Life after prostitution in Ypsilanti

It doesn’t happen terribly often, but occasionally something will happen on this site that will remind me why I spend several hours each night, hunched over this little computer screen, churning posts out into the abyss. Today, was one of those days. An amazing comment was left in an old thread about local prostitution, and what we as a community should do about it. The comment, left by a woman identifying herself as a former prostitute here in the city, was incredibly informative, brutally frank and totally heartbreaking. Here, in hopes that it might lead to a more informed, intelligent and compassionate discussion on the issue, is the comment in its entirety. I haven’t edited it at all, aside from removing the woman’s name, but I did break it up into paragraphs to make it easier to read.

This is not going to be short. I’m going to tell you about a woman I know and her life on the street’s. She just had her 45th b-day in January and she cried because she never thought she would still be alive to see it. This woman grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. She grew up with parents that were both addicts. Her father being a mean raging alcoholic and her mom pills and weed. Nothing was hidden in her home and the children saw everything. When her dad was off on one of his many drunken excursions her mother would take advantage of it and bring guy’s in the house to have sex. One night when she was 4 yrs old and had fell asleep on the living room couch her mom brought a guy home with her and she woke up to the man taking her clothes off and fondling her while her mother watched. This man had paid her mother to do this.

This family that this girl grew up in is an old and well known family in that area. The horrors and abuse in this family is also well documented with Social Services, but back in them day’s people stayed out of their neighbor’s family affairs even if abuse like her and her brother’s and sisters were put through. Her father beat the kid’s on a daily basis like they were grown men and beat her mom in front of them. She still can clearly remember the day that her dad put the shotgun to her mom’s head and made them watch while he pulled the trigger. She grew up with 8 brother’s and 3 sister’s with the youngest girl Cathy dying at the age of 4 and a half months because her mom came home high and put the baby in the bed with her and rolled over on top of her in her sleep and suffocated her. Her mom spent 6 years in newberry mental hospital after that and was finally declared fit to be released in 1975. Oh and there was’nt any bullets in the shotgun so her dad did’nt kill her mom, but that was only because he was drunk and forgot to load it.

Every kind of abuse that is known these kid’s were subjected to mental, emotional, pyhsical, and for her and her oldest sister Barbara sexual. Her dad started raping Barb when she was twelve and when DSS removed her from the home he started on her. Do you know what happen’s to the mind of a 6 yr old girl when her daddy does that to her? What happen’s to her soul? She got exceptionally good at hiding inside of her mind. When she did that he could’nt hurt her anymore because she was no longer there. It becomes a blackness that you can’t see through or feel anything through. Her daddy was’nt hurting her anymore he was hurting the blackness, and the blackness protected her from her daddy. Finally soxcial services stepped in, but that was only because at 6 yrs old she swallowed a bunch of aspirin trying to kill herself and the hospital reported it.

All the kid’s were put into foster care. They were all split up into different families. The older kid’s got lucky and got good homes, but her and 2 other younger brother’s got put into homes that were also abusive. After 3 yrs of going through 15 different homes she finally got put with a family at Kincheloe Air Force Base she was 9 yrs old. Her younger brother Tim also came to stay with them. This family treated her like she was theirs and would alway’s be theirs. She got periotic visits from her mom, but they never seemed to be anything more than 2 strangers meeting and her mom never stayed more than 30 minutes. One day when she came home from school they asked her how she felt about going and living with her mother she was 12 yrs old by then. She had buried all the pain she had been put through when she was younger and so deep inside of her that it looked and felt like it happened to someone else. She wanted to be with her mother more than anything in the world. To this day she regrets making the decision to move back home with her mother, because she often wonders what kind of person she would have grown up to be if she had stayed with her foster family. They loved her and were going to adopt her and her brother if they would have stayed with them, but she did’nt and when she moved back with her mom all the nightmares that had took years to go away came back. She started remembering what happened to her in bit’s and pieces. Some parts she still can’t remember because of the blackness. Her shrink say’s that’s how her mind kept her from going crazy because the only time the blackness came was when her father came to her and made her do things. She never remembers during or after it happened. She only remembers the beginning then everything goes black.

Now she’s out of foster care and her mom fooled everyone into thinking she was o.k. They all believed that she was drug free, but she was’nt. She would leave at night and come home after the bars closed with a different guy every night if she came home at all, and she would be having sex with these guy’s when the kid’s were coming down the stairs to go to school right in the living room where they had to walk through to get to the kitchen. She did’nt care if she saw them or not just like she did’nt care about them. she made it a point everyday to tell them how much she hated them because they were just like their father and the only reason she got them out of foster care was so that she could get more welfare money. She also told them that she fought to get them back because even though she did’nt want them she sure as hell was’nt going to let someone else have us. Her mother at that time being addicted to Dilaudid ( morphine ) was the first person to give them drugs. That was the start of 33 yrs of hell for her.

