Recovery from Sex Industry?

(71 Posts)
aliasforthis2 Tue 15-Nov-11 22:04:47

Hello smile

I was advised by a couple of people on a thread I had in Relationships section a while back to perhaps come on here, so here I am!

I have always had some sort of (rudimentary) feminist principles - I remember even when I was a child family members would comment on it! I have read Living Dolls, the Beauty Myth, and Female Chauvinist Pigs, although I do have mixed up not-quite-formed opinions. I have looked at Object, UKFeminista and also read A LOT of varied literature on the sex industry because I was a prostitute for 4 years and exited last year in 2010.

I have a job now in the "real world" and am a single parent to my 2 children, but I'm still trying to recover from my experiences and view of the world from the sex industry. I sometimes feel ashamed, can't look people in the eye, fear bumping into a previous punter, have nightmares and flashbacks as a result of violence which happened to me regularly - even in the indoor side of the industry - the violence only got a chance to actually properly injure me when I worked alone inside (the first half of my 'time') but still punters would regularly try violence even when there was security on the premises (the second half of my 'time'). I feel much more 'alive' now, however sometimes I feel detached and totally dissociated especially in large crowds. I have a skewed view of males which I am really trying hard to overcome (the idea of the thread in relationships) and have had one short-lived relationship with a man since I left the industry - he was not perfect, but certainly showed no big red flags (I'm well trained to spot them as I had to before for my survival). The relationship was marred by me having extreme 'freezing' and flashbacks and numbness during any kind of intimacy or sex, and extreme outbursts of anger from me afterwards. He was very understanding, but I feel I still need more time to rediscover my own sexuality.

A few things which I have found myself becoming interested in since are -

Objectification and sexualization of women and even children

Obviously the sex industry itself, particularly the elements of control which I know to be true in the industry (ie the men who buy sex are MOSTLY ALWAYS better off economically in the first place than the women whose bodies they buy and the vast majority enjoy the control and choice that permits - I know it, seen it first hand). Also, I know for a fact that the industry is changing and it is now very hard to get clients to agree to a condom for oral sex. 95% of workers - my educated estimate- now do Oral Without a Condom. And 'services' like come in mouth etc are becoming more and more 'expected' too. A large number of these punters have an unknowing partner whom they may very well pass on these infections to. I used to be so angry that I was expected to risk my own health in a big way so someone else could get maximum pleasure. Haggling over the price of a woman's body, rape, assault and requests for young teenagers were sadly quite common.

Porn, and it's effects on people's sexuality in general.

Employment rights - Although i had some support in finding a job it was EXTREMELY hard for me to find employment to fit around my responsibilities for the children, and took me a long time of applying for everything going. Women simply do not get the same opportunities as men because they are deemed to be responsible for not half of, but ALL of childcare and often housework too. I can only work 9-5 so that limits jobs I can take and advancements I could make, career-wise. I could live frugally on minimum wage full time work (I am very very NMW is in existence!) if I had no children, but if I had no other financial help like tax credits and CB I would not be able to feed my children.

Beauty and Cosmetic Surgery Industries - Whilst I do actually wear make up as I am self-concious of my eyes and acne scarring, and I actually prefer dresses and comfy wedge heels because it's easier dressing and also I am 5ft and like to reach things grin, I really feel my heart sink when a colleague goes to get botox in our lunch hour, takes me along with her to wait, and the staff offer me botox and fillers there and then (I'm 24!!!!) and also a tummy tuck when I mention I have kids! There are posters on the wall reading "Who wants to look their age?" showing a worried looking woman clutching her face shock and numerous newspaper and magazine clippings of 'success' stories.

Anyway, that was an extremely long introduction! >sorry!<

Basically I'm just looking to maybe (tentatively) join in, and if anyone has any other tips or resources on healing from the sex industry I'd welcome them.

I feel so angry that prostitution (especially stripping and 'high-end escorting', and porn) are being billed as "harmless" "empowering" and "fun". When every single woman I knew in the sex industry who remained longer than a few weeks (bar none, and I knew a LOT) had a history of either substance abuse, big childhood family issues coming from a very painful upbringing (me) , child sex abuse, or a mixture of all 3! I swear, every single one. I know that's just anecdotal evidence, but I did know a lot of sex workers personally. I cannot believe it is taking me so long to recover, I feel like I should be "over it" and living life to the full by now, but I'm not. I'm left with nightmares, panic attacks, feelings of worthlessness etc 18 months on, and the guilt that I feel I sort of 'brought it on myself' because I became entrenched stayed far longer after the initial extreme financial dire straits and debts which made me start were cleared.

Anyhow, must be longest thread in history x better go now x

Prolesworth Tue 15-Nov-11 22:13:14

Hello alias, it's good to see you here smile

Have you read Rebecca Mott's blog?

aliasforthis2 Tue 15-Nov-11 22:27:58

Thanks smile I haven't read it all, but I have read large chunks and all the recent entries. I think she is a very brave and strong woman to keep fighting the lies perpetrated whilst she still battles with her own problems. I think most women who get out just tend to disappear and not want anything to do with remembering (although that's OK and valid too I'd say, to want to get away from it altogether) I'm still trying to forge an identity of sorts because I started prostitution at 18 and whatever identity I had of myself was eaten up gradually til I was like a walking zombie. I'm very glad RMott is providing an antidote to all the "happy hooker" books and articles out there.

Hello. It's nice to have you here. smile

I am so sorry to read your story. I don't have anything helpful to say except that I'm glad you're out of it as it sounds awful. The only thing that did strike me is that you say you're feeling bad because you're not 'over it' yet, but it's been such a short time - I think it is healthy you are still very much thinking about it and feeling it all, because you deserve to get the best possible recovery and that takes time. You deserve to take your time.

I don't believe for one moment you 'brought it on yourself' either.

Hope you are feeling better perhaps for writing it all down - take care of yourself.

AlwaysWild Wed 16-Nov-11 08:33:52

Hi op, I was also thinking of Rebecca Mott for a wider contextualisation.

Also thinking of you, have you had any counselling? 18 months seems to me a really short amount of time to 'get over it'. And to try and do so without any help. I recognise some of your reactions to things myself, and that is from something that happened years and years ago.

