I am a thirty-seven year old Irish woman who was prostituted between the ages of fifteen to twenty-two. I wrote this blog under the pseudonym ‘FreeIrishWoman’ from February 2012 until April 2013 and revealed my identity on The Late Late Show on April 12th when my book ‘Paid For – My Journey Through Prostitution’ was published.
I am writing this blog to highlight the true nature of prostitution – the commercialisation of sexual abuse.
I welcome comments, feedback and discussion, but please do not come on here (as one fool recently did) and try to peddle the myth of the happy hooker to me – because I worked in every area of prostitution and nothing I saw anywhere, at anytime, showed anything to support that.
Thank you for reading,
Thank you for doing this. I commend your courage.
Thank you for your encouragement, it really does mean a lot.
I love your blog and hopefully I can buy your book soon. I am commited to ending human trafficking and prostitution all together. People need to see this is not a glamours lifestyle of choice but of exploitation and slavery.
Hi there. I have found this blog to be so so powerful. I am also an Irish woman but I no longer live there. i would really like to speak to you about an idea I have for a Survivors conference, speaking about what they see as the way forward ( as well as criminalising the demand). My email is linda………. I would love to hear from you.
I found your blog through Survivors Connect Network last month and I have found it inspiring. I really admire you for speaking so openly about your experience.
I have highlighted some of the issues that you speak of in my own work but your accounts are far more powerful.
I am speaking to a number of bloggers about the reasons why they decided to open up about prostitution and the backlash that their comments provoked. I would love for your to contribute anonymously as well. My email address should show up so feel free to contact me and let me know how you would feel about this.
In any case, I wish you all the best in your endeavours, and thank you for bringing this issue to light.
Hi Mirrorgirl, and thank you for your supportive comments. I’m just wondering what sort of work do you do?
i think the woman whom have a prostitution experience is not fine job.please maybe an other good job waiting for you,irish woman.
Thank you Ridwan. I have been doing different work for a long time now, thank God!
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I worked in the sex industry for years – what didn’t I do? I never hooked per say, but isn’t it all hooking? Anyway, the ‘happy sex worker,’ (Unh huh.) LOL. What a joke. I also love that the isolated few who were privileged enough to do it by “choice,” and feel they love actually think is everyone else’s experience. I’m w/ you…meet a ton of people who did everything from hooking to phone sex, massage to stripping. The only ones that loved anything I ever saw were high out of their skulls. It’s a job, why do people have such a hard time getting that? Anyway, nice to find your blog, following you on Twitter and looking forward to reading more from you. This is nice to find.
“The only ones that loved anything I ever saw were high out of their skulls” – ha ha, that’s tellin it like it is!
LOL @ “The only ones that loved anything I ever saw were high out of their skulls.” So true, it’s what I’d need to endure it, though I doubt any amount of booze or drugs would make me love it.
I had a brush with the sex slavery industry when I was 18 and had what I thought was a brilliant idea that phone sex would be a great way to make some quick and easy money. I tried it with one guy and as soon as he started with the sex talk I felt nervous and degraded. I tried a few times to “get into it” with this stranger on the phone, failed each time, laughed nervously to cover up my unease, and finally told him I can’t do it, and hung up.
At the time I was in an emotionally and sexually healthy relationship, so for anyone that thinks I “failed” at phone sex because I was a “prude” is very mistaken. There’s a HUGE difference between sex acts with someone you WANT, and someone who’s paying for it. Sex with someone you wouldn’t have sex with for free = rape, the end.
Privilege was me having and keeping my boring, soul-sucking 9-5 office job and NOT having to be degraded & exploited any more than those few minutes on the phone, and obviously light years away from the far more traumatic skin-on-skin degradation and abuse that is the rest of the sexploitation industry.
Sorry for the *misspellings* (hurrying).
I am so glad I found your blog. For days now I have been embroiled in an online debate on the “free choice” , the “profit motive”, and the “substance abuse” of prostitutes on a friend’s Facebook wall, with some guy I don’t know, from the Midwest). It is getting nastier and nastier, and the guy, who appears to be your average all-American Joe at first glance, is turning out a misogynist par excellence. Obviously, hookers are hookers because they want to make money, you see. I brought up the Swedish model of shaming and punishing the buyer, and have appealed to ethics and humanity, but no-go. He is vicious, too! It saddens me that this guy is a representation of the average Western guy. Imagine, then, what they’re like in the rest of the world, especially the third. Frightening.
Thank you for your post civilianactivist. One thing I am rapidly learning is that some people are best ignored. Sounds like this person you’re debating with is one of them.
