Axelle (not her real name) still can recall the vicious look that the man who asked her to dance for the first time gave her. Proud of the attention it brought her and delighted to have him all for herself, she jiggled in the 100% cotton camisole, and in the little Fruit of the Loom panties that her mother had bought her in a package of three at Walmart.
By Catherine Caron
In her youthful openness, she also saw it as just another game when her father asked her to touch his penis in the shower and asked her what she thought it was. But the older she got, the more uncomfortable she got in this little household she couldn’t quite yet understand. At age 13, while on vacation in Florida with him over Christmas, Axelle was victim of a full-on rape. Traumatized and in tears, she swore that she would never see her father again. At her return to Montreal, she ran to her mother, who was waiting for her at the airport, and squeezed her with all her might, sharing that wish.
For Axelle it was the beginning of a time of great suffering: suffering that she would try to stamp out, in vain, over the course of a chaotic and unwittingly masochistic life’s journey.
A Tormented Teen
She tried to get through high school and made it as far as secondary 3 (grade 9). Her anxiety and anorexia sapped her motivation. Once a student in the advanced class, she got into difficulty at school and was reclassified into the normal stream. It was a shameful regression for someone for whom appearances were always very important. Axelle changed schools and found herself at a girls’ school, where she was bullied. She began to hang around with people from outside her school who introduced her to cocaine use by intravenous injection. For Axelle this was love at first sight. She quit school. Drug addiction became the centre of her life.
Prostitution and Violence
At 18, Axelle worked as a prostitute for an agency that promised, in the newspaper’s classified ads, a weekly salary of $2,000. And that promise came true for this young girl who came back from one weekend in Toronto with $10,000 in cold, hard cash.
Back in Montreal, through a friend she met the man who two years later would become the father of her child. Together they lived a life of excess and luxury that Axelle’s professional activities supported. The fact that his girlfriend was an escort didn’t bother the future father. Indeed, he found it gratifying that other men would pay to sleep with her. Gradually, their intense, co-dependent relationship was undermined by arguments that insidiously turned into mutual violence.