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The Vicious Cycle of Addiction and Prostitution


Those who find themselves affected by addiction may also find themselves in desperate situations as they try to feed their crippling habits. Many will beg and borrow from loved ones or lie and cheat to get what they want. When their addiction becomes so bad that they are unable to fund it with their own income and have exhausted all other options, individuals suffering from the addiction effects related to the condition may resort to crime. Many addicts end up behind bars because of crimes they have committed due to their illness. Theft and burglaries are common, as is fraud. However, in Hull, a number of women have turned to prostitution in a bid to feed their habit. A new book, entitled An Untold Story, has been edited by the Hull Lighthouse Project charity and tells the story of twelve women from Hull.

Ahead of its release, the Hull Daily Mail has launched an investigation into street prostitution in the city and has spoken to three women about their experiences.

Can Addiction Lead to Prostitution?

Women who resort to prostitution are often in a desperate situation. Some are undoubtedly trafficked from other countries and are trapped in a cycle that they cannot escape from. However, others will quickly realise that one of the only ways to fund their addictions is to sell the only thing they have to offer; their body.

One woman who spoke to Hull Daily Mail journalist Elizabeth Mackley said she was just eighteen years old when she first turned to prostitution. Selling her body for around £20 because she was trapped in a cycle of addiction and poverty, Jemma describes how it was not long before a customer brutally attacked her.

She said of the night she was attacked, “I had brought him, a man around 35, into the flat and he was wearing a baseball cap, and I just went to move it so I could see his face. As I did, he whacked me, knocked me clean out. When I came round, claret pouring out of my face, he started screaming at me, saying ‘Who’s the Daddy? Take your gold off!'”

As he went to lock the front door, which would have inevitably trapped her in the room, Jemma rushed to the window to escape. She said, “I was terrified. All working girls have been assaulted, raped, at some stage. But this was in my own flat, on the second floor, and he had moved to lock the front door, and I had no idea what he would do next. I went straight out of the window, to save myself. I rolled down the roof, and landed on my arm; my shoulder and my wrist broken.”

No Choice

Jemma admits that despite this traumatic and terrifying experience, she had no option but to continue selling her body. She said, “I didn’t want lots of money or loads of nice things, just to feed and clothe the kids. I’ve always been a grafter. The last time I worked legitimately, I had four jobs – I was working in a chippy when I thought about prostitution. I thought, ‘I need some money, I’m sick to death of borrowing’. I don’t want to work in prostitution anymore, I don’t ever, ever want to do it again. But at that moment in time, I’m not being left much option. It was either that or risk getting locked up for shoplifting.”

Jemma’s experiences with drugs began as she tried to mask the pain of being sexually abused from the age of just six. She said, “There was this family across the road, I used to go and play with them. But when I moved in, I was abused. The older teenage brothers used to put me and the younger brother in the front room, get us to get undressed and do things to each other. I knew it was rude; I knew it was wrong, in my head. But it made it normal, you know, being exposed so young. It meant sex was just something you did.”

She turned to drugs as she got older, and when she found herself in the grip of a heroin addiction, she was forced to work the streets for money to fund her habit. She then used more drugs to get through each job. She said, “Drugs and the drink go part and parcel with prostitution. You have to work for some big ugly bloke, for a mere £20, and you do it because you need the money, so you want something to block it out. It’s just a vicious circle.”

Can You Beat Addiction?

Many people with addiction, like Jemma, will feel as though they are caught in a vicious cycle of drug use that they are unable to break free from. However, here at Addiction.org, we know that addiction is a treatable illness and one that you can beat with the right help and support.

For more information on how we can help, contact us today.

Source: Woman’s harrowing story of life as Hessle Road prostitute in Hull (Hull Daily Mail)

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