It got to the point where social services would’nt give her money for all of them so she put most of the kids back into foster care because she could’nt take care of them and her drug habit too. Billy was already 15 and he left on his own, but she was 14 when her mother put her out on the streets with nowhere to go. She knew about hitch hiking and left the Sault and ended up in Ann arbor with some people that were coming for the Hash Bash. When your 14 and homeless with no money, clothes ( except the ones on your back ) and hungry with nowhere to go and no one to help you end up having to do things that you end up hating yourself forever for. For the longest she ate out of the garbage cans behind mickey D’s in down town Ann Arbor, but only would do it when it got to the point of her either eating or starving to death. That all changed in the winter of 78. She had been sleeping in laundromats or sometimes would crawl underneath a stairwell in an apt. building to sleep and not freeze to death. One night when she was wondering how she was going to find food and stay somewhere warm an old man started following her. He eventually started talking and asked where she lived and when she told him nowhere he offered to let her stay with him and if she would have sex with him for 100 dollars. For someone who had never even held a 10 dollar bill in her life hell 100 dollars just to let a man go to bed with her made her feel rich. That was the start of something that would eventually become her whole existance.

At first it was great the sex she did’nt care about and she has never in her life had a ” pimp “. She met some street people who turned her on to heroin. She hated what she did with these guy’s, but the dope made it all go away. Finally found something that was tailored to her specific needs. She could do the heroin and not feel anything and that made it possible for her to be with all these different men. It was all good until the first time she had a knife put to her throat and was raped. For 33 yrs she has been a prostitute and a damn good one. Never once will you hear of her ripping any customer off and she alway’s used condoms… hell they are free if you know where to go get them.

Do any of you know what it’s like or do you know of anyone that has ever been raped? Do you know that over the course of 33 yrs of hooking she has been raped over 100 times. She alway’s wanted to stop working, but did’nt know how because it was all she had ever done since the age of 14.

Finally she gave up trying because everytime she tried to change her life someone would come along that had seen her on the street and would say something to the manager of where she had finally gotten a legal job and would say something and get her fired. This happened 4 times to her finally she just said to hell with it why even try anymore. Even though she was trying to better herself and get off the streets people would’nt let her forget what she did.

I’m the girl in this story and something happened to me 1 year ago that changed my life forever my mother died. At the time of her death i was already in the methadone program on Ford Blvd. That place saved my life. My mother had never not once in her life ever told us kid’s that she loved us not until she was dying. I loved my mother more than my own life and for once I wanted her to be proud of me before she died and i wanted her to see the change in me. It will be 2 years this fall since I have walked Michigan Ave, and used drugs. I went back to school 1 year ago ( college) and one thing i am not is stupid. You can not be stupid and survive 33 yrs on the streets without getting killed or killing yourself. My mother got to see my grades from my mid term thesis on family addiction ( I got an A ) and for the first time in my life she told me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me and made me promise to stay in school and make something of my life before it was too late. That was last August 21, 2008. My mother died right before Thanksgiving and even though i wanted to die with her I did’nt.

I’m still in college and drug free and still getting straight A’s. I wasted too many years of my life on the streets and have put literally millions of dollars of heroin into my body over those 33 years. I will tell you something though. Everytime i went to jail if I would have had somewhere to go and had a job waiting for me when i got out they would have had one less hooker to worry about. These girls have nothing to go to when they get out of jail except back to the streets. What do you think they’re going to do when the jail either kicks you out at midnight or 6:oo am? They are going to do the only thing they can do and that is go to work on the street and from there the cycle starts all over again. And just to let you know i love children and i would never let a child see me getting in or out of a car and i aplogize for the one’s that do. Children should not be subjected to that and I don’t have children, but if i did i would be pissed off too if a girl did that in front of them. I have never had a pimp and alway’s made sure that i looked good out there when i was working. The better dressed you are and clean you are the more money you make and i made 3 – 5 thousand a week, but i have nothing to show for all that money but a lot of scars from using. So the next time you see a girl walking the street don’t think for a minute that she’s out there because she likes what she’s doing. Don’t holler out your window to get a job or call her names. Let her know that there are actually people that care and want to see her change her life and if you own a business… please offer her a job you might be surprised at how quickly she will say yes. Most of all don’t make her feel any worse than she already does about herself. Don’t kick her when she’s down she’s already doing it to herself instead try offering a hand up. God will most surely bless you for it. Peace and Blessings to you all – from a former addict and prostitute in Ypsilanti known as Hubba Bubba ( I alway’s chewed the gum ).

And the weird thing is, within a few hours of this being posted, another former prostitute wrote in to wish her well and offer a few words of advice. Here’s her note:

It’s funny but I just knew it was you even before I got to the end of the post. I sincerely wish you all the best. I’ve been clean and out of the life for over twenty years now so please let me assure you it’s worth it. Even when it sucks it just doesn’t suck as much as alla that.

I always wondered what happened to you, and Blondell. I already know about Carol. As well as so many of the other girls. And guys.

