When Genevieve Gilbert came to Australia to study, she pictured a life of education and exciting opportunities… A chance to expand on her dreams of becoming a visual artist and graphic designer.
Instead, she found herself buried in student debt and barely able to afford food – let alone her mounting bills.
With the rising pressure of finding a job, Genevieve entered the sex industry in a bid to survive.
“I knew I needed money fast; I needed a job. So I went to an internet cafe… and I googled ‘Escort work, Melbourne.’ It was a Friday, and I started on the Monday.”
Her plan was to stay a few weeks, pay her bills, and then leave. But eight years later, she was still there, and barely clinging on to her mental health and will to live. As Genevieve explains in our interview, although she initially ‘fell into the industry’ as a result of poverty, the factors that kept her there for almost a decade, ran far deeper.
“Even though I said I had a great childhood, there was a lot of abuse going on. I was an angry woman… I was angry at my father for abandoning our family [when I was a child]. I just wanted money,” she says honestly.
“I would take anyone… I would do anything. At the end of the day, I just wanted to get out of there with as much money as possible.”
“It’s not a good place to be; prostitution is a last resort.”
In part one of this insightful chat, Genevieve shares about her childhood in Quebec… What lead her to Australia… Why so many people (particularly women) end up in the sex industry due to poverty… Issues with receiving adequate support to exit… And her thoughts on the media’s constant message of sex work as an ’empowering and safe choice.
Author’s note: I acknowledge that not all within the sex industry face abuse, or enter due to the same reasons as Genevieve. However, I encourage you to put aside any preconceived ideas or judgements you may have, and listen to Gen’s story with an open mind. This is her story, and as someone who has experienced the sex industry first-hand, I believe her voice deserves to be heard.