This month, the team at The Way Out would like to tell you about some of the work we are doing with women who are victims of sexual exploitation so that you can have a better understanding of the reality of the situation, while also keeping you informed about our values and priorities within our line of work.
The women we are helping have often been unwilling participants of the sex industry over varying periods of time. Some of them have lived through years of intense full-time exploitation under the direction of a pimp who has controled them with great cruelty.
Even when they have technically freed themselves from the grip that their pimps had over their lives, they come out scarred and they face enormous difficulties.
No Time or Energy for Education
At The Way Out, we can’t help but notice how spending time in the sex industry has affected the natural progression of these young women. The first thing we notice is how little education they have received during their years spent in the sex industry. The combination of night life and working for cash (instant gratification) has resulted in these women being diverted from the path that leads to the true fulfillment of their dreams; because becoming a doctor, hairdresser, journalist or engineer takes time and energy invested in school classrooms. There is no other secret formula.
Since their schedule is mostly run by a pimp, they have no time or energy left for education. They tell us that their free time is often used as a “healing” time during which they try to cope with the violence experienced during their last shift.
As part of their reintegration process, it is a priority for us to teach them the importance of education. Once they understand the role that education plays in their journey to freedom, we help them choose a program that really interests them and encourage them to push through when difficulties arise.
Rediscovering a Healthy Lifestyle
However, education is not possible if they have not first learned to develop a healthy lifestyle. As a matter of fact, they must go through an entire restructuring of their day to day lives in order to integrate into the workforce outside the sex industry. At our residence, our social workers always notice essentially the same behavioral pattern: eating habits (ordering food late at night for example), financial habits (not knowing how to make and manage a budget), and social habits that tend to normalize the behaviour of prostitution. In other words, it’s hard to go back to school and re-enter the work environment when you go to bed at 4:00 AM every day, your dinner consists of an order of fast food in the early hours of the morning, you don’t have a penny to your name and all your friends are sex workers.
As you know, these women do not have the same outlook on life and reference points as you and I. We often feel like getting through to them is like swimming against a strong current. Helping a survivor of sexual exploitation reintegrate is far from easy.
But it isn’t impossible!
Each life is so very important and we know that every woman has the potential to be fulfilled. For this reason, we don’t give up. We will continue to go against the current by helping the victims get past every obstacle in the way of their social reintegration. Our entire team is dedicated to the fight against the sex trade by directly offering help to victims of sexual exploitation.