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We recently spoke with a woman named Audrey Morrissey about her experience in Boston's sex trade, and we asked her what she thinks about Amnesty International's call for fully decriminalizing prostitution.
Audrey shook her head and bit her lower lip as if to stop herself from saying something. Then she reconsidered.
"What I will say is this: Anywhere, anywhere that there is an adult commercial sex industry, there are always, always children in there," said Morrissey. "There's no safe way to do this. I strongly feel that people are not for sale, people shouldn't be able to buy people. What these folks don't talk about, and I ran into a couple of them, and I said to them, none of you talk about the trauma. Because there is trauma when you are having to have sex with strangers night after night after night."
Audrey Morrissey knows this. She really knows. She's associate director for the group My Life My Choice, where she mentors at-risk youth now. But she was just 16 years old when she began working as a prostitute in what was then called the "Combat Zone." It was in downtown Boston.
"Bright lights, strip clubs, right in Chinatown, it was a known district. As a matter of fact, today, when you hear about human trafficking and the sex industry, most people will say it doesn't exist in Boston anymore because that area's gone."
But Audrey will tell you that the sex trade obviously is not gone. And, what also hasn't changed is the fact that children are pulled into "the life," as she calls it. Though, Audrey admits it wasn't much of a life for her. She'd been a young mother when she started selling sex. Her baby's father lured her into it.
"He said to me, if you really love me, you'll be down for me. You know, the promise of the money, you, me and our daughter, we'll be together forever, sort of thing. I always had that fantasy in my mind."
So, the father of Audrey's daughter pulled over, and 16-year-old Audrey got out to stand on the corner. A car pulled up immediately.
"My introduction into the life was a police officer in plainclothes flashing me his badge and asking me to perform a sex act, and he would not arrest me. And I remember, I cried like a baby."
It was obvious to the officer that Audrey was so young, so inexperienced, so vulnerable.
"He could tell from the crying that I didn't have a clue of what I was doing, and he did let me go, and I swore I would never go back down there again."
But she did. For the next 13 years, Audrey Morrissey sold sex. First, for her boyfriend. Then, to support her heroin addiction, which she says was the inevitable consequence of her mind trying to escape. "Leaving the room," is how she puts it, while her body did what it had to do.
- "The ad has only been up for a few minutes, and Tom Perez’s phone is already ringing with calls and beeping with text messages."
This segment aired on August 26, 2015.
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