And you did not bring it on yourself or have anything to be ashamed of.

Welcome and hope you find something to help.

JosephineB Wed 16-Nov-11 11:36:38

There's this blog too.

You have nothing to be ashamed of and if I have any words of advice it's to be kinder to yourself with regard to your recovery process. I understand that for obvious reasons that you'd like to be 'over it' by now but (boring and frustrating but true) it takes time and the journey won't be made easier buy you being hard on yourself for not moving faster.

Hope you stick around and find the help you're looking for. smile

FoodUnit Wed 16-Nov-11 12:24:08

I want to say a big hello and send you lots of love and hugs.
You are suffering from PTSD and 18 months is not long at all to get over 4 years of sexual abuse. Its also even worse to feel not believed when you have been through so much suffering, but unfortunately, because male sexual entitlement at the expense of women is so tightly woven in to the status quo, the whole of mainstream culture will be at odds with your personal experience. angry
On the intimacy front I think you should really lower your expectations of what you are able to do right now, to make sure you are in complete control of all physical contact you have with men for the rest of your life(which is your birth right).

PamBeesly Wed 16-Nov-11 16:42:13

HiAlias just wanted to hop on and say hi! I remember the other thread, its excellent that you are here now because some posters are a wealth of information so I'm signing up for this to get an education too!
Some people on your last thread were beyond contempt by the way so I really hope people who choose to post here have manners and courtesy.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JuliaScurr Wed 16-Nov-11 18:43:35

Good to see you, alias, hope you're doing OK. Agree with others, counselling will help. Give yourself as much time and space as you need.

weeonion Wed 16-Nov-11 18:47:20

hi alias - good to see you here. what area are you in? There are agencies and projects who offer support to women who have exited. It is no easy thing t do and i am really glad you are asking for support.

aliasforthis2 Wed 16-Nov-11 20:45:43

Thanks LRD , I know that is not a helpful attitude to take, that I should be over it, but I'm sort of frustrated that I'm not really, although I do feel much safer.

AlwaysWild I did have counselling from the local Sex Work project, but I understand that the funding is low and there are (unsurprisingly) new cases through the doors or referred by Social Work, NHS etc, suffering from the aftereffects of an industry which seems to churn out women, use them up, and replace them with fresh meat. The counselling is limited to 12 sessions, which did help a bit but probably not long enough to make a difference. he counsellor did mention PTSD. MY GP has 8 free sessions available, so may try that.

Thanks for that link Josephine I will take a look smile

FoodUnit I think that's right - I think some men have become used to, and feel entitled to, sex on tap - from always happy, always sexy and made-up, and above all always willing and ego-stroking women of their choosing. I feel guilty a bit that I did play that part for a living and help to fuel that culture. The punters don't feel used and guilty (except maybe the odd first-timer who afterwards is ashamed and chalks it up to "misadventure"), but the prostitutes carry all the shame and pain, sadly.

xx

aliasforthis2 Wed 16-Nov-11 20:50:54

Thanks Pam I'm sort of used to the attitudes of the few on the other thread as I encountered them every day when I was involved in the prostitution.

Thanks Julia and Weeonion x From your name , Weeonion I think I may be near you smile - I'm in Scotland.

ButterflyEffect The counselling I had was person-centred although she did mention long-term PTSD from the sex work and also from previous events when I was a young teenager. Thanks, I will go to GP and ask about Cognitive Therapy. From what I can gather, in this area there are huge wait lists, but might as well get my name down x

FoodUnit Wed 16-Nov-11 23:22:11

I feel guilty a bit that I did play that part for a living and help to fuel that culture.

Please don't feel guilty. You bore the brunt of that culture.

I think it is important to remember that when you have been damaged by things that were beyond your control (such as a chaotic upbringing) you will behave in damaged ways. Just as the damaging things you had no control over are not your fault, neither are the things you went on to do as a consequence (such as entering prostitution) - you simply would not have ended up there if it hadn't been for those things you had no control over.
The whole sex industry relies on the ongoing damage and consequent vulnerability of further women and girls in order satisfy the ongoing demand for punters to abuse and pimps to exploit them- like some ghastly combine harvester.
In that sense, anyone who gets off on porn or prostitution are benefiting from the 'priming damage' done to girls and women.
I hope it doesn't come across that I'm 'labelling' some people as damaged, but I think it is important to recognise where we have been hurt in ways that alter us, in order that we don't spiral into endless, circular self-blame.sad

weeonion Wed 16-Nov-11 23:35:33

alias - you're right on that! i am indeed in scotland. smile x

PamBeesly Thu 17-Nov-11 22:27:52

alias I just saw this on another thread and thought you may be interested in it, maybe you are not but here it is anyway Reclaim

aliasforthis2 Thu 17-Nov-11 22:37:16

Thanks I am looking at it now x Never been on any kind of march before

PlumpDogPillionaire Thu 17-Nov-11 22:51:43

alias - FoodUnit is spot on about guilt feelings.
Remember this, though, also: many (if not most) people who are earning money are fuelling some kind of damaging lie: retailers selling goods made by child labourers, secondary school teachers channelling youg people towards useless university degrees, GPs in the pay of big pharma - and don't get me started on politicians, bankers, etc. (and I fully expect to get flamed for having said that, but I stand by it).
What you went through was terrible for you, and because sex work is attacked from all sides: from punters to feminists, you're made to feel as if you are somehow to blame, and as if you have more to feel shitty about than other people do. But you don't. It's just that it's easier for people with more 'regular' backgrounds to close their eyes to the reality of the effects of what they do do survive.

aliasforthis2 Fri 18-Nov-11 21:54:06

I understand that, but their work is not so personal I guess.

What makes me most angry is that prostitutes are not treated with any kind of decency or respect by the majority of punters. There may be a 'veneer' of it, but it's never far from the surface their contempt if we didn't do exactly what they wanted.

