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Founded in 1987, Sex Workers Anonymous, (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous), is the oldest, and largest 12 Step program and related hotline answered 24/7 by someone in recovery from the sex industry in some part - prostitution, stripping, pornography, sex trafficking, human trafficking, porn performing, strip clubs, etc.
The only program to author a "Recovery Guide" on how to exit, and find recovery, from being in the sex industry. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/sexworkersAnonymous
If you've seen Showtime's "Dreamcatchers" - then you've seen just one of the many programs we've started inside of jails/prisons. In fact, every program today that works with this community has been spawned from the roots of this program - the "mother" if you will.
Realize, we are not an "abolition" group, nor a "rescue" group, or anything where we're going to take a stance "for" or "against" any part of the sex industry itself - legal or illegal. Alcoholics Anonymous for example does not try and bring back Prohibition, nor do they take a stance against drinking. Their focus is only on providing assistance to those who want to achieve sobriety, and found it difficult to do without outside help.
We are also modeled after Narcotics Anonymous. NA does not make any distinction between "legal" and "illegal" drugs - their focus is only on providing help to those who want to get clean. Since society recognized that many "crimes" were committed because of complex issues - drug courts and alternative sentencing programs were created for the addict.
We were the first group to bring this idea to the courts - offering our program as an alternative to incarceration in situations where the law might say this person was a "criminal", but the reality was completely the opposite. Our program was the first to provide a means to achieve early parole/probation, to assist with re-entry after incarceration, etc. Our program was also set up so that those arrested for prostitution, pimping, sex trafficking, etc., could find an alternative to incarceration.
In 1986, California was discussing Prop 67. This was a law being considered that was going to authorize the government to identify, then "quarantine" potential carriers of HIV/AIDS,meaning "prostitutes". What this meant was they were wanting to ship anyone the government identified as a "prostitute", off to some island somewhere - literally.
With no cell phones back then or internet, we felt this was no different than being shipped off to concentration camps. COYOTE, the mother of SWOP, was the program then that advocated for sex workers' rights. Our founder was a member of COYOTE at this time, and found that organizers against this quarantine were being targeted by law enforcement uncomfortable with the idea of us organizing for change and our protection.
In fact, these women found their phones being tapped, they were being followed to meetings, and at one point LAPD started arresting these women and then threatening them with felony charges and/or incarceration if they didn't stop organizing. Two of these women were threatened with conspiracy and even "domestic terrorism" charges. Those who wanted to join in protest, but were on parole and/or probation, were threatened with being violated if they got involved in any way. This was actually a common problem founders of Narcotics Anonymous experienced when they first created their program - addicts were arrested coming right out of meetings at one point.
Learning that laws had been "grandfathered" in which protected all phone calls, meetings, and any type of communications as being as "privileged" as they are if you're talking to your priest, (we are a spiritual program) - these early organizers for sex workers' rights, which included the idea arresting us on "prostitution" charges was as silly as arresting an addict for trying to get clean, realized if they formed a 12-step program and hotline then they could speak and meet freely without police observation and/or interference. With anything said in a meeting now inadmissible in court, this got law enforcement off our backs who were trying anything they could to stop us from organizing to make our lives better.
Contrary to what the trolls spread about us online, (and angry pimps and traffickers trying to get us shut down), we are not of the belief that one is "addicted" to prostitution, or that we are trying to get everyone out of the industry.
Our program is really more like that of "Divorce Anonymous" - where those going through a divorce connect in order to get the support they need going through a difficult life transition, and where they also want to make the divorce process easier for those who may get a divorce in the future.
History shows that the early foundations of Alcoholics Anonymous had everything to do with Prohibition being repealed. How could one hold an AA meeting if everyone was being secretive? Narcotics Anonymous is instrumental in creating the first drug courts - providing for alternative sentencing in some cases.
For these reasons, we are actively involved in changing the laws and societal views on sex work in order to make the exiting process easier, and more accessible to us - just as NA changed the laws allowing felons to be able to attend NA meetings whereas before they would be violated for trying to get clean. Just as lawmakers aren't going to listen seriously to advocates who would show up loaded or drunk to discuss changes to the laws regarding the way an addict or alcoholic is treated - we found that policy makers are more open to listening to input by those who were in sex work and now aren't.
So you see, there's many reasons to consider joining our program. If you're not sure this is the right program for you, and you have questions - give us a call anytime. We have someone who is now out of the industry answering our phones 24/7 internationally. We are the only hotline that is answered by ex-sex workers and/or survivors in existence to take your calls for help that are 100 percent confidential and privileged.
* Note - when calling other hotlines that are not 12 step groups, and you're not speaking to a psychiatrist, priest, or attorney you've hired - what you say can potentially be used against you in a court of law. Even the National Trafficking Hotline admits on their website that they're tracking your IP address., and sharing that with their "partners". SWOP has admitted they share member and donor information with the IRS because of their 501c3 status in their tax returns.
That's one of the reasons why SWA is not a 501c3 - thus we're not required to report on member/donor information to the government. We do not share your information with anyone, and we've refused demands even to turn over caller information to law enforcement.
So anything you talk to us about is 100 percent confidential. Our only concern is how we can help you. To maintain this anonymity however, it also means we've had to turn down government grants and/or outside grants. Protecting your anonymity comes at a high price - so please consider supporting us with a private donation or buying some literature if you can. All money we receive goes to support providing direct services.
Also, we do not provide direct grants. If you're looking for someone to cut you a check, we're not it. If you need help to get emergency housing, drug treatment, or to escape a dangerous situation - we can help. But we do not pay for hotel rooms or give callers cash. We are strictly a group of volunteers, and receive no outside funding to disburse.
Originally we were called "Prostitutes Anonymous" but we soon realizing this was too limiting for us. Our name was changed to "Sex Workers Anonymous" in 1996. We are still evolvng. To take this program into the next generation Millennials are already causing us to update our technology whether it be from adding online remote meetings, translating our "Recovery Guide" into other languages, as well as making an audio version for those who have reading challenges. This includes creating "Sexual Exploitation Anonymous" for juveniles trying to escape the streets, as well as SWAN for family members wanting to help the family members. The time has come for us to "change with the times" too.
We are just a group of people who have found their way out of the sex industry offering our "experience, strength and hope" to others who want to do so also. If you need to apply for some type of aid - we have members who will emotionally support you through that process. We do not charge for our services we provide to other members, and therefore we aren't cutting checks out to members either. All of our members are "trusted servants" who volunteer and not paid employees or professionals. Whatever you want to call what it is what we do - sex trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, stripping, strip clubs, pornography, porn performing, legal and illegal brothels, the right "keywords" aren't easy to find. We are men and women from any part of the sex industry who have a desire to exit that industry, not to return, and to lead a life in recovery.
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