Saturday, September 5, 2015
LETTER TO CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND SALVATION ARMY
Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous)
(702) 468-4529 Telephone
September 5, 2015
Re: Life and Death Communication Issues
Catholic Bishops & Associates
Human Trafficking Division
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Jody Williams. I was involved in the sex industry from the late 1970's to the mid-1980's. During that time, I not only was a victim of sex trafficking myself, but I also was witnessing many different types of trafficking as well. As well as witnessing trafficking – I was also witnessing people trying to leave these various situations – only to find either nothing to help them or even outright barriers in their way.
When I was arrested during a very high profile scandal in 1984 I was dubbed the “High Tech Madam” (www.hightechmadam.com) – I found I was unable to mount a defense for myself because I was viewed as a criminal by our legal system who had no way of understanding I was being “forced”. I knew there was no point in trying to explain my plight because I'd already seen Linda Lovelace try to tell the world how she'd been forced to film the XXX “Deep Throat” at the point of a gun in 1980.
She was not believed. What did happen to Linda however was she got scooped up by the anti-porn people who used her to try and teach people about the evils of porn rather than trafficking. People would hold up pornography not made by trafficking victims and used that to diffuse the real issue. The issue wasn't about the evils of porn, or whether porn should be outlawed. The issue was that she was forced – and our legal system wasn't set up for anything like this to have found help to get away.
I said to myself I would not repeat that mistake when I set out to do something about this. Another mistake I felt she made was she sold a book about her story called “Ordeal”. People used that to discount her story – saying she was “only trying to sell a book”. To try and keep the message on point – I refused over $1,000,000 in book and movie offers after my arrest which are offered someone like me after such a high profile arrest. I also formed our group as a 12 step group – instead of a nonprofit.
The point of the 12 step structure was for many reasons. One major one was that we “have no opinion on outside issues”. Meaning we would not get caught up in the whole anti-pornography debate where we would get our message lost as Linda had been through already. Because no hotline had been set up before for us to call, and because the eyes of the law viewed us as criminals – we set up the first hotline ever for people to call for help, or to report trafficking without fear of being arrested as an accomplice.
Why? Because the only people really witnessing trafficking were also considered “criminals” in the eyes of the law as well. Customers, or “johns”, are the ones who know where the trafficking is happening. Only they can't call the cops either because to admit they've seen this activity is also incriminating themselves. To encourage calls from these “johns” - we therefore promised complete confidentiality, and the assurance we were not associated with the cops, in order to generate tips.
Why? Because in our experience, the hard core victims of trafficking are not allowed to call for help. They're usually kept locked up in a house. They are often not taught English if they don't speak it. They are not told where they are. They're not even left alone for two minutes. So the only person who usually sees them, knows where they are, knows how to get to them, knows how the security is set up – is the “john”. The show “8 Minutes” on TV recently was inspired by the fact that to get to these victims we've been staging rescues by sending in “johns” in a sting operation to get the victims alone where we can then get them out away from the traffickers out a back door, or a back window, etc.
Our program took off like a shot. We were the only game in town so to speak when we launched our campaign in August of 1987. The only other program around besides us was two – there was the Children of the Night hot line and house for teens. There was also the Mary Magdalene residential shelter in Reseda, California.
However, there were major problems with just those two programs from my view. First, I couldn't go to Children of the Night because I was of legal age. I also couldn't go to the MMP because I was escaping men who were involved in heavy duty trafficking in connection with Iran Contra. Men who were scared of what I'd tell the police so they were trying to kill me. In other words, it was not safe.
Case in point about why “traditional” shelters and even “safe houses” are not properly set up for our types of victims and what I was wanting our country to change was the fact that shelters like the Mary Magdalene Project were not set up properly for our needs is best illustrated by what happened to Margo Compton. This was a woman married to her trafficker/pimp who also was a Hell's Angel and Aryan with “connections”. She had two small children by this man and again to run without telling him where the children were would leave her open to kidnapping charges against her. No shelter or law enforcement is going to deny him his legal rights of visitation. So what to do?
