Dear Alaska,

You have this sex trafficking thing all wrong.  Sex trafficking happens when your boyfriend or your cousin or your dad manipulates or threatens you into working when you don’t want to.  Children being snatched or groomed by complete strangers is extremely rare.  My dad got me started in the sex trade when I was young.  The problem with that was not the work – clients actually helped me learn that abuse wasn’t normal.  The problem was that my dad was crazy and violent, the Office of Children and Youth Services ignored multiple reports about our family, and clients who were worried about me were afraid to go to the police because of criminalization.

Later I was in and out of the system and worked on the street.  Prostitution was always there for me when I ran away from abusive foster homes, got kicked out of nice foster homes, got dropped by the state for being a waste of resources, or got kicked out of the shelter.  There’s this idea that if you’re on the streets it’s because you’re not doing things “right enough” or you’re not “good enough” for the system to “save” you – but sometimes the system is just broken, and it doesn’t save you no matter how hard you try.  Kids that are in this situation today should be helped, but instead they are usually arrested.

As an adult, I learned how to do sex work much more safely and profitably.  I never hurt anyone or was hurt by anyone during my long career as an adult, but if I had been arrested I could have been charged with sex trafficking and subjected to property forfeiture.  I think younger workers deserve to have information about staying safe, but sharing important information like that is considered conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Sex work has given me an education, a lot of travel, relative security, the chance to get to know people from all walks of life, incredible friendships, and so much opportunity.

One important thing I’ve learned from sex work is that I own my body and my self – it’s all mine.  So why does the government think they own me?  No one but me should be deciding how, when, or with whom I have consensual adult sex.

I know some of you reading this will not believe that I’m a fully functional adult capable of making decisions.  You think I’m a brainwashed victim.  I understand I can’t change your mind, but ask yourself: Should I go to jail for that?

Thanks for reading,