But if you don’t mind one piece of unsolicited advice, only because I’ve been watching a trend with some of the other folks I still am in touch with…. It seems like at some point most people are faced with a crux in which they really have to get completely clear whether they are in it or out. Some communities are tolerant of a sort of, one foot still in, in some ways, but most are just not tolerant at all. I’ve seen a lot of people completely lose their hard won new support systems and fall back because they tried to run a little game.

Again good luck, it really does get easier, in most ways anyway.

These two comments have really affected me. First, it’s just amazing to me that a little blog like this can illicit such heart-felt contributions from my neighbors. Second, I find it incredible that not one, but two former prostitutes were out there today in the MM.com audience. It makes me wonder how many former sex workers there are in our community right now, leading productive, meaningful lives. And, third, I’m just extremely thankful that we as a community now have a window into the life of one of these people that we’ve spent so much time discussing over the past several years. My hope is that it makes all of us a little more compassionate toward these individuals, a little more motivated to help, and a little more optimistic about their prospects. And, I hope this letter puts an end once and for all to the ridiculous notion that prostitution is a “victimless” crime.

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46 Comments

  1. Posted August 4, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark (and the ladies who wrote in). People who know me know that I’m fairly amicable and easy to get along with. Having said that, let me tell you about one of the few times that–as my students say–“Ms. Smith had to get a little ghetto.” A casual friend of mine said that women who were strippers or prostitutes did it because they “enjoyed it”. Those were his exact words..along with something about being empowering, having power over men whatever. I don’t remember exactly what I said back, except that my mouth started running so fast over words that start with f, mf and b that I think I started speaking in tongues. I’m not sure if that asshole is smart enough to read two words together on a page, but if so, I hope he reads this.
    And if this person ever again says women “enjoy” prostituting themselves…well, I erased what I had just written b/c it was really inappropriate.
    Anyway, I can’t even say how brave it is for the ladies to write in like that. It sometimes sounds trite to say “God bless you”, but I am going to say it anyway.
    PS: Another topic of discussion could easily be how prostitutes are portrayed in the media and movies. Don’t get started on that stupid “Pretty Woman” movie….

  2. Carrol
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    If either of these women come back to the site, I’d love to know their perspective on what types of programs may have worked. Clearly the one woman thinks that jobs are important, but without addressing the dependency on drugs, I’m not sure how much jobs would help. Most jobs in the legitimate world don’t pay 3 to 5 thousand dollars a week.

  3. Kena
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Prostitution (and the drug question) may not be “victimless” but they should not be crimes. Legalization is probably the only solution for both. Sex workers need protections and oversight that do not come from pimps and organized crime. They need to be freed from the intensity of social stigma and social labeling so that choosing out actually has more than the miniscule chance of success it currently has.

    Let’s face it, there are immense classist implications in the majority of sex work. Same as who gets to clean our toilets or work with toxins or get sprayed with malathion while picking our fruit or in the past, paint with asbestos in a shipyard. For those types of jobs we try to enforce SOME protections and regulations, granted it frequently comes up short and that is to our shame and the real crime, but the issues are essentially the same.
    This society has an underclass whose work damages them either physically, psychically, spiritually, emotionally, socially, and/or even financially. And it’s almost inevitably passed along to their families.
    The difference with sex workers is all of this overt moralism, repugnance and social stigmatization because we were all raised in a sexist, blue laws, society belays much chance of it being looked at in any realistic fashion. Therefore they are illegals and therefore completely unprotected. Moralizing on it does more harm than good.
    Get them on the books as workers, get them the same basic protections as other workers and then fight to get ALL underclass workers MORE protections.

    And legalizations would pull some serious fangs out of the gaping maws of organized crime as well. They may have resorted to running many legitimate businesses but they are still hugely supported underneath from the huge slush funds that are drugs, prostitution and gambling.

    Oh and on a side note, stop playing those completely f’d up games like Mafia Wars, Grand Theft Auto, dress my pimp up on facebook whatever, having “pimp and ho” parties and refuse to participate or condone all that shite that glamorizes oppression. I mean really, would anyone feel ok about going to a “dress like a ten year old Cambodian textile worker” party?

    And also, as far as I’m concerned, big G God has nothing to do with any of this, this falls squarely into our laps as our own social responsibility. Something we need to address within ourselves and our society. The less that particular God has to do with it the better, as it hasn’t had a good track record of effectiveness in this arena so far.

  4. Kathy
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Whoa. That was powerful.

  5. Posted August 5, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Thank you Kena. My thoughts exactly.

  6. Michael M.
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I’m sure this is true, and sad, but I’ve known a few sex workers who were lazy, spoiled young brats who didn’t want to work at a job. I didn’t approve of what they did, and I didn’t patronize them, but they used to hang out with a band I managed. So maybe they’re not all so abused. Not that this woman’s story wasn’t a heartbreaker.

  7. Keith Toomey
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised to hear how lucrative it is. 3,000 to 5,000 a week. I don’t know the local rate is, but I can’t imagine, on average, people working Michigan Avenue are making much more than $50 a session. Let’s assume, though, that they’re making $100 per act on average. That’s up to 50 tricks a week, or 7 a day, 7 days a week. It’s inconceivable to me that our prostitutes are doing that kind of business.

