Friday, April 14, 2017
Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly “Prostitutes Anonymous”)
Jody Williams, Founder and Director
(702) 488-1127 Cell/Text or (888) 629-2002 Toll Free
Every movement starts with one person. Look for example at the movement to have the Italian “mob” recognized as existing in the USA. Back in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and even part of the 1960’s – our country did not “officially” recognize the Italian “five families” as existing here in the USA. While we might have acknowledged the “Black Hand” existed in Italy, even the FBI was officially denying the existence of the “Cosa Nostra” in the USA up to the 1960’s. It was not until a man, Joe Valachi, started talking to the law about the “family” he was a “soldier” in, thus breaking their code of silence for the first time, did we start to hear about organized crime.
After his memoir was published, Joe testified at Congress, and then a film made with Charles Bronson playing him – things changed. The racketeering laws were written and passed into law. After this, once members of the crime family were asked to turn on their brothers “witness protection” was invented to protect their lives after testifying. Angered at how Italians were being talked about as “criminals”, a prosecutor named Rudolph Giuliani, who was Italian-American, went to the government asking for money for a task force to be formed to focus strictly upon these mobsters. Then the 1970’s hit film “The Godfather” was made announcing to us this “urban myth” that in fact the Italian mob was “real”.
Why do I know this about the Italian mob? Because at one point in our history we used to not believe Americans could be “victims of sex trafficking”, nor that this could be happening on American soil. Victims had even tried to tell the public about this being real such as when Linda Lovelace tried to in her book “Ordeal”, or even Bruce Lee tried in his unedited version of “Enter the Dragon” released in 1973. Even Elizabeth Taylor tried to talk about sex trafficking, or “white slavery” as it was called back then – all to a public who didn’t believe it was happening. So we didn’t have any systems set up within law enforcement, nor our mental health fields, to address what was viewed back then as no different then than if someone came forward today saying they were “being kidnapped and sexually violated by little green Martians”.
In order to have a road map on how to get this country to change this view, I studied how we came to believe in the Italian mafia. Since it started with Joe Valachi stepping up to tell his story – I started stepping up to tell mine in my first national talk show appearance on a Sally Jesse Raphael show in 1987. I announced on that show I was launching the first hotline in this country for anyone to call for any reason who wanted help to “leave the sex industry”. Remember, we didn’t even coin the term “sex trafficking” until 13 years later with the passing of the Trafficking Act of 2000. The 12 step program I founded was created to provide the first ever “alternative to incarceration” for these victims so they could stop being treated like criminals. I also created the first adult “safe house” for victims, along with the first alternative sentencing and diversion programs for those wanting to exit sex work – including those of sex trafficking victims.
Our program, renamed to Sex Workers Anonymous in 1995, is celebrating 30 years in existence on August 15, 1987. To date, I’ve answered our hotline to the tune of 500,000 calls from all over the world. This is five times more calls than Polaris has taken in through the National Trafficking Hotline to date in comparison. SWA is the only program which is for anyone, male, female or transgender, to be provided with “outpatient” assistance to exit any part of the sex industry, for any reason, including that of sex trafficking. In 1992, I authored the only book written by survivors for those wanting to exit the industry on recovery ever written. I’ve also published the only book for family members and loved ones of those exiting the industry, including those trafficked, on how to assist them in helping someone exit the industry, and how to cope with this themselves. Our program has been researched multiple times by reputable reporters, researchers, and authors who have all written glowing positive reports on the effectiveness of our program. In 1995, I was the first person certified by the FBI to testify at traffickers’ hearings on the brainwashing techniques employed by them to make their victims “think” they’re acting of their own free will when in fact not.
