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Back at the apartment complex in Rancho Peñasquitos, Kelly and I sit in the family room on the dark-green couches, the place where we were regulars in high school.

“Let’s catch up,” I say. “We have so much to talk about!” I don’t know where to start the conversation. “So…what happened? Why? How?”

“This guy hit me up on Myspace, and he was so good to me. He was my boyfriend.”

Oh, my God! I remember him. On our way to that Silver Strand party, way back when, Kelly had said she’d gotten a message from some random guy telling her how beautiful she was. I told her he was a total creep and then I forgot about it. I didn’t think there was a chance in hell she would actually meet him.

“My mom kicked me out of her house, ’cause I was partying too much,” Kelly says. “So I was on the streets.”

I feel guilty. If I’d stuck around one more week, possibly I could have helped her.

“He said ’cause I was pretty, I should do this job and make a lot of money. All I had to do was go on dates with rich guys, and dress up, and I’d get paid.”

She explains that Mr. Myspace took her to some apartments in Mission Valley. An entire section of the complex was rented out by an escort agency. A woman ran the operation. Several girls lived in each of the rooms and were driven to Hotel Circle every time they had a client. Escort agencies are mostly controlled by women. The streets are the playground for the pimps.

Kelly looks intense as she describes how she got into the business.

“This chick threw this skanky outfit at me. I didn’t want to wear it, but I kinda had to.” Kelly was forced to have a threesome with a young illegal girl from Mexico and a strange man. “I realized what was goin’ on. I was backing out. The lady showed me a gun. I didn’t have the $500 to cover my job, so it was her way or the highway.”

I tell Kelly that we should get some sleep. I don’t want to make her relive any more of those horrific moments.

The next day, Kelly and I go to a matinee at Edwards Cinemas in Mira Mesa. Kelly starts texting and continues for the entire movie.

“Kel, who are you texting?!”

“My boyfriend Parker.” She says it proudly. I’m thinking, boyfriend? Uh-oh. I saw that episode of Law and Order SVU. That’s what all the prostitutes call their pimps: boyfriends.

I am hungry after last night. “Want to grab some lunch? We should go to Panera, or Pat & Oscar’s.”

“Yeah, but, um, I need to go home, ’cause Parker’s picking me up.”

She’s ditching me for the pimp? Whatever. In my mind, Parker (not his real name) is a guy decked out in ghetto clothes and diamonds and drives a blacked-out Escalade.

I drop Kelly off at her mom’s and go back to my family. I am suspicious, but I say to myself, She wanted to come back to San Diego. Why would she go back to whoring?

My phone rings the next day.

“Jessie, it’s Karen. Is Sis with you?”

“Um, no, I dropped her off at your house yesterday.”

“Shit, Jess. She’s on the run.”

I am pulled back into this dark, disgusting lifestyle. Kelly breaks my naiveté. It is like a terrible car accident that I can’t stop watching. I am a codependent in this drama.

We are planning an intervention — just like the damn TV show — Karen and I and Kelly’s biological father, Greg (not his real name).

We find out that Kelly is posting on backpage.com, in a section of the website reserved for adult entertainment. We find Kelly in the “escorts” section.

My first time looking for her on the site is traumatizing. I shouldn’t be reading prostitute advertisements. It’s gross, dirty, and the nudity is obscene. The entire experience is nauseating. It is a last-resort option, a way to know that she is still alive.

Kelly sticks with K names in her advertisements. She embodies a different character every time, wearing wigs, coloring her hair, using fake contact lenses to change the color of her eyes. In one picture, she’ll be a dark, mysterious European brunette, Kiera. In another picture, she will be Kayla, the all-American girl with blond hair, blue eyes.

My meeting with Kelly’s parents is over. I drop Karen off at her apartment complex. We sit in the car and chat for a few minutes. Karen is desperate.

“Jessie, do you know any guys we can call [and ask them] to set up an appointment with her? We need a number she doesn’t recognize, and she won’t accept blocked calls.”

“I’m not sure,” I say. “It’s kind of awkward to ask a guy friend to call and pretend like they need a prostitute for the night.” This entire situation is too strange. I am not calling anyone I know.

I look behind us. “Is that Kelly?” I ask, in utter disbelief. It is. She’s the bimbo Barbie in the car behind us. She is with her pimp.

“Oh, shit, Jessie, that’s Sis, and that bastard. Oh, just wait until he hears what I have to say.” Karen opens the passenger door of my car and gets out and struts over to Kelly. My heart is pounding. I enter the license plate of the car into my phone. Then I call Kelly’s dad.