I was stalked by a 'regular' which was a terrifying experience. He caused me all sorts of problems without giving a hoot about what he was putting me through. He wanted to see me and I refused to see him as he was getting too obsessive. Thought I'd nipped it in the bud. In the end police were involved. He was the picture of charming until I stopped seeing him. There were many other incidents regularly but this was the worst. I have a friend who still works - I know some people say I should cut everyone off from that life but I can't. She was a victim of sexual abuse as a child (common in sex industry), has no fixed home she lives in hotels (also common), and is currently being stalked by a punter who has sent her vile emails calling her all sorts of abusive names, using her real full name which she has never given out and is a HIGHLY unusual name (he says he got an IT friend to find her). He is telling her she will have to get out of town as he has great influence and will "ruin" her. shock. He has been reported to the police via sex work project (I went along with her) but not heard anything yet.

You get guys trying to rob you all the time or steal back your fee.

Often punters try to pull off condoms when they think you are not looking and I was raped (ie they forced sex without protection) a good few times and had to go for testing after each one feeling horribly dirty.

Weekly or even more you get guys coming in and trying to touch you before they pay then say decisively "no, you are too old" or "too fat love" or whatever.

Daily on the phone you get insults.

You get 'reviewed' on disgusting sites which openly condone rape and violence towards women, and are chock-full of terms like "fat illiterate slag" "another know-it-all hooker" "a quick cheap, try before you buy shag" "I wouldn't if IT paid me" "send them to prison and cut their ovaries out" "Only the bad ones stink. The good ones serve a purpose as cum receptacles"
You would think these things are posted by teenagers in jest - but no ladies and gents - grown men being absolutely serious. Bragging about desperation saying "poverty is good for prostitution". This being the second most common punting site in UK. I'd make it my life's work to shut these sites down,but I fear I'd get drowned in negativity. I'd surely try though. My friend cries every day because of a bad "review" she had written about her on there.

You get hardly any work unless you agree to offer Oral Without and Cum-in-mouth therefore actually risking disease to earn any money. So they can get better pleasure. It's even worse if someone clearly has an addiction - a lot of the women I worked with did and the punters would smell the desperation and call their bluff saying they wouldn't stay and pay without everything being unprotected.

It's no 'ordinary job' like any other. x

AlwaysWild Fri 18-Nov-11 21:57:43

I hear you op. And agree. Other jobs are not comparable.

aliasforthis2 Fri 18-Nov-11 22:22:21

Sorry - that was bit of rant! blush.

I feel myself calmer when I don't think about any of this stuff. But it must be a PTSD trait - I get tired of reliving things over and over in my mind. It's like my mind is a broken record stuck on "repeat" and lots of stuff comes into my head uninvited no matter how much I say I won't let it. grr. It doesn't help when I'm still in contact with a few women I used to work with, who are still trapped by money, the past, or feeling worthless. I remember feeling that, and still do now,so I can't just cut ties. That would feel like the wrong thing to do.

Bad day today. Have ear infection and gum infection resulting in 5 different medications from GP - 2 types antibiotics making me have cramps and nausea, spray, vile mouthwash, something called phenidrine (think decongestant). Not a good combo for the stomach lining! grin Eldest DD want-want-wanting with huge lists for Christmas she has copied from friends and I can't get her most of it now and feeling guilty for that too. sad - but I think to myself - at least her mummy will be mentally much happier and not being damaged anymore and stronger mentally to look after her and have fun with her. When I first left prostitution, even a cuddle from the kids triggered me - I wanted so much to hug them and feel something good again, but couldn't bear to be touched at all. Obviously that is a terrible thing for a mother to think, I never let on to them and did cuddle anyway, but after a few months I became fine with cuddles from people I know smile. So I must have come some way at least!

AlwaysWild Fri 18-Nov-11 22:31:31

You don't need to apologise for anything. Rant awaygrin

I'm lacking anything useful to say but you've nothing to apologise for.

FoodUnit Fri 18-Nov-11 23:14:22

Alias your posts just brought a tear to my eye. I am so glad you can cuddle your kids again without being reminded. I never even thought about that side of the damage to the ability to be intimate being caused by sex industry sad

I've seen the hideous review sites. They are absolute pits of misogyny. Even the 'official' reviews on actual agencies are absolutely repugnant - a load of whining, self-important, deluded self-defined 'nice-guys'.

Its so heartening to hear you're healing as a mum!

xxx

GloriaSteinem Fri 18-Nov-11 23:15:25

I am so so impressed by your strength. Your story has me close to tears tonight. I wish you all the luck in the world and I seriously think your children are lucky to have such an amazing mother.

Your writing is strong, clear and passionate. And heartbreaking. I have absolutely no idea where to start with all this but want you to know you are not alone. You will find your way, you can't fail to. Have a massive FeMNisty hug from me x

FoodUnit Fri 18-Nov-11 23:18:40

If you ever feel strong enough, and it is what you'd want to do, your testimony would be powerful in helping to smash the myths about the sex industry.

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 00:39:39

Thanks x

I know, I hate all the myths perpetrated, the Belle du Jour stuff etc. The way it's sold as an 'edgy' and easy way to make money, and about sex itself. It's not about sex, it's about power. Power to purchase consent from someone who otherwise would not be consenting. It's bad enough to buy consent from someone who is naive and "trying it out", but even worse to buy consent from someone who is obviously in desperate need of the money (and that doesn't put sex buyers off as much as you would think - even the "nice" ones rationalize it as well I helped her, I gave her money,oh look I'm a good samaritan! - but you still took the sex she was obviously being traumatized by providing - if you could afford it why not just give her the money)

I did it for 4 years,and the myths are just that - myths. Although I have no actual 'research paper evidence' I did meet and know a lot of other women in the industry.

It's not about sex. At all. You can't enjoy the sex after your first few "bad" punters - and that happens pretty fast. You just shut off from your body or learn tricks to get them to hurry up.

I saw scores and scores of (usually young) women enter the industry through agencies I worked for thinking it's all glitz and glamour, and when the reality hits them, they (thankfully) usually get out fast and try to forget the short-lived experience. They last about 1 day to a couple of weeks or months.

