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Jesse's story

Please note: Pink Cross is currently running an appeal to help Jesse attend Alabaster. Alabaster is a recovery home that supports and helps women heal from the trauma of prostitution and gain valuable life skills. If you would like to help Jesse, more information about her appeal can be found here.

I was raised in a strict Orthodox church. My father was abusive. I only have patchy memories of the sexual abuse – I was just a little girl; I can’t even remember what age. He psychologically abused me and once slapped me across the face. He abused my mother and brothers, too. I heard him bash my older brothers and often tried to stop him hurting my mum.

In my teens, a family friend once told me about how a prostituted woman had approached him in St Kilda. Even though he was not trying to influence me, the idea stuck in my mind. Until this point I had only heard about prostitution in movies! I don’t know why – maybe it was teenage rebellion – but I decided I was going to be like that prostituted woman. Three weeks later, in an attempt to protect myself from the abusive home I was living in, I ran away. I was 17 years old and still a virgin.

On the evening of that day, I dressed up and wore a miniskirt. A group of three young guys pulled over to chat me up. I told them I didn’t have a place to stay. That night I had sex with two of the three guys. Sometime later one of them invited me on a holiday to Adelaide. There, he tried to pimp me out. Eventually he started to lose interest in me and we came back to Melbourne. He sent me to do private escorting jobs but I never saw any of the money. I soon had enough and decided to work for myself on the streets of St Kilda, just to have a roof over my head and enough food to eat. During this time, I relied on community organisations and homeless shelters to survive. At eighteen years old I started selling my body in a legal brothel in South Melbourne. I lived like this for eight years. I lost complete respect for myself. I developed mental health problems and became addicted to drugs.

I am now 29 years old and I am very, very depressed. Over the last three years I have been struggling to make ends meet, living in precarious accommodation where I get targeted by predators. I try not to do prostitution, but my financial circumstances make it so hard. I don’t want to go back to prostitution ever! My 30th birthday is this February. For this milestone, I want to completely change my life, but I know it will be hard. I have so much to learn to live a healthy life – I haven’t finished high school and I have no work experience. Can you help me? [Photograph ©: Alice Arnott 2017. Text and photo approved by Jesse.]

Diane's story

I worked in prostitution on and off for a number of years between the ages of 22 and 29 years. After leaving this life I got married and had children, and although my life moved on in many ways, my past still impacted upon me. As part of my healing I began to search for other women who shared my past. I came across Geneviève and Pink Cross Australia online in 2011 and I got in touch with her.

It was extremely helpful to be able to connect with Genevieve. Her openness about her experience helped know she understood the complexity of my past, and would not judge me. She had written her story to share with others and this brave and generous offering inspired me to write my own story, as part of my healing. 

Recently I shared with Geneviève about a difficult situation involving my children, who were too young to hear about my sex work from my vengeful ex husband. Geneviève prayed for me and gave me support to get through this situation. I am very grateful to her for the work she does in supporting women like myself. The stigma of this life can leave us feeling guilty, shamed and alone and having someone to talk to has made a real difference in my life. She even posted me a Gift pack; it was better than a birthday present! My kids loved what she posted for them! Diane, 44 [Photograph not of named individual. Photograph ©: Ronald D. Vogel]

Michaela's story

I found out about Pink Cross Australia in 2013 through their Facebook Page and immediately called the number on the page, asking for help. I had a long chat with Geneviève and she prayed for me. Together we decided on a plan to improve my life and she got me in touch with peer organisations in my region. So far, I have benefited from training on how to rewrite my resumé, I had one on one career advice, was given a few sets of wonderful clothing to attend interviews and have also met christian counsellors and volunteers who give me the strength I need to get out of the troubles I got in. The contact with the Free Debt management agency that Pink Cross provided to me is going to put me on track and get me out of debt so I can carry on with a mainstream job without fear of losing everything. Geneviève and I were in touch almost every week for an hour chat, and she still calls me to check up on me. Each time she asked what was it I needed prayer for and this lifted my spirit so much. Thank you Pink Cross Australia for changing my life! Michaela, 30. [Photograph not of named individual.]

Ysabel's story

I never thought that God would reach out to me in a brothel through another worker, but He did. At the time I was an atheist and my life was a total mess. I was in real need for any help I could find, anywhere. Geneviève stayed in touch with me after she left the sex industry, and catching up for coffee was really cool. After meeting with many friends of hers, I got introduced to the Christian faith and was very skeptical. I told them I did not think it was for me at all! But their kindness, patience, amazing love and friendship showed me that surely, there was something different about them: later I realised that they were just like Jesus! 

I became an instant believer at one of the reunions at church and since then have been on fire for God. I have done all the Christian courses I could at church and enrolled at Bible College. I have been healed from many ailments through the power of prayer and I am now married to a beautiful Christian man. I alway had rocky relationships but this one is full of generous grace, divine favor and open communication. We have a common desire to serve God wherever he sends us. Lately, the Holy Spirit spoke to us to become missionaries. The work Genevieve does with Pink Cross is remarkable: I am the proof that just like the way she lifted me up, God's redemption is possible through faith in His power. I hope to continue to plant seeds in people's hearts the same way Geneviève did with me and let God do the rest. Life is good! Ysabel, 26. [Photograph not of named individual.]

Arpina's story

In 2013 Geneviève was invited to speak at a women's prison and I happened to hear her story. My desperation, depression and a difficult mental illness led me to try to commit suicide and I was charged with something tragic relating to this. I never thought that I would end up in prison. I had a good education and started going to university. I was very lonely though as I had come to Melbourne to study from overseas by myself. When I got into drugs and the party scene I became delusional; starting to do high class escorting work didn't help at all either. I never told anyone I was an independent sex worker, feeding my ice habit with the money from it. I also come from a poor, broken family. My mother worked really hard to get me to study, so I really wanted to make her proud. It was a relief to hear that Genevieve went through this as well and is now willing to share her story of hope with others. No one talks about this in our society!

Now that Geneviève writes to me regularly and visits me in this very scary and wild world of incarceration, I have a renewed hope that things will only get better because God and the Pink Cross Team are there for me. I'll do all it takes to lead a normal life and overcome my problems. Thank you Pink Cross Australia for allowing Geneviève to have touched my heart so much! Arpina, 22. [Photograph not of named individual. Photograph ©: Sijmon Heitmeijer]