Your blog is inspiring and well written. The fantasy of the happy hooker is all over the net and will only encourage women to support other factors in plunging them back into a life of abuse. As an American woman who experienced poverty and homelessness that led to online porn and scattered acts of prostitution it is hard not to consider those things as avenues when women out there are touting the happy hooker myth. While my own experience was limited, the ramifications and memories I have from it trouble me everyday. I’m glad there are strong women in this world who will stand up and raise awareness such as yourself. Also, you are a really good writer. Glad I found your blog
I’m glad you found my blog too Madeline; but I’m gladder that you found your way back to yourself. Good on you girl! x
Congrats on your book deal. I am also publishing my memoirs of my life in the sex industry. See sneak preview at http://www.facebook.com/groups/memoirsofapimp/
I also host the Charlie Spice talk show on Internet radio about the Sex Industry and would like to have you as a guest on the show. http://www.facebook.com/groups/CharlieSpiceShow/
Trust me, Mr Spice, you wouldn’t enjoy my company on your show.
I am a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Yellowknife, NT, Canada. I came across your blog through a friend in town who advocates for women. As I read, I was heartbroken and angry at the same time. I shared your blog, two specific posts, with almost 800 Adventist pastors, teachers, administrators around the world. It’s nothing much I know but many things have happened from the sharing of a single idea.
Anyway, I didn’t want to write about me but about something that has been gnawing in my brain for some time. From my perspective, while action is needed and good, no legislation or community action will be significantly effective because the root of the problem lies in corrupt hearts. I dream of a safe, holistic renewal community for exploited women (of all ages) to regain their humanity (that’s the best word I could think of). The best picture story I can think of is the Exodus.
I have heard of such things but know very little about them. Have any been successful in making a difference? How would they avoid the failures you mention in your post about aide groups? What would it take to happen? Would exploited women even care?
Thank you for what you are doing.
Hello Brad Dahr. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and for sharing my blog.
I don’t believe it is a matter of exploited women regaining their humanity, but rather of the men who exploit them regaining respect for both female humanity and their own.
I think this is where your efforts should be concentrated.
I hope you don’t mind me copying your name – i wish I didn’t need to use a false name and I wish I felt free but it’s hard to feel free when so many women are still trapped in prostitution.
i’m so glad I found your blog. You are a brilliant writer, courageous and inspiring and your words are powerful because you speak the truth.
My mother worked in prostitution from the age of 17 years and my ‘choice’ to work in prostitution was a ‘destiny’ that shaped the entire landscape of my life.
Thank you for leading the way …
I hope that more and more of us will re-connect because our collective voices have the power to shine the light on the shadow of our world.
Thank you so much for your kind words and support FreeAustralianWoman. It is so affirming and such a blessing to have women like yourself contact me regularly, because I know that those of us who are not denying the true nature of prostitution make up the silent majority, and I know that when we raise our voices together we can wipe prostitution from the face of the earth. Thank you.
hi there, i have commented on your blog before and have loved reading them although i have found them difficult at times. I would like if you could to check out my blog, just recently started, spurred on in no small way by your beautiful, courageous writing…
find me on adomackno1965.wordpress.com…my blog title is “I care because I care”
if you read any of it send me some critical feedback please, keep up the good work..
We are getting ready to support your book on our website. I would like to personally wish you every success with it. Your story needs to heard out there!
Thanks for starting this blog, and reaching out to others with your story and through it,an offer of support. I am a researcher, looking to gather information about Irish women who have exited prostitution and their journey towards financial and emotional stability. It is for a documentary proposal which I am researching right now.
Briefly, I am from a different background but can empathise. My sister(s) were sexually obused
by my father, now deceased, and my mother suddenly abandoned us, resulting in a harrowing
few months without certainty and food (except what school provided luckily). My sister and I were fostered then. That was 30 years ago.That difficult period between childhood and adolescence is such a vulnerable time, and if I hadn’t had some support who knows what sort of mess I might have ended up in. I recognise that without the right supports, it is really hard to get going with a stable economic life, family life and emotional well being. I was wondering what your experience has been, getting to the next step, when you were exiting prostitution and trying to settle down at a regular job. If you are interested in chatting more about this, please email me. Best wishes-silatra
I came across your blog recently and have to say that I love reading it. You are really inspirational and I really admire your honesty.
I was hoping that you could help me with something. I am doing research on the prostitution industry in Dublin for a local newspaper at the moment. I want to give a different side to it than is usually portrayed in the media.
I would love to meet up with you and interview you if at all possible. I understand that this would be very personal for you so you would not have to be identified in the piece.
I have attached my email address. I can give you more information on what I am doing if you get in touch. If you do not wish to meet me, I completely understand but I would really appreciate an email just to let me know that you saw this.
Hope to hear from you soon.
All the best,
I am a journalism student. I am researching prostitution in Ireland with the aim of producing some stories and radio pieces on the topic.