“Greg! Oh, my God, get over to Karen’s right now, literally right now. Kelly and her pimp are here. Hurry.” I feel comfort knowing a man is on his way.

Kelly gets out of the car. Her boobs are practically pouring out of her slutty red top. Her tight shorts are blinged out, and she’s holding a bag of leftover food from the Cheesecake Factory.

“Mom, what the fuck?” Kelly shrieks, predictably protecting her boyfriend/pimp. “Leave him alone!”

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LaLucha Sept. 19, 2012 @ 10:29 p.m.

This is a scary story. i want to read the whole book.


RMc Sept. 21, 2012 @ 11:16 a.m.

You can!... "Girls Like Us" by Rachael Lloyd "Runaway Girl" by Carissa Phelps "Renting Lacy" by Linda Smith


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 19, 2012 @ 11:35 p.m.

Plus, she’s wearing pajamas. Pink flannel with elephants on them.

Nothing SCREAMS SEXY like a skinny babe wearing pink jammies with elephants on them.............I would not be able to control myself if I saw THAT


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 20, 2012 @ 1:11 p.m.

Pretty sad story.................breaks my heart, I can only imagine how her parents and BFF feel.


FreedomFighter Sept. 20, 2012 @ 3:08 p.m.

Congratulations Jessica! You have now further exploited your friend by sharing her story with thousands of readers. You got your 15 minutes of fame! And since you chose to share your name, people can connect the dots and figure out who this "Kelly" really is. I'm sure her parents are thrilled to see this! Instead of exploiting your friend, you should have taken the opportunity to learn about sex trafficking, seeing her as a victim instead of one of your many inappropriate terms "hooker, whore, prostitute" used in your article. Sex trafficking is real, and it's scary. Instead of being sympathetic, you have chosen to write a sensationalized story of your friend's victimization. I hope "Kelly" is safe and finds the services she needs to start a new life, and I hope to God she finds new friends!


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 20, 2012 @ 4:49 p.m.

I think the story is an excellent cautionary tale. Mix drugs, alcohol and bad people together and this could happen. As for connecting the dots, how many people on the face of the planet knows the writer, and how many of them know the writers BFF??? Not very many, probably just a handful.


RMc Sept. 20, 2012 @ 6:02 p.m.

I don’t know the writer, but I do know many Kelly’s and their stories are those of being sold a dream of sorts…love, companionship, a life together, only to learn that Mr. Right is Mr. I Want to Turn You Out on the Street for my financial gain. It is very rare that a minor or young adult woman would want the life of being paid for sex only to have to turn it over to her pimp. I would not be too quick to judge the Kelly’s of the world, as there are many right her in San Diego, but instead ask…what got you to this place? How can I help? Where do we find services? You can start by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888) 373-7888, or the local BSCC Hotline (619) 666-2757. You could also educate yourself on the issues of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Shared Hope International and Polaris Project are great international resources that understand the domestic issue as well.


maria52 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 5:35 p.m.

Perfectly said. Thank you for your knowledge and wisdom.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 20, 2012 @ 6:20 p.m.

And you don't think this article is educating people???????????????


maria52 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 5:34 p.m.

no not one bit. just drivel from a stupid girl.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 2:41 p.m.

Well, many people will find it educational, as I did. As I said, it is a good cautionary tale of what can happen with drugs, alcohol and bad people.


maria52 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 5:20 p.m.

please. she is hardly her BFF. she made that abundantally clear by breaking her friendship off with the poor girl just 'cause she went to a party with her where people drank. how insipid. it's a cautionary tale into: how lame and insensitive the Reader and nice girls from Rancho Penasquitos should behave: don't help, just sanctimoniously report trash..


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 10:15 p.m.

Go home and tell your sad story to someone who cares Maria, b/c we sure don't. You're a sour puss who just wants to complain like a little baby b/c you didn't get your way.


maria52 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 9:22 a.m.

get my way? i haven't even mentioned myself once. this is about kelly, and being exploited. how in the world did you extrapolate from my comments that it is my "sad story?" um, it's mystifying to me that obviously you can read and write, but you can't comprehend.


maria52 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 5:12 p.m.

Thank you for expressing my sentiment so well.


leosurf Sept. 20, 2012 @ 4:10 p.m.

If this story is non-fiction, this writer Jessica is a non-friend. A trashy and selfish person.


Catbird Sept. 20, 2012 @ 10:33 p.m.