  8. Karen
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I imagine there’s a percentage of women who would leave the street if they had a viable offer of work and/or rehab. I imagine there are church groups and non-profits that have programs for this, but I’m not aware of any in our community. Can anyone speak to what services are available presently? Does SOS for instance have programs addressing prostitution specifically?

  9. kjc
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    “I’m sure this is true, and sad, but I’ve known a few sex workers who were lazy, spoiled young brats who didn’t want to work at a job. I didn’t approve of what they did, and I didn’t patronize them, but they used to hang out with a band I managed. So maybe they’re not all so abused.”

    Phew! We can still judge somebody.

  10. No name
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Did this woman, a heroine addict for 33 years, just quit her decades long drug habit on her own volition? Am I missing something? Did an individual or organization intervene to get her off the drugs and the street? If so, it seems that someone is on the right track and I’d like to know about him/her/it. Other than legalization, I think that accessible, FREE, and compassionate mental health care is paramount in these situations.

  11. Michaelx
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Wow, 3-5 grand a week? I had no idea the oldest profession was so lucrative around here. I must seriously consider a career change (but even before that I need a sex change).

    I’m just trying to lighten the mood a little and I don’t mean to trivialize a very sad story.

    With the movie “Pretty Woman”, Hollywood and Disney taught us that a prostitute becomes a better person after she bags a rich guy.

  12. Posted August 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    That’s amazing. I’m glad that this woman came forward and gave people in her situation a voice. I feel the same way about the homeless – it’s crazy for people to treat them like they have a choice in the matter. Living on the streets is not usually ideal for most people.

    Also, I’ve lived in different parts of Ypsilanti for a few years now and I’ve never thought that prostitution was an “issue” in terms of feeling like the place I lived was dirty or unsafe so it’s upsetting to hear that people think that you’re trying to paint a picture of an unsafe city or glorify that part of it. This is something that’s going on around all of us (in Ypsi or otherwise) and it’s time we started a dialogue about it if we’re going to help crack down on it for the sake of our cities or the women involved.

  13. Posted August 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I used to give to a charity in Los Angeles called Children of the Night that Dr Drew endorsed. It is a place that helps child prostitues get off the streets.

    Don’t have money anymore but maybe someday I will have it to give again. I know of no such charity around here or I’d happily help them instead (in the future when my husband is working again, he’s been out of work for 13 months now)

  14. AndyS
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    For a few years I’ve been reading the blog of a former San Francisco sex worker and junkie here:
    http://kdotdammit.livejournal.com/
    She is an amazing woman with a massively empowering voice. She put herself thru UC Berkley, and is is a poet and visual artist, a really cool mom of a young daughter. She’s been writing a book about her abusive early life and her time on the hippie-punk streets of the 70’s, and often shares vivid excerpts of it. I recommended it highly.

  15. Kena
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    That blog is great. Thanks.

  16. Marlie
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Kena,

    I’d love to know what would have worked in your particular instance, when you were on the street. That is, other than legalization. Is there anything that would have sped up the process of your getting clean and leaving the street? Are there programs that would have worked? Are there things the police, the community, church groups and others could have done?

    -Marlie

  17. sixteen years sigh
    Posted August 15, 2009 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    sighing deeply.. came across this blog while looking for a way out. A way to find help .. could i help others? anything that would be considered decent and a productive possitive addition to society. for i am the call girl, the escort, confindant corteson, playmate .. whatever.
    after a divorce with 2 small children, who are now grown, I just want a ‘real’ job. at this point willing to do anything to change my life, i just am lost as i have been trying to make that change for over ten years. Unless you know the struggle, you probly couldnt understand.
    For me, its always been about the money,income, making enough to support my children. paying the bills. I have worked a few regular jobs, but they never paid enough to get me through. I have to admit, that I should have been stronger and endure the struggle, but like the song says, “what would you do if your son was at home crying on the floor cuz hes hungry, and the only way to feed him is to sleep with a man for a little bit of money, and his daddys gone…’
    That was pretty much my story, a long history. I was never addicted to drugs, never drank more than a a drink or two, and hid this reality from the world. only a few close friends doing the same thing. and one good friend who can relate and got out long ago, with the continued finacial help from her parents. i got arrested early on, took a deffered acceptace plea, and just became super careful. Never worked on the street, strickly posting paper ads, and internet. so i guess that shows i have a certain level of intellect. Just had a client tell me he wants to help me, but i know he still wants to fullfill his fantasy/fetish and who knows if he will really help. i have been praying and asking god and the universe to help me find my way. I am very spiritual and actually dont hate what i do, have been doing, but am tired and want a real life.Personally wouldnt consider myself lazy, but in all reality, the lifestyle allows a high end girl the luxury to do things when she wants how she wants and if she wants. But all these years later, i see successful women and wonder why that couldnt be me, i know they have worked hard for where they have reached and i am a product of my own decisions. when days run into years , there really is not excuse. I am still told I look young 30s when i am actually mid fourties.. for whatever thats worth.. Kids are grown, and only think i worked in a strip club for a while while they were younger. think i have a sales job now, and I am so tired of the lies and hiding the truth. I have had all types of clients, and some scary situations, few and far between considering. had some sexual abuse when i was younger, nothing traumatic like the posts that led me here, but that abuse made me realize at a young age the power i had with men just by being sexy. So just posting off the top of my head, have always said, that i could write a book with all my stories, or make a quirky miniseries or howard stern like movie.. parts of my life have definately been like a movie, good, bad, funnie, sad, adventurous, dangerous and definately controversial. dont know if i will get any positive response, like a job offer, but I am willing .. was thinking to ask the client that expressed i cant do this forever to help me so i could take courses and become a licensed sex therapist, for God knows that is exactly what i do on a daily basis, i had dinner with a client tonite and made that comment and he said, ‘you wouldnt even have to go to school for that, you have a life experience degree’ haha funnie, but not really, because that wont fly in the real world..
    Anyway thanks for being here, and, maybe after i get some sleep, i will reread these ladies post, and fight the way to help myself, for you see, i never looked for a hand out, just found this was the only way to be independent.. now the tears are flowing, so i will sign off.. sorry for going on and on… i just want a regular life, God help me.