I would like to interview you about your experiences and also your opinion on Irish prostitution. If you are interested please let me know.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks and kind regards,
Thank you to the last four posters who’ve taken the time to post messages of encouragement here. I apologise that I haven’t responded before now.
To the two people who said they’d like to talk to me, thank you for your interest. I am contractually obliged though not to speak to anyone until my book is launched next spring, after that you are welcome to contact my publicist Teresa Daly at Gill and Macmillan.
I look forward to reading your book when it comes out. I wish you the very best of luck with it and hope all goes well.
I will contact you, or your publicist, again in the spring. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to chat then.
Many thanks and kind regards,
I just wanted to thank you for your bravery and also your encouragement to others as you offer hope for life beyond the abuse.
I wish you every success with your campaigns. It is sad that men need to be taught again, the fundamentals of a loving relationship!
Thank you Geoff
I was wondering what’s the name of your book – and also DCG’s one?
I’m currently researching the issue, due to the government’s current review of legislation, for one of a number of blog posts I’m developing.
With all due respect, I confess I disagree with the Swedish approach of criminalisation, though not for the usual reasons – and, no, I’ve never visited a sex-worker.
Firstly, DCG’s book is her business and I am not placed to comment on that. As for my own, the details of its publication will be released by my publishing house shortly.
I have to say, I do not care what reason anyone uses to object to the criminalisation of the purchase of human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation. I know, by way of having been the ‘object’ who was bought, that they are always wrong.
Thank you for your reply.
I think I’ve found your book, which is awaiting publication in March. I’ll continue researching DCG’s one, thank you.
It would be difficult discussing this – let alone disagreeing – with a victim of child (sexual) abuse without treading on extremely painful ground, so I won’t abuse you in that way as well.
I will say that I came to the same conclusions as yourself as to the drivers behind entry into prostitution: I call them “active coercion” (involving criminals) and “passive coercion” (what you call “coercive circumstances”), both of which are “non-voluntary”.
One question, however, has been bothering me whilst reading a number of your posts.
Given your age at the time, and the fact that you may not have been aware of what help – if any?! (I was abroad from ’92 till just recently) – was available for you to turn to, I’m wondering why didn’t the older (legal-aged) girls not contact the authorities?
Forgive me if this is a naive question – call me old-fashioned if you will – but I’m struggling to comprehend the fact that they didn’t do so. A anonymous call to the police – giving licence plate, a description of the abuser and your details – could (would) have saved you and the other under-age girls from years of such abuse.
It seems to me that these adults were just as complicit in your abuse as the abusers.
I apologise if the above comes across as something from a “well-meaning but misguided man” but it’s what has struck me most from what I’ve read of your posts so far.
My book is not due out in March. As I said, the release date will be announced shortly.
Also, the half dozen ‘women’ on my corner were aged 15 to 19. As for the older women, they’d all been working since our age. This is routine in prostitution and these women understood my desperation because they’d been similarly desperate.
The only people responsible for my abuse were the pimps who sold me and the punters who bought me. Stop misappropriating blame onto the innocent parties here please and have the little bit of sense necessary to put the blame where it belongs.
Women very obviously didn’t abuse me in prostitution; men did. Why do you prefer to shift the blame on to the women? Is it because you’re uncomfortable with the behaviour of the men?
Thank you regarding the book.
From the posts I’d read I hadn’t seen any mention that you were actually pimped, merely that your entry into it was due to being “homeless, hungry, prostitution”: what I assumed to be a case of “survival sex”.
I apologise for the misunderstanding on my part.
Clearly, then, the other girls were being pimped also – which would explain the lack of contacting the authorities lest they fall afoul of their own pimps.
And I wasn’t attempting to shift the blame: my basis for saying what I did was my understanding that the girls were not uhder “active coercion” – and, yes, frankly I am not just uncomfortable, but shocked at how these men (bar the one who drove you back to where he picked you up – although he could have helped you further without admitting to anything) have behaved. Not only towards the under-aged girls but those who were legal-aged.
If a sex-worker doesn’t have *absolute control* over three criteria – which client, which act and wearing protection – then it’s exploitation (abuse).
As such, all of you had the right to contact the police – although your being afraid of the latent threat of violence from your pimps is understandable.
In my effort to understand the issue in Ireland and the current debate, I’m currently reading the only academic study I can find on the subject – “Prostitution and Irish Society: 1800 – 1940″ – and have yet to read “Sex in the City” and “Onthegame.ie” by two journalists, along with “survivors’” tales: Madden’s two books, “No One Wants You” and “Paying for it”.
This was the reason for my asking about both your and DCG’s books.
I am sorry – both for my own misunderstanding of your situation at the time and any distress or irritation it may have caused you.
I’m also sorry – and ashamed – for the way you (and your friends) were abused by my fellow men.
