LOVER BOY AND PROSTITUTION — SANDRA NORAK’TESTIMONY — adlaudatosi webinar 13 APRIL 2021 Demand As Root Cause For Human Trafficking – Sex Trafficking & Prostitution
So I don’t like to call these broken souls prostitutes. They are no prostitutes from the heart!
SANDRA NORAK: Okay, thank you for organising this and for talking about prostitution and trafficking and solutions. I want to speak about, first a little bit about me, about the Lover Boy method, which part legislation plays, and also about the mechanisms of trafficking, prostitution, and about demand.
So first, a few facts about my story, I have been through. I became acquainted with my trafficker and pimp, who was about 35 years old, on the Internet when I was a minor. At the time, I had long continuing problems with my mentally ill mother, a stay in the clinic due to anorexia, as well as self-harm behaviour. And of course, he knew the circumstances and used my vulnerabilities. So when I came home from school, I stationed myself immediately at the computer and spent a long time in different chat rooms.
And we wrote more and more, then every day. And he waited for me online and gave me the feeling to be there for me. I spoke with him more and more about my problems and he showed support and understanding.
And so it came to the first real meeting where he invited me to eat. He was my first love. The first person that I had sexual intercourse with. And up to this point, prostitution was not mentioned. Talking about prostitution began slowly, when he knew that I emotionally hang on him and he was the only person to whom I related. So at the weekend, I travelled by train to his city and after a while he took me to brothels of some of his friends, who were brothel owners. And after a while he wanted that I prostitute myself. And when I refused, he began to explain, he had great debts and was stuck into difficulties, and I’m the only person who can help him. So I had anxiety of losing him, and that something is happening to him. And so I began to prostitute myself.
I became a full-time prostituted woman and broke off school because I could not lead this double life. So the strategy, which is about targeted searching, recruiting, and pushing young women into prostitution for the purpose to exploit them sexually by faking or simulating a love relationship at the beginning falls under human trafficking and is called the Lover Boy method. This form of recruiting for human trafficking is getting more and more common, because it is the safest way for the trafficker to escape prosecution. He can hide behind the alleged voluntariness of the young women that are under his control. Lover Boy traffickers and Lover Boy pimps, they look for an easy prey. They use the vulnerabilities of the young women, especially when you come from a broken home, when you have already experienced sexual abuse, violence, neglect in the past.
These are the general preconditions for entry into prostitution. But it’s not limited, that only vulnerable young girls are trafficked. In Germany, there are also women who have been victims of Lover Boy pimps, who come from families where there’s no evidence of abuse or violence. But they met their Lover Boy pimp when they were very young. It was their first time being in love. They were like typical adolescents rebelling against their parents. This method is very common when it comes to trafficking and pimping.
But how someone is able to endure prostitution, what it means enduring very intimate things, being in prostitution and enduring countless penetrations by strangers; one needs attitudes that trivialize this violence that it all was bearable or not so bad at all. And how do you get such an attitude? If someone is abused physically or psychologically early in the childhood, as it was with me, the affected person is convinced by the idea that being mistreated is not so hard, or deserved, or normal, because you don’t know how it is to be treated well.
In psychological traumatology, this is called the offender-influenced way of thinking. It is kind of survival strategy to stand violence better. So if the current situation cannot be endured or changed, affected persons often take the perpetrator’s point of view because if they act like offenders want them to act, the chances of survival are higher. So for example, if I do exactly what they tell me, they will probably let me alone and it will not become so bad. Or words like, “You are worthless”, can turn into, “I am worthless”, or “You will never achieve it”, can turn into, “I will never achieve it.” So this internalisation and taking over of the offender’s ideas due to self-protection, becomes manifest until one is grown up and it determines daily life, not only in the form of a negative self image, but also in the form of a lack of self-protection and self care. So someone who had to learn enduring violence early, as a survival strategy often won’t later be able to protect against it. And for these persons there is a very high risk of being trafficked and exploited.
And when in addition, sexualised violence in the form of prostitution is not named as such in society, and in a State like in Germany, trivialised as a service, those offender-influenced ways of thinking will not be terminated, but confirmed. So with the legality of buying sex, people, mostly women in prostitution, are taught that the violence that they experience in prostitution would not be real violence because it is legal that they can be sold for sexual objectification and abuse. So the Government signalises with its liberal legislation, prostitution is not violence, but a normal job. And this point of view is taken over by many, many counselling organisations too. And that is dangerous because it misleads a person to get into prostitution without clarifying to them the immense amount of violence that awaits them there.
So I give you an example of what I mean. When my trafficker pushed me for the first time into a brothel during my recruitment as a young adult, I had a very bad intuition and wanted to escape. I was young, unstable, vulnerable, and didn’t know how to hold myself, and which kind of dangerous situation I was. He led me towards prostitution and coerced me and said I should not be embarrassed. “It was all normal”, he told me. “It’s normal in Germany.” “It’s just a job”, and so on. And so I remember the point of view of our Government, which considers prostitution as a job, and that pimps, as well as brothel owners appear on talk shows being called businessmen instead of criminals. So I remember that this milieu was mainly described as not so bad at all. And exactly this image of normality in the prostitution milieu is transmitted with Germany’s State legislation.
And so I could not recognise that I was on the way sliding into the middle of a criminal milieu full of violence. It was not named as a crime and won’t be named as one. So however, our State has got a responsibility to be a role model. Every State has that responsibility to be a role model and provider of orientation, especially for young and vulnerable people. If our State had told me that, for example, with a prohibition of buying sex, or by talking about the violence in prostitution, that prostitution is violence and a violation of human dignity, my trafficker would have had it much harder to lead me in prostitution because I would be warned. So however, the sad truth is that our State believes that sexual violence against women is normal because it’s liberal legislation on prostitution means nothing else.
