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Showing posts with label PTSD and sex trafficking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PTSD and sex trafficking. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The above is some of the work I've seen published by Dr. Thomas Neylan on PTSD in veterans.  We founded our 12 step program in August of 1987.  We didn't really start attracting in regular members until 1988.  That said, we have been attracting in members that I met in their 20's in the 1980's and we've been growing old together.  I was 27 years old in 1987.

People have asked me why I pulled our 1st edition Recovery Guide to update it.  The reason why is this, as I hit my 40's I started having a lot of health problems.  As I'm telling my friends in SWA about these health problems - guess what?  I'm hearing "me too".  Even down to the stroke issue.  I had a stroke in the year 2000 - when I hit 40.  By 2004, I'm on thyroid medication.  I had perfect teeth until then - and then they started popping out like popcorn.  I read a study about the "trifecta" of stress health issues - how when the thyroid goes out of whack, it affects the moisture levels in the mouth which then give dental problems.  The moisture levels were related to clinical depression.  This research was talking about how depression, thyroid problems and dental problems went hand in hand.

Every single member of SWA I've ever spoken to, and our hotline has answered at least 500,000 calls at last count, has admitted to an eating disorder.  It's a running joke in our local meetings that you can tell those in the business still vs. those out because those out are overweight.  Whenever a thin woman has come in the door we've asked her what is it - anorexia or bypass surgery.  It's always one or the other.  It's creepy sometimes to go to a SWA meeting where a lot of us "old timers" are and we're all hobbling in with canes and walkers.

No joke - it's because so many of us are disabled I started the phone meetings.  The vast majority of our old-timers in SWA are house bound.  The woman in this video who has been with us since 1991 has had a stroke and has to have a cane to walk.  She's on so much medication she can't drive herself anywhere.

But after the umpteenth call where you keep hearing the same health disorders out of our members - you get a pattern.  I've also seen what works and what doesn't.  I know what I've had to do in order to pull myself out of bed.  I was so sick at one point the circulation in my left leg had stopped because of blood clots the doctors couldn't remove so they were talking about cutting it off.  The blood was pooling in my ankle so I couldn't wear shoes or walk.  Then it was getting infected so I was on Cipro.  The extra fluids was causing me to have congestive heart failure.  I mean I was not going to make it if I didn't make some serious changes to my diet.

I found every single one of us were having what's called "inflammatory" disorders like spoken about in his research.  I myself got a great deal of relief by switching to an anti-inflammatory diet.  I've had to switch to an all organic, unprocessed kosher organic food diet.  I'm still struggling with sugar - but "progress not perfection".  I mean it took me a while to give up red meat, pizza and fast food!

Needless to say, I wish I'd known these things when we were new.  If I had known - I would have treated our newer members differently.  Back in the 1980's addicts were given sugar to help ease the transition off drugs.  Literally in NA meetings if you said you were new they used to hand you a doughnut or a candy bar and say "this will help with the cravings".  Of course we had weight gain but it was written off as the price of getting clean.  However, I would see the addict lose the weight at about a year.  With us - it kept piling on us.

I myself went up to 480 pounds at one point.  So that's when I started noticing that on yet another level those of us in SWA were different than the addict/alcoholic.  They were losing the weight at about a year clean.  We however would keep gaining and keep gaining until we either would be overweight, or again I was seeing some swing back into an eating disorder to lose weight in an unhealthy manner, or I was hearing about bypass surgery.

However, a study that's being swept under the rug about bypass is that if the surgery is done without addressing the underlying issues - guess what?  Not only was the weight coming back but they were seeing the patient substitute into sexual addiction or drug/alcohol abuse.  Since we were also staying clean - I would see some of our members switch into sexual addiction ("well it's okay because I didn't charge" and no I don't think a woman telling me she's going from work to a bar to drink a coke then take a different strange man home that night is a sign of recovery), gambling addiction (Dr. Larry Ashley did a study on those who left stripping and then became compulsive gamblers), or abusive relationships.  Which is what I was seeing a lot of in Catharsis (the support group for ex-hookers that existed before SWA - the women I found were acting out in either gambling, eating disorders or abusive relationships - hence why I realized we needed some recovery system).

