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Thursday, July 30, 2015

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US AND AA OR NA

First of all, we are a completely different program than AA.  Our members are different.  Our issues our different.  Our program is different.  WE ARE NOT AA.


The members of AA are alcoholics.  People with a genetic disease they will have for life.  To put their disease into remission they must attend meetings for the rest of their lives.  Their very life depends upon that fact.  Now if I told you that a SWA meeting was the difference between life and death for you - you'd laugh wouldn't you?  Because prostitution, stripping, and webcam work is NOT a "lifelong disease".


The program is different.  To be "sober" in AA you just stop drinking or ingesting anything with alcohol in it.  One can be a sex worker however while totally sober.  So they are independent of each other.  Also, I know of no one who pays their rent by drinking that meaning that being sober does not hinder their ability to pay their rent.  If anything, being sober INCREASES the likelihood they'll be able to pay their rent because they're not drunk or spending their money on booze.  The same two facts hold true for the addict and Narcotics Anonymous.  However, it's the REVERSE for us generally.  Usually when we stop - the rent stops.  So we have a whole other set of problems associated with us obtaining "time".  Most of us just can't "stop" without winding up on the street - homeless.  


It is not a crime to be an alcoholic.  However, just about 99 percent of the world has prostitution being illegal.  Porn is also illegal just about everywhere but Los Angeles.  Stripping outside of a club is usually illegal also.  So we have the legal issues.  Now let's address this for a moment.  Prohibition, meaning when to drink was illegal, was in place in the USA until 1933.  Alcoholics Anonymous was formed in 1935.  Meaning it was not a crime to be an alcoholic.

In Narcotics Anonymous, for many years addicts would busted for going to a meeting.  It took laws being passed in order for an addict seeking treatment to be able so without entrapping himself or violating his probation.  Laws we don't have in place for us yet to match.   NA was formed in 1956.  


So frankly we're younger than them and need to be judged by that rate of growth - not where they are today.  We were formed in 1987.  By the year 1999, we had a meeting in just about every major city of the USA being held in a Salvation Army or a Catholic Charity shelter.  We got those meetings started by my appearing on national TV shows regularly, and because we have public service announcements running every night on late TV all over the country.   I hosted a cable show that was on weekly on TV and a weekly radio show that I can't hold now because we don't get that time donated anymore since 1995 and the FCC changing the rules.


We got a pink slip basically about February of 2000 by the various shelters booting our meetings out of their program.  They gave us no explanation, nothing in writing.  We were just told we were "no longer welcome on the grounds".  I had spoken to no one at any of these shelters or programs as at the time because I was working 12 hours a day selling websites for Worldcom in Las Vegas, Nevada.   The meetings were being run by the chair in each city who ran them "autonomously" as they should.  I didn't monitor them in other words.  They'd only call me if they needed literature or help with something.  


Then my phone goes blaring off the hook from members all over the country asking me 'what do we do what do we do?.  We were having trouble finding a new meeting space in each city  because no one else wanted a "bunch of prostitutes" on their property.  We had churches denying us meeting space, conference rooms, and we couldn't meet at the same meeting halls as AA or NA because many of our "tricks" or "customers" were in those rooms.  Some had pimps in those rooms.   So for us to stay away from our pimps and customers - we had to find other locations to meet than the local Alano Clubs  Meaning the only two who survived this problem seemed to be our meetings in Chicago and Phoenix.  That's because the meeting in Phoenix was at Dignity and the meeting in Chicago was at Genesis House.  


I remember the date because I was trying to fix these problems and help the members find new meeting space at the same time as I was working from 6 am to 6 pm at night at my regular job.  My body finally gave from the stress and I had a stroke on July 29, 2000.  When the Trafficking Act passed - it was October of 2000.   However, I was in ICU then and not hearing about anything.   The http://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/61124.htm  


At first, I didn't think this Act would affect us much.  This was because trafficking victims comprised maybe five percent of our fellowship and maybe two cent of the phone calls our hotline was getting at that time.  Because of the stroke - our hotline went dark from July of 2000 until about September of 2001 because I didn't have the money for the phone bill.  I remember when it came back on because that's when I got my income back and was able to afford to turn our phone back on then.  We don't keep records of our groups or members - so my then husband could not reach anyone to tell them what was going on.  We were in other words, completely cut-off from our members for about a year.


Once I got the phone back on - I started calling to learn that our Chicago and Phoenix meetings were still in place.  I then set about trying to make contact with as many of our members as I could track down to rebuild our program as best as possible.  However, by September of 2001 - something strange had happened.  I was calling our old meeting spots, the Salvation Army shelters, even the courts where the judges used to give us referrals and everyone was shutting us out.  We did not understand why at first because our program was so effective.


