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The Economics of Exploitation: The Addicts of Prostitution
A good part of my addictive behavior involved seeing prostitutes regularly. During the early phases of my addiction, I would see maybe one every other week. During the last two years of my acting out, I would see seven or eight a week. My behavior involved exploiting the same women repeatedly, to the point that I thought we were friends and had a type of relationship. That was just part of the delusional thinking for which addicts are well known. I maintained this behavior for over twenty years and was saw over four hundred women, all of whom were addicts. All of the men, including myself, who are pay these women for their time are taking advantage of an addict.
There has been some discussion about the morality and legality of prostitution, and I will not touch upon any of that. I am not a legal expert, nor am I in a position to preach morality. However, I wish to make people aware that this activity is far from harmless, and only propagates addictive behavior.
According to studies, there is a strong correlation between substance abuse and prostitution. From my own experience, all of the women I saw were dealing with substance abuse issues. This may be related to the type of women to whom I was attracted. Indeed, when many of these women would attempt to get clean, they would stop seeing me. Some would occasionally communicate, but we would not meet in person unless money exchanged hands. This usually succeeded a relapse, which I secretly looked forward to. I now find that thinking heinous and reprehensible.
These victims needed money to pay for their substance abuse addictions. Some were also supporting their partners, since they were also addicted and unable to hold a job themselves. In fact, many told me their boyfriends and husbands encouraged their prostitution. I would often pass them on the stairs as I headed up to the hotel room.
In most cases, the purchasers, who are largely male, are the ones in positions of power. They have jobs, money and maybe even a good reputation in the community. I know that I did before I got in trouble with the law. These women were completely vulnerable largely due to their addiction.
Of three hundred and seventy eight women I encountered over a twenty year period, all of them had substance abuse issues. I am not including legal substances like nicotine. I had observed that every single one of them smoked cigarettes. I always thought that interesting.
Most were addicted to opioids (including fentanyl), over 70%. The balance was split between Methamphetamines and Crack. Over 1/3 (35%) had fused addictions with one or more illegal substances. At least four that I knew well overdosed and died. One committed suicide. I had at one time thought of making this anonymous list available, but that would be another type of exploitation.
Exploitation and Power
Such vulnerable women are clearly victims of the men paying for sex, but they live in a culture where exploitation was an acceptable way of living. When I was searching the web for one of these women, I was not surprised to discover that she had been arrested. Not for possession or solicitation. She herself was exploiting a fourteen-year-old girl as well as herself. It still bothers me to this day that it did not horrify me at the time. None of the men who had sex with the underage girl were arrested.
It should be clear that the people who pay for sex are at least equally as culpable (I would say more) as the prostitutes. Yet, why are prostitutes arrested at a much higher rate? Although this is changing, albeit slowly. Clearly there are elements of privilege for the buyers (they do, after all, have money), but there are other factors as well.
Law Enforcement and Punishment
Not only are these women vulnerable because their substance abuse issues, they are also societal pariah. Although there has been a very recent trend toward more passion towards addicts, we still have a long way to go.
In many, many instances these women cannot seek help because they fear incarceration because of their addictions or the actions they took to prevent painful withdrawal. Thus, there is a natural suspicion to ask for help. Nearly every woman with whom I associated would tell me stories of men who beat them, robbed them or abandoned them. On woman was painfully stabbed. None went to the authorities. The buyers know this, and it encourages aggressive behavior. One reason I kept seeing the same women repeatedly is that they would charge significantly less because there was lower risk. This was also a type of exploitation of which I am not proud.
Our American culture disdains prostitutes, yet we have an incredibly high consumption of pornography and sex-trade. At one time, one southern state thought it honorable to arrest a girl of sixteen for murder when she was in the midst of being held hostage by a pimp and exploited by a John. She kept being called a teenage prostitute and underaged prostitute. I would think that any sixteen year old, boy or girl, would not willingly embrace prostitution unless. Fortunately, that abhorrent decision was recently overturned, but only after the victim lost ten years of her life while incarcerated.
Next Steps and What to do
Compassionate steps are always needed, especially for younger victims. There are success stories of people getting out of this life style; however prostitution does carry the baggage of mental health issues, although it seems like more research is needed.
If you are purchaser of sex from a vulnerable addict, just stop. You most likely need help as well. The money you give them may temporarily ease their pain, but it just perpetuates a horrible and desperate lifestyle. Although there sometimes pangs of guilt when you discover that the money you gave someone caused their death, it is usually assuaged when the next victim is uncovered. That should truly bother everyone, but when you treat human life as a commodity, it takes a long time for the numbness to subside.
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