Not only did I start the “modern” movement to have sex trafficking recognized as “real” domestically (it had died out in the 1960’s entirely), which resulted in this federal recognition being granted with the passing of the Trafficking Act of 2000 – but there is no one in the world who has spoken to more survivors of sex trafficking of all ages, genders, religion, lack of religion, and/or geographic location than myself. If you ever need a quote from the founder of the largest, oldest, group of a wide range of survivors who started this all – please get in touch with us at the contact information above. The number of our members currently in our database is 190,000 with 49,000 subscribers to our social media also.________________________________________________________________________
HISTORICAL AND STATISTICAL FACTS ABOUT JODY WILLIAMS
1981 Became the first victim of ring to buy her way out of a “family” of “generational” pimps related to Richard Pryor.
1982 Found herself being forced into what was later dubbed as “Iran Contra” where she witnessed sex trafficking.
1983 Created first “safe house” for adult domestic sex trafficking victims, and those seeking to escape pimps in USA.
1984 Was falsely arrested and accused of “pimping” at a “brothel” which was in fact the “safe house”.
1987 Launched the first hotline for anyone to call who wanted help for any reason to leave any part of sex industry.
1987 Created first ever recovery program for those needing help to exit sex work – including sex trafficking victims. Told public the program was launched because these “victims needed help, not to be treated as criminals”.
1987 Los Angeles County launched the first “alternative sentencing and diversion” program for prostitutes through Prostitutes Anonymous. This was the name first given the 12 step program so as to offer an alternative to "incarceration” to those convicted of prostitution who were in reality “sex trafficking victims” under old laws.
1988 Joe Conforte, founder of the first ever legal brothel in Nevada, decided to expand legalized prostitution into California. He invested over $1,000,000 into a PR firm, and another million into a “rigged” study about HIV/AIDS. This Bill failed at the end of the year with Jody being his only public opponent during this campaign.
1989 Co-created the “Program for Female Offenders” in Allentown, PA modeled after the Los Angeles program. Within the first year, this program saved over $1,000,000 and delayed the need to build a new larger jail. All women who were in this program completed, left prostitution entirely, except two women who were bipolar.
1991 After sponsoring Paige Latin who was originally from Florida into recovery, Jody assisted in creating first Canadian chapter of “Prostitutes Anonymous” with her heading up this chapter.
1992 Paige’s work with Prostitutes Anonymous developed a need for more social services for prostitutes in the area. SPACE was originally created by Paige, which then developed into PACE - a harm reduction program.
1992 After interviewing over 4,000 male, female and transgender sex workers from all over the world in recovery, Jody took interviews from this community and authored the first ever “Recovery Guide” for sex workers/victims.
1995 Jody was certified by the FBI as first person ever to serve as an expert witness in “brainwashing” against pimps..
1998 Worked with same 22 US Attorneys who later were fired for “no stated reason” by Bush to aid Americans.
1999 The passing of the Trafficking Act of 2000 was the result of a 13 year long process started back in 1987 by Jody to “raise public awareness” this issue was very real, and laws needed to be created to provide help. Because major media was refusing to air any content on this subject, Jody “tricked” her way onto TV with “live” cameras by offering to talk about “victimless crimes” and then once the mike was on – telling the truth.
2000 Trafficking Act of 2000 was passed giving sex trafficking a name and federal recognition.
2007 Gave press conference in Nevada sex trafficking was ‘worse” in the state because of legalized prostitution.
2009 Results of 10 year study into Jody’s 12 step program released in “Leaving Prostitution” report to glowing reviews. John Quinones of ABC’s “What Would You Do?” published chapter on Jody in “Heroes Among Us” book.
2012 Beat single-handed campaign to expand legal NV brothels to result in the opening of the “Mob Museum” instead.
Curriculum Vitae for Jody Williams
August 1, 1987 – wrote to Alcoholics Anonymous General Office for permission to adapt “Steps” to the program of “Prostitutes Anonymous”. Permission was granted. Formed a “mentor board” of founders from other 12 step programs, people who worked at the head offices of 12 step programs, people who had been sponsored by founders of 12 step programs, and people from the Holocaust Support Group and the Vietnam Veteran's PTSD program to advise me how to run an “effective” 12 step program.
