Dear Mr. Hampton:
Monday, August 15, 2016
I got a call today from someone telling me they "had been to a Sex Workers Anonymous" meeting at DACCO in Tampa, Florida. Only we don't have any registration for a meeting in Tampa. Below is a letter I just sent to their executive director. This letter applies to anyone running an unregistered meeting of SWA:
Dear Mr. Hampton:
Dear Mr. Hampton:
I'm writing to have a talk with you about phone calls we've been receiving. It seems that someone at your organization has set up a meeting of "Sex Workers Anonymous". I'm writing to talk to you about helping us find out who is doing this so that we can speak to them about it.
Please be advised our materials are copyrighted and trademarked. The reason for this is that our process is different than that of Alcoholics Anonymous, or anything currently taught in drug addiction counseling school or a psychology class. In fact, NOTHING was working for us in the long term back prior to 1987 (the year we were founded), that was available through existing 12 step programs, nor in traditional counseling.
We spent YEARS surveying all existing programs, and also interviewed over 4,000 male and female ex-sex workers across the world, where it was legal and illegal, and also those who abused drugs as well as who didn't. What we found was a universal failure for us to achieve long term recovery prior to the creation of our program. In fact, almost all of us "relapsed" before hitting the third year mark.
When we started our program, it was therefore a lot of "trial and error" before we found what DID work for us. To uncover the process that did work, the research was extensive and expensive. I had to travel in fact to do my research for this (as this was pre-internet back in the late 1980's), by picking the brains of not only 12 step group founders who were still alive, but also that of experts in things such as PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome, cult brainwashing, etc.
It took us a lot of "experiments" to find what DID work. Experiments which were extremely time consuming and expensive. The result of that work was partially put into our literature which includes our "Recovery Guide" as well as our "Step Working Guide". However, there are other parts to the process we did not put in the literature, and only provided by experiencing the process or private training. In fact, I used to offer private training and consultation to many treatment programs who were working with prostitutes up until I had my daughter, and our book was published in 1992. We then did follow-up research on the programs we provided training to, as well as a control group of those we did not. We learned that those who followed what we taught had amazing success, while those who did not folded.
I'm going to point you in fact to professor Sharon Oselin's report which was done without our knowledge actually in the book "Leaving Prostitution". She studied three programs working with prostitutes - one of who was running meetings of ours WITHOUT our involvement at the time of her study. In this report, she had nothing but good things to say about our program. The quotes from the women in fact were all saying that our program was the "only way" they were making it in fact.
I want to point out the two other programs who were not using our process have now folded. The third one which had been using our model up to that point in time IN connection with our program as a whole - had a break with us. You see our program isn't encapsulated in one meeting. We have sponsors all over the world who work with our newer members. We have a newsletter where all members contribute in some fashion. Outreach work projects we all connect to in some fashion. A service structure where we work on international projects together. In other words, we strongly believe the foundation of our program is based in the first tradition "our common welfare comes first - personal recovery depends upon SWA unity".
Well "unity" doesn't happen when one meeting is cut off from the rest of the fellowship. Nor can one be putting "common welfare first" when they aren't also in connection with the rest of the fellowship. So when the meeting Sharon researched decided to cut off connections with our fellowship as a whole over philosophical differences - they also have folded. While our program is going stronger than ever. In fact, ANY meeting that has tried to run a meeting of ours without following our process, which includes connecting to the fellowship as a whole - has failed and subsequently folded.
Our program in other words, when done as designed, produces results. We were the first group in fact in history that I could track down anyway, that was producing long term results. I've got two interviews in fact up on Youtube with two of our members who have been with us since 1992 - once we started finding the process that worked for us. https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=x_TD_X3uOiA and https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=33weIPOhqVU
In order to try and ensure we maintain "quality control" over our program - we don't offer our literature for sale in bookstores, nor on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. We only have the literature available through our main office in fact. The reason for that is we are trying to maintain "quality control" over our program. I say that because when I've heard of groups like was/is being doing at your organization - not only is it not working - but then WE get the bad reputation for that. Which is exactly the call I got today from a woman. She reported she'd been to a meeting at DACCO, that she did not get our literature, she didn't get a sponsor through us, she wasn't connected to us as a whole, and she was calling because she was "going nuts". Now in her case, this woman had enough sense to go online and try and track us down. However, there are many others who aren't that smart. Still others witness this process not working - and then we get the blame. So in other words, this type of thing actually causes us a form of "defamation".
