“It’s very unpleasant for me when I think about everything that has happened to me. I’ve lived through things that you cannot imagine. I was born in Medellin, Colombia, in a family of 8 children. We lived in a comfortable house, a normal family. Then one day, I was about 6 years old and my mother asked me to go to the shop to get some milk. One of my uncles was waiting for me at the corner, and when I passed he grabbed me and raped me. It happened several times and each time he told me, “If you say anything, I will kill you.” It was terrible. I kept it inside me all my childhood, without ever telling anyone. I thought nobody would believe me. But very soon I said to myself: when I grow up, I will have money and I will pay someone to kill him.
When I was 17, my father died in a car accident and the family fell into ruin. When the pillars of the family collapse, everything collapses with them. My mother worked all the time and what little money she brought home, my brothers spent on getting drunk. We barely had enough to eat. It was misery. Our brothers beat us girls, and even my mother’s brothers who came to look after us sexually abused us. In my country, all the men of this generation are violent and macho. Because their mother teaches them since they are little that they are always right. I had two children from two different fathers, and both were violent to me.
As the insecurity got worse and worse because of the guerrillas and the narcos, at 40 I decided to leave for Spain. But I promised myself that one day I would come back to take revenge on the uncle who had raped me. When I arrived in Spain, my contact took me to a bar but I didn’t understand why. She said to me: “You fuck your boyfriend, don’t you? Here they pay you for that!” It was a big shock. I left immediately and spent the night in a park. I only had a suitcase, nothing to eat. While I was crying, alone in the park, a Venezuelan woman came to me. She told me her story and offered me to work with her in a brothel elsewhere. I didn’t want to, but she insisted: “You’ll be able to earn a lot of money, and you’ll be able to help your family, etc.”. And I ended up following her.
My first pass was horrible. The client was vulgar, and rough. He couldn’t ejaculate and needed me to talk dirty to him to get him excited. Then he wanted me to perform unprotected oral sex on him. I refused. He disgusted me. I will never forget this man. It was traumatic. That night I cried for hours. All I could think about was running away. I thought: “I came here with my own traumas and I end up doing this job. What a shitty life!” I had to work every day from 5pm to 5am. The truth is that I made a lot of money, I can tell you that. But prostitution isn’t easy money! It’s cursed money! You think it’s easy to sleep with a drunk and disgusting guy while you have 90,000 things in your head mind?
Because everything was illegal, the police chased us like rats. I was caught 5 times, but fortunately never deported. After some time I stopped this job to get documents and bring my children over. I worked as a cook and maid for years. Hard jobs with very low pay. Then one day I decided it was time to go to Colombia. I wanted to see my family, and…I had this desire for revenge. I saw my mother, and the house she had built with the money I sent her. Then I asked her about the uncle. My plan was to pay someone to make him suffer as he had made me suffer. And then… disappointment. He had died a year earlier. I was so frustrated… But if one day I meet him in hell, I’ll catch him!
Back in Spain, I had a serious traffic accident at work and needed money for my rehabilitation. I had visited Switzerland some time before and fell in love with the country. And I knew that there were opportunities in sex work here. And that’s how I got back into prostitution, at about 50 years old, out of financial necessity and the body still sore from the accident. I was working with some women in a club in Geneva. It was an illegal place but the clients were respectful and I was able to earn money to pay for my rehabilitation. There were airport employees, lawyers and even policemen who came! But after a few years, the clientele changed and I had some traumatic experiences there.
The worst thing happened two years ago. One day I went into a cabin with a client, and immediately I felt that something bad was going to happen. He closed the door behind me and put me against the bed. He was very big and strong. I started to scream and he yelled, “Shut your mouth you whore!” He put his hand on my face and raped me very violently. It was horrible. Before he ran away he told me, “If you call the police, I’ll cut your head off.” I went in shock. I left the club like a zombie. I got on the train to go home, and when I got off the train I passed out. A lot of other girls had already been beaten up but nobody wanted to call the police because it was all illegal. You had to keep your mouth shut.
But this time for me was too much. A friend put me in touch with the association Aspasie, which helped me to lodge a complaint. I told the police everything, what was happening in the club and what had happened to me. The club was closed for a few weeks, but then everything went back to normal. The police did nothing! A few weeks ago, they called me for a recognition test. There were only short men there although I told them he was tall and strong! I don’t trust the justice system here anymore. But I will find him one day. I keep looking for him everywhere in Geneva. Sometimes I cover my face and look in the streets where the girls are working. Every day I wonder where that dirty bastard is. I will never forget what he did to me. I tell you, one day I’ll find him…
My life has been a total mess. Ever since I was young, I’ve been filled with anger at all the men who hurt me, and at myself too. Nobody can understand what it feels like inside, the pain, the anger. And I’m frustrated with all the dreams I could never achieve. I try to be strong, but sometimes the memories come back and I feel like a ball in my stomach. My psychologist encouraged me to open up to my daughter. But it’s difficult, how can I tell her such things? I don’t want her image of me to change. And my children have no idea of the work I’ve done. There are times when I feel so bad that I don’t want to exist anymore. I try to overcome all this, but it’s difficult. Every day I ask God to give me the strength to move on.”
Published as part of the mini-series “90’000 things in my head“, produced in partnership with Aspasie. | Translated from Spanish