Letters from the inside of a jail: The first time I had sex for money.

It is true: When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, change happens.

The first time I had sex for money I met a man at the shopping centre while I was wearing an earpiece.

Don’t be too quick to judge me and call me a narc or a cop. That experience left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was raised not to talk, and especially not to talk to the police. Bear with me, I can explain.

I was almost 16 and me and two girlfriends had run off from the group home we were living in. The man, I will call him “Ralph” for reasons that will later be clear, had bought us beer let us come back to his place. Without too much detail, something happened to me in the back room of his trailer. Back at the group home a few days later, the counsellors got wind of this and contacted the police.

getting over bulimia
“Something happened to me in the back of his trailer.” Image via iStock.

The police talked me into calling Ralph while they recorded me blackmailing him for $50 hush money. Fast-forward a few hours later, I am walking into the shopping centre, wire and all, meeting with Ralph. As I walked out of the shopping centre, Ralph was arrested and the money and wire was given over to the police. I was sent on my merry way.

My merry way was to the group home, with my friends and with the aching emptiness only a confused almost-16-year-old could feel.

There were about 20 of us who were teens there at the Miller house, but I wasn’t going to talk about what happened. I was angry and lost, so I started to ‘ralph.’ At first, it was only after lunch. Then it was after dinner, too. Then I wouldn’t eat something unless it was easy to throw up. After a while, my throat got used to my finger gagging it. I would do the wiggle to the back of the throat, and it got more and more difficult. So I started using a toothbrush. Soon even that wasn’t working. I started to think about Ralph, and after that no longer did the trick, I started thinking about my dad.

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I was too young then to wear an earpiece, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, a scary albino man, had me point to an ugly plain doll and tell him what happened. I didn’t want to talk. I wanted out of that building with the big windows that overlooked the gray clouds hanging over the sky above me.

I had just started kindergarten. I was too young. They did nothing. More happened between then and Ralph, and nothing was done then either.

That kept my throat gagging for a while.

One day, I just stopped. I was done beating myself up over what others had put me through. I was well into my 16th year and still unhappy with life, but I had a book with some affirmations given to me, and I started doing what was suggested. I started saying the affirmations in front of the mirror looking at myself in the eye while I did it. I stopped giving the Ralphs my power.

getting over bulimia
“I stopped giving the Ralphs my power.” Image via iStock.

To this day, I still do the affirmations. My life isn’t perfect, and I have had different Ralphs that have morphed into alcohol, drugs, inept men, and dead-end choices. These things have impacted my life, but I move on and take my power back when it hurts too much. It is true: When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, change happens.

As I get older, my pain tolerance is lowering. I am loving myself more, and I am less willing to put others before me, but it is a work in progress.

So, when it seems like the Ralphs are winning, and it seems easier to give in, remember this: Don’t give the Ralphs the power.

You can only gag so much on it.

This story by Amber Batts originally appeared on, a feminist news+culture website.

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