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"My Story, My Destiny" by Marlene Carson

I grew up in a home filled with molestation, domestic violence, and substance and alcohol abuse. During one of my father’s drunken rages, my life was threatened and I was forced out of the family’s home. With no education, job training or money, I was living homeless in a major metropolitan city when I started dating a man (Richard)[1] who I knew from school. I eventually became Richard’s prostitute in order to pay back my debt for clothing, food and shelter. I was forced onto the streets to prostitute and eventually started an escort service to avoid street walking. Richard was extremely physically and emotionally abusive. I recall the tactics used by Richard to cause fear and to remind me of who was in control; numerous beatings, being made to stand in the corner like a child for hours, and having a Nike emblem embossed in my face from Richard literally stepping on my face and standing there. I quickly came to understand what it really meant to be a ‘Bottom Girl’, a title I had been given after meeting my pimp’s criteria. A bottom girl is a position identified in the hierarchy of prostitutes working for a particular pimp. A bottom girl is usually the prostitute who has been with the pimp the longest and consistently makes the most money. Being the bottom girl gives the prostitute status and power over the other women working for her pimp. The bottom girl acts in a way like an office manager, keeping tabs on the "track" when the pimp is away, keeping the pimp apprised of the law enforcement activity, and collecting money from the prostitutes. The bottom girl can be especially important when the pimp is incarcerated. However, the bottom girl is also the one who suffers punishment when things go wrong. Richard and I remained in a pimp/prostitute relationship for many years and a combination of fear, desperation and manipulation led me to marry Richard. We remained married for sixteen years.

During our relationship I experienced many aspects of prostitution, including having a wife-in-law, (sometimes more than one). This is a woman who shares the role of her wifely duties with her pimp. A prostitute only becomes a wife-in-law after paying a substantial “choosing fee”, (the price decided on by the pimp with whom she is willing to pay to be with). Below a wife-in-law there is the stable. In order to have a stable, a pimp has to have more than 2 women.

Although I define my past activities as prostitution and my past self as a prostitute, visit me at www.rahabshideaway.org to hear how I have taken the pain of my past and used it to fuel my purpose.

My desire is to develop appropriate responses to help meet the needs of those who have become victims of Human Trafficking, and to assist in the development of a model facility that can provide refuge and facilitate recovery. Such a facility will meet the needs of our community and provide a template, which if followed by others, could extend the benefits of our good efforts across our country and throughout the developed world.

[1] Fictional name for my pimp/husband

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