The VAST MAJORITY of women I knew (including myself) who stayed longer than that had suffered abuse as a child or rape/sexual assault as an adult, or feelings of worthlessness so it had been 'normalized' to us. The other reason is drug addiction. I don't make that up. Before I got involved I would have myself scoffed at the stats of a high percentage of prostitutes having a history of abuse or rape, but if you are in a marginalized group you often get close to others in the same boat and share histories etc. I heard stories of pasts similar to my own time and time and time again. So I would believe those statistics to be true.

It's not glamorous in the slightest - STIs, rough customers, they don't take you to dinner or bring gifts or take you on holidays or tip - this hardly ever happens. It's all about sex and looks. You don't make that much money in reality because a) to be so called "high class" and attract longer bookings and a higher fee you need to be able to receive in a high-class apartment, be perfect looking with hair extensions, nails, tan, designer make up and lingerie,gym toned body etc and all this maintenance costs a fortune! (I never bothered with it but know some who did). Otherwise you will just be at 'average' or low prices.And

b) EVERYBODY is waiting to take a healthy cut of the money you have made - the 'managers', 'landlords' too,security staff, advertisers. A short booking (which most customers go for) is average £50 ,and we had to pay out £90 per day to ads, premises and security before we could bring home anything. These are essential, although the landlords, security and ads charge well over 'normal' rates because they know you need them. So you've had sex with 2 strangers for £10! or 3 for £60. You need to work ALOT and therefore endure a lot to make much money. I once had a pimp/landlord who was very threatening, charged me £50 A DAY(!) for rent of his room in a grotty area,no legal contract, and would hound me for the 'rent' if I was off sick, try to corner me and try to kiss/touch me when he came round. Parasites like this know they can get away with it because they know it's very hard to find an indoor place to work from and agencies take an even bigger cut. I am the last person you would think would be the sort to 'allow' myself to be controlled/borderline-pimped like that. I have never touched drugs apart from twice when I was 16, and hardly drink,although I can see how a habit would vastly get worse to try and block out the prostitution. All of this much more common than people realize. Punters know this, they comment on it, but don't care unless they themselves may be at risk of harm or arrest. The main reason they won't go to the street is because they may get arrested now (since 2007 I think), NOT because it is wrong to have sex with someone who is doing it purely from a desperate drug situation and therefore paying to have her give up her consent from a position of desperation!

There is no humanity involved. Even your regular customers which you made the mistake of thinking were decent, will try to get everything they can out of you and sooner or later start really pushing your boundaries. I remember once being off really ill for a month and a lot of my regular customers would phone and text incessantly, not to see how I was getting on, but just to try and persuade me to see them anyway, trying to manipulate things by hinting to book elsewhere. One when I replied sorry I will be off very ill for another week sent constant sex-texts describing things and getting increasingly aggravated when I didn't reply in a similar vein. Like how dare I be ill ,I must "make it up to him" he said (yuk).

Although not as common indoors, attacks and beatings still happen quite frequently. I was hurt badly enough to bleed or have marks and bruises or strangling on average about every 6 months. Most women who have been in the business for a while will have been attacked or at least had someone attempt attack a few times.

I lost my ability to trust people, to open up to people, living a separate life with 2 identities and lying to loved ones is not easy, sex outwith work was full of squirming at being touched, and being hyper-vigilant or strange numb sensations in the body - it just felt like rape (even if it wasn't), closeness impossible. It is really hard to describe - like depersonalization.

I sometimes feel angry like today and motivated to try and help the situation and others still in it,like someone else said - to try to smash the myths about the sex industry. I think criminalization of buyers of sex, and decriminalizing the sale of sex would be a good thing. I am however aware that such a law could cause safety to suffer since the buyers will obviously demand more hidden venues etc. Perhaps criminalize the buyers, decriminalize those who sell sex, but keep a very close eye on patterns/areas etc,continue harm reduction and safety courses for those involved and proper exiting support. At the moment exiting support programs are badly under-funded,although they were invaluable support for me and others

At other times I feel sad and like I will never regain my "whole" identity or an ability to have a romantic/couple relationship,never change my views of men when I desperately want to change those views because I know it's not right to write off and be mistrusting of 50% (or is it 49%) of the population. I don't want to be that kind of person - a 'hater'.

Often though I feel contented and happy and lucky for the people I have and that I'm 'out' and the world seems a much more colourful place.

That was huge rant-like post again! Ran away with itself. oops!

I agree it's good to have other narratives though to balance/combat the media image of all the belle du jour stuff. It has helped me immensely to read the (more coherent!) writings of others who have had the same experiences of the industry as myself and know I'm not crazy to feel the way I do about it.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RonnieBirtles Sat 19-Nov-11 10:14:35

I have read all your posts on this thread with tears in my eyes, alias. I think you are very brave for leaving the industry, and for facing up to all this and being so reflective and thoughtful about the sex industry and your experiences of it. You are obviously a very strong and intelligent woman.

I have never worked in the sex industry, but unfortunately, as a young woman, I did have a very screwed up and miserable relationship with a -horrible-- bastard man who ran the security for a number of brothels-parading-as-strip-clubs. It was an eye opening and heart-wrenching experience. I got to know a lot of the women who worked in some of the clubs and without exception they were all in some way vulnerable and desperate. Lots of illegal immigrants/trafficked girls from former USSR states - Estonia, Lithuania etc. Several girls with drug addictions. A few single mothers with major debts. And the people who were making the real money and who had all the power and all the choices were the men running the show. It was sickening and one of the most depressing experiences of my life, to be honest.