We did not understand until people started sending me copies of grant applications from the Salvation Army's showing me that they were requesting the federal government to give them money to pay people to do all of the jobs our members had been doing previously for free.  I didn't understand this because it was creating a gap in services.  So until they could get funding for those positions - I tried to negotiate our members back in those positions to keep doing jobs like outreach, holding meetings, etc. for free.  


We were refused.  So basically this was like someone took a bowling ball and knocked our program down like a bunch of pins with no warning so I could  not reorganize us - we were just suddenly shot down.  No one has any money at their early meetings and it's illegal to take money from prostitutes -  so we don't pass baskets at our meeting.  Meaning finding a free and safe place to meet every week isn't easy without help from a national church like the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities provided us for those years.  We made a mistake in violating our own Traditions however - and we paid dearly for it.  All we could was set out to rebuild independently so that would not happen again.  


Their shutting us out still however made no sense to me until people started telling me about money that was being offered to them by the church to NOT hire our members to do this jobs once they got the grant money in.  We kept being told that they could not "work with" anyone but people who were listed in the "Freedom Registry".  Only for the longest time no one would tell me what the Freedom Registry was.  


It was like some secret society.  No one would even tell me how to reach these people.  They had no contact number on their site.  The Salvation Army shelters told me that until I was listed in the FR - they would have no meetings of ours on their grounds, and our members were not welcome on their grounds either so they would hire them for these positions working with prostitutes professionally either.  In the meantime, our membership/program kept together by phone and internet contact.  We built up groups and forums and met by phone and skype regularly.


Then I learned what the Freedom Registry was.  As more and more new shelters were built in response to the new funding the Federal Trafficking Act afforded them from the "Rescue and Restore" grants - these programs were very new.  I would contact them upon opening and tell them we had local members in recovery who would be more than happy to bring our meetings into their program free of charge.  


We were refused.  When I would push to know why since our program was HIGHLY effective - I was told again that unless we were listed in this registry they could not even speak to us.  When I finally learned what the registry was - I tried to find an attorney to help us.  Because these programs were accepting federal money - but violating federal law.  No attorney wanted to handle it because frankly we didn't have any money and winning a judgment meant no money either.  So I turned to the ACLU to enlist their help.  The result was this win - https://www.aclu.org/news/court-prohibits-religious-restrictions-government-funded-trafficking-victims-program


What the "Freedom Registry" was in a nutshell and why no one would talk to me about it was it was a list of programs who had agreed to block women in their programs from anything to do with abortion.  However, that meant any medical doctors and it meant any licensed therapist.  It also meant anything to do with birth control which included condoms.  Since one of the ways we used to do outreach was by going out to sex workers and teaching about safe sex, and helping them get free anonymous HIV tests, and by also having new members get medical screening to see if they were sick or pregnant or not (how are we supposed to make plans for work or school if we don't know your medical situation properly) - our program was banned.  We do not advocate for abortion but we don't advocate against abortion.  Because we have "no opinion on outside issues" and thus would not state we were "against" abortion - then we were "blacklisted" essentially by anyone connected to any of these programs who were receiving funding from the USCCB, or Catholic Bishops.  I wrote them letters stating we didn't tell our members to get abortions, and had "no opinion" on these issues to see if it would let up the blacklisting.  It had no effect.  To date, the Pope has met with everyone else who runs trafficking programs, even Buddhists, but not US.  


Again, during this time we kept our program strong by internet and phone meetings.  Anyone needing more local support could meet with other local members for coffee and social support between our phone and skype meetings.  Which made our fellowship grow actually - for a while.  Many of our members are older, disabled, don't have a car, live where it snows, etc.  So actually having phone meetings made us grow stronger as a national unit.


Are meetings on every corner 7 days a week necessary?  The first meetings in the world one had to go to Bill Wilson's house.  People would visit there for the weekend, do their 3rd step in his basement, and then go back home.  Some alcoholics overseas only had the Big Book.   There were studies done of men overseas who all they had was the Big Book and no meetings at all.  Their numbers were actually quite strong.  http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1072&context=luc_diss  The theory was they were getting better faster than those who had meetings because they were focusing only on the program - and not the social distractions of other people's "defects of character" or distracted by gossip and peer pressure.


