Nfld. & Labrador·STEALING INNOCENCE

Dear Jeff: A former sex worker's letter to the clients she once knew

She was exploited as a child. Then as an adult, she moved into the sex trade.This is her letter to the johns she once knew, letting them know what it was really like.

Exploited as a child, determined as an adult

A woman who used to work in the sex trade in Newfoundland and Labrador says that many clients call themselves 'Jeff' even though that's not their real name. (CBC )

By Tabatha Scott*

Editor's note: Tabatha Scott is the pseudonym of a woman who used to be involved in the sex trade in Newfoundland and Labrador. CBC has agreed to protect her identity. This is her letter to the clients who used to pay her for sex.

Dear Jeff,

I don't know why the johns always lie and say their name is Jeff, but they do. You do.  

From the second you lock eyes with mine, I cringe and you crave. The fear of not knowing what will happen upstairs, of me not knowing what you're expecting of me.

I'd like to crawl out of my skin while you are trying to seduce your way in.

For you it is a quick fix, but for me it feels like eternity.

I force myself to give you a smile. It kills me. The connection is just not there and I feel more dead on the inside than I've ever felt.

Your wife thinks you will spend the day at the office. As you freshen up in the morning, you hit private search on your phone looking for the ads you've bookmarked. The thrill of being able to pick any woman you want.

A woman we're calling Tabatha Scott says clients commonly used private searches on their cellphones to decide which sex worker they'd book time with. (CBC)

Before I open my eyes in the morning, my face is wet. The weight of the day before. And I have to face another day.

The cocaine you supply is for fun but for me it is to forget.

Before I open my eyes in the morning, my face is wet.- Tabatha Scott

You are so intrigued by the attention I give you. I have become a pro at saying what you need to hear. Giving the same reassurance to you and to the Jeff before you that it's OK to have erectile dysfunction. It doesn't make you any less of a man.

Guilt and shame on both sides 

You might be Jeff No. 1 out of seven tonight but I give you my attention as if you're the only one.  

It's amazing how you can change once you have had your way with me. There's guilt and shame on both sides. Usually you throw the money at me and off you go.

You have someone at home waiting for you who knows nothing of the demon you have inside. I drag my feet home.

Scott says her face was wet with tears before she even opened her eyes in the morning, because of what she would have to face that day. (Shutterstock)

In the end we both lose because it's something we both take to the grave.

But don't you worry. Just as there is Viagra to help you perform, there is cocaine to to help me forget.  

What happened under the deck 

Jeff, if you were asked if you could pinpoint the moment in your life when you knew it was all going to fall apart, would you be able to?

Could you bring yourself right back to the month, day, year, place, time, the smell in the air, the music you hear and the clothes you were wearing?

For me, I was six years old. It was summer, with freshly cut grass. We were underneath the deck. I was wearing a white shirt and blue shorts. My hair was up in a ponytail. You were my friend. You were probably 14. I trusted you.

You said, 'I'll show you mine, you show me yours.' Then you placed my hand on your penis and made me do something.

Hello conscience, goodbye innocence. It ate me alive, and I remember feeling so dirty.

Scott remembers being six years old and watching television after an older boy molested her, unable to tell her mother what had just happened. (Shutterstock)

I remember going back to the house and watching Road to Avonlea, watching my mom fold laundry and wishing that she could see what I had just lived through.

That was the beginning of my double life.

Children know nothing about secrets

As children, we have very little expectation beyond what is for breakfast and what games our friends will play. Complete innocence.

We know nothing about secrets beyond taking a cookie before supper — and that isn't something that will keep us up at night.

But what if in a second all that changed? What if it was all taken away for a lifetime, the morals you once believed in?

There are countless boys and men I have encountered over more than 30 years.

At 13, boys told me I had an imperfect body.  

At 13, no young woman has flaws. We are just growing into our bodies, as uncomfortable as that is.

At 14, my gym teacher would turn off the lights and come into the dressing room.

At 15, my boyfriend tried to choke me when I wouldn't have sex with him.

If you can't beat them, join them. At that point I was already so damaged that I started trading sex for food and drugs and a place to stay. I didn't take any money until years later.

Bloodied from rough sex, drugs, shame, regrets.

But the sick part was that I knew I had no other choice but to accept that. I didn't know the difference.

Falling forward 

Pleasing a man is all I have known, and in return I thought it was love.

I have never known love.

I have watched sexual partners come and go.

Scott says she used cocaine and alcohol to try to forget what she was doing. (CBC)

Once they no longer needed what little I had to offer, I tried to justify to myself that the next one would work out.

Years of drinking made the sexual exchange easier. Living in my own little world of denial.

I have never known love.- Tabatha Scott

Was it normal for all girls to feel that if someone was nice to you that sex was the way to say thank you?

It took me until my 30s to stop the cycle and say enough is enough.

A mask of self-sabotage until one day I looked myself in the face and forgave myself.

How was I supposed to know any different when this was all I've been shown?

Today I am clean of all drugs.

I forgive myself for what I have done and the lives I have affected.

That girl is able to smile but is also wary.

Today I choose to fall forward and not backward because I choose to live the life I deserve.

*Tabatha Scott is a pseudonym. She's left the sex trade in Newfoundland and Labrador behind.