By the time I was 17, my dad concluded he had failed to humiliate, beat and torture me out of being gay. So he kicked me out of the house. Within two hours of leaving home, I had been targeted by a pimp and was being raped by his customers.
I was marketed as a high-price call-boy for the majority of my years in the sex-trafficking world. My pimps styled me as a "North Shore Boy," using my upper-middle-class background to attract johns looking to pay for sex with a boy who looked like their neighbors. There was a lot of demand for boys like me, and both my pimps and my johns went to great lengths to psychologically and physically prevent me from leaving.
One of the mainstream myths about the world of escorting is that the industry functions as a legitimate business and does not count as sex trafficking, a.k.a. prostitution. When people do recognize escorting as prostitution, they believe it's somehow safer than street level prostitution. It isn't. Far from it. My pimp told me he would cut me open like a fish and throw me in the lake like human garbage. The following day was my first meeting with a "political john." I took the Metro to the pimp. He blindfolded me and had me hide in the car en route to the hotel. Once we pulled into the parking lot, I was instructed to take the blindfold off and put the seat back. We were met by security at the back of the hotel, and I was delivered to the politician.
My johns were successful, sometimes famous men who had a lot at stake when it came to exploiting me: careers, reputations and marriages. It's hard to underestimate how much they worried, if I snitched and the lengths they would go to protect themselves. Some of the johns were bitter divorcés; others claimed to be happily married. The common thread between all of the men who paid for sex with me was the way they flaunted their power. These wealthy johns literally enjoyed torturing those they purchased.
One of those political johns took me on a stalking mission in front of the former home he had with his wife. He went off about the divorce and how she took everything from him. After we had a drink in his new living room, he took me to the bedroom he had set aside for his son. He tied me to the bed and proceeded to rape me. I remember him calling me Robby. I looked over at the pictures of his son on the wall and had an anxiety attack. It was a combination of being tied down, him calling me his son's name, his psychotic behavior and the stalking of his ex-wife. Right before I blacked out, my life was flashing before my eyes. I was sure he was going to murder me. After he finished, he saw my fear and the tears rolling down my face. He apologized and said it wouldn't happen again.
These years were filled with psychological warfare, mind control and terror. Money and power drove the game. It wasn't about sex. It was about control over another human being. By the end, I knew a john would either kill me or I would end up killing one of them.
I escaped that life, but the exiting was hard. There are zero programs to help young men get out of prostitution. I pray someday there will be.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the producers of the film TRICKED, a new documentary that sheds light on the reality of sex trafficking in the United States and follows the exploiters, the purchasers, the police officers, the survivors, the families and the social workers involved in the sex trade. The film opens on December 13. For more information about TRICKED, click here.