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In the life: Stories of sex workers and choices

Steet Walker-Kim's Story

A Story of Choices: Real-life stories of current and former sex workers

It been called the oldest profession in the world and has never experienced a downturn.  Whether the economy is good or bad, a sex worker can make money.

Atlanta has been the focal point of human trafficking in the nation, especially when it comes to child prostitution. It’s a side of the city very few of us ever want to see or deal with until it becomes personal. But why does it perpetuate among our black youth in urban and surprisingly suburban and even rural areas? Economics, curiosity and drugs bring many people into “the life” but it is economics, family and health that lead some of these same individuals out of the life. The scars and choices have a profound effect on the individual.

“I’ve seen girls as young as 9, and in one case, 5, doing things. These men and young boys out here don’t care, they give them cash and powder for sex, and it has not changed,” says an elderly man nicknamed “Pops,” a longtime resident of one the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Pops told rolling out he wanted us to speak with a woman who is no longer in the life. He contacted Kim, a woman he’s known since she was a child. “Kim is a good example of what this life can do to you,” he said.

Kim is a small woman who looks and sounds  pleasant, and you would not know that she was once a street walker. But soon her language got raw as she talked about the choices she made and the repercussions.

How long have you been out of sex work?

Going on seven years now.

When did you start hitting the streets?

I was maybe around 19 and I was curious. At first it was little things I was out of school and was bored. I started to party a lot.  Mostly weed then I started doing powder.

Were you ever in a long-term relationship?

Back then I was with this person who was 10 years older. She was really good to me.

Are you bisexual or lesbian?

Back then I was more curious than anything and I liked it. But that only lasted with her for a year. After that all the rest of the time I was with girls having sex was when I was on drugs really bad.

Why was that? Were you looking for a loving relationship?

No, that’s what guys wanted to see, so that’s what they paid me for, they always want to see two girls go down.

Do you see more teen girls having sex with girls now?

Definitely yes. That’s the thing now.

Why do you think that is?

They [are]  just bored and want to be safe. Plus that’s all you see on those videos now. But most of them still like boys.

How long have you been clean and sober?

About five years now. I’m married, happy, have a roof over my head but I can’t work. I had cervical cancer and it was really bad. My privates are really just gone now due to the cancer, so I’m disabled.

I’m sorry to hear that.

It’s from doing all the things I did on drugs that probably gave me cancer.

Rolling out will continue the second part of this story with a former adult film star who now lives in Atlanta.