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, 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.