She turned to another biker in the gang for protection at first. All he did was pimp her at his strip club for a while. When she threatened to leave - this man threatened to pimp out her two twin daughters. Finally in desperation she turned to the legal system thinking if she did prosecute her trafficker – she'd be protected. They put her, and the two twins, into a “safe house”. But they failed to understand that the modern day sex trafficker isn't just some “Huggy Bear” pimp on a streetcorner. The police have also REFUSED to allow me to fully train them in how modern day pimps operate in this country.
So what happened? Read here about her murder, and the murder of her two small children for yourself to see what happened to her in exchange for her trusting the system - http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/When-Jailbirds-Sing-It-was-the-pure-savagery-of-3018647.php Now when I was escaping trafficking – I didn't trust the system and I survived. I also created a different kind of system for these types of victims that works. You will not ever hear of any victim who came to us for help being found murdered like this because we haven't lost one yet. But yet when I've tried to open up dialogues with your groups, and safe houses you fund, on how to set up help for women like Margo - you shut me down every time. Which doesn't hurt me – but it does them.
There were other issues with just the MMP. No they weren't set up to help trafficking victims who would have people looking for them, but they also didn't take in men and/or transgenders. They had no outpatient program either, nor would they take in anyone with drug problems or mental health issues. In my experience, those fresh away from traffickers would be suffering from usually both. They would have been kept on drugs by their traffickers, and also be suffering from severe PTSD, as well as things like Stockholm Syndrome, or even brainwashing.
I had seen that many traffickers brainwash their victims. This would be very frustrating to police, social workers, etc. because the victim would literally fight to return to their captor. If their captor(s) had been arrested – this victim would then go and recreate an almost identical situation.
This was where these victims got the false reputation they “wanted it” that at that time had cops, social workers, probation, etc., all throwing up their hands feeling it was futile to try and pull us out of these trafficking situations. They just couldn't understand why, usually within 72 hours, of being freed – they would either return to the same house or they'd go and find a new pimp, or even return to the same organization. Most would refuse to testify against their pimps – further confusing the system.
Remember, the system used to have some of the same viewpoints about domestic violence back then also. Back in the 70's and 80's many cops would refuse to even go on domestic violence calls for the same reasons – the victim would even sometimes attack the officer when they'd try to arrest the attacker, refuse to press charges, etc. Some because they'd been brainwashed, some because their abuser had blackmail against them, others because they knew he'd just be released in a few hours and then would come back for them if they did. There was also very little understanding of the laws with respect to child custody and visitation being a factor also.
In other words, I knew a 1000 Mary Magdalene houses wasn't going to solve the problem. This country had to change the way it responded to domestic violence, rape, and child abuse if anything were to be different. It also had to change the way it responded to sex trafficking also. The problem was our whole country wasn't set up to handle sex trafficking because they didn't even believe it existed anymore. I know because whenever one of us would try and talk about what we were seeing, and what was happening to us – they thought we were hallucinating. Now how are the legal system, and the mental health system, as well as the drug treatment system, going to help us if they thought we're “tripping” every time we try and talk about what was going on.
I saw it in my own program in Narcotics Anonymous. I was told “you're as sick as your secrets” and that I'm supposed to “practice vigorous honesty”- but when I'd try and talk about seeing women loaded onto diplomats' planes to be sold for a drug or oil deal by our own CIA – I would have people ask me if I'd gotten high. Especially when I started talking about how the CIA had been working with people producing TV shows where it was actually just a cover for sex trafficking.
I refer to a film that wasn't released in 1987 about Chuck Barris in his book “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”. Yes he talks about being a CIA operative while producing the “Dating Game” in the film. But what he left out was how the show used itself as a cover to scout attractive single women. How the “dates” were expanded into other countries as a cover for transporting women. How women who appeared on the show were also working for an escort service being co-ran by local cops. So you can imagine what counselors or drug treatment centers would respond when someone would try and talk about these things - they'd lock us up for 72 hour observation!
I mean think about it back before Chuck's film was released with me talking about the “Dating Game” being a cover for CIA trafficking in women and you have an idea what we were up against.
The only solution was the country had to change. I had a “warehouse two blocks from the police station” that I had been using as a “safe house”. When the police arrested me however, they just assumed all our security was there to run a brothel – not for security to hide trafficking victims. So the only way I was going to be able to continue to help rescue others was to set about getting the world to first of all believe us this was real and happening and not some urban myth.
