Search This Blog

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ATTACK UPON SEX WORKERS ANONYMOUS

Some of you may have been witnessing this attack, but for those who haven't - you can go and check out www.sexworkersanonymous.org  This is a website set up by a woman claiming to be a dominatrix calling herself Domina Elle professionally.  The threats that we received was that this assault upon us, our websites, and our hotlines, was going to continue until I "took them down".  I wondered when that was going to start.  Our very program has been under attack for a while now.  It's taken me a while to figure out why - but I think I have some pieces by now.  So let's start at the beginning.

Back prior to 1999 - our program was called "Prostitutes Anonymous".  Prior to 1995, the FCC used to require media to run free public service announcements and free cable programming.  So we used to have a weekly show on cable in Los Angeles where we'd interview different members of PA as we were called then, male, female and transgender.  There was a cable station there where film students used to get film credit for producing the show.  One of our original members, Jaime Jameson, even wrote the theme song we used to open and close with.  Sometimes we'd hold a meeting too - and state that this was a "mock" meeting as we didn't allow cameras into "real" meetings. 

Frances Nuyen, from Star Trek and the Joy Luck Club, used to have a public service announcement she'd run for us.  It was simple - saying "if you want help to get out of the sex industry - you can call us at . . . ".  That used to run on TV stations that we'd given copies of the tapes to (this was in analog days before digital).  So how we used to do it was duplicate a tape and then send it to the station.  Then when they had open slots at 3:00 a.m. they'd run the commercial.  Then people would call our hotline for help.

We had a chapter of our program in just about every major city because of this by 1999.  Because no one ever had any money - we'd always meet at either a Salvation Army or a Catholic Charities.  They always had women there who wanted to attend also.  So we'd have people coming in from the outside, and coming from the inside also.  One doesn't need a special court or program or judge or even an attorney to ask the judge when being sentenced if they will consider an "alternative" sentence.  Meaning all you have to do, even if you're up on a sentence that carries a mandatory jail term, is ask the judge if you can come to our program instead of going to jail.  The judge may or ma not then agree.  So far, as far as I know, each time someone has asked the judge has granted the option.  Now sometimes the judge has required a residential program.  This is where we were able to connect them up to programs like the Mary Magdalene, or Dignity, or other programs that offer residential options.  But with a few phone calls we were always able to find a bed somewhere that would satisfy the judge so that the person didn't have to go to jail.

This was a time mind you before programs like Project Rose, or the NY Trafficking Network, or other special court programs that have been set up.  We started these programs in 1987. So from about 1987 until about early 2000 - we had a pretty big jamming program going.  People would call the hotline so that local members could maintain their anonymity.  I'd refer them to the local chapter for assistance.  Then the local chapter would take care of whatever needed to be handled.  If they needed more help with something - they'd call me for say if they needed to find a residential placement or if they needed a place to get free drug treatment.  I've been maintaining a list of people who do things like offer free drug treatment, or scholarships to those who want to leave the sex industry, not just trafficking victims, but those who want to leave the sex industry.  Working together between us and the local chapter - we were always able to help the individual member with whatever the needs were. 

I had my stroke in July of 2000. I believe it's because of what happened about January of 2000.  My phone went off the wall.  Chapters were telling me they were getting "pink slipped".  The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities had told them they couldn't hold meetings there any longer.  Now mind you we had been holding meetings there not just because they were free - but also because no one else wanted us.  When we would try and find a meeting hall at other churches we used to be quite rudely turned away.  Conference meeting rooms wouldn't donate either.  They said it was "bad for business" if "word got out hookers were meeting in their rooms" or they were worried about "liability" if a "bunch of hookers were on their property". 

So here I am running my own chapter in Las Vegas where I'm also having to sometimes drive up to the brothels to pick someone up who is hours of a drive away, I'm working my own full-time business and I'm married, have my daughter who was young then, and also taking care of my elderly mother and grandmother who neither could drive any longer.  Meaning I'm having to also do their shopping, and take them to their doctor's appointments on top of everything else.  My husband couldn't do it because they hated each other and I couldn't subject him to that kind of torture. 

