Monday, August 16, 2010
At no time is anything written based on an outsiders viewpoint. All stories and writings are from personal experience of a wide range of sex workers and are looked at by the critical eye of another sex worker in order to ensure that denial is not clouding the writing.
We are totally free in this book to tell the whole reality of the sex business for the first time anywhere to our knowledge because we do not have an "agenda" like most other books on the sex industry include. We arent worried about losing an audience, dropping sales, affecting the laws surrounding prostitution, or offending anyone.
Let's put it another way: if you ask a drug addict in active addiction about what drug use is like you will hear one answer. However, talk to that same addict when they have a few years of complete abstinence from all drugs and you will hear them speak from a completely different perspective. So while those reading this book who are still in the sex industry may not agree or relate to what we write here - we do feel that those who are in recovery from the sex industry will.
For that reason we feel that not only is this the only book we know of in the world to talk about how to recover from the sex industry - but we feel it is also the most honest book published about what being in the sex industry was like from our experiences.
Since this book is being written from a totally fresh and innovative perspective even the most seasoned pro may need take some time to fully understand some of the concepts we present. We have tried to explain everything from square one in the hopes of making it more easily understood. However, explaining a sunset to a blind man is very difficult as is trying to help someone in the sex industry understand how life is on the "outside". Honestly, some of what is in this book may take years in recovery to truly comprehend because we are talking about not just quitting sex work here - but about learning a new way to live.
We cant stress enough that for members of Prostitutes Anonymous, the true villain is not the sex industry. Our pain does not lie in the job we perform. If it did, simply changing jobs would solve those problems. Prostitutes Anonymous has no opinion about legalization, decriminalization, structure, content, clients, or the sex industry itself. Our purpose is not to condemn, condone or even comment on the sex industry itself.
This book is our attempt to not only show what our lie was, but to share our recovery with others. Very few people who escape the sex industry even reveal their past to others - let alone share about what life is like for them now. Because we hardly see or talk to anyone who has quit - sex work seems to be a helpless and hopeless way of life. Even more so for those in denial. For those in the grips of this disease, it leaves them often feeling death is better than the pain of leaving the sex industry.
Most of society, and even some sex workers themselves, think that being in this "life" is a moral issue, or will argue that prostitutes are only in this for sex, money or drugs. But they are not responsible for these misguided and incorrect viewpoints because the truth is not as "marketable" as the sex industry itself is.
Compare it if you will to the tobacco industry some years ago before the public started insisting on the truth about smoking to be made public. Consider how tobacco executives testified in front of congress that smoking was "not addictive" and "not responsible" for the deaths of millions from diseases like lung cancer even when the discovery of internal memos proved they knew these statements to be false. They lied because they had the sales of their product and their jobs on the line. This is no different than the marketers of the sex industry are doing to encourage customers to buy their products, and to attract men and women in to produce the products and services they sell. It is also no different for the smoker who lights up and tells himself that none of these facts are going to affect him. He feels he is "different" or "immune" from the negative effects of smoking he hears about just as sex workers convince themselves.
This is no different than the prostitutes own denial which prevents them from understanding the true nature of the beast. They tell their counselors that their childhood is responsible for their actions. They tell the prisons their lack of education is what put them behind bars. Parents are pointed to the money that is made and asked to accept it as a respectable profession. Tricks are told that they love sex with strange men on a daily basis, that we just "cant get enough". Drug treatment centers hear drug addiction as being responsible for the acts of prostitution. They may even tell themselves they are truly happy in this business for quite a few years before the reality comes crashing in.
Others may convince themselves they are also "immune" from things like HIV, serial killers, rape, violence, being arrested, losing their children because of working in the sex industry, or finding themselves forced into sex trafficking against their will.
All the while, personalities and problems are blamed for being in prostitution, never the real underlying reason. This is done in an attempt to fool ourselves into thinking that once we get clean, once we find the perfect relationship, or once we get that perfect job - we will just step out of prostitution like an old skin never to return. But all these outside solutions have failed for us.
Even once we accept the risks that exist in the sex industry - it is the obsession of every prostitute that we can control and manage our disease. We all tell ourselves one more time or this time things are different, Ill never do it after tonight, "once I save enough money (or get my degree), I am quitting forever", or the famous I know what I am doing. The illusion of how things will be alright once I (fill in the blank) haunts each and every one of us, and keeps placing us in more and more unmanageable positions.