I had gone to the governor of California back then explaining how I wanted to see these victims, like myself, to stop being arrested and treated as criminals. We needed to be able to call for help and not only be believed – but also get help that was properly set up for us.
He told me that we would never see it decriminalized – and that my best bet was to form a 12 step group. Which was another reason we chose a 12 step structure – he told me we could start out offering alternative sentencing to victims without any special laws, or special courts – under the laws that AA had already established. Thus Prostitutes Anonymous was born. So in 1987 when I stepped up on that first talk show stage – it was not to tell my story or to sell a book, but to let people know we were real, that victims could call our hotline until more people, and the police believed us, get that help, and so victims could appeal to the judge for an “alternative to sentencing” when they were arrested.
Our program took off like a shot. We set up the first official alternative sentencing program in Los Angeles by 1988 through then mayor Tom Bradley. By 1989, we got asked to set up one in Allentown, Pennsylvania. By 1991, we got asked to set up the first Canadian program which included a drop-in crisis center in response to a serial killer that was targeting prostitutes up there. By 1999, we had a chapter of our program in every major city in the USA.
Since just about every Catholic Charity and Salvation Army had prostitutes in a residential program – we were holding our meetings there so these women didn't have to arrange transportation. We did this as a courtesy to these centers, and so they didn't have to arrange transport for 20 women at a whack. Our members on the outside had cars – so they could come to the women in your shelters easier than your women could come to an outside meeting. So we agreed to meet at your shelters for years.
Were we successful? I'll cite just one case that's public information now – Kathleen Mitchell of Dignity. She wrote us from jail in 1989 after something like 50 arrests. After her release, she took a PA meeting back into the jail. By 1991- she founded Dignity where she had weekly PA meetings in Phoenix. Research done on her clients cite our program as what turned them around. So yes – we are effective.
Did it all pay off? When the Trafficking Act of 2000 passed giving us federal recognition – then yes. Up until then, I had to pay for everything myself. Our 800 hot line was at a time when I was paying $1.00 a minute, or $1000 a month. I spent over $400,000 researching, writing and publishing our “Recovery Guide” from members all over the world contributing. I paid for all our printing, bought our safe houses, our outreach vehicles, our commercials, etc. So yes it was important to get federal recognition so I could start getting some help to pay those bills. I had been assured by founders of other programs like AA and NA – that it “would take about 15-20 years before you'd get federal recognition – and then the sale of your book and your donations would then start paying your overhead.” So yes, I had been waiting for that day of federal recognition and the hope of being financially self-sustaining once we got that federal recognition. Many of the things we'd been having to pay for out of pocket to launch this movement – we had now hope we could get the government to pick up the tab on finally.
Little did I know what that really meant when the Trafficking Act was passed. Because about April of 2000 – I start getting calls from all over the USA telling me “they just kicked us out”. I'm like “what do you mean?” The chairs of these meetings were telling me they were told their meetings there in these facilities were shut down. Further, we were banned from the property to even speak to our “sponsees”. Our “sponsees” were banned from calling their sponsors – and we had no idea why.
Our program was not only effective – but they were accomplishing many jobs. Most major cities had our members working at outreach. We had them sponsoring these women – taking them to AA and NA meetings. Our meetings were being used as “alternatives to sentencing”. They were running diversion programs. They were staffing local hot lines. They were working there as counselors. Our members were not only getting recovery – but they were heavily involved in helping others as volunteers.
What was even more difficult to understand was if our members were identified as such but worked within these two programs – they were fired. Honestly, it forced us to understand why “anonymity” was so important. Because of what felt like a house cleaning or witch hunt – our members had to start denying they were in SWA in order to simply keep their jobs. We had worked for so many years for recognition - only now we were being shamed right back into the woodwork again for some reason.
I honestly was so stressed by suddenly having 1,000's of members calling wondering what was going on – I had a major stroke in July of 2000. So there's a few years that are a blur. I started seeing grant applications going out to hire people to do jobs our members had been doing for free. So I remember trying to appeal to some of the local SA's and CA's to hire our members back to do jobs we were seeing advertised working with prostitutes – only to hear “no”. It made no sense to me why someone in recovery, with experience, would be fired only to hire total novices who weren't even survivors.
