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Valerie was years-old when she started turning tricks. For two years, she sold her body, separating her real self from her working persona.
With the recent rash of runaways from a Laval group home and concerns they're being recruited by street gangs into prostitution, Valerie decided to share her story. She said the power is also enticing. Eventually her two worlds collided and she wanted out, but to do that wasn't easy.
She spent another four years dancing in strip clubs but finally reached out to CLES , a community group that helps former and current prostitutes, and slowly began leaving it behind. She said what she'd like the girls from Laval and others who may be enticed into getting into sex work to think about is the aftermath.
Would they fire me? Valerie said she feels the key to helping young people is early prevention, and to not only target girls but boys as well. Better and earlier sex education in schools and teaching teens what healthy relationships look like from a young age are crucial.
And she says teenagers want to hear advice from their peers or people they see as credible, not their parents. Prevention is a key part of the program; former prostitutes share their stories, much like Valerie is doing. One-on-one counselling is another. She says she struggles with guilt, asking herself why she got out relatively unscathed while her friends were injured and even killed while working.