Consistent Uncertainties

Never underestimate your power to heal with a kind smile or hurt with a simple word.

Lost and Found

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Lindsey says, “At this point in time, I felt like if I didn’t go, he already knows where I live, he already has so much information on me, he has these pictures posted. If I say no, what is he going to do to try to get even with me?”

As a girl, Lindsay was molested by her uncle. As a woman, she was beaten to a pulp and told she was worthless for eight years. When Geoffrey befriended the single mother of three young boys on Facebook, she thought her life was looking up. Earlier this year, he promised her the world with a job as an escort at Private Genies in Toronto. Lindsay hopes that by sharing her story, others can be saved. Names have been changed to protect Lindsay’s identity and the integrity of the ongoing court case.

You wouldn’t have known by looking at Lindsay that she was a prostitute.

And when Geoffrey’s Lincoln pulled up to her St. Catharines apartment building to take Lindsay for her first weekend of work, in her eyes, she wasn’t one.

He had told her to bring her own clothes, to dress like she usually did: Sexy, yet sophisticated.

Her three boys would stay with their grandmother who thought Lindsay just needed a break.

As it goes with many pimps, Geoffrey took her shopping.

Then he took her to the hotel where it was revealed that she would be doing both in-calls (clients come to her) and out-calls (he drives her to clients) in which her time fetched $90 for 30 minutes or $220 an hour.

While some clients had different fetishes, they each wanted one thing that didn’t involve the finest restaurants and hottest clubs Lindsay was promised.

Lindsay’s Facebook pictures had been advertised on the Private Genies website for about a week.

She was no longer Lindsay. She was Genie Brittany, a 24-year-old corrections student working the weekends to take care of her kid.

Genie Brittany shared a hotel room with the spaced-out Genie Paris.

As the curious Lindsay found out after Geoffrey left them alone, Geoffrey had found Paris when she was working on the streets.

“He was taking care of her and he was like her father and he was always putting a roof over her head and food in her mouth and taking her out shopping,” Lindsay recalls in her Niagara Region home. “He had her brainwashed. To her, he was doing her a favour.”

When one of them had a client, the other would leave the room. When there were two johns, the men would pick the woman they wanted and sex took place on both beds.

The men were usually high or drunk. Some made her pretend she was being raped. Lindsay didn’t realize the lasting effect the sex would have on her.

“You don’t even feel like you’re a woman. You feel like you’re an object,” she says. “Sex to a woman is supposed to be something intimate, something special, a connection to one person that you share and now I feel like that was taken from me.”

The out-calls at clients’ homes provided somewhat of an escape.

“They were usually business men,” Lindsay says. “It made me feel like I went from someone who was really abusive to a man with money, a man that owned his own business, owned his own house. I know it’s sick to say, but it kind of made me feel somewhat better inside, like I was more wanted and more accepted.”

Lindsay raked in $4,800 and Geoffrey gave her the carrot — she could keep every penny.

When she returned to St. Catharines at the end of the weekend, Lindsay felt like for once, she was getting ahead.

“I wasn’t having to go to food banks. I wasn’t having to borrow money from people.”

She bought her kids clothes, took them out for food, put extra groceries in the fridge and paid off her bills.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey became more clingy. Every day, he pushed her to return for a second weekend.

He promised it would be better this time and had even booked Lindsay her own hotel room.

Lindsay felt obligated. Besides, the money beckoned.

When Geoffrey arrived that Friday, his demeanour was different and his girlfriend, Denise, was in the front seat.

Once at the hotel, Geoffrey told Lindsay he would hold onto her earnings to pay for the hotel, gas and his “protection,” then give her half back at the end of the weekend.

“That’s when it just kind of all started to really fall apart,” Lindsay says. “It was back-to-back calls. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. He was leaving me alone more often.”

She wasn’t allowed to order food, so she drank the water in the room.

Lindsay noticed that all of the clients were being booked for her or Paris. The jig was up: There were no other girls as advertised online.

She also noticed how Denise and Paris “bowed down” to Geoffrey, did what he said without question. He told Lindsay about the trophies he had for mixed martial arts.

The mask was off. In Lindsay’s eyes, this guy was dangerous.

On Sunday night, he dropped her off and said he’d see her next weekend.

“At this point in time, I felt like if I didn’t go, he already knows where I live, he already has so much information on me, he has these pictures posted. If I say no, what is he going to do to try to get even with me?”

Lindsay washed Brittany off, but it was becoming more difficult to separate the 24-year-old college student from the 28-year-old mother of three.

