Natasha Falle was sucked into the Calgary sex trade at the age of 15. Over the subsequent 10 years, she was trafficked across Canada. Now free, Falle returned to Calgary for the first time since her ordeal to share her story at the Servants Anonymous Society’s (SAS) Cry of the Streets: An Evening for Freedom. The event on Thursday, May 30, also featured musical performances by Celia Rose and jocelyn & lisa (see below for video). Below are four of the most thought-provoking facts from the evening:
1. The average age of someone entering prostitution is 14. Falle was raised in a Calgary suburb and says she was an average, privileged young girl (her father was a police officer) until troubles at home forced her to look elsewhere for acceptance. “I was trying to figure out who I was in this world,” Falle recalled. “I needed direction, I needed role models and I didn’t have that. These are the same stories that I’ve heard from many women.” Falle met an older man who offered her a business deal in Calgary’s Chinatown; within a year, she turned her first trick.
2. One woman’s problems are every person’s problems. “We all have a role in protecting these people,” Falle said. “We need to educate men against violence against women. We should be talking to kids about this in schools.”
3. Every person has a story. In the course of her ordeal, Falle developed drug-induced schizophrenia. “I went from carrying a Gucci bag to carrying a Sobey’s bag talking to myself. I thought that people wanted to hurt me,” she said. “We forget that when we see people like that. We forget that they had a story once.”
4. There is hope. Now out of the industry for 13 years, Falle has graduated from both college and university and has counselled over 1,000 former sex-trade workers. She is the founder and director of SexTrade101, a group of Canadian women who have first-hand knowledge of and provide public awareness and education about the sex trade. The group works to educate the public and to help sex-trade workers. “There is hope for every one of them,” Falle said. “If you had met me at my rock bottom, you would have thought that I was a lost cause and there was no hope.”
Cry of the Streets: an Evening for Freedom was in support of the Servants Anonymous Facilitates Exit (SAFE) house, which provides immediate shelter and support for women looking to exit the sex trade.