K.’s story as told to SOLWODI  and the German courts:
It all began in the early morning hours of 9 April 2011. My pimp had once again beaten and strangled me so badly that I was afraid I would die. I managed to escape through the brothel window and dialed the emergency number. At that time I had no idea what the consequences of that call would be.
He told me that in order to achieve our dream of a future together, we would need money, and the quickest way to get this money was for me to—just temporarily, of course—work as a prostitute.
I’d known my pimp since I was 11 years old. He was my 46-year-old riding instructor and he made me into his “mistress” when I was 14 years old. I dreamt of living together with this man who was 35 years older than me. He told me we would have our own horse ranch—a childhood dream of mine. He told me that in order to achieve our dream of a future together, we would need money, and the quickest way to get this money was for me to—just temporarily, of course—work as a prostitute. Over time, he managed to completely isolate me from my friends and family, and started “training” me to be a prostitute by showing me how to perform various sex acts and by taking me on visits to brothels. Soon my “loving and fatherly” riding teacher increasingly revealed himself to be a “Loverboy” (a man who pretends to be a woman or girl’s boyfriend in order to lure her into prostitution). In 2000, when I was 17, I ran away from home with him and he put me in a brothel. His earlier promises of love and a future together were now followed by beatings, rapes and humiliation. There was no way back for me. He was the only person I had in this world and I didn’t want to lose him. After all, I loved him.
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When K. ’s pimp took her for the first time to “work” in a brothel in Bremen, K. began crying and refused to cooperate, and he took her back to their hometown in Bavaria. However, after continued abuse paired with affection, he soon succeeded in prostituting K. in apartments and various legal brothels throughout Germany. During her time in prostitution, spanning over 10 years, K. rarely had days off, sometimes had 20-40 buyers a day, and lived inside the brothels and apartments. Her pimp took all of her money, and repeatedly raped and beat her inside the brothels. When K. was 20, her pimp pressured her to get breast implants.
Though K.’s pimp had previously been convicted of pimping in 1970 and had a long criminal record for other crimes including fraud and bodily harm, he was able to become the manager of a legal brothel in 2001, and to get K. “employed” in various legal brothels throughout the country—in at least two of these brothels while she was still a minor. He also signed a contract on her behalf making her a manager of one of the brothels, during which time K. continued to be prostituted in the very same brothel, with her pimp taking all of her earnings.
* * *
Back to what happened in 2011: As a result of my help-call, the police came to the brothel, followed by an ambulance which took me to the emergency room. The criminal investigation police were also informed. They interrogated me several times and examined my injuries. I was deliberately kept away from the brothel and my pimp so that I wouldn’t back out of the investigation. At that time I didn’t even realize what was going on; I was a complete wreck, physically and emotionally. The following weeks were hell for me and my relatives. I was interrogated by the criminal police for about 70 hours, with old wounds being reopened each time. Court proceedings followed. I impressed everyone with my personality, my intelligence and my good memory, so much so that the prosecution fully rested on my statements and credibility. During the trial, I was questioned for almost 20 hours over six days. The public was very interested in the case, and TV and radio stations as well as newspapers were constantly reporting on it. I can’t express in words how it felt to have to testify in court over and over again. I was sitting there in the large chamber and had to reveal the most intimate details of my life. I had to describe in precise detail all the rapes, beatings and acts of degradation I suffered. I became completely and utterly exhausted. I lost 17 kg (around 37 pounds) and repeatedly had to get medical treatment. If I hadn’t had such a strong support system, I probably would not have survived that time period. But the result was really impressive! In December 2011 my pimp was sentenced to nine years in prison and just barely avoided getting locked up for the rest of his life. But what really caused a stir was that the court ruled that I should receive €1,000,000 (around $1,350,000 USD) compensation for the earnings that my pimp took from me over the years.
Today, when I look back on what has happened since I made that emergency call, I have to ask myself: where is the justice in our legal system?
Some people now believe I am a millionaire, but that’s not the case. I will not see one cent of that million. After the verdict, everyone considered the case to be closed and for things to be over and done with. But for me it wasn’t over, and it still isn’t to this day. I fell into deep depression, sadness and loneliness. My family was continuously looking for therapy for me, but in vain. I have been involved in drawn-out disputes with the owner of the last brothel, the tax authority and even a former client. The owner of the brothel threatened to claim compensation from me because the brothel had been closed but my contract with the owner—signed on my behalf by my pimp—was valid until 2015. Although I was able to negotiate down the sum, which was originally much higher, I still had to pay €5,000 to the tax authority for the profits generated for the brothel by the other women during my absence, since I was legally the manager (according to the contract signed by my pimp on my behalf), even though it was proven in the criminal court case against my pimp that I had been trafficked and exploited in that same brothel during that time. I have also been the defendant in a civil case in which a client is demanding repayment of €50,000, even though it was proven during the criminal trial that this attempt to buy me was against my will and that my pimp got the money. I find it unbelievable that, according to our laws, I am required to pay back that money just because it passed through my hands.
Today, when I look back on what has happened since I made that emergency call, I have to ask myself: where is the justice in our legal system? Without the unbelievable support of my family and of friends, I wouldn’t have been able to get through all of this. If my family hadn’t paid for everything, I would be financially ruined. What other victim has such a strong support system and such financial resources? My guess is none! Should our government order law enforcement to first check the financial capabilities of a victim before they offer help? Seems so! But that would mean that in the future only those victims would get help who can afford freedom—sad but true!
> WHAT YOU CAN DO : Sign onto our campaign  calling on the United Nations (UN) to listen to survivors of sexual exploitation and not jeopardize efforts to prevent sex trafficking by recommending the full decriminalization of prostitution, including exploitative practices such as pimping and brothel-keeping. Spearheaded by Equality Now, a coalition of nearly 100 organizations, many of which are survivor-led, are telling the UN  that, while people in prostitution should not be criminalized for selling sex, decriminalizing all aspects of prostitution is not the way to protect their human rights. Please take action , then share it and Survivor Stories (#ListenToSurvivors) with your friends and colleagues to help widen its impact.