I’ve taken the liberty of adding your Survivors’ Central link to my blog.
Best wishes for the future.
James, I am actually gobsmacked at the amount of false assumptions you have managed to fit into that post. Firstly, most of the women and girls in Dublin’s red-light district of the early 90′s were not pimped, and I don’t understand how my telling you that I was leads you to assume that “clearly” the other women/girls were also.
I realise that you’re not trying to come off as offensive here, but it is all the more offensive when somebody with no experience of prostitution glibly states what the criteria for autonomy in prostitution is, as if it was even possible for those conditions to exist here!
If women had “absolute control” over any of the three conditions you’ve highlighted, they wouldn’t be prostitutes in the first place, since the absence of control over those conditions is itself a defining feature of prostitution.
It is disturbing to me, to be honest, that somebody with such an unrealistic view of prostitution would have already framed an opinion about the legislation proposed to tackle it.
I wish you well James, but you’ve got a whole lot more reading to do. I can suggest some reading material by pm if you like.
Well, FIW, I appear to be digging a ever deeper hole for myself here.
Rather than reply to what you said, perhaps, if you’d be so kind, you should send me some more reading material – you’ve got my email address.
I would suggest you read the research-based writings of Kathleen Barry, Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond, to begin with.
Above all, I would advise that you do not come to conclusions regarding legislation to deal with an issue you haven’t yet begun to understand.
Thank for the suggestions – I’m already aware of these along with others and will look into them.
I will say, however, that I’ve been watching the Committee hearings on the Oireachtas website regarding this issue and it’s clear that the “anti” lobby thought that these hearings were a exercise in rubber-stamping prior to the Swedish law being declared “it”. However, as the hearings have progressed, the Committee has begun to realise that it’s a lot more complex a subject than it appears to be.
I’ve watched all of the hearings so far myself James and that hasn’t been my impression at all, thankfully.
It seems there are much more honorable men in Ireland than the ones I met in the brothels and the escort agencies and on Benburb Street and Waterloo Road.
I just wanted to say that I’m concerned that you may think ill of me.
Just because I disagree with you about criminalising clients doesn’t mean I’m “pro” abuse or exploitation.
The point I wanted to make earlier was that all the laws in the world are useless if no-one reports a crime.
I seem to be cluttering up your “About” page, for which I apologise.
If you wished to discuss it further, there’s a discussion on a UK forum about legalising prostitution:
It would be interesting to hear from someone with real experience instead of people with none arguing over the pros and cons. Doubtless, you’d challenge many perceptions, although you may find your position being challenged also.
If you’re not interested in taking part, that’s alright.
Thank you any way for your suggested reading and please know that, despite our disagreement, I’m not your enemy.
James, I would not dream of putting myself forward for the inevitably abusive experience of discussing this issue with those who have not lived it. The confident ignorance, the snyde comments, the glib remarks.. All I can say is, because I still somehow believe in the basic decency of humanity, I think if you all knew the pain you are causing, you would stop causing it.
I had hesitated asking you in the first place and see I was right in doing so.
Human nature being what it is, if you wish for people to change, you have to help them to do so.
Rather than passing yet another law, if you want the abuse and exploitation to stop, only one thing needs to be done.
Every sex worker goes down to their local police station and tells the “gobsmacked” police officer behind the desk, “We want to report crimes!”.
What. By whom. How. Where. When.
And after the police have investigated, arrested and charged the suspects – both high and low; and the courts have tried, convicted and imprisoned the guilty – both high and low; and the behaviour analysts, psychiatrists, psychologists and social scientists have studied the issue, then you may find out the answer to the final question.
Well, I’ve cluttered up your site long enough…
Farewell FIW and best wishes for the future.
Dear, well-meaning, unenlightened James, I just have this to say: we, the survivors of prostitution, do not need the assistance of “behavioral scientists, psychiatrists, psychologists and social scientists” in order to understand prostitution. We do not need that in the same way you would not need a team of experts to investigate how you might make a cup of tea.
That is all.
Dear freeirish woman- you handled James with—so much more patience than I can ever imagine owning.
James–you needed to have just stopped. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions are nowhere near enough and you seem to think yours should have been
Kindness and compassion–real deep seated kindness ad compassion–not the superficial obligatory “niceness” that you exhibit is what you need to acquire
Back to freeirish woman
I am so glad I found this. Bless your heart and soul and spirit
A stubborn bout of insomnia, and a keen interest in feminism led me to your blog in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. Your words have been echoing through my mind ever since. I wanted to comment, somewhere in your space. If only to let you know how beautiful I think your imagery is and what a profound affect reading this body of work has had on me.
Last year, in my country Canada, a dominatrix working in Toronto won a court case that effectively struck down our existing prostitution laws. I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of the case. But it seems that the only voices being heard in the media are those of the ‘happy hookers’ and full legalization looks to be inevitable.
