A Woman's Journey Out of Prostitution
Sacro's Another Way service works with any woman at risk of or involved in prostitution in Edinburgh, Lothians and Scottish Borders. The service offers non-judgemental, one to one support and information to women for as long as they need in areas ranging from safety, healthcare and addictions to domestic abuse, housing, and exiting sex work if the woman wishes to do so. Another Way supports women to anonymously report offences to Police Scotland through an anonymous third party system. Between April 2018 and April 2019 they carried out 425 interventions with women involved in prostitution.
Kim is a 44 year old woman who was sexually abused from a young age by family members and became involved in prostitution at the age of 14 in order to survive and to escape her family. She met the service through the outreach work that Another Way carries out in the Edinburgh Saunas with NHS Lothian, offering sexual health advice and barrier contraception to the women working there. Over time Kim built up enough trust with the service to ask for support on a one to one basis, which she has been receiving intermittently since 2016.
Kim suffered from complex trauma after the years of abuse. She began using drugs and alcohol to cope with her experiences and this in part led to her entering prostitution through a sauna in Edinburgh (in reality a brothel that operates from a sauna) and from her own flat advertising online. She self-referred into the Another Way service after building up a relationship with the worker delivering outreach in the saunas. While working in the sauna and online, Kim was subject to further physical and sexual abuse from customers and struggled with her mental health, self-esteem and self-worth as a result. Kim had a significant cocaine habit at the time, which some customers bought for her and encouraged her to use during their appointments. She wanted to exit the sex industry but felt she couldn’t do so alone without support.
Initially Kim struggled to engage and attend her appointments due to poor physical and mental health issues after years of physical and psychological abuse. Another Way along with other services involved in Kim’s support worked closely together to improve this. Kim’s ability to meet with workers improved and a trusting relationship was formed with her Another Way worker.
Kim worked with her worker in several areas to address her needs and support her towards exiting the industry. Her worker referred her to The Rivers Centre- where she received trauma counselling which improved her mental health. For support with her drug habit, her worker referred her into Turning Point Scotland- where she received specialist drug support, access to a psychologists and attended peer support groups, which eventually meant she overcame the habit.
To enable her to fulfill her wish to exit the sex industry- her worker supported her to manage her finances to support her exiting the industry. Kim had a great interest in technology and using online forums to write about and share her experiences with others and was referred and supported to get involved in adult learning and training opportunities to build her skills and improve her confidence.
Kim has now exited from prostitution and is confident she will not return to this work again. Kim is now focused and feeling positive about moving forward with her life. Kim still engages with the service on a weekly basis, where she meets with her worker to work towards new goals and receive emotional support. She also joined the Click Advisory group, where she will use her experience to help develop a service for women who work on line, advising around language and how to reach women etc.
Kim wrote to her worker “You have been so helpful in my life. Thank you for all your hard work and believing in me. The work you have done means a lot to me. You are a great light. I appreciate everything you have done for me”.
Quote from Kim’s Worker: “I worked with Kim on and off for two years, during that time she worked extremely hard to move forward in her life. She has achieved her goals and overcome many barriers. Her strength has been inspirational & I have learned a lot from supporting her”