  18. Me
    Posted August 15, 2009 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    “Kids are grown, and only think i worked in a strip club for a while while they were younger.”
    Sixteen years sigh, that is a good story. Sorry I don’t have any job offers for you, but I wish you luck. The one thing I would say is that you might be selling your kids short. They usually know more than you think they do. Maybe you should talk to them.

  19. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    My heart goes out to you, 16ys. I wish things had been easier for you, but you should be immensely proud of yourself for doing what you needed to do, however horrible, to raise your children. Unfortunately, many here see your struggle, identify you as the victim of a crime, and would have you arrested for your victimhood. For what else could they be suggesting? That prostitution is a crime, but the prostitute themselves are innocent while the patrons are guilty? This would be to say that it is perfectly within your rights as supreme owner of your own body (and yes, let us please keep our laws off your body) to offer it for prostitution, but that it is a violation of your rights for someone to accept your offer. How can that not be a contradiction? Mark, since you ended your very compelling and compassionate post with a reference to this as a victimful crime, can you please explain this?

  20. Posted August 16, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Can I explain what, the fact that I think women are victimized in prostitution? What didn’t you understand in the first letter when the woman said that she’d been raped here in Ypsi 100 times? Am I saying that these women made good choices? Absolutely not. They, for whatever reason, chose this profession. Quite often, however, as in the case of the first woman who posted here, they had the cards stacked against them from birth. All I was saying is that these woman, or at least many of them, aren’t deserving of our contempt. And, yes, I do get the impression that many of them are victimized while working.

  21. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    No one disputes that rape and assault are crimes. However, not all prostitution involves rape or assault. In those cases, you seem to be claiming that those are still crimes, that still involve a victim, and presumably an aggressor; and that you have identified the prostitute as the victim, and presumably, the patron as the aggressor. I know you’re a compassionate person, and don’t want to see the person you identify as the victim arrested and prosecuted, but what does that imply? It implies that the prostitute is not committing a crime (or that it is a crime that should go systematically unpunished) by offering to sell services, but that the patron is committing a crime by choosing to pay for those services. What kind of a strange arrangement is that? It’s not a crime, an act of aggression, to offer a service for sale, but it is a crime to buy that service?

    I wish it were so that none of these women had to do this. I wish the world were different than it is. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to use force to prevent these women from doing this, and I don’t think that trying to do that will help them at all. They know their situation better than I, and they know what their other options are better than I do. Most people agree that we work better together when we have a certain respect for boundaries of property and person, and out of that has grown our system of laws and police protection. By forcing what has the potential to be a mutually-consensual, non-aggressive exchange to work outside of that legal regime, disputes are solved by physical force, might makes right, rather than the generally agreed-upon laws against aggression. Unfortunately, female prostitutes are almost always the physically lesser party to the exchange, and have little chance to prevent assaults against themselves.

    Even if it is not illegal to offer sex services, the market for those services will not see legal justice as long as it is illegal to purchase those services. A seller of services is not likely to have a cozy relationship with the legal authorities if those authorities are quick to arrest their customers. And if some monster is presented with two women, one who is willing to call for police, and one who is not, who will he be more likely to attack?

    Thank you for engaging me in this discussion.

  22. Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have the time or the energy to debate my use of the word “victim.” I realize it sets some people off. And, yes, I agree that prostitutes have, in most cases, chosen to do what the do. That doesn’t mean, however, at least in my mind, that they can’t be victimized. I would say the same thing about coal miners going down into unsafe mines for minimum wage. They’ve made a choice to do so, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re being screwed. I don’t know what more I can say on this. The bottom line is, for the most part, I’m sympathetic to the plight of these women. I realize, however, that many of them are cold, calculated con artists who, like our last commenter, figured out early that they could make a lot more money manipulating men than working at Walmart. Still, though, I stand by my statement that it’s not a “victimless” crime, as many argue. People are damaged beyond repair. They may be willing participants, but there’s definitely damage being done.

