Former prostitute explains avoiding 'the Life' in Portland

Former prostitute explains avoiding 'the Life' in Portland


by Wayne Havrelly & Rich Kurz

Bio | Email | Follow: @HavrellyKGW

Posted on November 23, 2010 at 9:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 24 at 10:27 AM

The Northwest, and Portland in particular, has become a focus in the battle against child prostitution.  Just last week, the FBI busted a national child slavery ring.  More than two dozen of the kids rescued were from the Northwest.

Now a former prostitute-turned-pimp is telling her story publicly for the first time ever, hoping to help others avoid what she calls "the life."

The woman, whom we'll call Tiffany to protect her identity, says she was abandoned by her family in Portland when she was 13.  She ran away to downtown Seattle, where a pimp had her turning tricks and smoking crack within a day.

As an underage prostitute, she was shot in the back by a john, and even came face to face with serial killer, Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, who tried to kill her."

"All of a sudden I saw him behind me with something over his head like he was going to hit me and I ran, I ran and ran and ran and rolled down the hill," Tiffany said.

Eventually Tiffany moved to Portland and became a pimp herself.  She made $5,000 a day, operating escort services in Portland and Seattle.
"Portland is the pimp capitol and Seattle is the ho capital," Tiffany told us.

"That means the pimps know they are safe down here but their girls are making more money on the streets in Seattle," said Dr. Cindy Romine. She helps survivors like Tiffany, and said more and more johns and child sex slaves from Seattle are doing business in Portland.

That's because Washington recently passed tough new laws against child sex trafficking.  Now johns caught with underage teens face felony charges and prison terms. In Oregon, they usually get off with a misdemeanor.

Police eventually caught up to Tiffany, and prison helped her turn her life around.

"I had everything money could buy, and I was miserable," Tiffany said.

She's now attending college and hopes to one day open a safe house for kids trying to escape their pimps.

Having lived the "life," Tiffany has a keen insight into what pimps look for in victims - and where they look.

She and Dr. Romine agree - the mall can be a dangerous place.

"They know who's vulnerable. They know who has poor self-esteem, so the mall is definitely not a place - I mean,  you need a pack of five chained together before you drop them off at the mall," Dr. Romaine said.
Pimps also use social networks and texting to recruit new victims.

The key for parents, according to Tiffany, is simple.

"Being involved in your kids' life," she said.

Tiffany knows all too well how brutal the next step can be.

"He threw me in the trunk of his car tied me up at his place and had me completely naked tied to a chair, with a pit bull in front of me," she said, "telling me he was going to have him bite me if i didn't go out and work for him."

For more information or for help, check the Oregon Sexual Assault Resources Center.