About the Founder
Jody Williams has been through just about every type of abuse there is. Born from an unexpected teen pregnancy, she found herself sexually, mentally and physically abused by her father from the age of 8 years old on.
As her father got worse, so too did her mothers' mental health - soon physically abusing her so often they moved to avoid Child Protective Services. By 11 years old, her grandmother was murdered by her step-grandfather who shot her down in the driveway of her home.
After the funding for the Mentally Gifted Minor (for kids with very high I.Q.'s), program was cut, she left high school to enter college at 16 years of age. However, a major car accident laid her up for a year.
Wanting to return to school but unable to get a scholarship because she'd left high school so early, and needing a job that was physically easy to do - she got a job in a local nightclub at the ticket window.
The club turned out to be a front for prostitution and drug money laundering however. By the time she found this out - it was too late. She'd been sucked "into the game" by a family of generational pimps and prostitutes.
Unable to go to the police because of what she'd seen happen to people who did, she managed to quietly "buy" her way out of this situation - only to go from the "frying pan" into the fire.
Once word spread she was an "outlaw" or "independent" as it was called in the early 1980's, she was preyed upon by corrupt cops connected to LAPD as well as CIA who were part of what's now been called "Iran Contra". Not only did this mean she couldn't call the cops for help since a few bad ones were involved, but she was battling the fact American society didn't believe such things were even "real". Realize this was before "Iran Contra" even had a name.
Certainly no one would believe that a top Hollywood producer like Chuck Barris was then was using the "Dating Game" as a front for sex trafficking. Chuck didn't reveal this himself until the release of his memoirs some years later in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". Even now many don't believe it coming from his mouth.
Nor was anyone believing that a "street ministry" claiming to be "saving prostitutes" was in reality taking them from the street pimp to be instead exploited by the cult "Children of God".
Remember, prostitution back in the early 1980's was called a "victimless" crime with no consideration of the epidemic of serial killers targeting prostitutes back then - both in the USA and Canada. Certainly not believing things like this were "real" either. That was proven when no one believed Linda Lovelace had been forced to film "Deep Throat" at gunpoint by her husband on a mob financed film.
Needing a "safe house" for adults to escape such situations who obviously couldn't call 911 for help - Jody took an old warehouse that had once been a brothel and turned it into what we later learned was the first one in the country for adults
Only some weren't happy about this - so she was "framed" for a false charge of "pimping" to shut it down, destroy evidence she'd gathered, and to silence her.
Which it did until 1987. Realizing an "outpatient" approach was needed to avoid a repeat of 1984, and after having a "spiritual awakening" similar to what she later learned Bill Wilson (founder of AA) and Jimmy Kinnon (founder of NA) had also experienced leading them to create a 12 step program, "Prostitutes Anonymous" was born.
Because literally no other program had taken on addressing the needs of someone leaving any part of the sex industry, for ANY reason - no one was excluded from calling for help whatever the situation. This included men, women, transgenders and the LGBT community; those who were drug addicts and who were not; those who had pimps vs. those who had not as well as trafficking victims.
It also didn't matter if the person was working in "legal" or "illegal" parts of the sex industry - or if it was prostitution, porn, stripping, and/or "management" even. The program works with "madams" and "pimps" as well as "club owners", even "producers" of porn. All are equally affected by the industry and all equally are welcome to help.
Just as Narcotics Anonymous does not separate out those using street drugs vs. celebrities getting prescriptions from high price doctors, nor does AA make any distinction between someone who bottomed out in an alley over someone who went to the Betty Ford Center - our program is designed for anyone wanting help for any reason to help them exiting the sex industry as a whole.
While Jody was the "founder" who did things like get permission from AA to adapt the steps to this program, and to protect the anonymity of callers has answered the hotline at the main World Service Office - she is NOT the "program". Jody was/is but a "trusted servant" only - not a "leader" nor the "program". Like any other 12 step group - there are groups and meetings world wide. We have members all over the world also.
So Jody is not "the program" anymore than Bill Wilson is AA. The "program" is the 12 steps, the 12 traditions, and a set of spiritual principles she didn't create - only adapt to our purposes. This program had to be "adapted" because it's not just like AA. For example, we do not "suffer from a disease" like the alcoholic. So adaptations were made as the fellowship grew and we learned what "worked" vs. what didn't.
Being nothing like this existed for adults, and still doesn't, we didn't have a "road map". So while we've made great innovations and advancements we're also human and had made our mistakes too like any group of humans does. This is why we have our 1st edition "Recovery Guide" published in 1991 and then updated it in 2016.
We've also changed over the years as we've found what works vs. what didn't, as our own recovery evolved, as the world evolved over 30 years, etc. Our meeting format alone took about 5 years to develop one that "works" also.
We've also added two separate programs - Sexual Exploitation Anonymous for juveniles geared towards their needs, sort of like Alateen for AA's teenagers, and SWAN which is for family members modeled after Alanon. These were adapted because we learned most of the time it was the family, or support systems, that pulled someone back in after time.
Because of the shortage of "sponsors" or "group leaders", we also have developed literature which can hold meetings inside of residential programs like Genesis House did with Brenda, or Dignity was ran by the members at hand, as well as meeting formats we have where social workers can lead meetings such as those held for juveniles.
Since it was our members who were the first ones providing inservice training for social workers, cops, counselors, etc., on how to work "effectively" to break the exit cycle, as well as performing expert witness testimony in court cases, and doing panels to raise awareness about the "realities" of the sex industry including education about how sex trafficking operates - we have developed excellent training materials available. We also have a widge range of speakers for any need available.
Whatever your needs are - just ask. We're here to serve those needs.
Many years ago Brenda Myers-Powell came into a Prostitutes Anonymous meeting through Genesis House - a residential program that used to operate in Chicago. Tjhis was before we had changed our name to "Sex Workers Anonymous" in 1996.
Not "getting" the residential program Brenda talks about in her interview here she "heard the message and it clicked" when she was hearing the "Recovery Guide" which is part of the "Prostitutes Anonymous program".
As she found recovery, she learned well you "keep what you have by giving it away" as is taught in 12 Step programs and stepped out to found "DreamCatchers".
A documentary was made about Brenda on Showtime by the same name - so we're not violating any "confidentiality" by pointing out this leader got her foundation through our program as have many others such as Kathleen Mitchell, founder of Dignity in Arizona, Norma Hotaling of SAGE, Paige Latin who founded PACE, and also Savannah Sanders who came to us during her early recovery.
(*Note: all these names are of those members who have stated their early days with us in press interviews which can be found at www.hightechmadam.com. We have others speaking about their recovery through us at in their own words while staying "anonymous". There are also countless others but to protect their anonymity we're only listing a few who did public interviews citing they found their recovery through us.)
Kathleen Mitchell: From Jail to Dignity One Step at a Time
Writing us from a jail cell, Kathleen had enough of the revolving door jail was to her. Hearing about us on TV, she wrote to us for our "Jail Mail Step Study Program". Making good use of her time locked up, she left that jail only to return a year later bringing them a "Prostitutes Anonymous" meeting. This evolved into the Dignity Project founded in Phoenix, Arizona. After a time, Catholic Charities partnered with the program. Kathleen, like Brenda, had got their start in our 12 program which gave them the foundation for themselves, as well as the strength and desire to help others. Kathleen's story proves not only the effectiveness of our program, but further the effectiveness of the "jail step study program". Kathleen went on to receive the Norma Hotaling Award - another woman who got her initial recovery in our 12 step program before going on to found SAGE in 1989.