August 3, 1987 – installed our first 800 number that became our first “hotline” phone for anyone wanting to leave any part of the sex industry to be able to call for help 24/7 and speak to another recovering person who was not connected with law enforcement. Our hotline has answered over 500,000 calls to date whereas Polaris has answered 70,000 to date according to the article we saw.
August 15, 1987 (Day of Harmonic Convergence) - 1st Prostitutes Anonymous meeting in Tarzana, CA. We had 30 men and women in attendance. Over ½ of the people in that room that day are still in “recovery” from sex work today that we're personally aware of.
1987 – started the first ever HIV/AIDS outreach into the sex industry in Los Angeles, California with the support of the CDC, (Center for Disease Control), UCLA, GLASS, (Gay and Lesbian Social Services), Los Angeles Health Department, the LAX Press Newspaper, and COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics). We were proud to be able to train ex-sex workers who would be present when another was told they were in fact HIV positive. They would then become that person's “advocate” and guide them to resources we had identified for them for housing, medical, jobs, counseling, food, etc. - anything they might need even if it was just late night coffee to help them ease through the transition of finding out they were “positive”. Back in the 1980's this was almost always a death sentence within two years at most.
1988 – Dr. Joyce Wallace had an RV and started distributing clean needles, condoms and our flyers to street prostitutes in New York. We received a lot of calls from those flyers and still are in regular contact with women who came to us through that outreach project. Her program transformed into the FROST Project operating in New York today.
1988 – the first “alternative to sentencing” became available to prostitutes in Los Angeles County thanks to a committee put together by then Mayor Tom Bradley, and then Sheriff Sherman Block, and the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women using “Prostitutes Anonymous” meetings and ideas they allowed me to present. This program allowed for early release from jail, and/or to substitute jail time with attending PA meetings for those who had been arrested for their 1st offense for prostitution.
This dove-tailed into the opening of a special “wing” in the Via Avanta Program in Los Angeles, California whereby pregnant HIV positive prostitutes with children under the age of 18 years old could receive residential treatment while receiving special medical care and while being allowed to keep and raise their children with them in the facility. This had never been done before and was truly ground-breaking. We were also able to connect this into a “release” program where we'd have an ex-sex worker pick up women released from jail so they wouldn't have to “walk to the bottom of the hill” known for where pimps used to wait to pick up women who were coming out with nowhere to go.
1989 – the committee I was asked to be on by then Mayor Tom Bradley to put together the HIV outreach and the alternative to sentencing program for prostitutes developed into the “Los Angeles City AIDS Coordinator's Office” which spearheaded the development of a comprehensive multi-prong effort to combat AIDS.
After presenting them with enough testimony and research to back up my “points” - the city acknowledged what I was telling them was a barrier to effectively fighting HIV within the sex industry and put the ACO together to overcome these obstacles. The first being that no sex worker was going to come forward openly for training or testing if they were afraid of being arrested, nor would their clients. This is why the City Attorney's office got involved. The second was that if you informed a sex worker they were in fact HIV positive – one couldn't expect them to “shut down shop” immediately because this person still had to pay rent, and especially pay for medical care.
Since most sex workers don't have private health insurance, and make too much money to qualify for state health insurance – this was a real barrier that had to be addressed. So they needed to be provided with housing, food and medical while they were going through job re-training. So the work we started in 1988 developed into what became the ACO in 1989.
August of 1989 – relocated to Allentown, Pennsylvania to help found the “Lehigh County Program for Female Offenders” with Ruth Wernick. The womens' jail there was holding 2,000 prostitutes in a dorm built to hold only 200. The program was designed to reduce the number, and recidivism, of female prostitutes there. A comprehensive program was put together where selected women were moved into a residential home where they attended “Prostitutes Anonymous” meetings, as well as receiving counseling, job training, drug treatment, and parenting classes. Within a year, we eliminated the need to build a new jail and had decreased the recidivism rate from 87 % to down below 16 %. Our only “failures” were with the “dual-diagnosed” in the program. I had to move back to Los Angeles in 1990 because of getting married and pregnant – so I took my hands off the wheel of this project. It folded but was reborn as the “Program for Women and Children” which in 2007-2009 only had a 20-25 % recidivism rate. But from reading their website – it looks like they incorporated much of our earlier program which worked then as is working now. We emphasized viewing exiting the “life” as one the whole family culture had to address if one were to be successful at leaving. It's almost impossible to give up a life “on the streets” when your mother, or daughter, or aunts, etc. are still “out there”.