  23. Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    And, whenever possible, we as a community should be willing to extend a hand to help them if they’re serious about leaving the profession.

  24. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Not the point. Should they be arrested?

  25. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    And by the way, wow, you went a long way from people who “had the cards stacked against them… [and] aren’t deserving of our contempt” to “cold, calculated con artists who

  26. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    make a lot more money manipulating men than working at Walmart.”

    (hit the button early)

  27. Posted August 16, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, if they’re breaking the law, they should be arrested, as should the Johns. I don’t think I’ve ever suggested otherwise.

    And I don’t know that it’s all that complicated. I think that a lot of them have the cards stacked against them from an early age, and I think that a lot of them are probably just doing it because it’s easy money. I don’t see how my two comments are at odds with one another. There’s quite a continuum, as is demonstrated in the comments left here by women in the profession.

    And, as for legalization, I’m not sure. To tell you the truth, I haven’t given it a great deal of thought.

  28. Me
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    You guys talking about rights again?

    So, sixteen years, you have tried legal jobs, but you really must not have been impressed with the hourly wage. What is your plan?
    For example, if someone just by chance on this forum offers you a really kickass job, it still probably won’t match the pay from the other gig.
    I am just wondering what you are thinking. If your kids turned out okay like you say, you are not an addict, you have a lot going for you, but I think you need to seriously think about the money situation.

  29. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    OK. Gotcha. It’s a crime, the prostitute is the victim, and she should be arrested for it. Any other crimes where we should be arresting the victims? And when someone is in the unfortunate situation to be doing a job that you wouldn’t be willing to do, the best way to pull them up is to have a guy with a gun and a badge go hassle them. And since you made the comparison, should we also outlaw coal mining, and any other job that’s too dirty for you to do?

    Yes we agree, these jobs are horrible, the conditions are bad, it’s degrading, etc. But the reason people take these jobs is because, in their view, they have no better option. We both wish they did, but until you are in a place to personally offer them a better option, does it really make sense to advocate the use of force against them for taking their current best option?

    “if they’re breaking the law, they should be arrested”
    “And, as for legalization, I’m not sure. To tell you the truth, I haven’t given it a great deal of thought.”

    So, because there is a law against something, they should be arrested, and you haven’t stopped to consider whether that law is just, or effective in achieving it’s stated goal. Premarital sex was (still is, not enforced) illegal for a long time in many places. Would you then be making long posts about people who have premarital sex, and then saying that they should be arrested and you haven’t ever bothered to consider if it shouldn’t be illegal? How about homosexuality?

    You’re a very important voice in Ypsi, Mark, and it’s great that you’re hosting these conversations. But for how important your voice is, I find it appalling that you refuse to reconsider advocating the use of police violence in this way.

  30. Posted August 17, 2009 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Who advocated for police violence?

  31. Laura
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Mike,

    How did this giant bug get up your ass?

    -Laura

  32. Mike want longr name
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    The distinguishing characteristic of government is the legitimized use of force, of violence. When we talk about what the law should be, we are talking about in what cases it is acceptable to use violence against other people. There is a general agreement that if someone steals something from you, it is acceptable (via the police/legal system) to use violence to recover the stolen goods, plus damages, etc; or if someone is assaulting your body, it is permissible to use a minimal amount of violence to repel that assault. To the extent that there is a legitimate role for government police (for the sake of argument, I’ll take a minarchist, rather than anarchist, libertarian view and say that there is), almost all people are advocates of police violence, to the extent that they want the police to prevent crimes of aggression against person and property.

    However, throughout human history, there have been many cases of people calling for police violence with regard to acts other than aggression. I mentioned above premarital sex and homosexuality; other examples include interracial relationships, censorship, and drug and alcohol prohibition, as well as prostitution. Prostitution is different from the rest of these in that it is merely a market exchange in a service that can be provided freely. I doubt anyone on this blog thinks that people should be arrested for promiscuity, or even just premarital sex, when engaged in by consenting adults. But as soon as money changes hands, call the authorities! Contrast this with drug laws: the state doesn’t care how you get the drugs, buying is illegal, selling is illegal, gifts are illegal, drugs are just plain illegal. At least those laws are consistent.

    Do you understand that prostitution is so dangerous and victimizing precisely because it is illegal? Do you understand why Al Capone shot people in the streets, but Matt and Rene Greff don’t have to carry guns?

    And Laura, my problem is that Mark is a public figure who influences thinking in Ypsilanti, and is supposed to be a compassionate, progressive person. In many cases he is, but this is, in essence, what he is arguing here:

    “There are some people who have been dealt a bad hand in life. They have been given no advantages, and as such are poor, have few job prospects, and struggle to make it through life, sometimes trying to raise children at the same time. As owners of their own bodies, they are, of course, allowed to have sex with any consenting adult that they wish. Some of them, to cope with their difficult lives, have chosen to offer that voluntary act in exchange for money. I am saddened that they must take this path, that I would not, as I find it degrading. Hopefully, we, as a community, can offer help to raise these people to a status that we find more acceptable. In the meantime, though, let’s just have them arrested.”

