An incredibly powerful piece from someone who chose sex work because she had no other options, who now fights for the rights of all sex workers.
reprinted with permission from The Sex Work Brief Content Note: Discusses rape, suicide.
I am plagiarising the beautiful format used by Khalil Gibrain because I do not know what else to call this.
Now I am close to the end of my tether and starting to unravel. This has been such a long and toxic journey. It must seems strange that I would even make such a journey at all but I did not really have a choice.
I became a sex worker because I had absolutely no other choice that involved survival. I checked very thoroughly first. It would be no exaggeration to say that I begged for help, to no avail.
You have no idea how badly I wanted out of sex work, but, again, there was literally no way. I got out in the end as organised crime moved in to take advantage of the 1993 act that removed decriminalisation. I could not submit to that, let alone aid and abet it and the latter was what was expected of me.
I have spent the 20 years since learning, the hard way, that there *IS* no rescue and no help, not just for sex workers but for anyone who needs it. We have an whole system of welfare provision and NGOs that exists entirely to justify itself through exploiting and exacerbating disadvantage.
I could write you a library of psychological horror stories from the reality of “available help”, not just now, but during the boom.
Exclusionism in the unspoken rule, not any kind of exception…mental and emotional abuse are rife and accepted…I have come across people with absolute authority over vulnerable people who were blatant sexual sadists, time and time again. I have seen funding allocated to providing real services syphoned off into things as blatant as home extensions for staff. I cannot be the only person who notices, but nobody wants to rock the boat and upset the rhythm of the mutual backscratching that is the only real point.
…and to HELL with who is desperate, destitute, suicidal or denied access to anything resembling a life…they don’t even count…
You cannot unsee what you see, or unknow what you know…most of the people using the welfare services and NGO sector to establish themselves in positions of power and authority are not as intelligent as me, and have nowhere near as much integrity…when they have any at all. I see through them, I know what they are doing, and I know exactly the kind of pain and privation their vicious, self serving little games cost real people.
But when it gets too bad, and you have learned the hard way what an empty sham all the “help” there is supposed to be available is (all any of them are geared to do is tithe and exploit your drowning) there *is* ONE last resort before crime or suicide (which honestly seem to be two distinct forks in the road at some point…the point where conscience overrides the will to live). You can sell sex.
We are in a global recession that seems to have no end…our nearest neighbours are already adopting policies that amount to covert “culling” of the most vulnerable…
…and a group of NGOs I have known to be without exception vicious, self serving and unscrupulous for 20 years, that literally nobody interacts with except out of fear or veniality, suddenly decide this would be a good time to find a way to make sure nobody can save themselves and their families by selling sex either.
They have no alternative to offer, they have no real reasons at all. The sheer weight of the lies they tell staggers me all the time. These are not misunderstandings, there is no “good intent”, they know exactly what they are doing, and the powerful detrimental effect it would have. It is not even that they do not care, they actually want sex workers damaged, destitute and terrorised because that is the only chance they have of forcing enough sex workers to interact with them to protect their funding and status.
Personally, I would rather commit suicide than let these organisations have my life to prey on and play with. I couldn’t pretend to endorse their lies and their ongoing mental and emotional abuse anyway. I am autistic, I just cannot live with lies that big…and these are all things I learned the hardest way.
To suggest anyone could even attempt to trust the same people they watch telling lies about them and doing their best to silence and damage them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…I wake up in the morning, open my laptop and brace myself to check how much damage “Turn Off The Red” light have done, and who they have done it to, every single day.
Let me give you an example, one of their favourite excuses for the harm the do is that they have to destroy hard working sex workers and their children to fight “organised crime”.
Let me share something with you that “Turn Off the Red Light” haven’t got a clue about. Let me tell you about the only real connection between the sex industry and organised crime.
Get ready for a Keyser Soze moment…
It’s me…Autistic recluse, unable to function unless I can isolate and unable to function socially or emotionally under any circumstances The Autism element of the NGO sector will tell you (though not in so many words because that would breach equality legislation) that I am not capable of thinking let alone speaking for myself. (Just like “Turn Off the Red Light” really).
This is almost too strange for fiction, but within the past couple of years I stumbled over the fact that my long estranged brother is a real life Tony Soprano in the UK. Now one of the reasons I sold sex was to escape from my family for good…but still that fact is *MY* safe passport to the truth even Police cannot access.
My brother is not involved in trafficking and has never heard of anyone else who is. An accountant at what passes for his heart he is keen to point out that “white slavery” and trafficking would NEVER be economically viable in this part of Europe particularly when there are so much better licences to “print your own money” like residential service provision. He regards the whole thing as a rather silly sick joke to frighten small children with.
He isn’t interested in my activism, he doesn’t understand altruism or caring about people you aren’t using and thinks I am an idiot for not joining “Turn Off the Red Light” and milking them for all I can get.
THAT is what REAL organised crime has to say.
There ARE no “criminal gangs” involved in the sex industry…they are all too busy with more lucrative things.
Something happened recently that summed it all up for me.
People go on about sex worker clients being “rapists”, but that is just another lie. My clients were the first and only men I ever met who did *not* leave me feeling used and disempowered. They respected my autonomy by paying my price and abiding by my terms, openly and honestly…I knew where I stood, they knew where they stood, and there was no place for the games people play.
I felt raped by a society that pretends to offer SO MUCH HELP but when it came to it, left me with no choice but sell sex anyway, condemned and persecuted me yet gave me no real way out…
Recently someone approached me from right in the heart of the “Turn Off the Red Light” supporters and the NGO sector. I cannot give you details without risking identifying him, which would not be appropriate, but I can assure you he played every cheap shoddy “pick up artist” trick in the book to get under my skin…not the simple stuff you can turn around and say “will you ever feck off” to…EVEN if you are socially and emotionally competent, as he knew right well I am not as an autistic…this was the kind of thing that traps and corners you, places you on a spot and hits all your triggers…I can tell you that with hindsight but at the time he just put a slow steady stranglehold on my heart…pushing it a little further all the time…trying to get me to accept things that I reject, things that disgust me…and thank him for it…
People think pathological control is about getting people to do what you want, but it isn’t, that would prove nothing…pathological control is entrenched in proving to yourself you can get people to do things they DO NOT want…only then can you be sure you have control…
Then something happened…never mind what…and broke the spell…leaving me in a kind of cold, sweating clinical shock, picking it all over, realising how many of the people and organisations that had earned my disgust over the years this man had been affiliated with…When people, or organisations disgust me I literally cannot force myself to deal with them, or anything connected to them, ever again, that is autism…but this man who was part of them all cold bloodedly put a very unconditional stranglehold on my heart…
I feel raped to the power of ten…all the symptoms, including clinical shock…I keep getting cold so I can’t warm up…I feel disgust with myself…I feel my soul and my integrity were raped and, for a little while, turned against me…I am in a bad way…and I know I am not much use to anyone right now…maybe I never will be again…I do not think I can go on looking at the cesspit that hems me, and worse, others, in from all sides. I need to retreat into denial, just to stop feeling sick, but autism makes that impossible.
But it must be ok because he never touched my body or paid for sex and he even wants to prosecute harmless men who buy sex (and never made me feel anything except worthwhile and respected), and force sex workers to live on welfare in sink estates, where his friends can “help” them.
Something is very sick and wrong with this picture.
But it puts “Turn Off the Red Light” and friends, in a nutshell…