We've been investigated by researchers, as well as reputable investigative reporters. Each has found our program is highly effective, and written glowing reports about us. This is a reputation we treasure highly and are trying to maintain. We say that because many of our members have tried just about everything else before coming to us so it's like we're the "last hope". When they see the results we produce - it's something we're very proud of. But to produce these results - I have to provide the right materials and training to those holding our meetings. Which is why I've been restricting sale of our materials to our website in order to make sure we maintain this control as much as possible.
There's more to it than this as I've now updated our original training and materials. Now having members who have stayed with us for so long - we started noticing some "stage II" issues about 20 years down the road. In fact, so much of this was a common evolution - we realized that we had to make some adjustments to our process. We realized that we had many questions in our first "Recovery Guide" published in 1992, that we now had the answers to. For this reason, we put together the 2nd edition of our "Recovery Guide" which we just finished writing a few months ago. I'm still proofing it and haven't even put it up for mass sale yet. It should be ready by next week. I'm also making sure we have an audio version because we're finding many of our new members have reading issues. We also make sure new members get a chance to hear www.leavingtheliferadio.com to hear from our other members.
Over the years, we've had well-meaning people think that they can just throw together some kind of meeting, call it "Sex Workers Anonymous" or "Prostitutes Anonymous" (our original name), and offer it to their clients without consulting with us, getting our literature from us, or receiving any training from us. I assure you it doesn't work. Again, when even this program researched in "Leaving Prostitution" stopped using our process and resources, disconnected from our fellowship as a whole, and isolated their clients from us - it failed to the point where their program also folded after having operated for 30 years.
So we take this seriously. Now in 2007 we were approached by the people behind the "end demand" wave going on in this country. Let me first make one thing clear - the arrest you can read about with me in 1984 was not over a "brothel". www.hightechmadam.com The arrest was because of an angry pimp pissed off because the warehouse was the first "safe house" in this country for what is now called "sex trafficking victims". Yes I put together the first safe house for adult trafficking victims in the USA. But because of the arrest, I then realized not only did we need to create something "different", but also that I had to do something to raise awareness that sex trafficking was "real". Especially when the cops couldn't grasp that it was a safe house - and not a "brothel".
Since we were the first hotline in this country to take calls from people wanting to escape sex work - this means we also were getting the first calls from sex trafficking victims. However, we were having to pay for everything ourselves because these victims weren't getting "victim status" but instead being treated solely as "criminals". In order to change this, the people were were rescuing joined me in the campaign which resulted in the Trafficking Act of 2000 being passed. In other words, we started the modern domestic trafficking movement. We did this in order to stop seeing these victims being denied services. Much like how at one point in time our society also viewed addicts as "only criminals" and not from a therapeutic point of view like they do now.
However, two years after we achieved this federal recognition, there was a backlash by two factions. The religious right and those who are the organized sex traffickers. The traffickers felt they could use these "trafficking" stories to push their agenda to get prostitution legalized in this country (in other words expand brothels outside of Nevada). They didn't appreciate our approach even though it worked. They wanted to convert this movement into something like what's happening in New Zealand right now - where sex trafficking is only recognized within the illegal arenas while being ignored in the legal sections of the sex industry. For example, while signs with the National Trafficking Hotline are now required to be posted all over California - the legal brothels, sex clubs, strip clubs, etc., of Nevada are not.