By 2004, things got really crazy. I didn't know for a long time why. With time, I learned about the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act that was passed in January of 2003 spoken about here on this link. https://libtool.ulib.iupui.edu/myul/node/2872 I understand the intent of this – but when we were asked what our “stance” was on things like prostitution, pornography, and HIV we had to repeat that we have none. Just as Alcoholics Anonymous does not address the alcohol industry, nor does Narcotics Anonymous address the subject of medical marijuana – we officially can not take any stance against, or for, anything with respect to pornography, prostitution, HIV nor even abortion.
However, I'd like to point out that this does not stop your groups from allowing your clients, or congregation, from attending these programs. Only it's now seriously affecting our program. We reorganized and continued to try and operate. We found new meeting locations, and continued to do what we do. Only now we're having new problems developing. We're having women in your programs, housing, obtaining your services, also coming to us for help. Only now the minute it's discovered they're talking to our group – they're being cut off, kicked out, rejected, from your programs. Why? We were being called a “group of prostitutes” for one thing. That to me is like saying you won't refer an alcoholic to an AA meeting because “they're just a bunch of drunks”. But now this has turned into a situation where our members are having to remain “anonymous” not only to work in the field – but now to even receive services.
By the year 2007 – things are completely out of hand. Since 1987, I've been able to find placement within your programs for anyone leaving prostitution, whether trafficked or not. I even got a visit from Adam Freer with the Salvation Army asking me to lead ATLAS (the first Nevada sex trafficking task force) in 2007. I agreed. He told me to my face that I was the only one with as much “experience as you do” and also that I was the only one willing to work in Nevada because of the legal brothels.
Only to find that the Salvation Army then took a $375,000 grant from Metro to “restructure” the program I'd helped set up where EVERY prostitute arrested was questioned, instead to one where the only victims “offered help were those referred by Metro”. I even found out I was replaced in the job by opening up the newspaper to read a school teacher was taking the job with NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE. Further, when I reached out to her after reading this article – she HAD NO IDEA WHO I WAS.
Oh that's interesting. The Metro where I've got members saying they're part of a trafficking ring that was connected to Operation Dollhouse, the Crazy Horse Strip Club, Chris Butler, Kemp Schiffer, just to name a few that came to light after 2007. All victims I couldn't help because Terri kept saying “Metro had to refer them”. Now please explain why you put in a SCHOOL TEACHER WITH NO EXPERIENCE who when I tried to bring her cases of real trafficking in Nevada – BLEW ME OFF. Who when I came to her with fresh information in the Jessie Foster case she BLEW ME OFF. Who when I tried to go over her head to get help for victims in Nevada that year I was then threatened by an FBI agent, ignored by Terri Miller, and then banned from even attending trafficking functions and trainings? A woman who did things like spend $80,000 on a billboard that didn't get one phone call – while turning down my request for a translator to help me go into massage parlors like Operation Dollhouse highlighted. Who wound up with ZERO CASES at the end of the year I should add.
After she got done bad mouthing me – by 2008, I'm now finding that MANY groups are refusing even calls from us to place victims into programs. Like the day I had four victims sitting in my house. One had rebelled against her pimp and rose up and knocked him out. In fear they'd be arrested for attacking him – they all ran to me for help. I don't offer residential services, never have. I've always placed them somewhere. But in this case– I'm now calling everyone saying “I have four victims here on my couch and they need placement” and I'm being blown off. Thinking it might be me – I had the victims themselves call and they were ignored. Now I don't mean just the Salvation Army or the Catholic Charities. I mean ANYONE we called – including the “trafficking task force” and the lists of programs that are supposed to be taking them in.
Why? I don't know. You tell me. By now, our members have been rehired within your programs by not revealing their membership in SWA. So I call them and ask what's going on. Why is everyone not only returning my calls – but now something else is happening. These groups are now giving interviews saying “nothing exists”. Now that doesn't only deny our program exists – it also denies programs like Children of the Night, and even the Mary Magdalene Project. So this isn't personal.