Now I'm having to try and find new meeting spaces for chapters all over the country.  I remember that in Chicago Genesis House was our meeting space there and they just shut down.  The meeting transferred over to the Hay Market Homeless Shelter.  Dignity stayed Dignity so they were okay.  In Los Angeles I think the meeting moved to a counseling center where the secretary worked with sex addicts.  It's a blur because I was working days on end with no sleep.  Which had me on the phone 20 hours a day, which caused the blood clots, which caused the stroke that almost killed me in July of 2000. 

There's a lot that's a blur back then but I remember my now ex-husband blamed the program for the stroke.  I had asked him to please answer the hotline while I was in ICU.  He did for a few weeks and then he ripped it out of the wall after telling someone that I had "died".  That rumor spread and many people thinking I was dead just left the program.  Others rallied to keep things going thinking I had really died. 

When I got out of the hospital and saw the phone having been ripped out of the wall - I had the repairman come out and fix it.  After plugging it back in - I spoke to two mothers who told me their daughters had committed suicide after not being able to reach us.  This was now the second time I'd had the phone go down and found that when people couldn't reach us they'd opted out.  Remember, there was no Polaris hotline yet - that wasn't until 2002. 

I had to let the program fend for itself for a while.  I answered the calls and told the members that they'd have to figure out things "on their own" with me as sick as I was.  I was on heavy blood thinners, and steroids, and antibiotics - it was really touch and go there for a while.  They were talking about taking my leg off for a while.  The blood clots were so many and so big that the blood wasn't moving through my leg.  It was trapped in my ankle and then getting infected.  So I kept having to have it hung up over my head and massaged to bring it back down, and be on the antibiotics, and the steroids, and the blood thinners weren't dissolving the clots. 

So I had to focus on my health.  I went on an all natural diet.  I went on the herbs and the supplements and applied electricity to my leg, and prayed, and all that good stuff - and I did have a miraculous healing.  The clots just dissolved one day.  Then slowly I had to start on physical rehabilitation from what I'd gone through.  Which means there is some missing time there. 

When I came back around I started checking up on the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities to find out what had happened.  Our program was successful and effective - so it made no sense at all why we had been booted out.  When I went to talk to people however, the warm friendly relationship we used to have with these people was gone.  I had a few people who really still liked us that send me copies of some grant applications.  When I asked what this was about - they told me to "read".  These grant applications basically were asking for federal money to pay for people to do what we'd been doing already for free - or "monetizing" our work if you will.  Because here's the ironic part - it was me stepping up on that first talk show stage in 1987 to speak about sex trafficking being real that made the Trafficking Act of 2000 pass.  That federal recognition meant there was now money available to work with these victims. 

I thought at first - great.  Maybe we can get our people back in there getting paid for the work we'd been doing for years for free because there had been no money available before.  No dice.  They refused to have anyone who had anything to do with SWA back in there. That of course also confused me until one of our members went to work for one of these programs that didn't know she was one of our members.  She sent me their training manual.  In this training manual it stated that on one hand they might have "trafficking victims" there - but they were to consider working at a strip club or a massage parlor a "lifestyle choice" and not to say or do anything. 

This woman also worked at the domestic violence shelter.  She told me the same rule applied there  If a woman was in the shelter because of say a violent pimp, that the staff was not to say anything to her about going to work at the local strip club might not be a good idea.  Now I don't think it's the strip club in itself that's a bad idea.  What is a bad idea is that people in the strip club will spread the word where she is in five minutes to a pimp because it's all connected.  So she tells me the reason why she believes they don't want us in there working with these women, but instead people they've "paid and trained to do their job" that they can of course threaten to fire if they don't do as they're told - is because we'd tell these women that working in a strip club is (1) not going to help your sobriety, (2) not going to help you get away from the pimp, (3) not going to help your depression, (4) not going to provide you with a stable income that you can then go out and provide a stable living environment for your children.  Not if you're in the shelter working at a strip club it's not.

Then she comes and tells me "there's more".  That they've been told they can't refer these women to anyone except someone who is in the "Freedom Registry".  I'm like "what's that?"  I've never heard of them.  http://www.ungift.org/knowledgehub/stories/april2012/the-freedom-registry-launches-in-us.html  She doesn't know either but tells me they've been told they can't refer the women to anyone who isn't in that directory.  Okay - simple.  I'll go and get listed in the directory.  Which I did.  I went and logged in and got us listed.  Then I went back to these agencies and said "okay you can refer clients back to us now" only they continued to refuse. 