The early meetings of NA were also started out of Jimmy Kinnon's house in N. Hollywood, California.  Bob B., speaks about going to the "only meeting in the world" when he first started going to a meeting in N. Hollywood, California.  Everyone else would buy their literature and form their own meetings while talking on the phone with Jimmy.   Neither of which were perfect men Jimmy nor Bill Wilson.  The programs flourished because their members have a disease for which there is no cure and the only true life long free support that exists anywhere right now is through their programs.


But there are underlying structures, foundations and supports to AA and NA not apparent to the naked eye.  All you see when you walk into an AA or NA meeting is the meeting.  What you may not be aware of is the Alano club that may be hosting that meeting.  Alano Clubs get grants every year to do just that - host AA meetings.  Their job is to find people to run meetings from early morning until midnight.  They sell coffee and snacks, have a pool table, video games, a TV set, and are off a bus line so that it's also a social center.  One can go there at 7:00 a.m. have a coffee cake and a Coke, go into a meeting, come out for lunch, go back into a meeting, come eat dinner at the snack bar, or next door at a fast food place, then back in to a meeting until after the midnight meeting is over.


There are no SWA clubs anywhere in the USA.  Nor are there halfway houses, treatment centers, and jails that also host meetings.  If you go to a jail in Tonopah, Nevada, population about 2000 - their little local jail has an AA meeting.  When you come out of that meeting you can go up to the local bookstore and go to an AA meeting there.  However, I assure you there are no enough recovering hookers or strippers in Tonopah, Nevada to uphold even one weekly meeting in that small hick town.


If you go to a treatment center you will attend "in house" AA and/or NA meetings, possibly OA or GA or SA depending on what you're there for.  They have to because they have to be licensed.  To be licensed they have to offer a "program".  That program consists of their doctors and therapists and the meetings.  Those meetings are put into the proposal that gets them not only their operating license - but also their grant money and for state insurance to pay for the treatment there.  No such structure exists yet for prostitutes, strippers, porn models, or webcam performers.  If anything - much of treatment is expensive.  Many treatment centers do not want to risk angering a wealthy client who is paying to get his wife or girlfriend treatment and the last he wants them to hear is that she needs to be "financially self-sufficient".  So no we're not really accepted at most treatment centers yet.  


All across this country there are drug courts and mental health courts that are court ordering people to attend these meetings.  They have to attend these meetings or they go to jail.  If one doesn't exist in their town they get a meeting kit and they start one because if they don't go - they go to jail.  So there are a LOT of social supports for AA and NA meetings that we just don't have in place.  They do not have as many prostitution courts to match the number of these drug courts yet.   Mostly because any funding right now goes to "trafficking" programs NOT prostitution courts.  


Our "alternative sentencing" structure is different.  While some programs like Project Rose or Division 17 tried these programs where they rounded up street prostitutes, then told them they had to attend these "meetings" or else go to jail - those meetings were not our program.  That's why I had to shut them down by issuing them "cease and desist" orders when I found out.  We do not have "required" attendance under threat of incarceration.  That violates our "only requirement for membership" which is not fear of jail.  


Those meetings were also not using our literature, our concepts, nor even our structure.  Our structure doesn't work without sponsors.  They had no sponsors.  Now we don't have recovering prostitutes on every corner to sponsor new members.  Most of our older recovery members are spread out all over the world.  They sponsor by phone and email.  So to reach them you have to reach them through our world service office, i.e., me, as a "go between" to protect everyone's anonymity.  These "fake" groups were not connecting newer members with older members.  They weren't giving them our book nor our steps.  It was a complete ruse to get their grant money and therefore was not producing any results.  However, we were getting the blame for it's bad end results.  So we had no choice but to clamp down on any non-registered meetings.


Our "alternative sentencing" is different.  If one is found guilty of prostitution you are allowed to ask the judge to consider allowing you to attend our program as an "alternative" to incarceration.  Because they do this for AA and NA the judge is allowed to take that into consideration.  So far everyone who has asked the judge has been awarded that option.   But this is also fitting into our guidelines of you coming here by choice - not under the threat of going to jail if you do not.  Now once you've made that choice and then you don't attend our program - the judge has the right to reconsider that sentence and lock you up.


Now we don't have a lot of people taking meetings into the jail because frankly most of our members have a bad taste in their mouth for jail.  You can't bring a meeting into a jail unless you have a certain amount of time without an arrest on your record.  You also can't have a warrant out for anything else.  Not everyone of our members' meets that criteria.  I had a traffic ticket I didn't pay for four years myself.  During that time, I was unable to bring a meeting into the jail.  So again, not all of us want to nor can bring a meeting into a jail.  It's currently not required for a jail to have it's operating license to allow a SWA meeting as it is an AA or NA meeting.


