Children who are victimized through sexual abuse often begin to develop deeply held tenets that shape their sense of self: My worth is my sexuality. I’m dirty and shameful. I have no right to my own physical boundaries. That shapes their ideas about the world around them. No one will believe me. Telling the truth results in bad consequences. People can’t be trusted. It doesn’t take long for children to begin to act in accordance with these belief systems.
For girls who have experienced incest, sexual abuse, or rape, the boundaries between love, sex, and pain become blurred. Secrets are normal, and shame is a constant. The lessons learned during sexual abuse are valuable ones for recruitment into the commercial sex industry. As Andrea Dworkin once said, “Incest is boot camp for prostitution.” Numerous studies estimate that 70 to 90 percent of commercially sexually exploited youth and adult women in the sex industry were sexually abused prior to their recruitment. No other industry can boast of such a large correlation between early sexual abuse and future employment. Sexual abuse lays the groundwork.
Rachel Lloyd, Girls Like Us