Something else clearly must be going on.  So I nosed around this "Freedom Registry" some more.  To be told that agencies in this directory have signed an "abortion" agreement.  Meaning that they will not refer anyone to any doctor, therapist, office, program, etc., that "supports" abortion.  I don't understand however as we don't "support" abortion.  I go to one woman I found in the directory I knew who was in their directory and asked her "what is this about - I'm not pro-abortion - why am I being excluded here?"  She says "would you block the door and physically restrain a woman from having an abortion?"

"How can I?"  I don't have control over every member of our program.  I don't even know every member of our program.  I'm also not a doctor.  I can't make medical decisions like this.  What if someone's life depended upon having the procedure done?  Isn't that for a doctor to decide?  I mean we have chapters in Canada, Russia, France, and all over the country.  I don't even know 90 percent o our members because they only attend the local meetings.  So how am I supposed to be getting involved in a decision like this?  She said "that's the problem". 

Then I said "let me get this straight - you're telling me that you agreed to do this in exchange for funding even if you think the woman medically needs to see a doctor who might also do abortions?"  Well of course she terminated the conversation with me after that and hasn't spoken to me since - but I got the point of the conversation. 

After digging around I learned that the Catholic Bishops had gone to programs that work with prostitutes and offered them "case management" money if they agreed to not let the women see licensed therapists, or doctors who might even speak about birth control, not just abortion.  That these "safe houses" were now also offering "adoptions".  Jeez shades of the single mothers' homes my grandmother told me used to be here in the states before abortion was legal.  She went to one after she got raped in 1940.  No one believed she was raped and she wasn't going to marry her rapist - so she hitch hiked from Missouri to San Diego to have what was my uncle.  So you know what?  I'm personally not for abortion obviously. 

What I am against is women being controlled.  So I went to some attorney's because these groups are also taking federal money and it's my understanding you aren't supposed to mix "church and state".  Nor discriminate if you take federal money.  These same programs are refusing to help men, lesbians, transgenders, the Jewish victims, Buddhist victims, etc.  Because that's also what's starting to happen.  I'm getting phone calls from prostitutes who are gay, lesbian, transgender, Jewish, Buddhist, who are telling me they've just been kicked out of these programs.  Only no attorney wants to go up against the Catholic Church.

So I started writing the ACLU.  This followed - https://www.aclu.org/news/court-prohibits-religious-restrictions-government-funded-trafficking-victims-program 

I also couldn't understand how they were getting funding without having 12 step meetings as part of their program.  It's one of the reasons I chose a 12 step program - because it already had laws in place to allow it to be a form of "alternative" sentencing and could even be brought into the jails.  Many types of programs can't get funding or licensing without a 12 step program - so how are they doing this? 

That's when I start hearing they are holding our meetings - just not only not telling me, not registering the meeting, but also doing it however they want to do it.  For one thing, our 1st step is NOT over prostitution or the sex industry.  We do not condemn the sex industry as that's an "opinion on an outside issue".  But I'm hearing these meetings are blaming the industry and saying IT's the problem - not our decisions, nor our choices, not the way we are living our lives.  That's not our program and therefore a violation of our trademarks and copyrights. 

For a few years these programs kept denying they were holding our meetings, using our name, and using our literature.  Then more and more people came forward to tell me they were attending these meetings.  Only the minute they would - they were either getting threatened or offered a job with these people.  Carrot or the stick.  So clearly I can't file for trademark and copyright infringement based on the witness's because they're all being backed down - so I had to wait until I had black and white proof they were holding these meetings.  Which came.  So I served them with the "cease and desist" notice.  Rather than simply register the meetings, use our literature in whole the way it was written, and apply our program the way it was designed - they folded.  Programs like Project Rose just folded.  I had a woman come back and tell me that after they got the "cease and desist" letter - Project Rose had folded, the Prostitutes Anonymous meeting had folded, and it was done.