What I was told was it had to do with the Catholic Bishops. I was told that money was being given to these programs that were ignoring us entirely on the condition that they act like we didn't exist. When I asked why – I was told that it was because of two factors. The first being that I don't stand in the doorway blocking members from obtaining abortions, and the second was because they believed the name of our program, which had been changed in 1995 to Sex Workers Anonymous “legitimatized” the sex industry as a career. That's like saying “Narcotics Anonymous” legitimizes drug use. It's about as ridiculous too.
So things came to a head in 2007 over the report Melissa Farley asked me to help her with. Up until then the trafficking efforts had been focused on street prostitution. However, sex trafficking exists within the legal parts of the sex industry. It exists in strip clubs, it exists in porn sets, it exists in webcam studios, massage parlors, and even the legal brothels of Nevada. We had one woman specifically who was being trafficked in a legal brothel owned by the Hells Angels who was unable to access help for being a victim through the Salvation Army for two reasons.
The first being that she was in a legal brothel so she was considered as having given “consent”. The second, because she had two small children with her pimp who she was trying to, and the Vegas branch was not only 800 miles away – but they wouldn't take her in with her two kids. So she came to us.
We were having a lot of problems with trafficking in Nevada for a variety of reasons. Women were being brought to Nevada from all over the country because the legal age is 15 years old. The Hells Angels owned the Shady Lady brothel. Meaning there were women being brought in from all over the USA to go to work there starting at 16 years of age. Melissa Farley had told me we weren't going to get any help about it until we first proved to the country it was real. For that reason, I got involved to help her write “Trafficking in Nevada – Making the Connections” by providing her with people we had been rescued from these brothels to interview. No other group had recovering brothel prostitutes they'd rescued because we were the only one working with them going clear back to the 1980's.
Which is what I mean also when I say there's all forms of trafficking going on in this country - some of which is within the so called “legal” industries. The Hell's Angels owned more than the Shady Lady. They also owned massage parlors, escort services, porn production companies and even many ADT Security Companies. If you'd like evidence of their involvement in trafficking – I refer back to the case of Margo Compton. Another woman who wasn't able to “just leave” because of having two children by her husband who was one of the traffickers. They can't go to a Salvation Army or Catholic Charity shelter to escape because your shelters frankly aren't set up to deal with this kind of heat. Your shelters are also not set up to deny legal visitation of the kids if you were to admit them either.
So you can see some of our problems being created by your groups, and groups being funded by the Catholic Bishops, suddenly putting us on some kind of blacklist. But your programs still found the need for 12 step meetings. Because after I gave that press conference in 2007 – I get calls from the few remaining places that were holding Prostitutes Anonymous meetings under our original name. Like Dignity as one example. I get this weird phone call from Cathy Bauer informing me they will no longer be ordering books or materials for the resident Prostitutes Anonymous meeting – nor will they be holding a meeting any longer. Okay – that's their choice.
Only I keep hearing that the meeting is going on by people who are attending them. I would call Cathy only to have her deny it – and hang up on me. Prior to Catholic Charities taking over Dignity – the staff had been begging me to come train them. I was coming to Phoenix the year Catholic Charities took over, and I'd wanted to meet you, so I offered to come and do so free. I was denied.
But I kept hearing from people they were going on but with a few weird changes. I'm hearing for example the meetings are now being held using our old literature. For another, the members are not being told I'm the founder, nor how to reach the main office. Those who do know about me are told they can't speak to me – and they're to deny these meetings. Further, I'm hearing that our program is being completely distorted. I'm also not hearing anyone recover after this happened either.
I'm hearing things like how prostitution is being bashed, that porn is being bashed, and instead of being called “members” - they're being called “trafficking victims” even when they say they didn't have a pimp or were they trafficked. It's so bad that I'm getting calls from women telling me they want to attend our “real” program - only they're “afraid” to the point of one woman who had anxiety attacks over what will happen to her if she did.
Further, these meetings are appearing now in grant applications you're submitting to federal sources. Okay now we have a real problem. We've gone beyond kicking us out of your programs. We've gone beyond kicking our members out of your employment. We've gone beyond not returning our phone calls and refusing to help us or anyone who even knows us. We've gone beyond people telling us they're going to lose their jobs or their funding if they speak to us. Now your programs are holding “faux” meetings of ours and using your “faux” meetings as part of your grant applications.