I know this in studying how to operate a 12 step program and the history though our mentor board we had before a lot of these mentors died.  Greg Pierce, one of the early founders of NA, would tell me they had a law passed requiring the jails and prisons to hold meetings to get their licensing otherwise they never would.  He said they "don't do anything they're not required by their budget to do - so to get our meetings in there we had to get laws passed".  That included the right to even run ads in the yellow pages he said they had to sue to get.  I saw that in the early days myself when they used to refuse our ads.  I would remind them of the NA lawsuit and they'd back down and list us.


Now are we the same?  If you go to www.intherooms.com you will see AA and NA meetings being run 24/7 by that website.  However, I have been calling and writing the founder of that site for about four years now.  Their objection at first was they did not think our meetings would be "stable" enough.  i let them know the truth - that we are having at least 10 people at a time at least one time or more a week in our phone meeting and would only grow if allowed onto their site.  They then just stopped returning my calls or answering my emails.  So NO it's not the same.


Frankly, if you have any background with drugs or alcohol you will probably find everything you need in an AA or NA meeting.  However, drugs were not my main problem.  I was in the business for YEARS without touching a drop or a drug.   I only used drugs to deal with my depression over being forced out of the industry by the cops, and over the PTSD I suffered both from the cops, and from the  criminal elements attracted to the industry because it's an illegal lifestyle in Los Angeles.  When I got clean - I was struggling against returning to the sex industry NOT over getting loaded.  So for me - I needed something different.


Most of our members also share that they are not an alcoholic or an addict.  They can't find what they need with a counselor or therapist.  They aren't comfortable in an AA or NA meeting because they didn't drink or use and don't feel they have the disease.  Now if you take the number of sex workers who are not an addict or alcoholic and then further take the ones who are struggling with exiting the lifestyle - and you frankly just don't have the numbers of people pounding on our doors to warrant a meeting on every corner in every city in the world like AA does.  There's just not that many of us!


WE'RE DIFFERENT.  Especially when our program got the rug pulled out from under us in 2000.  Now we had people coming out of the shelters as a "ready made" membership.  These were men and women in programs they were housed in that residential program.  I helped start two alternative sentencing residential programs - but they folded when greater powers that be felt it was more profitable to let the jails over crowd so they could build bigger jails.


Which is why they yanked our Los Angeles and Allentown meetings.  They WANTED the jails to over crowd so they could build that bigger jail.  Allentown built that bigeer jail in 1991 - and then they ran out of food recently.  Los Angeles built a bigger jail that they then shut down because of rioting.  https://www.change.org/p/kern-county-board-of-supervisors-protect-kern-county-residents-shut-down-dangerous-facility   and  http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/Groundbreaking-held-for-126M-Kern-County-Justice-Facility-304488091.html   Now they're trying to build another bigger jail to replace that one.  So while there's a push on to build bigger jails - they're not going to want to fund residential programs that are proven to "work" and save the county money.   http://thefreethoughtproject.com/residents-hear-screams-starving-prisoners-lancaster-county-prison/


Now we built a different type of program to fit our needs because of all of this into a more "phone" and internet meeting.  However, about 2013, we had someone infiltrate our online groups.   They took personal photos shared by members outside of that group and "outted" people all over the internet.  We had people being contacted off our "friends" list on Facebook.  We had people taking email addresses from our yahoo groups which became easier to cross-reference as Google got better at that sort of thing.  Now with the way Google is, and with hackers, and infiltrators - we can't guarantee our members' "anonymity" though an online group.  So in 2013 we shut almost all of our  internet presence down.  We even advise new members NOT to list their membership on their profiles as we found people would then search them out and start threatening and stalking them.


Because of another difference between us an AA and NA.  I don't know of anyone who throws people into the back of a van, rapes them, brainwashes them, and then drags them into a bar to force them to drink at gunpoint.  However, some people have this happen to them by "gorilla pimps".  Not just in the USA but in many different countries.  I don't know many junkies that are targeted by police either for sexual favors as is what happens with prostitutes.  They will target a prostitute for free sex under threat of arresting them if they don't comply in a form of rape.  They know they'll get away with it because she won't file a rape charge.  Why?  When no judge yet has ruled the rape of a prostitute as anything but "theft of services".   http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/11/01/judge-criticized-for-considering-gang-rape-on-prostitute-theft-services.html


Right now our program is undergoing another evaluation and growth stage.  I have promised anyone attending our meetings "anonymity".  However, with the NSA monitoring phone calls at will, and without a warrant, I don't know if I can guarantee that.  http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/16818-document-reveals-nsa-monitored-125-billion-phone-calls-in-one-month    So to protect our meetings - we're having meetings through a conference call system where they legally can't listen to those phone calls.  I advise callers not to tell me personal information nor anything about their case specifically in case the NSA is monitoring their call. 


