A 2019 report into prostitution and sex work in the UK found that a substantial proportion of women who sell sex are doing it to get by financially. The report adds that ‘many find that the longer they sell sex, the harder it can be to leave completely’ and that many women ‘are subject to acute exploitation and serious and sustained harm.’
The level and risk of physical harm may depend on where women sell sex and what safety measures they have in place, but even if they escape physical violence, many women who’ve exited the sex industry talk about the harm done to them on the inside: “Mentally, your identity is messed with, you get another name, you become another person in prostitution. You shift from real to fake you. I was disassociated from reality. I had PTSD, I walked around as if in a dream.” – Jade
Jacqueline Lynne was sexually abused by her stepfather as a child and eventually entered the sex industry. “I left the room with money in my hand. I thought that was ‘easy’ money. At least I didn’t have to pretend I was in love. I was not trapped in an ongoing abusive relationship, or so I thought.” According to Manuela Schon, this isn’t unusual: “It’s a re-occurring motive for female survivors of violence to get a feeling of empowerment out of prostitution – with the mentality of ‘since men take what they want from me anyway, I’m going to exercise some degree of power and at least make them pay for it.” But, she says, “the feeling of empowerment or agency is an illusion. An illusion, which needs to be kept alive against all odds, in order to survive the everyday reality of prostitution.”
If you’re involved in the adult industry but looking for a way out, we can offer you support. Just contact us on tel: 07393 916650 to arrange a confidential meeting or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, we can offer support over the phone rather than face to face. Alternatively, you could get in touch with Beyond The Streets. They run a call-back support service so if you call them and leave a name and number they’ll phone you back when the office is staffed, and you can go on to arrange further phone calls with them if helpful. They’re based in Southampton but offer this service nationwide. Just click here for more information.
If childhood sexual abuse is part of your story, it’s not too late to get support and counselling. Savana is a local organization offering just this kind of help. You can contact them directly on tel: 01782 433205 / 01782 433204 or we can make that first approach with you if you’d find it difficult to do it alone. National organisations like NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood) and The Survivors Trust also have resources and helplines. For more information visit www.napac.org.uk and www.thesurvivorstrust.org