This faction came to us in 2007 and asked me if we would change our position in Sex Workers Anonymous which is "we have no opinion on outside issues" to that of "condemning prostitution". In other words, we do not condemn prostitution, pornography, etc. We don't blame them anymore than AA blames the alcohol industry. But we were asked if we would in fact take a position against the sex industry. If we did this, we would not only be violating our very traditions, but we'd also lose our members AND our program wouldn't work. It works in one part because we address sex work as a "whole" and don't just focus on the single issue of prostitution. Our members don't come in identifying as "sex trafficking victims" anymore than most at their first AA meeting come in shouting they're an "alcoholic", nor do we want them to identify as "victims" anymore than AA would want their members to identify as "wino's" or "drunks" or NA would want theirs identifying as "junkies".
When we refused to make this change because of being offered a lot of money, property and prestige - this group (which is well funded) decided to try and run our groups without us the way "they" wanted to. What happened was this group then set up 10 groups around the USA who were running these "faux" meetings "their" way. The end result was a three ring circus. We took a great beating not only to our reputation - but also to our relationships within the sex industry itself. One of the more publicized groups who did this was Project Rose in Phoenix. The "Way We Were" is a woman from Phoenix describing what happened to the area after these people came in and took over actually.
AA would not survive if they came out trying to shut down the alcohol industry. NA wouldn't survive one minute if they came out attacking the pharmaceutical industry. What this group did was to try and attack the sex industry while trying to use our meetings to further their agenda. Up to that point, we were getting a great deal of our referrals from within the sex industry itself. We had spent YEARS building a good relationship for example with groups such as the AVN. These people would call us when they saw sex trafficking happening, as well as refer people to us who had decided they needed to quit, and/or those who had legal court issues where they needed to use our program for alternative sentencing purposes. But when they set up these groups such as Project Rose, and started attacking the sex industry itself, well the industry started attacking us back thinking we were a party to this.
We asked this group to stop this, and to go back to allowing us to run the groups the way we know they work. As well as use our literature. They refused and continued on - basically flipping us off. They even hired some of our "best success cases" to work for them while throwing a great deal of money at them. We finally had no choice but to come in with attorney's and "cease and desist" orders were issued. They left us no choice but to shut down these meetings entirely along with threatening legal action we're still considering for damages. Now it's our understanding their programs couldn't operate without having a 12 step meeting to meet licensing and insurance requirements. So what resulted was their programs shut down shortly after because they no longer were using 12 step meetings as part of their program.
Needless to say this created a lot of "bad blood" all around because we wouldn't cave. We had people within the sex industry angry at us thinking we had attacked them when we had not. Our members they hired had to break off from our program, and this created a lot of internal conflict. We're not "unique". Both AA and NA also went the same growth pains. But the bottom line Mr. Hampton is that our process WORKS. I can't mess with that.
Now when I get a call from someone telling me we have another "faux" meeting being held in connection with your program - I already know most people have no idea what's going on. These people made sure to put on a pretty good act, and even cut us out of the loop pretty well. I've got a whole large group of people in fact running around thinking that Brenda Myers-Powell is our "founder" even because of these people who are driving the "end demand" campaign. So I'm sure they probably have no idea that to run one of our meetings - they need to first get ahold of a meeting registration from me, a starter kit, and to get some basic training in how our process works in order to not be in breach of our copyrights and trademarks over our intellectual property.
But the end result of that is I get a call from someone today telling me they THINK they've "been to one of our meetings" and they further report they don't have our literature, haven't been told what our process is, haven't seen the results they can achieve working our program, etc.
I think it's wonderful someone wants to run one of our meetings there. But I need your help to get in touch with the person who is doing this. I need to get them our materials, register the meeting in our directory, connect them to our other Tampa members, and get them trained in our process so that they can start producing some high quality results within that group.
One thing - www.sexworkersanonymous.com is for adult men and women.
We created www.
sexualexploitationanonymous. com for juveniles.
We also have www.swan-fellowship.us for family members (like Alanon).
Now since I answer our hotline until about 5 am, I don't tend to answer the phone until after 3 pm eastern time (noon my time). So please ask whoever is in charge of our group there to please contact me at this email or to call me at (702) 488-1127 after 3 pm eastern time.
Also, I've just got in our Spanish translation of our materials. Again, I'm working on formatting right now and we will have an updated material list available within a few days.--