1990 – was asked by Paige Latin, a “sponsee” of mine to help her write a grant to open a crisis drop-in center and residential program for prostitutes to exit the sex industry in Vancouver, Canada. Evidently one had not existed before – but there was an epidemic of serial killers targeting prostitutes. The SPACE (Substance and Prostitution Alternatives Counseling and Education) was created because 10 prostitutes were sardined into her studio apartment afraid to “work the streets” because of serial killers. I wrote the program, trained the staff, and the grant applications. The program was funded and opened in 1991. Paige had to go visit her ailing father who soon passed in 1992. It became the PACE program that exists today in 1994. Paige and I have both removed our names from the PACE program once it was taken over with a “harm reduction” focus instead of an exit focus.
1991 – incorporated “Prostitutes Anonymous” in California.
1991 – copyrighted the “Prostitutes Anonymous” Recovery Guide “Sold Out”
1991 – James Crossen, PhD, director of the Addictions Studies Program at Mission College in California starts the first ever training program for counselors, therapists, social workers, etc., who work with people trying to recover not only from drug and/or alcohol addiction in his “Addictions Studies” program he founded – but also from the sex industry and/or trafficking. He added a complimentary course in the “neurology of trauma” to further explain the issues I was addressed from a medical/neurological point of view, as well as how treatment works within the mind and body from a neurological point of view as well. He also explained how trauma alters one's very neurological system – and any treatment plan must address these changes if it is to work.
1994 – relocated to Nebraska where we bought property and set up a series of “safe houses” along with half-way transitional housing for those wanting to escape traffickers from the large urban cities.
1995 – changed name to “Sex Workers Anonymous” after unanimous “group conscience” vote. Wrote to AA's General Office notifying them of name change and requesting permission to adapt steps to new named program. They consented.
1996 – sold the property (our wards had gotten onto their feet and were doing very well) in Nebraska and relocated to Nevada to assist those calling us from the legal brothels needing assistance to escape. They are not allowed to leave the brothels on foot, and there are no cabs for them to leave with either. Law enforcement is too spread out in Nevada to be able to reach where the brothels were – so we came to Nevada to be able to pick up those wanting to leave and transition them out of the sex industry.
2006 – assisted Sharnel Silvey, from A Scarlet Covering, to starting the first alternative sentencing project in northern Nevada for prostitutes. This program operated successfully for a year. Sharnel had been a madam at the Mustang Ranch legal brothel.
September 2007 – announced the formation of NCAST and released the findings of the report commissioned by the State Dept. and prepared by Melissa Farley, and myself, entitled “Trafficking in Nevada – Making the Connections”. This report explored the connection between the legal brothels, and sex industry, and trafficking in Nevada. I wrote three chapters in the book and presented the findings at the international press conference – as well as at UNLV the next day.
October 2007 – after disconnecting from NCAST and Melissa Farley - founded “Trafficking and Prostitution Services” as an alternative to handle activities outside the boundaries of what a 12 step program can do appropriately (like how the National Council on Alcoholism was born so AA didn't have to violate their steps and traditions to advance the cause and treatment of alcoholism).