It is difficult when so many in government and the media are men. I don’t mean to be cynical, but I can’t help but think that it is in their interest to normalize and legalize prostitution. Men seem completely fine with the idea until you suggest that it might be their daughter working in a legal brothel one day. And a man will get really upset if you suggest that ‘since prostitution is just a job like any other’ wouldn’t he want to promote his daughter’s new business venture by handing her card out amongst his friends, if that was the work she chose to do….
My heart breaks for my country as we undertake this debate. I am not one to shy away from an arguement but this one leaves a person raw. Not coming from a background of prostitution myself, I feel like I’m standing on the bottom rung looking up at these women, who call themselves sexworkers, extolling the virtues of their jobs. How can one even begin to challenge them?
Thank you for telling your story. I look forward to your book’s release, and will purchase some copies as soon I can. There are a number of politicians across the water here who need a good read!
Ive begun developing my own community organisation with the goal of re-educating the youth into the horrors of prostitution, why it is wrong and why (mostly as men) they should not engage in it.
Do you mind if I provide a link to this blog on my website, so that visitors to my website are able to read your stories and educate themselves into the true perspective of a prostitute and hopefully understand why it is unacceptable to ever buy commercial sex!
Of course I don’t mind Robert, the purpose of the blog is to educate people. Thanks very much for sharing it.
Thank you very much FreeIrishWoman,
Your blog is fantastic, it illustrates a very real and vivid picture and the realities of the industry, for that reason I really feel that this blog will definitely help the ‘johns’ or even potential ‘johns’, or the wives of ‘johns’ to understand why prostitution isn’t a question of choice, or a moral question to be posed, but an unnecessary evil which even after human advancement continues to destroy the lives of many.
Once everything is 100% up and running I will post the link here so you are able to browse and read through the site.
Dear Ms Moran,
You are an amazing person and well done on your interview on the Late Late Show. It took great courage to tell your story and well done on all your achievements in college. You are such an intelligent and strong person and an inspiration.
I know that as a person who was in college and now works in that environment how exceptionally gifted you are with public speaking and being a great people person. As a singer and musician myself, I know that launching a new product is difficult but you are so brave to write and speak about your book. I am so proud of you and will do my best to help and promote your book.
last night the late late show became interesting and intelligent the moment you opened your mouth. I’m guessing that was you and this is your blog.
Thank you for your honesty, bravery and power. You must be and certainly should be so incredibly proud.
I guess luck was on your side in the end due to your intellect. Thankfully you lived to tell your story.
Your ability to articulate is astonishing- Ryan Tubridy was a buffoon in comparison. Please don’t fade away, what you possess can help so many. You have the capacity to champion a continent.
You have courage in truckloads and balls, Jesus woman you have balls!! i am blown away.
I read your Irish Times Book Review and then watched your Late Late appearance. Congratulations on both. You are very brave and were very articulate on the show. Having met you in the past I always knew that you were highly intelligent and very determined. I am very happy for you that these characteristics are now standing you so well and that you have been able to survive your traumatic and dangerous past. Your jornalistic education is being utilised very effectively and your writing and speaking is extremely impressive. You certainly know how to get to, and stick with the kernel of the issue – if only our policy makers in this country and abroad could operate with the same clear mindeness and honesty. I suspect we will be reading, seeing and hearing a lot more from you in the future. I look forward to reading your book and wish you and all your loved ones the very best for the future.
Congratulations on publishing ‘Paid For’. I have just finished reading it and it is a powerful read. I always knew you would do it and I wish you all the success in your campaign in bringing the nordic model here into Ireland.
I hope someday you will dance again and I wish you all the best in life. Fair play to you in your courage, honesty and bravery in this.
Thank you very much for your kind words Helen, and thank you also for helping me select the Richard Holloway quotes for the book.
I have read the letter about the good punter.
I dont understand completely the part where u propose first that it is meaningless that u write a thing to the abusive ones because they wouldnt care, but yet there are the good ones who even ask whats happend to u if u have scratches or bruises. So then u talk to them that the worst part is when they cuddle you, and i think u advise that the good punter should stop being with prostitutes as they might be more human, but then what remains is only bad and abusive clients for prostitutes, and some prostitutes run out of job i guess (i dont know about ratios).
I think u have felt disgust because u felt shame about prostitutions and also somehow u did not find the good punter attractive, so since He was not superficially attractive, your mind instantly couples This person into the category of bad persons (like the violent abusers). Thus if such a person would act kind on you with cuddling, your mind still has this person assigned into the bad person category with similar badness values as the other abusers, so it probably made u FEEL LIKE “this mother fucker even tries to seduce me into thinking He is good, when he is just a rapist”. This is also a common reaction if u have for some reason a human suddenly linked to lets say negative emotions, till this emotion is up, u would feel repulsion (or anyone would without knowing this), because people dont want to change their views about a person to a positive one, when they just had a negative emotion triggered by looking at this person (because the person not being attractive makes them similar in the mind to the abuser non attractives).