Now our phones are "safe" but I don't know how "safe" the lines are that the person is calling me upon.  There are apps now where a pimp can monitor your calls.  They can even be sent a text transcript of your call.  So for that reason we have a number you can call "collect" from a payphone so that he truly can't monitor your calls to us.  I mean how would you organize an "escape" from him if he's seeing or hearing every word you say on your phone?   Which is why frankly many billboards people are using for trafficking victims are pointless.  The pimps will just hear every word they say on the phone and then punish them for calling for help.


So we want them to know they can go to a payphone and call (888) 253 9619 without any money and without him over hearing that call.  Not an easy task to get that information out there when many publications and TV stations won't take even ad money from us let alone run free public service announcements.  Which has also greatly reduced our numbers.  We used to run free public service announcements on TV and radio.  But when the FCC dropped that requirement in 1995 - we no longer get them free.  Even the Ad Council says we have to pay $140,000 to "produce" a free ad from them.  The media won't take ads from us because they say they will lose the "bigger" advertisers from within the sex industry if they do.


AA and NA are household words.  However, we are not.  When I was on TV every month - yes.  But again when the FCC changed the rules in 1995 getting any TV time is extremely rare and hard to get anymore.   Anytime anyone talked about prostitution before- they were required to let one of our members talk as an "opposing" viewpoint.  Now they are not and we're blocked by producers from being on any of the same shows that people like Dennis Hof are on.  While I used to be able to debate Joe Conforte - Dennis Hof won't face me on a TV camera.


Dennis Hof won't allow us to post a poster for SWA in his brothels - nor let anyone in the brothel know about us when they tell him they're leaving.  To quote him "I've invested too much money to get them up here I'm not going to make it easy to leave".  His idea of helping a trafficking victim who just got thrown out of a car going 65 mph because she told her pimp she was pregnant and didn't want to work anymore - was to tell me to bring her up to the ranch and let her come to work for him.  So no we're not getting a lot of referrals out of people like people are doing for AA or NA either.


Now we had built ourselves back up into a strong program again using the internet and phone tools and this worked until about 2013.  That's when we started having things like people targeting our online groups, trying to hack into our online meetings, and then identifying, targeting and threatening anyone who even identified as a member of SWA.  Try it.  Make a profile up that says you're a member of SWA and see what happens within a few weeks.  Then you'll see why we can't have any visible online groups right now.  However, this makes it 10 times harder for anyone to find us now also.


Why?  Because law enforcement wants control of the information.  Something they have when they refer a prostitute or a sex trafficking victim to a local "county counseling" program".  Who will not refer to us because they've had their jobs threatened if they do.  I know this straight out of the horse's mouth and anyone who has rebelled and given one of their clients a referral to us has either been fired or completely shut down.  The last center that referred us a prostitute client was this center.  The MINUTE the management discovered a counselor had gone online and referred her client to our program - this is what happened.  http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas-psychiatric-clinic-closes-under-federal-pressure


I spoke at a recovery conference in San Jose in September of 2013.  Afterwards, some women came up to me who run a drop-in counseling center that they told me was "chock full of prostitutes".  They asked me to please help them start a weekly meeting.  I agreed.  The woman who asked me was fired the next day.  Her boss told me to "keep their funding" they can't host SWA meetings.  I've heard that story over and over across the country. 


I believe it's about information control.   Because when you're seeing someone at one of those centers - you're giving out your ID, you're making up a file, what you say is being documented, and those records can then be obtained.  http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/committee-investigates-allegations-irs-seizure-60-million-medical-records-possible-privacy-violations


So we're not even getting referrals from the Salvation Army's, the shelters, nor the mental health centers, nor even the counselors or social workers who are being threatened with firing if they do.  We aren't able to run ads.  We're not referred people by the court even though our members can ask the court to let them attend our meetings.   But it's not a given referral.   You have to know about us to ask.


In other words, we're  just not the same as AA or NA.  So please don't come in expecting us to be like AA or NA.  If we were the same you wouldn't need us!  The program was formed for those who aren't able to find what they need elsewhere.  That alone is going to make us smaller.


However, we're able to still work the program because the program is not meetings.  It's not me either.  If the program was about meetings then how did any other program get started?  Think about it.  .Each program started with people who worked a program.  Now if you want to know what that is - please get in touch.  Thank you.

(copyright 2015 J. Williams - all rights reserved)


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