I also get incredibly angry at the myths surrounding the sex industry and the complete glamorisation of stripping and so-called 'high end' prostitution. A couple of the girls I knew from that strip club were supposedly 'high end' escorts and I saw nothing glamorous about what they did - just misery and a gradual crushing of their spirits. One was a lovely young woman, a university student with a drug problem and big debts, who eventually left that whole world after being battered and raped by a rich client in an upmarket hotel (the police were called by the hotel because her screams were so bad, but the client somehow managed to get away without even a caution sad). The other woman was a very screwed up Russian girl in an abusive relationship with the strip club owner. She was very beautiful and apparently had some famous clients, but was obviously driven mad by her horrible lifestyle. The last I heard she was in a secure mental unit and her horrible bastard ex has custody of their child sad

RonnieBirtles Sat 19-Nov-11 10:15:03

Sorry posted too soon. Suppose I just wanted to say after all that waffle - well done alias and I wish you the best

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 13:27:21

ButterflyEffect Yes, I do think that the Swedish model should still be introduced - for the main reason that it would make it clear how wrong it is to buy sex from mostly desperate, coerced,broke, or addicted women. I suppose in a way it may actually make things much safer for prostitutes as it would presumably replace the current (totally wrong imo) laws which criminalize prostitutes sharing premises for safety.The only way to work legally in the UK is to either a) work for a pimp/agency/brothel or b) work totally alone yourself in premises. That is crazy in my opinion.

just misery and a gradual crushing of their spirits

Ronnie, that describes it perfectly.

x

ComradeJing Sat 19-Nov-11 13:46:23

Oh Alias I am very sorry. sad

Welcome to the FWR section and please keep posting as much as you need to. You're posts are eye opening and I want to print them out and show them to every single man who thinks that purchasing a woman's body is acceptable. I live in China where prostitution is horribly normalised and an ope secret amongst most of the male foreigners here.

Well done for getting out and best wishes.

fridakahlo Sat 19-Nov-11 13:54:40

I did a six month stint at the age of seventeen, working through an agency. I was messed up when I went in and even more messed up when I stopped. It is a horrible industry. I've never had the revulsion towards all men thing but my boundaries are still messed up to this day (something that has only become clear very recently).
It took me a good year to get past the issues it left me with, suicidal feelings. I'd say you will need a lot more time and counselling before you even contemplate another relationship. Well done for getting out.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 15:10:13

I just want to say something about the Nordic Model...
It actually makes women SAFER... And why? Because it leads to far fewer women in prostitution. Prostitution (unwanted sexual contact) itself is actual harm even though there is also a sliding scale on the depth of the punters' violent misogyny.

The pro-prostitution lobby tend to speak of the dwindling number of women still in prostitution in Sweden, who (now that the 'ordinary' punters have been put off from buying women for sex) say that a higher percentage of extremely misogynist freaks are left in the punter-pool. What the pro-prostitution lobby haven't done to make their stats more accurate is to also get information from the vast majority of women who have (through the Nordic approach) been able to exit and find other work, whether they feel safer and less at risk.

In other words if you took a sample of 100 women in prostitution in Sweden before buying sex was made illegal, then asked that same 100 women after, then you would find the vast majority would feel infinately safer having left prostitution.

PlumpDogPillionaire Sat 19-Nov-11 15:18:01

I think everyone feels safer having left prostitution, FoodUnit - there's not much debate about that.
But what's scary about the Swedish model is the danger for women left working on streets.
I know it's been said here that if punteres can find them so can police, but that seems hypothetical compared to the reality of the danger that these women end up in.

Are criticisms of Swedish model really all from pro-prostitution points of view?
Or could these be legitimate concerns for women still working?

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 15:40:23

From most testimonies I've heard, women are at risk whether they have a 'pimp/boyfriend', whether they walk the street by themselves, whether they work for an agency, whether they are in a high-end or low-end brothel. There isn't much you can do to reduce the risk when you are being paid to bring down your defences to allow your body to be used by someone you don't know.

I also think PlumpDog you sort of missed my point. But I want to go on.

I think I actually recall that there are now far fewer women 'on the streets' in places with the Nordic model. There is a move towards far less prostitution, and of those that are left, the trend is that they are tending to move to indoor prostitution... Which of course is not necessarily safer, but is an important point, because the pro-prostitution lobby find the visions of vulnerable women in dodgy alleyways helpful.

But of course it is important to consider that of the punters most attached to prostitution, (to the point they are willing to take the risk of breaking the law to do it) a higher number are freaks, means that of course it is important to have an effective exit strategy to help women and make them feel safe. Nobody wants a pool of vulnerable women to service the sadistic urges of these scumbags.

As for the pro-prostitution lobby - unfortunately, many of the press releases that are sent out apparently from the 'sex-workers themselves' are actually from agency owners. The whole discourse is peppered with the sayings and skewed stats of this vociferous few.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 16:37:12

BTW I just want to clarify the Nordic Model for any people who aren't familiar.
Its basically 4 things:

1) The complete decriminalisation of the people selling sex, including having previous convictions around prostitution wiped from their criminal record.

2) The criminalisation of the 'purchase of sex'.

3) Pro-active provision of comprehensive exit services

4) Awareness raising about the harms of prostitution to create a cultural shift, where it is no longer seen as normal, acceptable and harmless to purchase sex.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 16:51:50

I just wanted to say that to make it clear that it is not a case of 'prostitution is either legal or illegal' - since the Nordic model is about decriminalisation as well as criminalisation.

PlumpDogPillionaire Sat 19-Nov-11 18:01:16

Thank you, FoodUnit.

Do you know what actual steps are taken re. 3) and 4)?

I ask this not as devil's advocate or confrontationally but out of genuine interest.

And I hope you don't mind me asking, OP, as I realise this is well off topic from your original thread. (Should also point out that in my first post on this thread I was not in any way trying to draw a parallel between the experience of prostitution and any other form of work, but was writing in response to what you said about feeling that you were somehow guilty of fuelling misogynistic culture.)

PamBeesly Sat 19-Nov-11 18:14:05

To me, the Swedish model sounds a lot better than what exists in the UK, particularly point 1 and point 3. I wonder what exit services and strategies they have in place. I don't know enough about it to comment. I have done a quick google search but couldn't find information on whether lap dancing clubs are in existence in Sweden.
There is one across the road from where I work (in Ireland) and I read an article suggesting that the Irish government are looking to Sweden to tackle the huge growth in prostitution here. According the the stats its mainly trafficked in women from Africa and Eastern Europe but I know that a lot of Irish women are now working as escorts, the recession has hit a lot of women hard here.
Again alias your posts are so truthful and passionate, I know you can't speak for all women who have worked in prostitution but your own testimony is very powerful. Hope you are feeling better by the way. Hope DD isn't hassling you too much, who can afford everything their kids want for Xmas? Donald Trump perhaps! Come Xmas morning she'll just be excited about what she does have get grin

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 18:50:09

Personally, I do definitely agree with the Nordic Model. Prostitution (and porn too imo) really needs to be acknowledged as wrong. The industry chews up and spits out thousands of girls and women every year, leaving them with mental and physical health problems. The whole foundation is based on complete lies. Of course some women involved will defend the industry whilst they are in it , even I did. They cannot very well turn round and say "well I hate the sex, it feels like rape" - that wouldn't sell when you need the money would it? And more importantly when you are feeling out of control or scared and feeling too worthless to do anything else, you will try to get back some control by claiming that actually you exploit the men etc (no you don't - they have the money and therefore the choice in whether you will get paid or not) and you will be scared to leave and get back into a 'civilian' life. It's like a form of dissociation again - you can't bring yourself to believe that these things are really happening to you and really causing you harm so you will rationalize it and say it's ok. Not unlike a victim of domestic abuse will try to believe that things are ok, because the alternative is too much to bear.