I suggest also to look at what might be the case with the good punters souls (what do they realy need, and to see that realy u too and everyone recquires joy with another person) [btw, my writings might occure to be similar to good punter, im just reminding you to keep rational]
Best wishes, i guess.
What a load of bollocks. You don’t need to keep rational – you need to get rational.
Rachel, you have inspired me.. I am not a former prostitute nor a prostitute, I am a 15 year old girl, what you call a child, but what I do know is you do know what you’re talking about, it took me 3 weeks to read Paid For just because it was so overwhelming, and I feel like it’s changed me in a way. Also, what has touched me was the quote ‘With all of its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, its still a beautiful world, be cheerful, strive to be happy” it has touched me because not long after I finished your book, I bought a poster, with Desidereta words of wisdom on it, and stuck it on my bedroom wall, and I was reading it one night, the first time, and then the end verse, right at the bottom, finishing off the whole thing was ”With all of its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, its still a beautiful world, be cheerful, strive to be happy” and it felt as if it spoke to me, maybe just a coincidence. But I strongly now believe in this quote, I hope you are well, and want you to know I admire you.
Dear Rebecca, this is probably the loveliest most heart-warming response I’ve ever gotten on this blog. Thank you so for much for this. As I said in my book, I had the Desidereta on my wall when I was near your age (sixteen), and I still have it there today (not the same one of course!)
It is moving for me to know that girls and young women will be reading my words and learning about the nature of prostitution, and the need to do right by themselves as they grow into women. Your message was the most solid evidence I’ve seen of that. Thank you.
I just wish to express my thanks to you.
I stumbled across this website, and found about your work.
There’s much talking about ‘regulating’ pronstitution here in Italy of late, and I must admit my ideas where torn on how rational regulation sounded. Your words reminded me of the values we should hold dear. Values, not prices.
I can’t figure out how to email you directly, so for now here is a general thank you:
Thank you for writing Paid For and publishing it, it has helped me tremendously in understanding what I’ve been through. I have given two presentations this year at my university in the U.S. about my experiences regarding the six years I worked and lived as a prostitute, exposing nearly 500 students to my perspective. I am the one “promoting the fuck” out of your book because I feel as though you brilliantly illustrate the true nature of prostitution. You didn’t just write your story, you wrote incredible insights and understandings and then provided details of your experiences that illustrated your points. I ordered a copy on Amazon, and upon reading it I ordered 5 more immediately to share with my mother, 2 brothers, my counselor, and the professor who has been inviting me to speak to his class.
I will graduate in two weeks with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. My long term goals are to become a licensed psychologist and work in group homes for girls recovering from prostitution.
I want to email you personally but can’t seem to figure out how. I can’t thank you enough for the work you have done, and the work you continue to do. Your knack for seeing things for what they are is incredible. You are one of the most brilliant, wise, inspiring, strong, and honest individuals I have ever been exposed to. I appreciate you with all my heart.
Thank you for sharing your story, and working to help other women. Your vulnerability and strength are incredible.
I have a question for you. I posted the following on a sex positive feminism discussion board in response to someone’s question about how johns can be sex positive and feminist, and oddly a few people got very upset over it. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this. I was trying to question whether people who claim to support sex work since that is supposedly the sex positive way to view the women are in reality sex positive or not. I provoked ire and I think that is is because sex work/prostitution functions on the illusion that prostitutes have no independent sexuality that is not consumed by prostitution and that people can pay to control their sexuality. It seems that prostitutes have to sell this illusion and johns have to buy this idea in order for prostitution to work. There seems to be violent opposition to the idea that prostitutes are people with sex drives just like the rest of us who feel sexual and enjoy sex even when they are not being paid for it. The idea that sex workers/prostitutes have a right to enjoyable sex outside of work seems controversial.
I am curious as to your thoughts on this. Do you suggest that I say something to make people feel better ? And if so what do you suggest that I say ?
“Someone asked about sex positive attitudes towards sex workers in another thread and what is a feminist attitude to take.
I would like to propose the following, for everyone both people who support sex work and those who don’t support it. I think all of us can agree on this.