By the third weekend, Lindsay understood why Paris was so spaced out.

“It’s like you go into a trance. You don’t feel anymore. You don’t see anymore. You don’t hear anymore. You’re there to do what you need to do and that’s it. You totally lose touch of who you are,” she says.

“I didn’t feel like I was (Lindsay) anymore. I actually felt like I was Brittany. Like I didn’t know who (Lindsay) was or even how to get her back.”

The calls were getting slower. She wasn’t making as much money. Tired and shook, Lindsay wanted out.

But the next weekend was the long weekend. Geoffrey promised things would pick up and Lindsay would see how “some of my girls” pull in $3,000 a night.

She agreed to return on Friday, but said she would only pay him $60 per out-call — nothing more. He agreed.

He put her in a waterfront hotel in downtown Toronto. She could see the CN Tower from her room.

She had one three-hour call on Friday and then nothing. All day Saturday, nothing. She couldn’t get a hold of Geoffrey. She was hungry, tired and isolated.

Just before 11 p.m., Geoffrey showed up at the hotel. He was drunk.

Lindsay said she wanted to go home.

Geoffrey and Denise said they would take Lindsay to the bus station, knowing very well, she says, there would be no buses to St. Catharines at that time.

He still had her money from the three-hour Friday call.

“I was like, ‘Well you know, that’s fine, give me my money and I’ll take the cab and I’ll go home,’ and he said, ‘Give you your money? This is my money. If you’re quitting, you’re going to get out on that corner and you’re going to make your money to go home.’”

Tempers ran high as Lindsay fought with Denise and Geoffrey to take her home. When Lindsay, in an attempt to shut Denise up, blurted out that she and Geoffrey had sex the first weekend, Geoffrey snapped, she says.

“He put the child locks on the car, rolled the windows up and he took off. He had turned the music up and he’s talking to her and they’re talking back and forth and this is where now I’m starting to get scared.”

Denise told Geoffrey they should take Lindsay to see some family at some lake. Lindsay would later learn that family name was associated to a biker gang.

Lindsay pulled out the butterfly knife she had carried the past three weekends and put it on her lap. She threatened to call 911 if they didn’t let her out and, when they didn’t listen, that’s exactly what she did.

The 911 dispatcher asked her where she was going. Lindsay didn’t know. The dispatcher asked if she was going toward the CN Tower or away from it. Away, she said.

As Lindsay tried to read out street signs, Geoffrey swerved through traffic and ran red lights, Lindsay recalls. He didn’t see the accident, the two trucks, the cop standing behind the tow truck.

Crying hysterically, Lindsay told the dispatcher about the cop and rattled off the first street sign she saw.

The next thing she knew, cops were flying towards them from two directions, blocking off traffic with their cruisers, then running towards the car.

An officer smashed Geoffrey’s window and unlocked the doors. Lindsay was thrown out of the car and onto the side of the Bayview Extension. Lindsay was thrown out of the car. Geoffrey and Denise were ordered out at gunpoint.

It was May 23, 2010, just after midnight.

Once the paramedics left and the hyperventilating subsided, a police officer helped Lindsay to her feet and asked for her story.

“You’re not a bad person,” she recalls Det. Al Flis saying saying. “People get sucked into this that don’t even think they’re getting sucked in. They’re not all drug addicts. They’re not all street walkers. A lot of you are single moms trying to make ends meet, trying to just provide for your kids and give them better. Don’t think for one minute you’re a bad person. You’re safe now.”

Geoffrey, 32, and Denise, 39, were charged with various pimping-related charges and are currently in Toronto on $5,000 bail each.

For two days after their arrests, Lindsay sat in darkness, too afraid to bring her children home. She slept with her knife beside her head, cell phone under her pillow and home phone next to her, ready to dial 911 should someone have burst through her door.

“I didn’t know if he had already made arrangements with this (biker) family to buy me, sell me, to do whatever they were going to do with me. I didn’t know if they were going to come and try to take me,” she says.

Her grieving process has meant Googling everything there is to know about sex trafficking — something she never thought happened in Canada until she saw it first-hand.

Lindsay hopes her story shows others that there is a way out, that they can go to police. Her case is being handled by the Special Victims Section, a branch of Toronto Police dedicated to investigating crimes against sex workers.

And she wants single moms to know their kids don’t need fancy shoes if it means their moms are in harm’s way.

“Your kids see hearts. Your kids see smiles. They don’t see dollar signs,” she says. “You should never have to lose your self-esteem and your self-worth just for a couple hundred dollars. It’s not worth it.”

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