There are many reasons for ritual abuse survivors of all ages becoming or being involved in prostitution. Though society often judges people who are involved in prostitution harshly and considers them to be making an active choice in what they are doing, this is not always the case. In fact, it is rare for survivors of ritual abuse (and other forms of abuse) to have any choice at all in this matter. It is very naive to assume that people who are selling sex have choices. The subject is far more complex than to be simply about people making choices.
For example, many adults who work in prostitution have reported being sexually abused as children. This can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, a lack of ability to say no to others, a disregard for their own feelings and even the belief that they are only there to be used sexually by others. Some people even come to the conclusion that what was taken from them in the past can now be paid for and do not regard sex as anything other than a means to an end.
In any case of child prostitution, the adult who pays for her or his services is always abusing the child. The child is not a prostitute and the actions of the child cannot be regarded as criminal. The child cannot be held responsible for the actions or inactions of adults and should always be provided with support and help rather than condemned by any system. In this case, the child is not a criminal, the involved adult is.
Some survivors ‘choose’ to sell sex as a way of getting the money or goods they need to survive. Choices are often very limited for some people, in particular for some survivors of ritual abuse. Sometimes, when a survivor escapes from the abuse, they have a great deal of difficulty at first in getting somewhere safe to stay, money and enough food to survive. This difficulty can be compounded by the fear the survivor has of being found by the group and taken back. This fear is a very realistic fear and can make a survivor feel quite desperate. A survivor in this state of desperation is easy prey for pimps and other such people.
Similarly, some survivors in need of accommodation are often very grateful to men (or more rarely women) who pick them up on the street and offer them a roof over their head in return for sexual services. This can be the start of being used more widely in prostitution and can be a difficult situation to get out of. The pimp makes it very difficult for his ‘victim’ to ever be in the position of leaving. After all, the pimp can make a great deal of money out of selling a person for sexual purposes.
Though sometimes the survivor can get welfare benefits, this takes time and also the knowledge of, and information about, any entitlement to benefits. Welfare benefits take time to apply for and time to process. Meanwhile, the person has to find a way to survive. Some survivors may be able to get paid work but again, this can take some time to organise. Some survivors have little choice but to sell the only thing they have, for a while. For some survivors, the fact that they are ‘choosing’ rather than being overtly abused means that they can feel slightly better about themselves and their circumstance.
For those survivors who are attempting to change their identity and/or have never been registered at birth, there is a further difficulty in getting benefits or starting to work. Everyone needs to have identity papers and numbers these days for everything. Survivors fleeing from ritual abuse seldom have such identity papers with them. Some survivors or ritual abuse have no legal identity as they have never been registered anywhere. The time it takes to sort out getting proof of identity can be extremely distressing for survivors but without the right bits of paper and numbers, they can access very little in the way of benefits, healthcare, housing, education or anything else. Some survivors would never know where to even start with this.
Prostitution is a quick and relatively easy way to survive when there are so few other choices. There are always lots of people, mostly men, who are prepared to pay for sex. Prostitution is however, a dangerous way to survive and few survivors would wish to continue surviving in this way. It is not a real choice at all for the survivors who go into it.
Some survivors get into relationships with people who are seeking vulnerable people to abuse. They fall in love, believe that the person loves them in return and through a process of careful grooming at the hands of the abuser, end up trapped in a situation of being prostituted.
The abuser is at first loving towards them but in time changes and begins to manipulate the survivor into doing whatever the abuser wants. Often the survivor becomes so desperate to please the abuser that they will do almost anything for them. Because the demands of the abuser over time become more and more extreme and the punishment for not giving in to the demands also becomes more extreme, the survivor becomes too afraid to protest. The survivor becomes trapped.
Also, in the case of a survivor of ritual abuse, the level of confidence and self-esteem is often not high enough for the survivor to try and fight back against this kind of life. This, from the perspective of some survivors, may well be better than what was endured before. Some survivors would think it enough that they at least get some kind of love.
Sometimes the abuser makes certain that getting the person hooked on drugs further traps the survivor. This may even be a forced addiction or what seems like a choice to the survivor to loose themselves in drugs for a while. Whether forced to take drugs or not, the end result can be the same with the survivor dependant on the abuser to supply the drug. Depending on the drug and the state of dependency, the survivor has little choice but to agree to carry out the wishes or demands of the pimp. Getting off the drugs while in this situation is almost impossible. Getting out of the situation while drug dependent is equally very difficult.
Family Set Up
Some abusers, within the family setting, introduce the survivor to prostitution while still quite young. As the survivor is already conditioned to accept being used for sexual purposes, they are much more accepting of their situation than other children might be. Most people are horrified to discover that this actually happens, but it is really only an extension of what some young people already experience at home.
In some cases it begins with the abuser i.e. the family members, sharing the young person sexually with friends and other family and, over time, moving on to selling the young people for sex to a wider range of individuals. Some young survivors are forced to go out onto the street and seek punters who will pay for their sexual favours. Often these survivors cannot return home until they have raised a specified amount of cash to bring home. The family income is supplemented by the income from the survivor and the family begin to expect this more regularly.
In some organised abuse situations involving groups of abusers, the young people are sometimes used to find other like-minded abusers who are then gradually drawn into the activities of the group. The young people are used to find adults who are open to sexual approaches from children. The young person can then take the adult into a situation where other adults can get photographic evidence or videos, which can then be used to blackmail them. This can be a useful source of income for groups and people can be blackmailed to carry out all sorts of tasks.
Prostitution and escort agencies can be very big business for groups and often, women in particular are kept involved in this line of work for as long as men will pay them for sex. Unfortunately, the market for sex is very large and growing.
Often survivors, who become, for whatever reason involved in prostitution, are a very short step away from becoming used in pornography also. Often the two run hand in hand and the survivor is actively used in both. Pornography is very big business and there is a huge hungry market out there, which is always seeking more and younger victims. The use of the Internet has greatly expanded this market and many young people are readily preyed upon by the lust and greed of adults.
In all of this, it is important to remember that children, young people and forced adults are the innocent parties, no matter what they are forced to do or how willing they appear to be.