An appropriate feminist response to sex workers would be to focus on honouring and valuing their own personal enjoyment and satisfaction of their sex drives just for the sake of their sex drives (rather than anything money is involved in) somehow, sort of like a professional violinist loving violin for the sake of violin. Let’s honour their rights to have fun sexually and pleasure themselves apart from work, in the same way that we can all support a violinist’s right to enjoy playing violin for at home when not being paid for it or heard by anyone evaluating them, simply for the sake of enjoying their violin playing for it’s own sake, playing for themselves/their family/friends simply because they have a right to enjoy themselves. This is also something sex positive that ALL feminists can agree on whether we are for or against sex work. We as sex positive people can all wish the best for them and hope for them to have the utmost enjoyment in this because this is the essence of sex positivity wishing the best for people with their sex drives. “
Dear Deborah: two words – cop on.
I am a man from India, but I almost cried after reading your blogs. In spite of being a man, I HATE MEN. I think around 90% of the world’s male population should be exterminated. 15 year old is no age to even have sex, let alone prostitution. I think a person should be at least 20 before losing viginity. Thank God, you got out of it at 22.
I came across your blog while searching for some material for my English class, working to write a paper based on the debate of the legality of prostitution. Intending to make the rough draft a quick, 1 hour type up for something basic, I didn’t get a single word typed. I have spent the last 3 hours reading entry after entry of your blog. You are a wonderful writer. You captured me completely from the very first post, with your choice of wording as much as your story.
I have not read through the other comments so I’m not sure if you have received this request… and I am hoping it is not entirely out of line… but do you happen to know how I might see the article you referred to from the Evening Press about you (16 year old taken from brothel)? I have tried a basic search for archives but have only come up with 2010 archives on. I am not looking to use it for my class assignment, I just want to keep reading!
Thank you for your supportive comments. I located that article a couple of years back in the National Library of Ireland, though I don’t know if this is any use to you as I don’t know what part of the world you’re in.
I’m so happy to have found your blog and I’ve just ordered your book on Amazon. You are such an amazing writer, and though I know that we all have different experiences, you have somehow managed to distill the truths universal to all of us that have been prostituted. God, I’m shaking as I write this. I’m four months out of the game, and after 12 years in, I don’t know how to be a real person any more. I can’t stop guessing at what people want to hear. I can’t look at my body without flashing back to seeing some client’s dick going in and out of it. I’m soooo angry. I hate myself for having pretended to like it. I hate the clients with the heat of a thousand suns. I want to scream in their faces and tell them the whole time they kissed me and cuddled me and complimented me on my tits and my intellect and oh yeah those tits but don’t ever get fat I was imagining choking them with a bottle of lube.
I feel very alone. The few support groups I’ve found near me (Washington DC) are more geared towards helping girls and women get off of the streets, away from pimps, and off of drugs – victims of trafficking and violence. That wasn’t my situation. I started so that I could afford a place to live and food to eat, yes. I had madams for the first eight years, but after that, I wasn’t “forced” as the last four years were spent as one of those “independents” with a booker and “good” reviews. I’m told I made a choice; that it wasn’t abuse; that I’ve had a better life than most, but I feel super fucked up. The 12 years sucker-punch me every day now. I feel like I’m getting worse, not better. You think I’d have seen it coming, but I didn’t. 12 years on the fringe and off the grid, and I have only one friend to show for it. She’s still in the game, so I can’t talk to her about this. Do you know of any group that is still active? I just want to TALK to someone that won’t judge me and won’t look at me with pity. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated.
Thank you for having the courage to speak the truth. I wish there were more people willing to be honest with themselves.
You are a hero. It is beyond my ability to understand how you find the strength to write and talk about your horrific experiences. But is is good that you do that. It makes you a hero.
At you seminar in Litteraturhuset in the norwegian city Bergen, I asked for and got your email adress. Unfortunately, I received a failure-message after having mailed you. How can I get in touch with you?
I’ve just heard you on radio 4 “Woman’s Hour” and found your website and all I can say is, “Brilliant! Keep it up”. The writing is wonderful and direct in a way that few have the ability to achieve. It shows what was suppressed and completely overlooked during your years of abuse and mistreatment. That intelligence was no protection and would have caused your captors to want to hurt and humiliate you the more to reduce your self-esteem to their brutish level.
Right after the bit on you was a story about a beaten and exploited girl with learning difficulties – the archetypal victim inadequate men take it out on. We would all like to live our lives without having to take on causes but pragmatic/political involvement is the only way to stop this happening. The ideal is what I think of as “Gemini Representation”, i.e. the female half of the population ought to be represented in all bodies dispensing power or authority (which is the same thing), whether that be political, technical, etc.
Just to try to convey my profound thanks for your brilliant contribution at today’s conference in Cork. I’m not very often lost for words but after listening to you today am in that unusual state somewhere between numbness and awe.
In an earlier post you had mentioned the Desiderata.
‘”With all of its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, its still a beautiful world, be cheerful, strive to be happy”
You remind me of these words personified.
Thanks so much.