    So, Laura, I love this town, and want to see it prosper. I just don’t see how arresting the most disadvantaged among us for trying to cope in a way that involves no one who does not choose to be involved can help.

  33. Hope Cameron
    Posted August 29, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I was looking today on the internet looking for the cases of the prostitutes i remember getting killed, somewhere around the late eighties. So as i was doing my search i came across the article of hubba bubba. You see i too am a former prostitute that knows hubba very well and i love her. All of us prostitutes had a bond. I know that all of us that did survive will come together to help other young women who would or could fall into the long hard trap of prositution. I know that this is God moving right now. Even for me to find this, and i thank Jesus for this opportunity. I would like to wish hubba a happy and succesful life. And also thank the officers that help save our lives. And pray for all of the young ladies in ypsilanti that struggle with the thought and actions of feeling that you have to prostitite.

  34. Posted October 12, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I found this article yesterday. Figured this was a good place to repost.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2009/10/11/dear_john/?page=full

    If anyone’s still paying attention…

  35. Debbie
    Posted October 18, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    OMG! I was wondering as I read this woman’s story if she was one of the hookers I knew years ago when I used to live in Ypsilanti. I worked at the former Dunkin’ Donuts (then Honey Donuts) on Michigan Ave. I was shocked to see it was Hubba Bubba writing this! I do know her. Wow…I remember the track marks on her arms, the infections raging.
    I also remember that she did get at job at the donut shop but the customers didn’t want her waiting on them because they knew who she was. She used to hang out in the shop and turn tricks in the parking lot.
    It’s been probably 20 years since I saw her last. I found this story while googling to find out if prostitution had ever been legal in Sault Saint Marie.
    Kim, if you are reading this…I am so proud of you!! I remember when you would be in jail and then come out and go right back to the life. I used to think “why?” You are heroin free for 60 days, 90 days and then you come right back. I guess I knew even then it was really your only choice. I wish I would have known then what I know now and I would have been a better person to you. I apologize that I never did anything to help you or the other girls out there.
    I do remember one thing in particular. This may trigger your memory as to who I am (I am the fat blonde who worked at Honey Donuts). My man had you in his car one evening (Ray-dark blue Cadillac Seville). He had bought you dinner and you were in his car to eat it. I gave you all kinds of hell (him too) for that. Wow, how young and naive I was back then. I’m sorry.
    I wish you so much luck and I give you alot of respect for doing what you are to stay clean and make a life for yourself. I wish there was someway I could help you now.

  36. scI
    Posted November 1, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Sex crimes in Ypsilanti. 32 years in Ypsilanti. Seen them. Experienced them. Lived them. Saw them done to others. IMO Ypsilanti is RIFE with objectification of women. As a teen living near depot town, I thought it was normal that men would drive up and flash me. Normal the wolf whistles. Normal to reach out and pat my behind while driving by as I rode my bike. Normal the lewd talk. Normal the holding in one-down relationships. Normal the saying “you like it” when I didn’t ask for it in the first place! Be a woman, a fairly attractive woman. Ride the bus from the far side of Ann Arbor to the far side of Ypsilanti. Observe. Be honest with yourself. The same men who treat you with respect at one end subtly change when they cross to the other side. Listen. Listen carefully to conversations. Observe attitudes. You will see a change. As an adult, accosted twice as a prostitute. Once at Ypsilanti bus station and once when changing buses at Arborland. My crime? Direct eye contact and saying “how are you” to a total stranger, and, maybe, carrying an umbrella. Look at the dress of what is socially acceptable for the young women on the East side of Ypsilanti to wear. They TELL you by their body language and by the tight fit of their clothes what is socially acceptable and expected of them. Do they feel good about themselves? Deep inside? I think not. A part of them can tell they are being sold short. Who is teaching the men to do this? Is it years of handed down upbringing? Is it heritage? I can tell you this, it was not by MY choosing that I have been treated as I was as a child and young person in Ypsilanti! As an adult, my husband was accosted by a male prostitute at Frog Island. I saw a gang rape as a teenager by someone in my class – two blocks away from my house…and she acted like it was normal! Males and men who dictate what is acceptable and what is socially allowed have a HUGE impact on the city of Ypsilanti as a whole and what it is today. Do you respect the women in your life? Do you treat them like a piece of.. ? Do you try to pick up teenage women then go back home to your wife of 15 years and your young children? Do you barter car services at the local car dealership and even new tires with the expectation that I will demur and act differently than my convictions for “services rendered?” I do not condemn those who came into the life of prostitution. For certain, if things had not changed in my life, I most certainly would have become one. I have seen kidnapped children both at the Ypsilanti bus station and at Prospect Park but, through fear due to a victimized upbringing, was powerless to do anything. A male (8-10 year old child was taken from the (now Boggs) gas station at Prospect and Cross and taken across the street in broad daylight to the park and almost raped-but the mom stopped it. I have seen horny and dirty old drunken men dancing with me at a bar my mother took me to as a teen right here in this town. Would YOU want someone to do that to YOUR daughter? I have seen a young African American boy (4 or 5) being beaten soundly by what looked like a late-teen and very large white male. Fearful myself, at least I stopped it. What anguish this one must have felt to be so powerless on the part of this woman–someone saw a very pregnant woman being picked up, read about a baby found in a dumpster, then saw the same woman without a pregnant womb being picked up again within about a two week time. How powerless she must have felt!!! I saw a young woman on a bus turn white with sweat and need to get off the bus to get another fix. Both likely paralyzed by addiction and likely powerless to do anything else! It is a PAINFUL place to grow up. It is a (IMO) HORRIBLE place to be growing into a woman! They prey upon the innocent here! My hats off to the women and the men who strive to change their lives and to break out of a lifestyle of imprisonment in this way. My hats off to those who even care enough to want to help. My understanding and compassion to those who desperately want to try. I am Totally Clueless as to why someone would even think that prostitution should be legalized. I guess it is because my step-brother, whose sexual abuse of me started in Ypsilanti when I was 5 1/2 and who definitely sexually harmed others, now lives in a state where prostitution is legalized.
    Ypsilanti needs HELP in the area of sexual crimes. But the victimization of women through the trade of prostitution and the setting up safe-houses, addiction support centers, hostels, counseling, adequate resources for their children is only part of the solution. IMO there needs to be a global education of men in our town that is replete with teaching about the respect of boundaries, respect for the individual, respect for the human, honoring of commitments, and all that entails. YES prostitutes are victimized. Societal changes DO need to take place such as fair pay for women, programs to reach out and encompassing all areas affected. BUT, to those who think prostitutes are not victimized? LIVE a while in our shoes. Live in the shoes of women, in THIS TOWN, at THIS time. Then, tell me if you feel the same.

