Every time I tell my story a little bit more of my past goes away.
My childhood was pretty much perfect. I was a nerdy art boy and a science Olympiad from a rural mountain town in South Dakota. Two very hardworking, successful, and loving parents, and two older brothers who always watched out for me. I was completely spoiled.
If you think someone with that sort of childhood is safe, think again.
Predators make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. My last year of high school I met a guy named Trey. He asked if I wanted to make a lot of money and gave me his card. One of my friends said, “Throw it away! That guy is evil.” I thought, evil … what a weird thing say about someone.
I really thought I had just met some cool new friends. But one night Trey snuck me into a club, and they got me drunk and drugged me. Trey and his boys mentally beat me down and called me a drug addict. Suddenly, I owed Trey money for drugs and alcohol.
It only took two months to lose everything. My first john was actually a lie and a trap set by Trey. I was told that I just needed to entertain this client of Trey’s. We had a glass of wine and talked, and he asked me questions.
I was an open book. “This is what my parents do, I’m from here, my parents live here…” And then Trey had all the information he wanted. Soon after I was drugged and sold. I was homeless, living with other boys on Trey’s floor.
Being a good son allowed me to keep the truth from my family. My parents had sent me to a private school, and they were way too lenient because they trusted me. After Trey started trafficking me, I could only call my family with him standing over me, telling me what to say. I was a good kid, so my parents didn’t come looking for me. They thought I was just going through some phase and trying to come to terms with being gay.
Protecting the people you love can mean giving up your power. Trey had pictures of my parent’s house, Pictures of my brother going to work. He had addresses of my extended family and said he would send them videos of me having sex with men. I thought they would rob or kill someone in my family, if I tried to escape or asked anyone for help.
The worst thing I ever did was help recruit my best friend. I think I saw it as a way out, a way to make Trey happy. It was like living in a cult, where money was God and Trey was our holy leader.
One day one of the new boys came to me looking for help, saying. “I can’t do this anymore.” I knew he looked up to me, but I was in the same boat as him. I completely shut him down. I told him it was business, and to just do whatever Trey said. Thirty minutes after he left my house, he committed suicide.
Memories like that stay with you, no matter how far you’ve come.
Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it is good. Years later I moved to Vegas to be an escort on my own accord. I did it because in a weird way I thought it would give me my power back by being my own boss. I ended up becoming Mr. Vegas in 2007, they even got me a float in the parade for being the number one male escort in Vegas. But I was trying not to have sex with Johns. I constantly asked other escorts, “What do you do to get through it?”
Personally, I never met an escort who loved what they were doing. In 2008 I agreed to do an adult film, where I was to have a small role. I ended up being tortured and raped by three men. This was the day I quit the sex industry for good.
The one most pivotal thing that helped me was telling my parents. I had held everything inside for ten long years. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my entire life. I’d never seen my dad cry before.
But once I came forward, I felt lighter and lighter. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. That was the beginning of moving forward with my life.
What else helped me? My dog. She has supported my healing process because she asks one thing and one thing only. That I love her. She loves me unconditionally. She is my home, my safe place. She’s always willing to run away with me on a hike or to a park. She completely resets my entire life back to being peaceful, with something just as simple as her cuddles. Being loved unconditionally is the best healing anyone could ever ask for.
Listen to the story before you pass judgment. Never blame the prostituted person. You don’t know what they went through as a child. You don’t know if they were molested. You don’t know if they’re being forced into it. I was tricked. I was coerced. I was lied to. I was drugged. I was sold. My story is the story of millions of kids.
I’m speaking my truth for them.
Why am I excited about sharing my story through World Without Exploitation? I hope it’s read by someone who needs to hear they aren’t alone. For so many years I thought I was alone, and now I know there are so many of us.
Helping others heal can help us heal ourselves. I like the feeling of bettering the world. After I got out of the life, I went to school for counseling. I’m a hypnotherapist. I do massage and acupuncture. I want to know that I impacted people with positive light and hope.
Every day, I’m stronger than I was yesterday.
Kyler owns and runs his own health center. He is a frequent speaker at universities, and regularly trains counselors, police, first responders, and others working with sex trafficking victims. A passionate non-profit volunteer, Kyler is dedicated to helping those who have been sexually exploited exit the sex trade and rebuild their lives.