knew she didn’t want me. I felt so much shame because this was now my life. I would now be having sex with men nearly every night in exchange for food, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
At 15, I was sitting on the street, and this guy just randomly sat next to me and started chatting. He was about the same age as me. We soon became friends and before too long I was invited to live with his family. I was only there about 12 months, because my mum got in touch and promised to change. But it wasn’t long before she was back drinking, and I was put into a residential home for kids.
At this age, my hormones went wild and with my sexual past, I began to have a hunger for sex. These needs getting stronger and more intense. Not only that, but I was also having withdrawals from drugs, and I fell into a really dark hole, not being able to get them. Due to the things I had learnt as a young boy, I knew men’s behaviour and knew how to get them. It was at this time I was kicked out of the home for having sex with one of the other residents.
My first experience of being videoed was at a friend’s eighteenth birthday party. I was so high and so drunk I didn’t know what had happened until my friend showed me the next day. He had been given a video of me sleeping with a woman from seven different angles. I was so ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated. I left the house and never saw any of my friends again.
I was sitting in maths class one day, when I received a call from the woman I had slept with. She said to me “I am having your babies”. I replied calmly “I will be there after school”. As we walked out of the hospital with the twins, she commented she needed to go to the toilet. 45 minutes later she still had not come back. She was gone. Due to my age
and history, my babies ended up in the foster system. I haven’t seen them since.
Selling myself was still the way I survived.
I had been surviving this way now for 8 years. But now I was paid in cash to help pay rent, bills, food.
Having to sell myself again, I became depressed, sad, and ashamed. This was all I knew how to do, the thing I was good at, the only thing men wanted from me. I had no friends, no family, no one. This was my life. I would work 24/7. My peak times were mainly between 7:30pm and 5-6am. Working privately meant I could do as much or as little as I wanted, but the “little” part was never an option, as what men wanted, they got.
I as always booked out, meaning my downtime was non-existent.
Compared to others, I didn’t charge that much. I needed to keep my prices low, so I had regular income to compete with others. This meant that I was pretty popular and in high demand.
I remember there being a man who liked it rough, too rough, and I would end up feeling like he had ripped my insides. I would keep checking to see if I was bleeding. I was lucky I wasn’t, but the inside of my anus didn’t feel right so I went to the doctor to get checked out and he told me and I quote “it must be a minor tear and not to worry about it”.
When doctors found out what I was doing, they were never really empathetic or understanding. Not once did they ever ask if I needed support, counselling, or a way out. After hearing that it was nothing, I went back to work and just put up with the pain.
There was another time when I met this very nice man. Well, I assumed he was nice when I first met him. He was very handsome, five foot something, short blonde hair, dark brown almost black eyes, stubble and a six-pack. He was a new client of mine and I just kept doing what I always did. I got onto the couch where he wanted me to position myself bent over the back of my couch and my back was facing the front door, and because my front door didn’t make any noise, I didn’t realise he had invited three more men into my home until they were all on me.
One of them fucked me from behind, while I was forced to suck another man’s penis. The third man must have been trying to stick his penis inside me at the same time because I felt fingers inside me as well as the other man’s penis. It really wasn’t a pleasant feeling especially because my anus was being stretched so much, and there was so much searing pain, but I was helpless. I was trapped; there was no fighting back. What was the point in even trying? They would just get more forceful and the pain would be worse. I tried to zone out as I would when I was a child.
When I zoned out, I couldn’t feel anything. Just numb.
Once the first man was done the guy who was fingering me then slid his penis into me and that was uncomfortable and painful. I felt like my insides were on fire. It was over an hour and a half before they all had their way and were satisfied. I always insisted on condoms but this time;
there was no time, no choice, no asking. I just lay there and let them do whatever they wanted because after all, they were paying for my rent and bills. They were my way of surviving, even though this work was really killing me. I did end up getting tested and I was clean thank goodness, but I was terrified I might have contracted HIV.
Being in what I thought at the time as a profession wasn’t all so bad though, out of the few hundred men I was with, I had one man who paid me just to lay on my bed and he’d cuddle me for an hour. He was sweet, he may have groped and grabbed at me while we were lying down but that wasn’t so bad it was kind of PG-rated compared to the other 98%.
I will say there was this one man who was very lovely. He handed me $2,000 as soon as he walked into my house just to sit and talk about his life, his deceased wife, his life in the military and his family.
He was interesting and the stories from his time in the army, about what he had to do and how he wouldn’t be able to express he was gay, or even be sexual with another man. Gay men back then were not accepted. He would talk for an hour and come back at least once a week.
My rate was $150.00 an hour. I was popular. Others were charging more than double, but I was working alone, and was desperate to be able to pay rent and bills. My front door was always unlocked there was never time to lock it before the next one would be walking in.
Being raped and sexually assaulted by men was all I knew.
I was at such a low point in my life with my self-worth, esteem and confidence I would let men do anything that they wanted. I felt I had no choice.
Even though I had graduated, I hadn’t worked, and I couldn’t get a job because I had no experience. I was broken mentally and emotionally. In some ways, I felt I had already died and I was just a sexual vessel for men to play with.
I would over-book men to the point as one guy was walking out the back door, I would have another man, sometimes even multiple men, walking in. My body count is disgraceful and even to this day, I feel gross, dirty, ashamed, embarrassed, unworthy of anything great happening to me, lost, scared, to the point I feel like I’m not good enough for anyone or anything.
I have many stories about my days when I sold my soul. They are pretty much all the same. Some might be slightly different, but each story would detail the same storyline of “Men defiling another human being for sexual self-gratification.”
As for where all this money was going. Well, I guess, it would be bills and rent, my smoking habit. I never bought food because being a bottom (someone who takes it) it was too much effort having to keep washing myself out every day, so eating was more hassle than it was worth, so a slice of toast every week was all I was consuming apart from water. I am grateful for where I am now. I live with amazing people whom I’m happy to call family. They are helping me to rebuild my life and to become a better human. I am 31 now and the last client I took was when I was 22 and I finally walked away.
I moved states to start afresh.
Living in a small town like Canberra, Australia’s capital, I would bump into clients on the street. It was too hard to start afresh there. It wouldn’t be long before I met someone, in the hopes of finally finding love. They were violent, abusive, just like all the men who had raped me.
But This is another story for another day.