Which I'm still finding when I look at cases of ex-prostitutes or survivors who are not in a program like SWA - they've substituted into some other form of self-abusive behavior including in a lot of cases substituting the pimp with some pastor who's pimping them for money into the church.  I can give you a list a mile long of trafficking survivors who are out shilling for some church to raise money to build a "safe house".  Are they getting a dime?  Nope.  They're lucky if the house gets built.  In most cases I'm seeing it's not.  The money is taken by the pastor and they wind up with nothing to show for all that work.

During my pregnancy, I went from 190 to 380 in nine months.  The doctor said he'd never seen anyone gain that much weight that fast.  My sugar was off the charts.   I had gestational diabetes.  In speaking to our members about this, I also found everyone who had a baby also had gestational diabetes.  Every woman in my family has poly-cystic ovarian syndrome - or insulin resistance.  Knowing this I was able to raise my daughter without sugar and thankfully she never had a weight problem until doctors started putting her on medication when she was 12 years old.  They thought she was bipolar because of her father.  But bipolar doesn't just appear.

Knowing this, I kept pushing on the doctors to run tests.  Ironically, what saved her life was the car accident.  When she got run over they finally MRI'd her body which discovered she had a 26 pound tumor on her left ovary.  Once it was removed - she was fine on that point.  No more voices or hearing things.  No more cutting.  No more not sleeping for days at a time.  The tumor was causing her to pump out massive hormones.  So once it was removed - those symptoms went away with her.

Now Dr. Neylan speaks about "exposure therapy" being something effective which is what they get in our 12 step program.  This is basically "telling the story over and over" which is done in our program.  It's done when they come in, it's done during the step inventory process, it's done during outreach, it's done when we go into jails and set up panels to let new members know about our program, etc.  I've seen how after about six months most of the symptoms also lift.

Which is why I'm updating our "Recovery Guide".  I want the new members now coming into recovery to know what we didn't know and hopefully not just start falling apart when they hit 40 years old or so.  That seems to be when everything kicks off in us like domino's.  If we were warned about things like getting regular exercise, eating healthier, anti-inflammatory diets, etc., I'm hoping we can turn that around.

Thank you Dr. Neylan, and associates, for this work with PTSD that just confirms what we've been seeing in our members.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Wow - this tape I saw today on TV blew me away because it just validated why our 12 step program can be more effective than, or certainly enhance, just straight counseling with respect to the PTSD that our members, or those exiting the sex industry who are suffering from PTSD, suffer from

In this video, Dr. Thomas Neylan goes over "Exposure Therapy".  He contrasts someone who has been through a trauma who gets a "one time debriefing" vs. someone who talks about their experience over and over and over again, or "exposure therapy".  The study found that "exposure therapy" or "talking about the trauma over and over and over again" significantly reduces the long term effects of the trauma on the person.

In the 12 step group, when the person first calls the hotline they're ask to "identify".  We have to make sure that reporters, pimps, cops, informants, etc. don't get into the rooms.  So they're asked to talk about their story there.  From there, they go into their first meeting.  At most first meetings - they again tell their story so that the older members get to know who they are.

There is sharing time at each meeting.  When one has some "time" they're asked to do "outreach" which is basically telling of one's story.  To do outreach, one goes out to jails, treatment centers, shelters, other meetings, programs, etc. and tells their story.  When we do panels in the jails - we go in telling our story.  When we hold an "open house" or a "public information" event - we stand up and tell our story.

So our members get a lot of chances to tell their stories over and over.  I also ask them if they want to be interviewed for our radio show at  Or make a video.  In the early 1990's we had a weekly cable show where I invited members on to tell their stories.   I'm in the process of putting that back together - videotaping interviews with members to put on public access TV and social media.  I've set up the site for it at

I've compared our members recovery with those I meet who are "trafficking victims" who are just given therapy.  In therapy, one generally tells their story maybe once or twice.  Then it goes into more current events and feelings.   Those I've met and spoken to are frankly a mess - even years after the original truama.

What this lecture does - is validate how the 12 step program is VERY effective for us because of our high levels of PTSD.  I further went online and googled Dr. Neylan's name and found some fascinating work on PTSD.