Am I a Victim or a Criminal? – Sustaining Exit
Most of ‘Susie’s’ (not her real name) family didn’t know that she used to work as an escort. She hasn’t done so now for several years. It was at a time of financial crisis for her nothing else seemed available. She got in touch with us at Beyond the Streets when she found herself at another difficult juncture, this time wanting to do anything she could to find a different path.
Now nearly 2 years in (to supporting women on the phone and by email with our Beyond Support service), we at Beyond the Streets have been surprised by the number of women who get in touch having stopped selling sex some time ago. As of June 2016, out of the 45 women we have walked alongside, 20 were looking for understanding and expertise around the issues that they face as they build and sustain a lifestyle away from selling sex.
Most people who call don’t want to have to explain themselves from scratch and do want a confidential chat away from feeling labelled or judged. It’s been about keeping the past as the past in the areas like: employment, relationships, bringing up children and reputation. This is easier said than done, for example, DBS checks currently show soliciting convictions from when a woman was under 18. One woman asked, ‘Am I a victim or a criminal?’
Many contacting us who have left prostitution still feel that their past weighs heavily on their family relationships and friendships. A woman’s sense of isolation can be both acute and chronic when she doesn’t feel at liberty to share her past with those close to her.
‘Susie’s’ family found out and it was tough. But some have been wonderfully supportive and she is now at the stage where she feels our phone calls are no longer needed. We could plug a bit of the ‘isolation gap’ for a while and now she is moving on.
For more information on our Beyond Support service, visit www.beyondsupport.org.uk