From my experience, I would however question the safety of the women still involved. A lot of the punters are "respectable" and married men who would stop buying sex if it risked their own selves Right now it's legal for them to buy indoors so,bluntly they don't give a fuck about the prostitutes they use and openly gloat about their desperation and try to steal money back or assault because they can without much fear of recrimination - they are anonymous and know that prostitutes will not usually report crimes against them anyway for fear of outing themselves. In 2009 the maid in a brothel in Surrey called 999 to report an armed robbery at the brothel. There were men throwing petrol around threatening to set fire to the place and armed with shotguns. Guess who got arrested and eventually charged? The woman (for being holding the lease of the property and renting it to other prostitutes as well as working herself). The assailants had the case against them dropped shock So this would be a plus for safety if punters were criminalized and prostitutes were free to work from the same premises for their own safety, instead of whoever holding the lease facing a criminal conviction. It's crazy that the only way to sell sex legally in this country is to work for a pimp/agency (then the pimp gets arrested) or work totally alone by yourself with no-one there for safety. Violent punters take great pleasure and advantage of this situation because most know it's not illegal for them to visit, but it would be illegal for the prostitute they are visiting to have security of other people there.

However, some may still be intent on buying sex even if they faced a criminal record, and so may seek out more hidden areas and places or insist the women go alone to the punter's own premises, trying to avoid being caught, and the women going with them would end up more isolated. This could be avoided by heavily encouraging those women still involved in prostitution to be sure to have someone else with them at all times as well as following existing safety procedures. The 'presence' of a friend making their presence known in the next room of my working flat saved my life I believe on a couple of occasions - once when I was being strangled so couldn't call out for help, the attacker heard my escort friend dropping a hairdryer and he let me go and fled, nearly bringing the door with him. Numerous other times the 'noise' of someone (could be a bouncer for all they knew) in the next room, averted people who I could tell were gearing up for forcing things I didn't offer like anal , or stealing money. Educating those not ready to exit about always making sure they have security in place would greatly reduce the prospect of serious life-threatening dangers I believe, but obviously not stop the terrible psychological harms of the industry. We need the Nordic/Swedish model for that.

I think a huge focus on exiting would be helpful too if the Nordic Model was introduced.

I needed counselling, budgeting advice, financial/welfare advice, confidence-building just to enable me to feel worthy enough to apply for jobs, healthcare advice.
Many people exiting also need in addition to the above substance abuse treatment before they can even dream of exiting, domestic abuse support, and housing advice.
The help I received from the centre was so needed. Just to have someone encouraging you to just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving with the care plan and steps needed to get everything in place, to say "yes you will get through this" and advocate for me when I was feeling too worthless to do it for myself. It is short-staffed and under-funded, especially for indoor worker services which are usually separate from street worker services.

PlumpDogPillionaire Sat 19-Nov-11 19:08:01

Well, FWIW, alias (and in case you were unaware?), you have an extraordinarily persuasive, polished and quite elegant writing style - head and shoulders above most of the postgraduate pen pushers I meet on a daily basis.
I guess you must know that - people who write very well generally do, but I just thought it was worth pointing out anyway.
Interesting last post, too. smile

nursenic Sat 19-Nov-11 19:15:52

Aliasforthis-

Get your life story out there.

Re guilt- your choices were not made from a position of having true freedom of choice. it is this lack of freedom of choice that the sex industry feeds off of.

There are local charities that help support women in your position; google to see what is available. Even online support with one is valuable if yopur geographical area does not run groups.

Support other women unconditionally. Empowerment comes via empowering others. Even something as 'small' as combining financial resources to buy food/household goods in bulk will begin to address the economic imbalance endured by so many women heading up families.

I send you love and light.

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 19:26:01

PlumpDog Don't worry about your post re- my guilt at fueling misogyny and infidelity. I understood how you actually meant it x

I used to be very adept at writing at high school, and even won a few awards grin. Although I feel that now I'm less concise and my spelling and over-use of brackets and "," is actually worse now! I think I ramble on without much structure, but thanks very much [flowers].

This may be a crazy thought, but I cannot believe how much the negative attitudes I constantly encountered when 'working' have seeped into my brain. I used to get clients telling me a lot that either a) they had 'chosen' me because I sounded educated, not like 'those' other skanks - that used to really rile me because 'those' other skanks were my friends, but I couldn't defend them or that would anger the customer.Also because they always just said it to either make themselves feel better about what they were doing or thinking if they paid a compliment I'd lap it up and always followed a request for things they knew weren't on offer.

or b) Openly insulting the way I'd written my ads, picking at my grammar, saying things like "Stick to the day job, you won't make anything of yourself anywhere else" or one memorable one "I was going to offer you a job working for my company but you're clearly not intelligent enough" (before storming out because I'd disagreed with him/ challenged him)

That is crazy that even when someone leaves a nice comment, my mind still goes back to those situations!