As if that's not enough insult to injury – I'm hearing a basket is being passed at these meetings only I'm not getting any accounting, let alone a portion. In AA, NA, and other 12 step groups – there is a treasurer at these meetings. Those reports are turned in monthly to the next level up until it reaches the main world level. Whatever is left over after paying their expenses is then forwarded to the world service office of these programs. Only all of our financial flow has been cut off by this whole thing.
In other words, our income has now been completely cut off. We are not getting donations now. We're not getting book orders, or orders for t-shirts, hats, keytags, medallions, or other literature. We are now even having problems holding meetings in the same towns you're holding these “faux” meetings in.
It's so bad - we're even hearing of fist fights breaking out. We're hearing those coming to our meetings are being physically threatened by those going to “your” meetings. Why? Because we're having people trying to start up new SWA meetings only to be told “we already have a meeting in town” like they're some kind of gang and we're on their turf.
When these members go to find out what's going on – they're encountering someone saying they're holding meetings in connection with your programs that are applying for federal funds. They say they don't “even know who Jody Williams is” and I'm hearing not only about fights breaking out and prostitutes being threatened - but now I'm hearing about downright physical attacks of our members.
By about 2009, a trend starts which is escalating. Our members connected to our program are now having people calling them up. They're being told that they need to stop speaking to me, having anything to do with us here at the main office, but instead they need to come over to “their” meetings instead which are being held at programs you're funding. When these people balk – they're told horrible stories that I'm “madaming again” that I'm a “pimp” and a “trafficker”, and even an “imposter”. In Chicago, more than one physical fight has supposedly broken out by people insisting that “Brenda Myers-Powell is the true founder” of the program. This is insane!
As our groups continue to try and meet in peace – the stalking, harassment, and even now outright threats escalates. By 2013, all of our members online are now being stalked, harassed, and threatened. To protect ourselves – we had no choice but to shut down our online forums, online chat rooms, online meetings, online groups, and we've had to advise our members not to even mention my name in a post. A few who think I'm overreacting, go ahead and post they're in SWA or know me online.
Sure enough – within two days or so – they get a email or call with some kind of threat or harassment. They each are asked to “turn over copies of all the emails between Jody and you” like I'm being investigated or something. One woman had a book launch tanked. Another got chased out of every group she belonged to online because she wouldn't “denounce” me or SWA. Another woman who worked as a counselor at a jail was fired and another woman who had been a social worker for 12 years got fired. There are more stories than this - but it becomes clear that someone is tracking anyone who even mentions my name, or SWA, and they're now being threatened by a handful of people I can trace back to programs that are funded by your programs.
By 2013, it's now extended to new nonprofits that help trafficking victims. As new groups open – I call them to see what they offer for our hotline. I introduce us and ask questions about what they do. They're very nice to me when I call. Within two days or so, I am told “please don't call here again”. When I ask why – I've been told they've had their funding threatened, their licensing threatened, and the ever popular threat that they “will be shunned by the anti-trafficking community”. A few will also throw in they've been told I'm “pimping” or “trafficking” or one woman was even told I was “running a child prostitution ring” currently. The rest make some snotty remark to me about how “offensive” they find our name of “Sex Workers Anonymous” and they won't even “speak to someone who feels sex work is a career”. Which is NOT the meaning of our name. We changed our name in '95 because adult filters were blocking the word “prostitute” as well as search engines when the internet was born.
Is this working? The groups I see being cut off from our 29 years now of experience, and our pool of recovering members, working with this community I see struggling. Many struggle so badly they'll call me for help in deperation. They're so glad to reach me and grateful when I start sharing solutions. So grateful they mention to someone they're talking to me and how I'm helping them. Only to then either be fired – or cut me off in fear of being fired. Those not fired get the message – don't call Jody. From what I'm hearing – they're not doing too well at helping these victims without our help.
In desperation, the “faux” meetings keep popping up. Only problem is that a copy of our outdated book by itself does not a program make. Anymore than you can throw a copy of the Big Book into a bar full of drunks and they're going to magically get sober. It doesn't work. In fact, it turns into a zoo. I know because again I'll get a call from someone saying “help....”. Only the minute I try – they're shut up, fired, shut down, or threatened by someone connected to you because they called us for assistance.
