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Escaping A Life Of Prostitution

After a good upbringing, Bronwen fell into a life of drug addiction and prostitution. She wrote a book called "Trophy of Grace" and now regularly speaks to schools, churches, seminars and parliaments on how her life was restored.

Escaping A Life Of Prostitution

INTERVIEW WITH BROWEN HEALEY (An ex-prostitute)

Used with permission from History Makers Radio

Matt: Welcome Bronwen, It's great to have you along today. What have you been up to, I hear you've been doing some travelling?

Browen: I do a bit of travelling all around Australia, whoever will have me to listen to my story. I did one of those put your hand up and said "yes".... and I do, I go to schools, parliament house, churches, conferences, seminars, and I tell my story and try and encourage people that there is a way out of wherever problem they have.

Matt: I guess there's one thing you've done that has made a difference in the world - the book you've written that has really inspired people, tell us a little bit of how that all came about?
Bronwen: Yeah the book, "Trophy of Grace". Well, it was one of those things I knew I had to do it, I knew that God would use my story for His glory but I just didn't know how, and I did it when my first little girl was 4 or 5 months old. I just sat at the computer and I believed God every day for the words to come out and they came and the end of it was "Trophy of Grace". Then I had a friend say I'm an editor, and she edited it and I had another friend say I own a pre press company and they did the layout for me and just everything fell into place and it was just so obvious that it was God's deal! Then I started to raise the money because God told me to self- publish and I think He didn't know I only had $10 in the bank or maybe He did and He just knew I'd lean on Him! I was just kind of like, oh where do I start and I just started asking people to pre order and pay for their copy and give me money and it was really God showing me that in my past life of drug addiction and prostitution I used to ask people for the wrong thing and now I was asking people for the right thing and the money was coming abundantly.

Matt: You actually got the money through a radio station too.
Bronwen: I raised $7000 in 6 weeks which catered for a thousand copies and there is a guy at my church who works at another radio station and he heard about my plea for help and did an interview. I had an anonymous Christian businessman ring and ask how much more do you need, and I said $3000 and he asked what's the name of the printer and he sent them a cheque, and I still to this day would like to meet him and shake his hand!

Matt: Tell me a bit about your upbringing.
Bronwen: I grew up in Melbourne and had the same friends and went to the same school until I was 13. We came to QLD for a holiday and of course we all went back to Melbourne and asked, why do we live in Melbourne? And we put the house on the market and moved to QLD. I had an understanding of God and an understanding of a higher power but I had no real idea of the real power around God with a big 'G'.

I grew up basically a happy kid and I say to people I had a normal upbringing. My parents always trusted me to make good choices, I went to an elite private girls' (should there be an ' there? yes) school to grade 10 and then after that decided to leave to do film and media at another school. Everybody said to me I know lots of people at that school who take drugs, are you going to take drugs and I said no I won't, I want to make movies and want to go to Hollywood and I've always been a big dreamer and a visionary and so that's just what I thought. Who knows, maybe "Trophy of Grace" will go to Hollywood. Mel Gibson has a copy of it!

Matt: How did it start going downhill for you?
Bronwen: I started to experiment with drugs almost at the end of grade 12, someone said one day, "would you like some marijuana"? and I said yes, and everybody fell over because I always said no and here I was saying yes. Sadly, I liked it, as you can tell I'm a bit of a gas bagger at the best of times so here I was with totally no inhibitions and when you're a teenager you have inhibitions as we all know and they were all broken down and I was like, oh my goodness I can just be me and everybody loves me! It was sad because it wasn't real and it was totally false and here was me thinking that the world was my oyster and so then once that wasn't enough, then I started to take acid, then once that wasn't enough I tried speed and ecstasy and of course they are always not enough and you find you get a thrill for a little while and then you get bored and then you want something different.

By the second year at Uni, I fell out of one unhealthy relationship into another with a guy who was known to be a heroin addict and everybody said, you're going to end up a junkie and like I'd said to my parents, have a bit of faith, trust me, you've taught me the difference between right and wrong, I know how to make good decisions. I just think I thought I could have experimented with heroin, I think part of me thought I could rescue this guy from himself and sadly neither of those things happened and due to the unhealthy nature of our relationship, having sex and all the rest of it, I fell pregnant, had no comprehension of God, and that there was a life growing inside of me and for me I wasn't even 19 and the whole concept of a baby was just too much for me and as a young person of 19, life is all about you and nobody else and nobody else's feelings matter. The only answer for me was to have an abortion, and after that the depression was so unfathomable, it just took over my whole life, depression, darkness and loneliness. I asked this guy for heroin one day and he kept saying no and then one day he had no money and he came to me and I said I'd give him money if he gave me heroin and I was using it every day.

Matt: A lot of people say that it starts with the smoking and marijuana and the binge drinking then it all goes downhill from there to other drugs, how true is that?
Bronwen: For me absolutely true, and I do a lot of work with young kids and a lot of people trying to get out of addiction now and I would say it's true about 95% of the time and then maybe 5% are not just telling the complete truth. Nobody starts on heroin or speed.  Everybody's come from some other drug and from some other place to get to that place.