I just wanted to say thank you for writing this blog and I hope to read your book soon. I had flashbacks yesterday from my years of prostitution (ages 17-21). I am 26 now. I was feeling so incredibly alone in my pain, and when I found your blog it was an immense comfort to read the words of someone who really understands. I was nodding my head to everything, despite my prostitution experience being in another country in a different decade. It felt good inside to know “yes, this other woman here really does know what it was like” because being an “ex-prostitute” is a very isolating experience. Thank you again for bravely sharing your story with us, it gives me more courage too (no one knows my history besides my husband and a few family/friends).
I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story and I admire your mission to empower people who work/have worked in the sex trade.
I am a Dublin woman in my early 20′s who engaged in prostitution a few years ago and I am currently going through a healing process. It has been so helpful to hear your story- thank you so much.
I wish you the best of luck with everything!
Thank you very much for your blog, it has been very helpful.
I am a male, and i agree with you 100%. anytime I want to use a women for my own pleasure – she as a person really doesn’t matter, I am abusing her.
Your writings help me realize this. I have a compulsion (a sex/lust addiction) that causes me to misuse women and perverts the reality.
Thank G-D I joined SA, and now I don’t need to act out on my temptations. I could read your articles and appreciate you as a person – a wonderful gift.
Keep up your great work and I hope that you – as well as all those how work or worked in the sex industry – have a truly happy, satisfying, serine and content life.
All the best.
btw, the S-Anon program might be helpful for those affected by other peoples sexual behaviors.
Thank you. You write beautifully about something which is so ugly. I am 5 years out of prostitution. When I gave birth to my daughter I knew that I would never sell sex again, as I felt instinctively that any sexual violence towards any woman was a potential act of violence towards someone’s daughter.. I have never met you but I love you. Sorry if I sound like a lunatic. I will deal with this pain myself one day, so thanks for the inspiration and the honesty!
Hi, I recently heard you speak at the feminism in London conference and I really just want to thank you, what you are doing is so brave and so important. It was a privilege to be given the opportunity to listen you. Ignorantly I previously had very little knowledge of this part of society and believed what ever I had heard which esentially was prostitues are bad they have chosen this life and even enjoy it. From listening to you and the other speakers clearly this not true at all, not even close and without amazing people like yourself I would never have understood that. I have learnt that actually it’s women exactly like me, who didn’t choose this, who can sort of be bought like a slave because you do can do whatever you like to this person. It’s hard to even grasp the idea that men think they can and do whatever they like to these women and believe that is ok. Then the fact that these are possibly men in my life.
I realise you know all this, I am just trying to explain how you should be so proud of what you do, you inspire me so much, I can only imagine the hope you give to those trapped in the lifestyle you describe.
Dear Ms. Moran,
just read your article in the Irish Times (published May 31st) and was very touched by your story. Thank you for campaigning despite having to pay such a high price for it. You are making a huge difference not only for women involved in the sex trade, but for all women (and ultimately men) by working towards changing society’s twisted views on gender equality. I am very sorry that you are receiving such abuse and threats for helping others. Thank you for your work and for being so courageous!!
Thank you very much Elisabeth. Your message means a lot to me.
I’ve been reading your blog and watching some of your videos on Youtube. I admire your work and couldn’t agree more with what you’re saying. I’m interested in buying your book but wondered whether you had a preferred website for me to go to? I’m not sure which websites give authors the best profits!
Thanks and I look forward to reading more – take care.
We met briefly at the Donor Direct Action/SPACE fundraiser in NY. I got a copy of your book then (thank you) and just finished reading it. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story, and that I learned so much through your book and your amazing writing. I felt compelled immediately upon finishing to donate to SPACE, though I could only afford a small sum. I’m leaving a copy of your book in my office for our staff to read to gain more insight into the world of prostitution, as it’s an issue that comes up in the work that we do (at Girl Be Heard). Thanks again for the great work that you do. All my best, Lily
Lily thank you so much for all your support, for your donation but more so for your understanding and appreciation of the issue we’re dealing with. That means a very great deal to me. Thank you.
I host a podcast of women who have survived all kinds of obstacles, as I myself was a victim of sexual abuse. Is there some place I can reach you to discuss the possibility of featuring you on the show?
Hi Rachel I would like permission to reprint your post the Good Punter on my blog please, I’ve put this off till out of fear, I’m hoping you’ll allow me to reprint as an example of free speech?
My blog is pretty self explanatory, for 2 years I used escorts, have written about my exploits suffice to say I came to the point where I no longer do. I understand prostitution more than most men and understand why all the bullshit in the world can never make prostitution ok, it’s a form of sexual abuse full stop.
You’ll is disagree and be disgusted with what I’ve done and hopefully see I understand and will never buy use of a body again. Please tell me if you like it removed.
Please keep doing the good work you’re doing Andrew. You have my blessing to post my work anywhere you want.