I am inclined to go easy on the author having encountered similar scenarios a handful of times throughout my life.
Even now, years after the death of a close friend who suffered addictions and left behind a shattered husband and two young children, I am still conflicted because I "gave up on her."

I bounce between guilt because maybe I should have/could have done more and being resigned to the fact that there really was no more that I could do.

Helping a person with addictions requires nerves of steel and monumental strength and can be physically and emotionally draining for a fully matured individual let alone someone as young as the author. I commend her for exposing to light some of the feelings she encountered. Jessica offered her friend significant support as long as she could to the best of her ability.

It is easy to be idealistic but how many of us have stayed the path with an addicted friend all the way through to full recovery or death?


Ken Harrison Sept. 21, 2012 @ 6:51 a.m.

I was fixated on this story, had to read it word for word til the end. An when finished, wanted to read more. Jessica you are a great friend. Your friendship was tested beyond belief and you did all you could. Thanks for a great story.


maria52 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 5:11 p.m.

I'm glad to see other readers share my dismayed sentiment. What a putz for a friend! And shame on you, Reader, for even printing this. I'm sorry, how old is this girl? Thirteen? Sounds like it. She has a lot of nerve to write about something she knows nothing about. I understand she is telling her own personal experiences...I get it. But this "friend" did not even once attempt to understand what her friend-turned-prostitue was going through. Her ignorant disdain is so in line with this schmaltzy magazine, the Reader, though. The Reader has stubbornly stuck to allowing even the most medicore and poorly educated writers a forum to show their ill-concieved arrogance. She acts like she tried oh so hard, but just had to give up on Kelly, for her own mental health. Wow. Girl didn't even know what "manic" meant. Knows nothing about how these poor girls get their self-esteem literally beaten out of them by these pimps. Never once through the article, thought about maybe doing just a little research into human trafficking, drug addiction, bi-polar...One commenter said she was, "expoitive." Like it isn't bad enough to be exploited by pimps, now we have the Reader and her ostensible "friend" exploiting her as well. I learned nothing significant from this article 'cept how insensitive middle class suburban beorgious people can be, and how lame the Reader is to publish it.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 10:13 p.m.

Hey Maria, newsflash sweety, the author talks extensively about drug addiction and abuse. You didn't get anything out of it b/c you have a closed mind.


maria52 Sept. 24, 2012 @ 1:17 p.m.

First of all, I'm not your sweety. She may "talk" extensively about drug addiction and abuse, but it's harsh, albeit, meaningless observations. She spends most of the article trying to portray herself as "too good" to have to deal with this "nonsense." One reviewer above brought up an excellent point: most women that come from decent families in nice areas don't ever dream about having the most deplorable job on the planet. The cataclysmic brainwashing that is involved to get a girl to stay, and even go back is astounding. Yet girls do it all the time. Don't just single me out, surf pup, read all the other reviews. One says she knows the girl and her family and is outraged.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 24, 2012 @ 10:41 p.m.

Sweety Maria, you sound like a spoiled child who whines and pouts if she doesn't get her way, so sad.Your opinion is just that- your opinion, you don't like the story don't read it. THAT SIMPLE. As for the negative comments here, every one of them are first time comments by newbie posters such as yourself, hardly reflective of the overall readership here.


Roberta73 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 7:43 p.m.

As for the author, shame on you! Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes of fame at your friend's expense. I know Kelly and her family personally and I can't believe you never even asked their permission to tell this story. By the way, Kelly is doing great although I know Kelly and her family are quite taken back by your selfishness and betrayal of your friendship. I can't believe there's people like you that exist. How do you sleep at night? Oh, that's right... in your big Victoria's Secret pajamas at your safe Mommy and Daddy's house.


maria52 Sept. 23, 2012 @ 9:05 p.m.

Wow. Thanks for exposing this little brat for what she is.


Reaths Sept. 24, 2012 @ 11:35 a.m.

Nice article. It reminds us of the pain and suffering that addiction brings. Perhaps there will one day be a medical cure.


Roberta73 Sept. 24, 2012 @ 2:27 p.m.

your acting like woah is you. looks like you threw your friend under the bus for a little extra change. its really pathetic how you act like you were the victim when you are forgetting who really is. god help anyone who is your friend


jnojr Sept. 26, 2012 @ 1:15 p.m.

It's, "woe is me", not "woah is me". And "you're", not "your". "It's" And capitalize the first letter of each sentence.


Joaquin_de_la_Mesa Sept. 25, 2012 @ 11:07 a.m.

I find the kill-the-messenger tone in many of these comments (maria52 particularly) to be disturbing. Your idea of what makes a friend -- someone actually used the term BFF -- is so high-school.