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 19:27:35

NurseNic Thanks so much [flowers]

Not sure what you mean by

"Even something as 'small' as combining financial resources to buy food/household goods in bulk will begin to address the economic imbalance endured by so many women heading up families"

? x

PamBeesly Sat 19-Nov-11 19:32:34

alias I didn't want to say it before because I thought you might have thought I was patronisnig but glad plump brought it up. Your writing is so very easy to read, you write in a very clear and accessible way, you don't try to be clever and that comes across. Never mind those bastards who picked apart your 'grammar' it was just another way they tried to demean you.
FWIW I'm so glad this thread is a friendlier and more supportive one than that one in relationships.

nursenic Sat 19-Nov-11 19:36:15

Well, one of the concerns we had (my group of female friends) is how you can maximise your income when so many transactions are based upon sheer buying power. For example, the larger the amount of, say wash powder, you buy, the cheaper it is.
I have friends who have less income so we all combine together to buy the largest amounts of basic domestic food and household items in order to obtan discounts for those who would otherwise find them out of reach.

We do it in different ways- sometimes as simple as sharing a large box of satsumas from the market because 1) cheaper in bulk, and 2) too many for just one family especially when its a single parent with 1 child. They cannot eat 60 satsumas b4 they go off.

We also continually lobby our MP, fuel and other companies to not limit their discounts to those on direct debits as this discriminates against people on 'baqsic' bank accounts who cannot have direct debits. Also discounts for people paying in advance etc discriminate against those needing them the most.

Just a tiny tiny idea. But economic imbalance lies at the heart of female disempowerment.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 19:50:26

Re Sweden. I'm relying on memory here. Re exit services they did a good job, but feel they could do better - they haven't been allocated enough money (this info maybe out of date now?) With the awareness raising campaign they had massive success, with the majority of people prior to it thinking that prostitution is not harmful to the overwhelming majority now believing that it is. I remember hearing they did an ad campaign where they photographs of 'punters' (actors/models) coupled with information that the law had changed.

Also, it is imperative to have point 2 - criminalising punters - otherwise how can you have exit services? (if there's nothing wrong in buying sex - why would anyone need to exit?) And how can you have awareness raising about the harms, but still allowing it to go ahead?

As for total decriminalisation (including purchasing)- that is just giving a green light to all the exploiters out there... You can't even get any stats that way.. for example in NZ the police have only vague info, because they have no reason to monitor or gather information.

xNinja Sat 19-Nov-11 19:56:11

Hello Alias, I am so sorry for what you have been through. I have been googling around these 'review sites' today and I wish I hadn't. Came across a site called ukpunting dot com I cried reading it. What sort of world are we bringing our children into? There are some really really awful men out there.

Be gentle with yourself.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 20:13:58

Sorry - I completely forgot to say blush - is that the whole point of point 2) criminalising the purchase of sex, is to criminalise the demand.

Basically, the problem if you completely decriminalise prostitution (including purchasing) whilst offering exit services, is that there will be as many new women, children and men being duped, trafficked, coerced, pimped and manipulated into prostitution as you are able to support to exit, because the punters and pimps will always need new women, children and men to meet that demand that has not been tackled.

Even worse than that, is that complete decriminalisation/legalisation where it has occured serves as a green light to pimps, traffickers and punters, who see that area as a soft touch, and demand actually increases sad

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 20:21:18

NurseNic - ahh, I see now! What great ideas! I don't have a car anymore so can't carry bulk-buy stuff, have a basic bank account and also extortionate pre-pay meters for utilities. I will ask around some equally skint friends to see if we can buy some things in bulk and share them x

FoodUnit Yes, that is so true. I remember people on a thread somewhere who were maintaining that prostitution/porn is just like any other manual labour/service industry job. Even some men (not male sex workers) were chirping in and agreeing with that theory. Then someone said "but in other jobs you don't need specialized support on par with a 12-step program to help you leave the job, do you?" That was such an eye-opener.

xNinja That's the site I was talking about earlier and the one I'd like to see shut down. Makes me cry too, and if not illegal to condone some of the things they condone and some of it reads like gender hate-crime against women, then it should be! Unfortunately the attitudes on there are quite common amongst those who buy sex, although most don't have the time to dedicate as much to it as they do on there. It's disgusting, enough to make any sane/nice person's stomach turn and question humanity. By the way, I think Dittany said on another thread not to write the actual name of those sites, jumble the words up it up a bit or something or use a nickname because they google themselves then come on here to spread bile.

xNinja Sat 19-Nov-11 20:44:58

Sadly I don't think a forum like that can be shut down by legal means :-(
I had not read Dittany saying about scrambling the URL's but I have to say I don't agree. Let them come. They are like child sex offenders or drug addicts in so far as while they are all together in a group like that they fool themselves into thinking that their beliefs and attitudes are normal and they start to think that the majority of men are actually like them.

I find them repulsive, soul-less and abnormal. I'd doing everything possible to avoid coming into contact with one of those people offline and I'd be devastated if one of my sons even showed the slightest inclination of sharing those views. Not that he ever would.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 20:55:12

Oh no! Please don't! I've fought too much with their hateful BS. This MN thread is a place of refuge from their harassment and abuse. If you want to fight - please follow where they go, but hang with us here in peace.

I believe a lot more good can be done by giving Alias a safe space - well giving all of us as safe space- to work through our feelings and decide where we want to focus our energies, rather than letting them set the agenda by putting us on the defensive. Since that is why they do it.

nursenic Sat 19-Nov-11 21:42:19

Alias-

If you have utilities with Npower or wish to swap and are on benefits, and/or have a young child or a disability or are elderly they have a scheme whereby you get at least £100 off of gas and off of electricity. I think it might be even more money than that now as those amounts apply to couple of yrs ago.

You need to ask about these schemes- other companies offer them too.

Would it not be possible for all of us posters here to deluge those horrid sites with evaluative posts regarding the size of their dicks, brains and consciences?

I'm being serious. Let's thread-bomb them.

nursenic Sat 19-Nov-11 21:44:01

I do see where you are coming from, Foodunit, but it's so tempting to thread bomb them.