February of 2013 – George Flynt, the lobbyist for the Nevada Brothels Association, appeared at the Nevada legislature to ask if they could expand into downtown Las Vegas to open more brothels. We had an SWA member appear after him speaking about her “true life” experiences working at a Nevada legal brothel recently within the last year. No one else appeared to oppose. This event was televised and recorded. The brothels bid was denied. This poor advocate came home to find her power, TV, cable, internet and phone all disconnected for three days – the same thing which had happened to me
after I'd given our press conference at what connections the legal brothels have to sex trafficking in Nevada. Within a week she further found everything in her apartment robbed and her life threatened. She is now living safely in California – still out of the sex industry today. The Mob Museum went up in the place of where the brothel would have been, along with the arts district and farmers market.
2013 – started the “Stop Sex Traffick Talk” radio show. Over 17,000 “listens” to date.
2013 – international Phone Conference Meetings for Sex Workers Anonymous started weekly.
2014 – became a 501c3 tax-exempt “non-profit”.
December 2014 – co-founded “SWAN” the program for parents, spouses, children, and other “loved ones” who care about someone leaving the sex industry and/or a trafficking victim.
TV Appearances (Interviews)
Geraldo Talk Show (4x) Sally Jesse Raphael Talk Show (4x) Jerry Springer Talk Show (3x) Maury Povich Talk Show (2x) Donahue Talk Show Joan Rivers Talk Show (2x) Vicki Lawrence Talk Show Christina Ferrarri Talk Show (2x) Ricki Lake Talk Show
Good Morning America
Good Morning Los Angeles
Good Morning Boston
Good Morning Chicago
20/20 Inside Edition
Weekly Cable Series about “Prostitutes Anonymous” in Los Angeles, California and Philadelphia. In this series – we'd interview a different member of Prostitutes Anonymous each week.
Educational Seminar on Cable about the “neurology of addiction, trauma and prostitution” co-presented with James Crossen, PhD (240 minutes long). This was for his students at the Addictions Studies program at Mission College. James and I recorded a weekly talk series on cable TV talking about how to work with men and women coming out of sex work specifically with PTSD and how trauma can mimic “addictive” patterns.
Frances Nuyen, the actress from the Joy Luck Club, recorded our public service announcements for 15 second, 30 second and 60 second TV broadcast commercials, as well as audio commercials.
Documentary Channel 9 Documentary about “Prostitutes Anonymous” and my life.
Radio Interviews Michael Jackson – ABC National Radio Gloria Allred – ABC National Radio Tom Becca – KOIL Radio (Nebraska)
Live Speaking National Council on Sexual Addiction Convention – Keynote Speaker Sexaholics Anonymous International Convention – Keynote Speaker (2x) Sexaholics Anonymous Philadelphia Convention – Keynote Speaker, Workshop Leader
Narcotics Anonymous Special Conference - Lecturer Radar Institute – Sexual Addiction Student Lecture
UCLA – Human Sexuality and Psychology Lecture (3x) Los Angeles City College – Psychology Lecture Pierce College – Psychology and Criminal Law Lecture (2x) Los Angeles Valley College – Human Sexuality and Psychology Lecture Mission College Addictions Studies – Drug and Alcohol Counselor Students Sybil Brand Institute for Women – Inmate Presentation Lehigh County Womens' Jail – Inmate Presentation Philadelphia Womens' Jail – Inmate Presentation Atlantic City Womens' Jail – Inmate Presentation Via Avanta Residential Program for Women – Client Presentation Tarzana Treatment Center – Client Presentation Cry Help – Client Presentation Impact House – Client Presentation COYOTE – Los Angeles, California Mary Magdalene Project – Los Angeles, California Genesis House – Chicago, Illinois Project Rainbow – Omaha, Nebraska Salvation Army – Atlantic City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Philadelphia UNLV – panel on “Trafficking in Nevada” where I spoke, along with Melissa Farley, PhD, and two members of “Prostitutes Anonymous” (the name they came in with us was PA), who went on to form their own programs to help prostitutes.
