This is an encounter I think about from time to time, and I think it is time to share it. In my eyes, this encounter changed me.
This is the story of meeting Holly. it took place about 8/9 years ago, I was 16 at the time.
I was at a stage in my life where it was the cool thing to go out drinking with friends, ride in cars with boys, and acting as though we had no cares in the world. I already had been programed with thoughts of sex workers, that they were “at the low end of society” and only worked the streets to feed their “drug problems”.
One night, we were driving down the “Red light district” of a city, close to where I lived, and we saw girl, who looked in her twenties, standing alone on the corner of the street. She was gorgeous. Long blonde hair and dressed casually in skinny jeans and a black hoodie.
We pulled over next to her, she walked over to the car, probably expecting it to be a guy, but then saw us girls in the back and smiled.
“Hey, how are you tonight, whats your name?” I asked.
“Holly” she replied.
“How is your night going?”
“Good, I have had a couple of jobs so can’t complain” she said, as she looked down at the footpath.
I then asked a “straight to the point” question “How come you work out here?”
“I am working out here to get money for my son, this is my only way at the moment.”
I smiled. Unsure what to say, because this wasn’t what I had been told to believe. It was then I knew I needed to start thinking for myself, and hear her out.
She went on to share bits and pieces about what she does and what she gets paid. I was fascinated by it. It was very different to what I had been told, and so different to my own life.
Out of the shadows, walked a guy. A massive guy. I am talking at least 6″3. He was wearing a long black coat and had a shaved head. He walked up to her and put his arm around her – “I think this is her ‘protector'” I thought.
“Everything OK here?” he asked.
“Yes, I am just talking to these girls,” she said, as she smiled at us.
In my slightly intoxicated state, I asked this guy “Why do you do what you do?” , in a bossy tone. (liquid courage)
“Because I want to make sure they are kept safe, especially after what happened to Amber*” (name changed), he replied.
“I read about that, that was about 6 months ago wasn’t it?” I asked, curiously.
“Yeah, she was picked up just down there, and never seen again” he replied.
He then proceeded to tell us some details of the crime, and about Amber*.
“Fuck,” I thought.
At that point I did start to panic inside but then remembered I am not out here alone. It was just super confronting and sad. I wanted to cry. To have someone who knew a victim of a fatal crime give you a couple of slight details, it was such an eye opener. I guess I always saw these things on the news, but it was hard to really imagine it as true and see them as real people.
We went on to talk with Holly about random things, nothing to do with her job. I think she probably enjoyed the distraction.
After chatting with her for about half an hour, I suggested she have my number in case next time we were around and she wasn’t in the mood for work, she was welcome to come with us and have a bit of chill night out. She agreed, and then we parted ways.
I received a text from her straight away as we drove away so I had her number.
“Great,” I thought, did not expect to hear from her at all in all honesty. I mean, who was I?
We ended up getting home at about 4.30 am that morning, the sun was starting to rise. My phone went off as I climbed into bed and it was Holly.
“Hey was really nice to meet you tonight, I am on my way to another job but wanted to let you know it means a lot to me that you didn’t judge me for my choices and were so understanding”
“You’re so welcome I replied, please message if you need to talk”
“I will, thank you so much”.
That was the last time I heard from her. I often wonder what happened to Holly. I wonder if she stayed working on the street, or if she left that behind her and started a new life. I wonder if she is still in the same town or moved on to somewhere new. Her message meant so much to me. The fact that someone who didn’t know me, could be so open and didn’t feel judged by me was one of the most amazing feelings ever. This experience is why I am so open minded and understanding about others, including those in the sex industry. Women working in the industry are constantly just getting put into a box of “bad news” or “obviously a drug addict” or something similar. Sex workers are real people too, with stories.
To Holly – if you ever happen to read this, I hope you are OK. I hope you are safe. I hope you are happy. Thank you.