How can we call this a "disease"? Because no matter what we tell ourselves about when we do or have (fill in the blank_________) we will quit forever - we quickly find ourselves going right back into the sex industry.
We use the word "disease" the same as a person who can not control his use of alcohol calls himself a person with the disease of alcoholism. The alcohol itself is not the disease or the cause of the disease. Alcoholism is a disease that some people have which is fatal and incurable. It's only treatment is to put their disease into remission through abstinence from all alcohol and involving themselves in a recovery process for the rest of their lives.
The same is true for us. The sex industry is not our disease. What is our disease is our relationship to it, the way we go back to it thinking it is a solution to our problems when in reality it is causing the problems. The distorted thinking we have in common with any addict which causes us to lose touch with reality and go against our natural survival instinct to a path of destruction. The way it makes us think friends are enemies, enemies are friends, truth is lies, lies are truth, and the way out is only the road further down the rabbit hole. What we have is a disease of perception.
Some ask us if there is a difference between being addicted to the sex industry and being a sex addict, sex and love addict, or sexual compulsive. First of all, most sex industry addicts report they get no sexual satisfaction out of their job. That in fact they even emotionally and/or physically "disconnect" so they feel nothing. That is not what a sex addict reports as their experience in their active addiction. Sex addicts report a "high" from the act - but for us we do not receive pleasure, let alone a "high" feeling.
However, like any addict, sometimes we act out in more than one way. Just as an alcoholic may also be a compulsive gambler - there are some sex workers who do report being sex addicts. Some sex workers describe substituting into sex addiction when they quit working in the sex industry. Others may feel nothing with their clients - but go on the prowl after work to find their sexual fix. Some may not experience sexual addiction with anyone else but their pimps to whom they will jump through any hoop to be with.
Then again, some come into recovery exhibiting only one form of acting out - only to substitute into another form while trying to be abstinent from what they first came into recovery to stop. So yes, some may suffer from more than one form of this disease. We may come into recovery with only one form of acting out - only to be deceived into thinking we are doing well on one hand while developing a new form of acting out on another. Denial is a very dangerous thing - and can be experienced even during abstinence from whatever one feels their "drug of choice" is.
But to be specific about the definition of our first step - no we do not believe sex is what we are powerless over. To understand this - think of how many forms of the sex industry do not involve actual intercourse or even physical contact with another person. You could be sitting behind a webcam putting on live shows for your clients which involves no physical contact or even sexual simulations for that matter, and still be hopelessly addicted to the sex industry. With the increase in pornography - you might only be having pictures or videos taken of you by yourself where you experience no sexual feelings doing this whatsoever - and still be addicted to the sex industry and everything else that goes along with it.
Nor is this fellowship for everyone that has worked in the sex industry who decides they want to quit. Prostitutes Anonymous is a 12-Step fellowship of men and women who have become hopelessly addicted to everything about the sex industry and find that any methods they have tried in the past to quit, and to find recovery, have not been sufficient or lasting.
Why do we say you may have successfully quit sex work and still find you need help from us? Because history has shown us sex workers may get "legit" jobs - but find they are still living the life of a prostitute. There are lots of ways to feel, and be treated like, a prostitute without "turning a trick". For some of us - this is like how an alcoholic may stop drinking, but may act out as a "dry drunk" and find their lives still as, if not more, unmanageable, sober. There are those of us who quit the sex industry - but find the feelings and situations which make them feel just as bad and/or powerless as they did when they were in the sex industry is continuing, or maybe even progressing to a more acute level.
Others among us find no matter how hard they try to quit and how determined they are never to return - some crisis or opportunity keeps coming up where they feel their returning to the sex industry is the only answer. They may have quit - but find when things get "tough" they return. This is like the alcoholic who can stay sober for years on end - but can't seem to find everlasting and evolving recovery from their disease because for every step forward, there's two steps backwards.
No matter what pattern may fit our story, if you are like "us", the sex industry is like a spider web you just can't seem to find lasting release from on any level: physical, mental or spiritual.
Such is the nature of our disease.