A blog for those walking away from a life of sex work and for
the families of those not fortunate enough to walk away.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Amnesty International calls for sex work decriminalization

This is an interesting read on the call for the decriminalization of sex work. Sex workers would be much safer if they could operate with some protections under the law.

Amnesty International Calls for Decriminalizing Sex Work

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Watch for our new article coming out in In Recovery Magazine

In it, we discuss the exit cycle and interview one of our successful former sex workers. She recently graduated from college with several degrees and is working in the financial industry.

Dreams do come true.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

McCain Institute presents panel on sex trafficking and cooperation with the medical community

Any time a sex worker comes in contact with the medical profession presents an opportune time for a discussion about resources to leave the life. The McCain Institute presented a panel discussion today with state and federal leaders in sex trafficking efforts, including Dr. Randal C. Christensen of Phoenix Children's Hospital, Matthew Grimshaw, CEO of Mercy Medical Center, and Dr. Rochelle Rollins, an official in the Office on Trafficking in Persons of the US Department of Health. Also, Holly Austin Gibbs, who was trafficked at a young age in New Jersey, appeared. The panel was a discussion of efforts made by some healthcare organizations to develop protocols for working with sex workers when they appear for medical treatment.

How can medical professionals best help? Healthcare providers need to know the community resources available and have a clear protocol in place so they know exactly what is available for referral and how to proceed. They must be trained and feel safe, themselves, as one panelist pointed out. 

Mental health intervention may be needed. Those who try to exit the industry usually need ongoing counseling or emotional support. Most sex workers suffer from severe post traumatic stress disorder. Melissa Farley, Ph.D., director of the Prostitution Research and Education in San Francisco, performed the first study in 1998 of post traumatic stress disorder in prostitutes. Her study revealed that ongoing physical and sexual assault in this cohort created a high level of PTSD. Sixty-seven percent of the sex workers she interviewed met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis. In her study, the level of PTSD in her sample was actually higher than for a sample of Vietnam veterans.

The first time someone acknowledges the level of fear and horror the sex worker often experiences during her time in the sex industry may be a turning point in her recovery. This can be that medical professional. 

The exit experience is not always a sudden "light bulb" experience. Usually sex workers don't wake up one day and say, "I think I'll leave the life today." A sex worker may try several times to leave, only to relapse and return to that life. We know that the model looks much like this:

It's important that medical practitioners understand that they may simply be planting a seed by emphatically asserting: "You no longer have to live like this." The sex worker may not be ready to leave, or in some cases, may be held hostage by her pimp's family having control of her children.

One great point brought up by Dr. Rollins: "Nothing about us without us." While she didn't use those words, she did acknowledge that including survivors in efforts to develop protocol and train is imperative. As former sex workers, we are best situated to provide practical advice and an understanding of what it's really like to survive in that environment and what resources we needed to get out.

This panel is part of an ongoing effort by the McCain Institute and other organizations to address the issues of human trafficking. Visit their website to sign up for future symposiums. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Working to educate hotel workers about sex trafficking

This short EPCAT-USA video showcases the uphill battle to educate hotel workers who may encounter sex trafficking victims.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mary Ellen Mark chronicled amazing stories of international sex work

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark chronicled the lives of Bombay prostitutes during the 70s. Visit this link to see a powerful photo of a young sex worker in Bombay.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sadly, we often cannot help those we love

The main part of my work is helping parents, often mothers, whose children are working in the sex industry. When they have contact with their children, usually their daughters, it is often sporadic and highly emotionally charged.

I often cannot help those still entrenched in the sex industry because they are not ready. Sadly, they have not hit their bottom or skidded along it long enough to be willing to do the work necessary to completely change their way of lives. Today was one of those days.

One mom whom I've stayed in touch with over a year finally contacted her daughter and got her to call me. After talking to her for just a few minutes, I could see that she wasn't calling me for help. She had already ruled out treatment (done that a lot of times before) and "had a plan." I could see that part of her plan was to talk to me to see if she could manipulate her mother into doing what she, the sex worker, wanted.

She began to say things like, "Listen, LADY!" and her voice continued to rise until she was yelling. I gave her once chance to "lose the drama" explaining I don't allow people to yell at me, and then told her I would hang up if she didn't dial it down. She hung up first, which was her way to feel she won.

The whole interaction made me first angry then sad, because this is how I treated my mother before I got clean. I simply found my mom a tool to manipulate and once she wouldn't let me get away with it, I cut her out of my life. Ironically, once I got clean and left the industry, she became my best friend.

Once she hung up, this gal called her mother and her mom emailed me to apologize. Her mom did nothing wrong and I told her that. She is getting help for co-dependency, which is what I recommend for those who love these sad yet beautiful creatures. They are children of God, first and foremost, flawed and damaged as they currently are.

That notwithstanding, here are some ground rules for parents whose children or loved ones are in the sex industry.
  1. Don't allow your loved one to yell at you. That is emotional abuse. Have a "no-drama" rule about phone calls or emails. Don't buy into their anger. Anger is a manipulation tactic.
  2. Stop giving them money. Don't buy them plane tickets, don't bail them out of jail. Sure, there may be some exceptions, like that first time they agree to check into a treatment center. Once you've helped once and they know what the solution is, STOP. You may be co-ing them into their graves if you continue to enable them.
  3. Stop offering suggestions and solving their problems. They are adults, or at least acting like adults if they are under 18 and engaged in the sex industry. The most powerful words in a codependent's toolbox are "I'm sure you'll work it out" when they call you to solve their latest crisis.
  4. Don't rely on advice from those who have no knowledge about drug addiction or the sex industry. Helpful people in whom you confide really have no experience, strength and hope to share with you. They are blindly trying to help and usually, I find their suggestions to be exactly the opposite of what a CODA member or a member of Alanon would suggest.
  5. Get help for you. The stress of what you're going through can make you very ill. Don't put the welfare of one sick family member ahead of the welfare of your marriage, your other children or your job. It isn't fair to you and it isn't fair to the others in your family, or your employer.
Sadly, if your loved one is active in the sex industry, there is little you can do to help but help yourself. I wish I could say something more uplifting. There are several support groups for families whose loved ones are dysfunctional, including Alanon, Families Anonymous and Codependents Anonymous. Try one out. Also, educate yourself about organizations that might offer services should your loved one choose to leave the life.  Despite the behavior or actions of your loved one, you can lead a more rational life if you follow these suggestions.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Watch this new video about sex trafficking in the US

I ran across this video that highlights the problems of US sex trafficking still rampant in today. Sex trafficking is a local issue, and in Arizona it's big news since the Super Bowl is only a few months away here.

Where do parents turn for help whose children are in the sex industry? I cover this in several blog articles and the best I can do is suggest that the loved ones of sex workers turn to support groups like Families Anonymous or Alanon for help. There is no one support group for parents of sex workers. 

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. If I had to give one insight from my personal experience, if you have other children, don't allow all your attention to focus on the child with the problems. You risk letting your other loved ones down if you focus too much on the child or loved ones with issues. Everyone in your family matters, not just the one who creates the turmoil.