For a year, this courageous young author tried hard to help "Kelly" get started on the path of recovery. Kelly chose to leave that path... repeatedly. Finally, the author decided that, for her own health and Kelly's, she had to break the cycle. I.e. she grew up and realized that an addict has to hit bottom and admit powerlessness over the addiction, then choose to get help. That being a high school BFF isn't really love... it's enabling.

The subtext in all of this is the fact that GregInTheStory and Kelly's mom were divorced some time in Kelly's childhood. Look in the mirror, Greg. You and Kelly's mom are the ones who betrayed Kelly.


maria52 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 3:02 p.m.

oh jeez, more sanctimonious drivel. seriously? now blame it on the parents? what? parents need to stay together and make themselves and more importantly their kids miserable in order to prevent things of this terrible magnitude happening? she never was her BFF. she never stayed around long enough to even "enable" kelly. i object to her shallowness and her exploitation of kelly. call me disturbing, couldn't care less.


Joaquin_de_la_Mesa Oct. 30, 2012 @ 11:42 a.m.

And again, we hear the delusional idea that kids are better off when parents divorce. Kids become tennis balls when parents divorce, whacked back and forth, forced to love two people who don't (won't) love each other, forced to be full-time children to people who have copped out and become part time parents, forced to watch parents date. Does that sound like a good childhood to you?


Joaquin_de_la_Mesa Oct. 30, 2012 @ 11:59 a.m.

Maria52 says, "oh jeez, more sanctimonious drivel. seriously? now blame it on the parents?"

As if blaming parents for the self-destructive actions of a child is revolutionary. Any psychologist will tell you that upbringing is by far the most important factor in a person's development, and by extension, the choices that person makes later in life.

Kids given a good foundation by their parents rarely make such catastrophically bad decisions as Kelly did.


jnojr Sept. 25, 2012 @ 12:58 p.m.

Clearly, we need to outlaw prostitution. And drugs! They're BAAAD! And the piles of money we pour into "help" aren't big enough!

This story comes down to one thing... Kelly makes bad choices. Period. I know, the blubbers about, "Oh, she's mentally ill, she needs sympathy you SOB!" are coming. Where was the crazy behavior before she started taking drugs? Anyone who REALLY cared could keep her in a locked inpatient facility for longer than a few days... but, I know, "That's too expensive, who's going to pay the bill for us?" If she "can't help herself", and her family won't help her, why should I have a gun pointed at me and have to do it for them?

I have to goggle just a little bit at someone who sells themselves and takes piles of drugs feeling "distressed" and "betrayed" because someone wrote a story about it. That's just more deflection of responsibility.


maria52 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 3:06 p.m.

where did you extrapolate that from? nowhere in these comments or in the article did it say that kelly has continued on taking drugs "because someone wrote a story about it."


Kargawd Sept. 25, 2012 @ 1:59 p.m.

I know for a FACT that the Author of this story had the Consent of the person known as Kelly in this story to write it. The People that were Hurt and Betrayed by this whole Situation that was written about in this story are First and Formost Kelly's Family and Secondly Kelly's Friend's, not because of this story, but because of the Insanity that Kelly put everyone involved through during Her ordeal. Based on what I read in this story, it came across to Me that the Author was relaying her experience of the thing's that She witnessed while going through this with Her Friend and Friend's Family.This story is a perfect example of how out of control One's lives can become based on a few bad decisions.


joyfulmom Sept. 25, 2012 @ 9:03 p.m.



concerned15011 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 3:25 p.m.

Kargawd, No, that is false. "Kelly did not give Jessica permission to humiliate her by writing this selfish article. I am a part of Kelly's extended family and am deeply saddened by the decision Jessica made and was encouraged to make by her professor. Maybe she got a good grade on her paper but I doubt that Jessica would include on her resume that she chose to be a contributor to our precious family's deep pain in this devastating situation with "Kelly". Let it be said that Jessica was not nearly as involved with the family as she let on. She witnessed a few impressionable and burdensome situations but as you can hear in her tone throughout her article she wasnt and certainly isnt now a compassionate friend. We love "Kelly" so much and are doing ALL we can for her. She had been recovering and making great changes in her life. This however, is a great setback and our family is paying the cost of an insensitive friend. "Kelly", incidently, had just text Jessica on her new phone to try to see how she was doing since they had not talked for so long. Jessica never said a word about her article that was to be published in just a few days. Jessica absolutely knew that "Kelly would be mortified to have any of her school friends and families know about her dark past. Any of us would feel the same. "Kelly" called Jessica after she was informed about the article by an old aquaintence (who didn't even think this could be true about her except that all the facts and family descriptions added up) and she asked Jessica how she could betray her like this. Jessica wouldn't even speak with her. She only text that she was sorry. This mean spirited, exposure has hurt every member of our family. And since the Reader won't remove the article from this website we ask that you keep us all in your prayers and please don't write any more insensitive or bitter comments to our already wounded family on this site.


maria52 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 4:47 p.m.