Staff Training Tarzana Treatment Center (Tarzana, Palmdale, Lancaster, Reseda and Long Beach Branches) Impact House (California) Cry Help (California) Lehigh County Program for Female Offenders (Pennsylvania) Corrections Officers – Los Angeles California Corrections Officers – Allentown, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania HIV Testing Site – W. Hollywood, Hollywood, Van Nuys, Northridge, E. Los Angeles and Long Beach
GLASS (Gay and Lesbian Social Services) – Los Angeles, California) Advocate Magazine – W. Hollywood, California “Underground” Gay Men's Bath Houses – San Fernando Valley, California Private Swingers Clubs – California Various strip clubs, peep shows, adult theaters, and incall/outcall services HUD – Los Angeles, California Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Methadone Clinics – Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and South Central Los Angeles Via Avanta Residential Program for Women – Los Angeles, California
Movies Based on Myself and Work
“Those Secrets” - Blair Brown and Mare Winningham released 1991
“Fighting for my Daughter” starring Lindsey Wagner released 1995
News Interviews Los Angeles, California – Channel 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania –
Channel 7 Atlantic City, New Jersey – Channel 3
Playboy – News Release
Chic Magazine – Article
Salon Magazine – Series
Dear Abby, Cindy Adams
Wrote the “Prostitutes Anonymous” Recovery Guide entitled “Sold Out” after interviewing 2,000 men and women, from various countries, including legal and illegal parts of the sex industry, both in and out of the sex industry about the “recovery process”.
2004 - “The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene” by Jane Schaberg.
2007 – Three chapters on pimps and brainwashing was included in Melissa Farley's book “Trafficking in Nevada” published after her report was done commissioned by the State Dept.
2009 – John Quinones from ABC's “What Would You Do?” flew to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he interviewed me along with members of “Sex Workers Anonymous”, watched how we work and wrote a whole chapter about us in his book “Heroes Among Us”.
2012 - “Girls, Women & Crime” by Lisa Pasko.
2013 – “Somebody's Daughter” by Julian Sher – has a quote about a program where the clients attend weekly “Prostitutes Anonymous” meetings.
2014 – Wrote the “SWAN” handbook and updated the “Recovery Guide” for SWA to reflect what we've learned about our program since 1991.
2014 – Quotes from interviews about “Prostitutes Anonymous” appears in a positive light in the book “Leaving the Sex Industry” by Susan Oselin.
2014 – “Women, Sex & Addiction” by Charlotte Kasl has a listing to reach our program.
Special Certifications 1996 - Certified by the FBI as an “expert in brain washing by pimps” so I could testify in a trafficking case as to how this pimp had these women convinced they were acting of their own free will when in fact they were not. The process pimps used to brainwash their victims is almost identical to the process religious cults use to brainwash their members with the addition of the sexual trauma added. The defendant heard I was testifying and made a plea bargain immediately.
Special Mention In 1988, Joe Conforte, the owner of the Mustang Ranch legal brothel in Nevada, announced he wanted to open brothels all over California. Joe was asked if he would create special programs for the prostitutes much like dancers or athletes have. For example, special workers' comp programs, disability, retirement, and vocational rehabilitation programs. I also wanted the women to have a “union” with one of their own as a “representative” to advocate for them. He refused to discuss any of these ideas and put up $1,000,000 into a PR company to make sure he'd “win the vote” of Californians. Because the FCC had a law at the time in place requiring all political issues have a “counter” opinion airing alongside them – all of this TV, radio and print interviews had to be up “against” someone. No one else would “oppose” Joe but myself – so I was the only one who appeared in any of his interviews “up against” him that year. When the votes came in – he lost. So I beat out a million-dollar PR campaign with my mouth!
Joe also was bragging during this year that he had a “study that proved no brothel prostitutes had HIV” during a time when HIV was very much on people's minds in the 1980's. I however did some digging and discovered that not only had Joe “bought” that research – but it was “rigged”. The current testing at the time took six months to incubate – however he was testing at only four months’ time with no follow-up testing. Therefore, no one would show up “positive”. He stopped bragging about that test after I exposed it a few times for what it was. Marketing.