He kept telling me I was gorgeous and sexy. I had no idea, I was too young to realise that he was slowly grooming me into prostitution

“I was always the black sheep. My parents did the best they could, but I was always in trouble growing up, running away, disappearing for days. When I was 16, I met this man, he was much older than me. He’d bring me to his house, and we’d drink and smoked weed. I liked him because he was always nice to me. I had issues with my weight and extremely low self-esteem, but he kept telling me I was gorgeous and sexy. I had no idea, I was too young to realise that he was slowly grooming me into prostitution. For me, at the start, it wasn’t even about the money it was being told that I was beautiful and for the first time in my life, I felt that I was. I used to have to get wasted but when the alcohol and the weed didn’t do it anymore I started to use cocaine. Addiction became a real problem then and I lost everything. I lived in the night and most of the time I would be selling myself just to get my fix or even a place to rest my head. One of the worst parts was when someone who I trusted exposed me on the internet, telling everyone I knew I was ‘junkie hooker’ and uploaded explicit images. I’m still fighting that to this day. You know, I could’ve followed the doctor’s orders and taken the pills, I could go for a run or scream into a pillow… but drink, drugs and self-harm were the only things numbing how I was feeling… I had to grieve for my teenage self. She was mad, she didn’t care. She had nothing to lose, but now I have a fresh start. I am drug-free, back in contact with my family, I started college and I have my own apartment… I can’t lose this… It would be so easy to fall back, but I believe in myself and I know I will able to keep going.”