I respect the need for this safe space. I just wanted to pose the suggestion?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

xNinja Sat 19-Nov-11 21:50:44

I'm of the mind that there is no 'safe space' in life. I follow the lets all go and fucking twat'em mode of operating. I'll take anyone on after a shandy.

smile

xNinja Sat 19-Nov-11 21:51:49

Come on who's up for a u.k.p.u.n.t.i.n.g com mash up.?

xNinja Sat 19-Nov-11 21:52:23

Tomorrow night 6pm, get registering now! Bring your knuckle dusters

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FoodUnit Sat 19-Nov-11 22:22:18

Ha ha.. I know the feeling - but believe me there are some battered misogynists on the net after I've royally twatted them.. but you know what? It makes your arms ache ;)

The problem is that there are huge numbers of deeply misogynist, porn-addicted, socially disadvantaged computer geeks with way too much time on their hands. The one way you really piss them off, is by threatening to take away their porn.
Although there are loads of women (& men I hope) who are of our thinking, they are generally too busy living and fighting the status quo to engage in these circular battles for 'freedom of (hate)speech' to which it inevitably ends up on a good day.
They seem to have endless time with one window open on misogynist porn, and the other with a thread where they vent their hatred towards women/feminists... that's how they get off.... and I don't want to get slimed by the f*cked-up freaks!

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 23:15:28

My friend who still escorts joined up a while ago to defend herself after a hideous 'review' and got dealt a barrage of abuse. It wasn't pretty. They generally just ban people who disagree with their general consensus/agenda anyway.

There are posts on there instructing others on how to 'cum' in a prostitute's mouth when she clearly does not offer that 'service' , and pretend it is accidental! There are also whole threads dedicated to tearing apart some poor women - using the most disgusting language. They also seem to hate mothers with a passion and go on about how their vaginas are 'unsatisfactory' and 'disappointing'. Apparently mothers who are prostitutes should have their ovaries removed angry

It is probably really not good for the mental health to even go on there at all. For anyone. Although I occasionally do for some reason unbenownst to myself - I think it's because I know it's there iyswim? And I'm always wondering if I can pick up something which actually is bad enough to warrant it being shut down - but the site owner usually deletes the really bad/criminal stuff before he can get in trouble. (surely something like condoning seeing trafficked women or admitting something criminal would be enough for someone somewhere - the 'internet police' to take action?)

I don't think it's a good idea to thread bomb tempting as it is - they will just delete everything and anyone they believe doesn't fit in with their 'ethos'.

I have to remind myself every day that the majority of people do not think things that they think. I mean, around 70% of punters I met in person actually did exhibit these traits of hating women (no lie) and were generally thoroughly unpleasant, the other 30% who were not unpleasant or pushy etc were misguided by the media I think and 'trying it out' never to return again. But I need to keep reminding myself that there must must must be a huge percentage of the population (and a significant percentage of men) who DO NOT think prostitution/porn is ok. That was the point of my other thread - trying to hammer that into my head that I [i]can[/i] trust in the decency and humanity of people. Probably I should never look on sites like that again as they are triggers for me. But it's hard to know whether to ignore it for the sake of my own sanity or to fight it. Maybe what is needed is for people who oppose the sex industry, particularly those who have lived it, to lobby for the legal side to change and to show the general public, who have been fed belle du jour fantasies, the grim reality. Perhaps that would be a better idea, as hopefully it would eventually deprive these 'punters' of their entitlement to buy women's bodies who are in a position of relying on their 'buying power' and therefore subjected to an awful lot mentally and physically. And their smugness that their 'hobby' entitlement is in fact currently legal (for them) and anonymous.

aliasforthis2 Sat 19-Nov-11 23:23:15

NurseNic - That is a good suggestion, but I ran up considerable debts on my quarterly bills with Scottish Power when I exited as I had little money. So they fitted pre-payment meters under some warrant order and now legally I have to stay with them until the debts on each are under £200. I'm paying out about £10 a week in debts so that will be quite a while! I was happy to read in the papers the other day though that the gas/elec suppliers are going to be forced to do something for those on low incomes. Although only read the headlines, not the full stories! x

thunderboltsandlightning Sun 20-Nov-11 12:32:40

"Maybe what is needed is for people who oppose the sex industry, particularly those who have lived it, to lobby for the legal side to change and to show the general public, who have been fed belle du jour fantasies, the grim reality."

I'd agree with this. I don't see the point of going to other forums from here to attack apart from attempting to start a forum war, which takes the focus off what is important, which is marginalising, criminalising and stigmatising the men who use women in prostitution.

FoodUnit Sun 20-Nov-11 13:22:36

re- visiting these misogynist 'review' sites. I think its best for women to not visit them. Even though I haven't worked in the sex industry, I find it triggering too. Imo it is a job for the 'pro-feminist men' who have difficulty finding a way to help the women's movement without getting in the way, hogging the limelight, ordering women around or taking women's opportunities. Then again they might start seeing themselves as rescuing women and playing the hero which isn't helpful either.
Maybe it is something women should only do together in small groups to support one-another?

nursenic Sun 20-Nov-11 13:38:56

Even with pre payment meters you are entitled to have money knocked off your debt if you qualify under the criteria. That is what my dear friend did and she is on pre payment.
Good luck.

aliasforthis2 Sun 20-Nov-11 15:33:27

Nursenic - Yay! I will look into it x

FoodUnit Sun 20-Nov-11 15:37:14

re- visiting these misogynist 'review' sites. I think its best for women to not visit them. Even though I haven't worked in the sex industry, I find it triggering too. Imo it is a job for the 'pro-feminist men' who have difficulty finding a way to help the women's movement without getting in the way, hogging the limelight, ordering women around or taking women's opportunities. Then again they might start seeing themselves as rescuing women and playing the hero which isn't helpful either.
Maybe it is something women should only do together in small groups to support one-another?

FoodUnit Sun 20-Nov-11 18:08:16

Sorry about the double post... Smartphone nonsense

PlumpDogPillionaire Sun 20-Nov-11 18:20:49

Just dropped back in for a quick mo... but a thread blitz sounds like a good idea to me. wink

MrsClown Mon 21-Nov-11 14:13:04

Alias, welcome. Thank you so much for your posts. You have no idea how good your timing is. I am doing a talk in the not too distant future to a young women's centre re the normalisation of the sex trade. You have given me some brilliant additions.

janeid10 Fri 08-Feb-13 17:42:00

Looks like that horrible website ukpunting has got its nemesis.

anonnews.org/forum/post/10814

Please contact crimestoppers to help these women.

www.crimestoppers-uk.org/

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