So she can gear up now to start a "real" meeting again in Phoenix right?  She started to.  One of our early members who came to us in 1989, and now is a professor actually, said she wanted to start back up one of our meetings "just like she had" when she was new.  Especially for her Hispanic sisters.  So she started passing out flyers, and putting up posters - only strange things started happening.  She came home from putting up posters to find someone had opened up the gate to her house and left a gas can sitting on her porch.  When she went into the house - the flyers for the meetings were gone off her kitchen table.  She went out and had more flyers made up and left them in the car.  When she got in the car the next morning - the flyers were gone out of her car.  No sign of break-in in the house or the car she said.  Then she started having someone walk around her house at 2:00 a.m.  She could hear the footsteps stalking under her window in the middle of the night. 

I didn't have a choice.  I told her this was too dangerous - and we had to stop.  I had also started to send out notices that I was going to come to Phoenix and help her launch the new meeting.  I started getting weird calls and hang-ups that when I reverse traced the phone numbers - they were coming from the Phoenix police department.  On my LinkedIn profile, I started getting people from the Phoenix police department viewing my profile - only they weren't leaving me any messages.  When I asked if they wanted to come to the open house I was going to give when I got down there - they were refusing to answer. 

I remembered David Vitter was down there.  Mind you there's more than one dead hooker in his trail.  There's Jeane Palfrey, Brandy Britton, and the New Orleans madam.  All found dead by mysterious hanging.  Any of that happening in Phoenix since Vitter has been down there?  Yep.  http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/a-deputys-death-opens-the-door-onto-a-world-corruption-in-sheriff-joes-mcso-6462478  Here's another guy that if he'd lived to testify might have told on a few people might not be too happy about what he had to say.

I asked this woman "what's going on down there that they don't want us to have access to the trafficking victims?"  She tells me the rape of the women coming across the border by the guards is so common that the Mexican women coming across will take birth control before coming over so they won't get pregnant.  That's how common the rape is.  She goes on to tell me they are also taking the babies from these women right out of the hospital.  They are using Child Protective Services to say they "aren't capable of providing" for these children because they "don't have a job" and taking them right out of the maternity ward after they're born.  I said "they're taking them out of the ward if the mother doesn't have a job?" 

She said that the women who are in the domestic violence shelter, and the homeless shelter, that when they go in to have the baby that CPS comes and takes them because they "can't take care of them".  I asked "are they trying to get these women into homes first before taking that measure?"  She tells me she can't get access to any information more than that for the same reason they don't want us holding SWA meetings down in Phoenix - they don't want these women to be gathering together and talking in any group that they don't control or have their "spies" and "informants".  

I laughed and warned her "well the threats don't seem to be stopping you - so I guess they'll come to you with a juicy job offer now to stop you from putting a meeting together there in Phoenix".  The day after I said that she blocked my number.   She sent me a "thank you" note for the help I'd given her to get out of prostitution and clean - and then blocked me.  I called her number from another phone and her voice mail says she now works for the "Dept. of Social Justice".

Brenda Myers-Powell, who used to run our Chicago meetings now works for the Cook County Sheriff's Dept. and is supposedly on the board of CAASE.  Since she took the job - she ignores every "cease and desist" letter we've sent her asking her to stop violating our trademarks and copyrights, and to stop giving interviews about us that aren't true.  Our program was built on the idea that we have "absolutely no connection with law enforcement" and what is Brenda doing?  Giving interviews from the Cook County jail with a badge on and saying she's a representative of our program.  I've already sent her three "cease and desists" and slapped her with an "injunction" only to get threats thrown back at us from the sheriff's attorney to back off what their agenda is.

No - we're not under attack.

About 2013, members of SWA started calling me up telling me they were getting contacted by one of the three same people.  These people were telling them that I was back "pimping" again, present sense, not past. 

First, people chased our local meetings off the map.   Then those who tried to start up new ones - started finding themselves being threatened.  This Phoenix story isn't just Phoenix - I have a story about what happened in every other city I can tell you about what happened to them when they tried to regroup. 

Next came the chasing us off the internet and speaking.  I'll go on in the next chapter "Chasing Us Off the Net".

http://sexworkersanonymousmeeting.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-internet-attacks-upon-sex-workers.html

(copyright 2015 J. Williams - all rights reserved)













No comments:

Post a Comment