blue adidas gazelle journey to freedom

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Standing in a slouchy purple Washington Huskies t shirt and gray leggings, she digs through the dresser in her Tacoma Hilltop bedroom, next to a nearly deflated Mother’s Day balloon and a pile full of clean clothes crumbled in a cardboard box.

“I’ve been in hiding, I guess you could say,” she shrugs. “Just in my own protective bubble. I don’t even go to King County.”

“Actually,” she says if reminding herself.

“I need a permission slip to go there.”

She’s feeling sheepish today. So,
blue adidas gazelle journey to freedom
she whips around and digs through the rumpled clothes in that cardboard box finally finding the black hoodie, the one with “RECOVERY” on the back.

This way, no one will notice the matching Mercedes symbols branded on each shoulder, the tattoos that once were her calling card in online escort ads.

Looking at her reflection, Tucker dabs neutral powder on her face and applies mascara to her long lashes.

She drowns herself in Victoria Secret body spray, downs a cup of coffee and exhales before she slams the door behind her.

She squints in the sunlight as she heads out.

For thousands of people who make their living in the sex trade,
blue adidas gazelle journey to freedom
the road to prostitution begins as a choice.

It’s not an easy choice for most, but it often spells survival.

“Generally, when older people say that they chose to do it, it wasn’t so much a choice,” said Debra Boyer, executive director of the Organization For Prostitution Survivors in Seattle. “It was an alternative to not being able to take care of their kids,
blue adidas gazelle journey to freedom
to starving.”

For Tucker, whose troubled early life sometimes meant trading occasional tricks for cash, the spiral into full time prostitution started with a failed, abusive marriage.

After she separated from her husband, Rodrigo, he then sent their 2 year old son and 7 year old daughter to Brazil to visit his family. That was July 2010.

Rodrigo never sent them back.

She couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer to fight for her two youngest kids. She got laid off from her customer service job at the insurance company and after her separation,
blue adidas gazelle journey to freedom
she left her Kirkland home behind. Her two oldest children were gone, too living with family members in other states.

Photo: Jennifer Tucker poses with her four children before her separation in 2010. (Provided)

So 32 year old Tucker reverted back to the one way she knew she could make some quick cash: She posted an ad online for sex. It worked a few times in her early 20s.

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