I had a very strict upbringing. My father was an alcoholic and totally violent — he would break out into violent acts — I was always belted on the weekends particularly.
Mum was always praying. She didn’t know what else to do. Mum used to say she used to cry and cry. Mum did the best she could because dad would also lash out at her. It wasn’t until dad he had a fight with someone and was actually put in prison that he fell on his knees and said, “God, help me!” and “No more! I don’t want to lose my wife, and I have done all this damage,” then his whole life changed. But, it was too late for me really, because I had left home at 15, the damage had already been done.
At 15 I started working as a nursing assistant in a hospital in South Perth where I was living. I met this fellow that was working at the hospital, and reaching out for love, stupid me, I went out with him and one thing led to another and I fell pregnant. That was my first time with a man, and I told him and he said, “Well, I am married.” I didn’t know that he was married. He was only young too, but he kept that from me. So, I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss.
I looked after my child living in a house owned by my mother. I was treated by my father as an outcast. I later had two other children to another man. I lived with him and that didn’t work out. I was just 18 when I moved in with this man, and I had a child at 18 and another at 21. I was working in the fruit industry at the time. When we split up I walked out with nothing — I left everything behind.
I started working for a friend who was a lawyer answering his phone at the Family Law Courts. Then I went to another lawyer and helped him. And this woman used to come in, she had a Ferrari, and absolutely magnificent clothes — things that I had never seen. This woman said to the lawyer that I would make a great call girl. He repeated what she had said to me, “Linda, you would make a good call girl.” I said, “Get the h… out of here! A call girl! Painted ladies, high heeled boots, and beehive hair!” That’s how I saw them. I had never seen a call girl. However, a seed had been planted. Ten years later, I was a working prostitute, I was a addicted to it. For me I used it as a shelter. Basically, I was trapped. I can always remember feeling safe, feeling accepted, feeling in control, feeling nothing could hurt me. This is how I felt.
In 1984 I was raped. I went to a booking with an escapee from Canning Vale prison. Arriving at the door with another girl, and we were met with a gun and a knife. I said, “God, get me out of here! I am never going to work [again]!” But, six or eight weeks later those words were forgotten and I was back to feeling I am protected again. When I was about 28 I got my own massage parlour going. I was going out with a politician then — for five years. I actually owned the brothel. I had thirty-six girls, and that was a lot in those days. There were not many parlours, and I wouldn’t pay the police off. I was always frightened, and the man I was going with said, “Don’t pay them, because once they have got you on the payroll you will always have to bounce for them.” So I didn’t pay them. After a year they gave me some pretty big hidings and closed me down eventually — they pinched my girls, and they busted me six times.
I used to hate men. I was a man hater. Most women [prostitutes] hate men. We hate their actions. As a sex worker you lose a lot of faith and trust in humanity. Some men steal TVs, they steal their wive’s jewellery, in order to hock it to see a working girl. Some men spend a fortune on working girls. You always think: Are their families being fed? You lose faith in men. Men end up consumed by it. They will steal, they will gamble, because they are addicts too. For them it is like gambling. Instead of going to the casino to gamble, they have to have a working girl. They are sick without them. They are addicts, just like gamblers.
Prostitution, however, harbours its own addictions. More than half the women that come into the industry clean then become addicts. It’s very sad. I can honestly say in the years that I have worked I have heard of deaths, suicides, jumping off buildings, doing different things, hitting trees [with cars], overdosing. Brothels are a great way to shield drug dealers because they pose as clients and they are there for one purpose, to traffic their drugs without fear of prosecution, because no one disturbs them.
The pain within the industry is horrific. It’s like a wound. You are wounded. When you wake up, you ask any working girl and she will tell you about the wounds of getting up in the morning when you can’t walk — your back [aches]. Not many like to tell you the truth. You have the physical part that makes these girls turn to alcohol and drugs on the job. I kept drifting in and out of the industry. When I drifted out, it wasn’t for long. I couldn’t find employment — no one would employ me. I got myself a boutique or I got myself a food shop. It wasn’t for long — about three years, maybe, and then I would return to prostitution.
I had so much anger in me. I said, “I am not working [in prostitution] any more! Something is pulling me away.” Then Diana [Princess of Wales] died. I was crying all day and I said, “Is God trying to tell me something? Is it through her death that I have to have the understanding that it doesn’t matter how rich you are — you are going to drop dead — and where am I going to be when I drop dead?”
I cried and cried, and I said, “God, I have done so much wrong. I am so guilty — the pain, the shame, the hurts that I have caused everybody.” I sat asking for forgiveness. I would have loved to have died. If someone had taken me a few months ago — I was probably gutless to commit suicide — it would have been easy for me to say that I would have loved to be dead. That’s how desperate a state I got into in my own warfare in my mind. Whatever happened next was a powerful miracle. I got up from where I was and over the period of two days it was like I had a new mind. I had to pinch myself to think that I was the same person. God’s hand touched me and freed me. I don’t feel that emptiness any more. God’s hand not only touched me, he totally freed me. I know I have done wrong, I know I have caused pain. But I don’t feel that emptiness. I feel that I have been filled — that is the miracle that happened.
The love of God has got to reach to Christians to say that prostitutes do count [have worth]. Mary Magdelene was forgiven much. And Jesus said, “Go, and sin no more.” We are not going to save all these girls, but we can make a difference, and if we save just a handful we stop the chain of abuse. Miracles happen. Since I have become a Christian, and since I have been heading up Linda’s House of Hope, I have realised that I make a difference in the lives of many people, and even my own life. It is just a miracle, — I have never gone back [into prostitution]. It is a miracle!
“Linda went on to establish House of Hope, a refuge for women in prostitution. She continues to campaign against prostitution and help those who are caught in the industry”
Transcribed from – Prostitution in Perth, A former brothel madam’s sad but ultimately triumphant story” Dwight Randall.