Jasmine Marino-Fiandaca entered “the life” of prostitution when she was 18, a lonely teenager from a working-class family who was promised the world by a man she thought was her boyfriend. There were beatings, intimidation, coercion; her money was not her own, but all of her needs were taken care of by him. It was a claustrophobic life, one that made her feel dirty and in the end, terribly unloved.
Now 32 and the mother of two, she has been clean, sober and out of the life for seven years, and working to reach girls like she once was. “Shame is what keeps you quiet. Shame keeps you secretive, because it’s too intense,” she said. “You’re only as sick as your secrets. As long as you keep quiet, you can never be free. I want to tell young girls that they’re treasured — because no one else is telling them.”
She has spent the past seven years working with young teenage runaways who are either in the life or at risk of being swept into it. She has started writing a book, and is hoping that will enable her to tell her story to an ever wider audience.
“I am very secure in who I am today,” Marino-Fiandaca said. “I was so silent for so long. But I have found my voice — and it’s like a megaphone.”
Learn more at Escaping prostitution: One woman’s story.