The victims themselves in desperation go online to try and find help. They find me. I help them. Then what? How about the brave woman who helped me win the battle against the brothels in Nevada? Not only did she leave her pimp with her kids, but she helped us get the Shady Lady brothel shut down. On top of that, the brothels were trying to expand into Las Vegas using an illegal meeting of the Nevada legislature. She appeared at that meeting by herself and told them the reality of what goes on at the brothels. They voted against the brothels and they lost.
In retaliation – her power, phone, TV, cable, were all cut off (like mine was after our 2007 press conference). Her car was stolen and her home trashed. We help her move out of state and set up a new life. By now, we have her working from home, helping us do outreach, she's clean and out of all prostitution for a few years now, her kids are doing well, and she's in counseling. She notices the counselors are having other clients who are prostitutes also. So she tries to tell them about SWA and invites these other women to come to a meeting she wants to set up in the new town she's living in. She asks to post a flyer for the meeting at the center - only she's refused. She gives a copy of our Recovery Guide to her counselor – who ignores it. When she asks for help to find a meeting space for a SWA meeting and to invite the other clients – she's literally kicked out of the center! In other words, after achieving great recovery, and then reaching out to help others - she's shunned!!!
She is not alone. By 2013, I'm now getting more calls like this. I was working with a young woman in Las Vegas who was also attending counseling at the mental health center there. The day after she tells her counselor she's attending our meetings – she's kicked out of not only the center – but even out of the apartment they'd been providing her with. We had a counselor who was working at a mental health center in San Jose, California tell us practically every client there is a prostitute. So she tells her boss she's going to let me run a meeting there I agreed to do – she's fired. The same with a counselor at a jail in Seattle. The minute she says she wants to bring a SWA meeting into the jail because all of her clients are reporting they can't talk about these issues at an NA or AA meeting – she's fired!
It's now extended to the media by 2013. Noticing reporters keep writing stories like we don't exist -we start contacting these same reporters to tell them that we do. They get excited and interested. They come meet with us, meet our members, see our work for themselves – and get worked up about writing a great story about our work. Only the minute they go to their editor – they're shut down. One reporter who had been on the Review Journal for 15 years told me that I had been “black listed for life”. Another reporter felt there should be an article on our work very strongly – so he put together the story and went to his publisher. After working there for 12 years he assured me he “could get the story printed”. They turned him down. When the photographer jumped in to support the story should be published as we were the only program that would physically go and pick up women from anywhere in Nevada, especially the brothels in our outreach RV we'd shown them – they were both fired. By 2015, I had five papers tell me if they even printed our name they'd be fired.
Because our members are having to now stay virtually hidden in order to find work, and not be stalked and threatened by people working in the trafficking field – it appears we don't even exist. I'm now having more and more new members coming in say “I can't find anything online about your group but you.”. I'm now having reporters tell me “you don't exist online because you have no followers”. It's now gotten to the point where we can't even set up new meetings without running into these problems.
Now look – I can understand that you've been working with this policy that's forbid government funding of programs that don't specifically state they anti-porn and anti-prostitution. I can understand you want to keep your members separate from anyone who might recommend abortion. But two things have happened – first is the lawsuit of ACLU vs. USCCB validating that you can't separate trafficking victims from outside programs they choose to seek help from in trying to protect them from abortion mills. I personally am not for abortion. Personally, when we've had members find out they're pregnant we've even had other members adopt their babies. So while personally I am not for abortion – I have to first obey the law. I also can't physically block every door. Second, our program can not express an opinion on anything other than what we do. Since we do not provide medical care – we can't express an opinion either way on abortion because it's against our traditions just as it is for AA and NA.
The other is the Supreme Court decision in Agency for International Development vs. Alliance for Open Society International where the court upheld that in the interest of “free speech” one can not be forced to speak out against prostitution or be considered “in support of trafficking”. No offense guys - but I'm the founder of the modern day sex trafficking movement. Do you really think I'm pro-sex work or in support of trafficking simply because of the name of our program – or because I can't take a public stance with our 12 step program on these issues? Again, because these points of contention doesn't stop you from referring and cooperating with AA and NA – I'm not seeing why you do with me.