That is what people are guiding themselves with. That’s how children grow up in our country, in Germany, believing that it isn’t violence, when women and young girls in prostitution are penetrated daily, sometimes 10, 20 times a day, and are deprived of their dignity and worth. But of course, it is violence!
So exiting and escaping after the experiences you made in prostitution, is very hard. A physical exit from prostitution, the bodily step into real life can often be managed, but the physical exit does not automatically mean the psychological exit. So being in prostitution, you experience the deepest abysses of our society, an immeasurable and unimaginable extent of violence, humiliation, lies and inhumanity. One can flee from this life physically, but psychologically, hang in the thick of memories and pain. And often due to the experiences you have made, there is a deep belief that you are worthless, you are unable to achieve anything, and deserve nothing else.
So the physical exit is often difficult, but the psychological exit is even more difficult because it often takes years, or even decades, and it involves breaking through pain and trauma.
It is the slow distancing from an earlier life full of violence. And this psychological exit is difficult but extremely important. And it’s not about forgetting your experiences, but it is about accepting the non-erasable past to integrate it into your life and to simultaneously break free from this parallel world of prostitution and trafficking.
So to come to the end, I want to mention the last point, and it’s about also what we have talked about. It’s about demand.
To fight trafficking and exploitation, we need to reduce demand because demand is a breeding ground for trafficking. Where there is a high demand, it’s much more lucrative for traffickers. You cannot fight trafficking when you are promoting demand on the other side. And when you treat prostitution as a job, as a service that can be bought, like you can buy a pack of cigarettes, like it is in Germany, you are promoting demand. In Germany, we have an estimated number of 1.2 million sex buyers, who use sexual services each day. So you can imagine that traffickers in Germany are becoming rich. So Germany is unfortunately a country where pimps and traffickers are able to become rich with a very low risk of being prosecuted. A very low risk, because they can hide very well behind legal structures.
So thousands of women in Germany are used and exploited, but nobody is really seeing this because it is hidden behind a legal system, behind a legislation, that calls all the women in prostitution, automatically, prostitutes. But most of these, and we speak about 200,000 to 400,000 women in prostitution in Germany … they are no prostitutes, they are trafficked, they are forced … they were abused as a child and never got to know what it means to live a life without violence, to live a life with dignity, or they do not find the way out after their trafficking and exploitation situation, as it was also the case with me.
So statistically, there is a high probability to become a whole life prostitute after being exploited and trafficked, not because you wanted, but because you are broken.
And most of these so-called prostitutes are the children who were left behind when they were young, and now left behind a second time by society. So I don’t like to call these broken souls prostitutes. They are no prostitutes from the heart.
After my trafficking and exploitation situation, I became also such a free choice prostitute, but not because I was a prostitute from the heart. I became one because on the one hand, I don’t know how to exit this life after my exploitation. So I was highly traumatised because of what has happened.
And at the end, I lived in the brothel where I was exploited, had no flat, had broken up with school, had almost no contacts to people outside the red light. And on the other hand, I had experienced so much sexual abuse and exploitation that I lost my worth, my identity, my personality, that I thought I don’t deserve help from people outside the red light, and that I have to do the exit on my own no matter how long it takes.
And when you start with nothing and when you have the feeling that the only thing you are worth is what your trafficker has made out of you, a prostitute, it takes time. It takes time to find back to yourself. And honestly, a lot of women being trafficked and exploited never find back to themselves because they had been broken too much. So statistically, there is a high probability to become a whole life prostitute after being trafficked.
So you have a “free choice prostitute”, but nobody is seeing the stories behind these “free choice prostitutes”. So it’s not because you want it, but because you are broken. In this situation, I even defended my prostitution outwardly because I don’t want people to see how far I’m actually down, how far I’m on the edge, and because it would hurt too much to say that it is violence when you physically and, or psychologically, see no way to escape this violence.
So I was never a prostitute from the heart.
I grew up with the wish of becoming a sea biologist when I first saw the film Free Willy, when I was a child, and not of becoming someone being penetrated one day after the other. So in the meantime, my dreams changed because of my trafficking and prostitution experiences. So after my exploitation, I catched up school education, which I had broken up before because of my trafficker. I studied law and I’m going to become a lawyer fighting against exploitation and for enlightenment. This is what I am from the heart.
And other women dream, for example, of being a police officer, scientist, an artist, and so on. They dream about a lot, but not of being a prostitute.
So no matter what kind of prostitution legislation we prefer, and I prefer the so-called Swedish/Nordic Model, and fighting for this to implement in Germany with a lot of other great people, nobody can tell me that only one child on this earth grows up with the wish of becoming a prostitute, with the wish of being penetrated hundreds, thousands of times by strangers. Children do not grow up with this wish.
So, of course, I cannot speak for every woman who is in prostitution, but for the majority. And we do not have 200,000 so-called “prostitutes” in Germany!
Instead, what we do have in Germany for sure, are thousands of broken children whose dreams were taken away from them, and who are locked now in the system of prostitution. I was just one of these 200,000 to 400,000 who are just called prostitutes, and where the stories behind are mostly unknown.
So whoever is listening here, please do not normalise or accept such a system, where you can find so many broken lives and souls, but instead, fighting the system, and fighting the system means to fight against demand. Thank you.