Matt:
And then you just need money.
Bronwen: Yes, and I had a job in a cinema, you know a normal regular job and so I had money in the bank then I'd spent all of that and sold all my possessions, then I started to rip off all my family and friends then so you have no family or friends left. Eventually, I started to steal from my work until I got fired, then one part of me thought I've been fired, maybe I should go to rehab or I should stop using drugs. I just thought where am I going to get more money to get more drugs and I was at a place where I was using heroin everyday for about two and a half years and the only thing I had left was my body and I opened up the yellow pages for escort agencies which is a polite way to say prostitution and started work that night and then I worked the streets of Brisbane every night for 12 months and you know the sad thing I've had people since I've been telling my story in public say to me 12 months is not very long and I just say 12 seconds is too long and people need to really hear that. Then it was a battle and a struggle for your life to get out of that industry and finding your identity and forgiving men and forgiving yourself and it's a really long hard very lonely road, exiting the sex industry.

Matt: So you're in the circle of money, prostitution, drugs, how did you get out of it?
Bronwen: My mum showed up at my door one night and the sad thing is that whether you're Christian or not, most people have heard the story of the prodigal son where the father welcomes him home with loving arms and they throw a big party, well here was my mum with welcoming open arms and willing to throw me a big party, and all I could think of was, when is she going to go so I can get back to work to get more money to get more drugs? She was devastated and told me I was pathetic and she was looking in the death notices for my name and just totally heart- wrenching stuff but I was so trapped in my addiction and my world that none of that mattered to me and so as soon as she went, I went to work, got more money and drugs.

About a month later, (I think it took her about a month to get over the fact that her well- raised kid was now a heroin addicted prostitute), she made contact and I contacted an old friend of mine and he detoxed me and I spent five days in hell and it was the most awful five days of my entire life detoxing off up to $1000 worth of heroin a day and just an awful place to be and at the end of those five days then I looked at him and said I just want to die. You know here's my mum and dad still loving me but totally devastated and here's me hating myself, hating all men, just a shell of my former self, definitely not the kid my parents had raised me to be. So I was at a place of brokenness and trying to commit suicide - you've got to be very broken and very hurt and very angry and I say to people obviously you can hear me talking and it didn't work, I was at such a point in my life, I'm such a loser, I can't even kill myself properly and man that's low.

Matt: How did you find God in the middle of all that?
Bronwen:
It took me about 18 months after that suicide attempt and I tried meditation, crystals, Buddha and higher power and self will and tried everything, and I would stay clean for a while and feel I'd be so good I deserve a treat, I'm just going to have more heroin, and it would start all over again. It was a real cycle of "I can do this myself" and of course obviously you can't or could for like a week and then I was talking to a friend one day and I said I've got money in my wallet and I'm not going to score drugs today and he's like what....like five and a half years into active heroin addiction and he's like what are you talking about. I said I'm going to find help and I found a doctor who "happened" to be a Christian and he told me I had a hole in my soul that I'd been trying to fill with sex and drugs and rock' n' roll and it was a hole only Jesus could fill so I said "OK whatever, freaky man, yeah and you know" and he said you need to go to rehab, and I thought rehab is for people who have drug addiction problems and I knew I used drugs everyday but just didn't think I had a problem so I went to a rehab that "happened" to be a Christian one and I had to go to church and listen to praise and worship music and go to Alpha classes and have people offer to pray for me and lay hands on me.

Let me tell you I was rude and angry, rebellious, acting out my hurt, against all these people who just wanted to love me and every Sunday for six weeks I would sit outside and smoke cigarettes and refuse to go inside and on the 7th Sunday it poured rain so I had to go inside and the pastor was preaching a message on the anointing and said it was the burden-destroying yoke-removing power of God and the yoke bit totally confused me but the power of God, I've tried every other power, they just don't work and it was that day I met and fell in love with Jesus and that was in 1999 and my life has never been the same.

Matt: You can see you have this joy. How could you tell what the Lord was calling you to do?
Bronwen: It was a matter of first surrendering my entire self and I say to people Romans 1 and 2, we are meant to be the difference that makes a difference and I knew that God told me that straight away and give yourself to me as a living sacrifice and when you come from heroin addiction and prostitution and God forgives you, giving your life is just without question and I love that in Romans 1 and 2 it says, this is your reasonable service. There's nothing wild or fancy about me giving my life to God. It's reasonable for him to expect me to be saved and give my life back and I just knew I just had to give my life back and I said I'm yours you know, here I am, send me and I just spent time falling in love with God more and more every day and listening to praise and worship and reading the Bible and knowing that those gospels are true today as they were back then and reading Acts and going, oh my goodness, the power of the Holy Spirit wasn't just for then it's for now, and that's my life and that's who I am.

The word contagious people use that to me all the time because I can't not tell people and I go to get my blood taken and of course I've got a big scar on my arm and I say to the women not that arm, I don't use that arm now. Why not dear? Because I used to be a heroin addict and a prostitute and they go, oh right and what happened? I now no longer look like a drug addicted prostitute. Now I look like a lover of Jesus and I'm a wife and have three gorgeous kids. You see, Jesus forgave my past and gave me a brand new life and I live it out everyday. It's good news isn't it!

Visit Bronwen's website entiled 'Trophy of Grace'

Used with permission from History Makers Radio

 

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