When I fought back brothels from expanding into California, and when I fought back the brothels from expanding into Las Vegas – I didn't see any of your groups there. But I don't hold that against you either. Nor did I take that to mean you were “pro-brothels” either.
This has got to stop. I thought honestly it would stop when the ACLU won their lawsuit. Instead, all I'm seeing is a bunch of media and jockeying in retaliation. If anything, the situation is getting even worse. I can't even sell our Recovery Guide on Amazon because of this madness.
Why? Because now I'm getting anti-trafficking groups all over the country trying to get their hands on our book to set up more “faux” meetings without having to register them through me like we're back in grade school or something. I am now having to spend ½ of my time chasing these groups down!
Our income has dried up because of this entirely. The confusion is so bad that new members are afraid to send me book orders because I'm not on Amazon, and because these “faux” meetings are being set up in churches. They don't know who to trust yet – so I'm stuck sending out free copies until we can sort this out. I've even had people ask me to come speak at their events – only to call me back a week later making up excuses because of what they've heard from your people. This has got to stop.
Especially as this problem grows. As it expands to more and more young people - I've got more parents calling for help. Just as AA has Alanon – we've created SWAN for parents. I'm already having someone call us wanting to join SWAN – until they find out it's a sister program to SWA. I don't even run SWAN – but because it's connected - they're being shunned now also? Further, I've got people who work with your agencies telling me they're afraid to give SWAN referrals because they might get fired? Really? Are you kidding me?
I've been speaking to some attorney's. I've learned I have a lot of legal options. Not only for copyright and trademark violation, but also for “economic interference” and even “conspiracy to defraud the US government”. Harsh? When you have programs applying for federal money by claiming you're running “Prostitutes Anonymous” meetings that are in fact NOT only operating without my consent for the use of the name, but also NOT the program itself as designed, then you are yes in fact defrauding your grant sources as well as those attending those meetings, and donating money. Especially when a portion of their decision to fund you is based on you holding Prostitutes Anonymous meetings!
Those meetings are more than just not registered - they're NOT our meetings because of basic components missing. Including the lack of our current Recovery Guide. Our “official” program has been called Sex Workers Anonymous since 1995. The mere fact you called these meetings Prostitutes Anonymous proves right there those meetings were not “official” and therefore you were defrauding the grant donors as well as our office since we never received any of the money from these meetings from the donations generated from these meetings. We never even got the order for the “starter kit” let alone our books. People coming to those meetings were also told they were “Prostitutes Anonymous” meetings when they donated. So they got defrauded also in my opinion. Also, where's our money?
We have to come to the table to work out some kind of cooperative agreement – or I'm going to sue. I'm not going to tolerate any longer members of our program receiving phone calls from people running “faux” meetings at your facilities, or programs you fund, threatening to “kick the ass” of our members who are legitimate members. I'm not going to tolerate being exploited, ripped off, and people being defrauded in our name. I'm not going to tolerate our members being fired, kicked out of therapy, stalked, threatened, banned, shunned, or otherwise harassed because you don't want our real meetings making your “faux” meetings look bad.
Nor am I going to take any more bashing in the media by your representatives acting like we don't exist in the very movement we FOUNDED. All those years I was going on TV and saying this was “real” in the 1980's, and getting myself fired, and evicted, and laughed at for it – without those years there wouldn't be this movement we're talking about. I did it to get this program up and operational and right now the only person causing us problems keeping operating aren't pimps BUT YOUR GROUPS. Now I don't think any of this was your intent. But now I've traced where all of this is coming from – well you and me need to sit down and have a nice long talk about the future.
Frankly, when the Pope was inviting other religions to come and talk to him about sex trafficking – I thought my invitation was coming as the founder of the movement, the first hotline, and the first program for adults within the USA, and other countries.
But it didn't. Then I saw he hadn't invited any survivors and realized mine wasn't coming. Okay fine. I think my exclusion is quite symbolic of the basic problems right now in this movement. You're excluding Bill Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous from helping alcoholics. It's not working. So that means I'm now sending you this letter giving you until the end of September to open up a dialogue with me about what's going to be done about this – or I'm going to sue and going to the press.
cc: President Obama
US Attorney Loretta Lynch