Gosh, my heart goes out to you. i'm so sorry for your pain.


Kargawd Sept. 25, 2012 @ 5:19 p.m.

I Respect Your "OPINION" on this matter. I do howevwer think that You should know that Jessica had cut Her ties and basically Her Friendship with Kelly long before She was contacted by one or both of Kelly's parent's and asked to Help them with Kelly and Her Situation, which I believe was wrong by them to lay that kind thing on a 19 or 20 year old girl. Jessica never Implied in Her story that She was Immersed in Their lives whatsoever, She was however exposed to numerous Dysfunctional situations that were a direct result of being asked to help Kelly and Her parent's out with the terrible situation that Kelly's bad decisions had caused. I am Truly sorry that it's You Family member being referenced, but You must know that every story written about these and all types of other situations never really sink in or hit home until it's one of Your Loved ones being referenced, that's just Human nature. Jessica's story was much more than just a good grade or a SD Reader story, it was Her way of putting closure on what She went through in that short crazy rollercoaster ride she went on with Kelly and Her Parents.Those are not Bitter or Insensative word's, they are TRUE word's..! I wish Kelly the best with her Effort towards recovery.


Kargawd Sept. 25, 2012 @ 3:50 p.m.

I am Glad that Kelly is trying to make better Life choices. She has Her whole Life ahead of Her..!


concerned15011 Sept. 25, 2012 @ 8:29 p.m.

Maria52, Thank you for your rational and kind thoughts. They are appreciated!

Kargawd, Im not sure why you think what I have stated is my opinion just because of when Jessica "cut ties" with "Kelly". You are absolutely right that "Kelly's" parents should have never asked for her help. The fact that they did doesnt beg betrayal on Jessica's part. Furthermore, plenty of other people's tragic circumstances over the years have "hit home" with me without ever being an part of my own family. In those cases, I grieve with them, not exploit them. I can't see how Jessica will ever "gain closure" on this situation now that she has done it at "Kelly's" expense and opened up "Kelly's" and our wounds and squeezed a lemon in them. As for bitter words, I apologize. I was referring to some of the comments by the readers. As for Jessica's words, bitter no, not really...incensitive, inconsiderate and condenseding...yes. Her words, for the most part were true but inappropriate to expose as you can see so many of the readers agree. You wish her the best and yet condone what Jessica has done ot "Kelly". The two don't match.


joyfulmom Sept. 25, 2012 @ 8:35 p.m.

How any one could exploite their friend like this is beyond me! I happen to be a friend of this KELLY and her family and know the hardships and hurts she has gone through. She was a victim like all the others who have gone thruogh the same thing!!! YOU failed to tell everyone that KELLY is doing good now that she is getting counseling and painfully writing a documantary on what she has been through, what she has learned and hopefully how her story can help others!!! But your story has crushed her and made her relive the pain all over again!!! Shame on you...and how dare you call yourself her friend....with friends like you who needs enemies!!! Maybe she should write a story about your skeltons in your closet!!!


FreedomFighter Sept. 27, 2012 @ 12:20 p.m.

my letter to the editor that was published today in the Reader in reponse to this story: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...


maria52 Sept. 27, 2012 @ 2:17 p.m.

loved your letter. so nice to hear a perspective of someone that is actually educated in the field. well done!


CreativeLittleMonstersDotCom Dec. 28, 2013 @ 2:43 p.m.

Being someone who has survived multiple close friends and family members with life-destroying addictions, I find this article to be an important message to those in the same situation. You can't control another person, no matter how much you care about them, and letting their choices bring you down is its own form of self-destructive behavior. At some point, you have to let them go or else you will lose yourself.


EndModernSlavery June 12, 2014 @ 6:49 p.m.

Great job writing a highly uneducated article. You are making a mockery & laughing at all the millions of women & children sex slaves. This should have been educating the public of the increasing problem of human trafficking in San Diego. Kelly is not a prostitute she was a victim to trafficking. Out of respect to your friend you should have done some research before writing this!


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