  37. Scotty
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    I used to live in Ypsi. I lived there for a lil over 2 years. 2007-mid 2009. I remember that I was so naive when I first moved there that I didn’t put 2 & 2 together and I remember thinking, “Wow an awful lot of people just hang around on the streets here”…..until someone mentioned the hookers on Michigan Ave…then a light bulb clicked on. “Oh wow! Those are hookers and pimps, etc that I saw hanging out on the streets.” I really didn’t realize it until then. I found myself thinking about them alot. How did they get into that? Why do they do that? Etc…
    I had of course heard of postitutes before but I don’t think I’d ever actually saw one up close before…or at least didn’t realize it. I had always had the mental image of hookers dressed in short skirts, lots of make up & stockings, etc….but in Ypsi they don’t dress like that. They dress like everybody else., so until someone pointed it out I never even thought about hookers working in Ypsi, or anywhere else for that matter. Anyway, as I said, I began thinking about them alot. I would drive around in the morning and at night and see them and just wonder…”How did this happen?” I was driving west on Cross one early morning and I thought I saw a friend of mine walking across the bridge, she even waved at me. It was foggy so I couldn’t see clearly but it looked like someone I knew. I stopped to offer her a ride and as she came claoser I realized it was not my friend but since it was dark, cold & foggy I offered her a ride anyway. She got in the car and then made her proposition. I was at a loss for words, I didn’t know what to do. I finally blurted out “I don’t do those kinda things”, she giggled and said it was ok, and said she was only going a few blocks up the street. I dropped her off a few blocks later and she said “thanks for being so nice to me.”. I felt a little weird, I had never encountered a hooker before, but it kinda touched me the way she said “thanks for being so nice to me”. This got me thinking even more. How do people treat these girls? If just giving a girl a lift for a few blocks means so much to at least one of them…what could people do to really show they care? I started thinking about this and a couple of weeks later I was coming home & it was dark & raining. I saw 2 girls walking on Prospect and trying their best to cover up from the rain (it was really coming down pretty hard). I pulled over and asked if they needed a lift (I know it may seem odd to some but where I come from people still do things like that)..well here we go again, one asked if I “wanted to party” & I politely declined and said I was only offering a ride. The younger girl who stood behind the first, waved at me as I pulled away. I couldn’t get her face out of my mind, she couldn’t have been more than 19 or so. It broke my heart. I was a block form home when I turned around, I don’t know why exactly, but I felt like I had to talk to her, I didn’t know what I was going to say but I was going to try. I got back to the spot where I had seen them & the younger girl was standing there by herself and ran over to my car as I stopped at the sign. She got in and said “I knew you were coming back”. Wow! I felt like this was my chance to really help someone. She asked if I wanted to “do something” with her and I told her that I just wanted to talk if that was ok. I told her that I’d even give her a few bucks if she just talked with me for a 10 minutes. She agreed and we drove around for almost an hour talking about how she got into this and that she had just started a couple weeks before. She said she was 24 yrs old….looked younger though. I asked her what it would take to get her away from that life and she said, “I’m stuck, I’m just stuck…I don’t know how to get out”. I decided that I would try to help her, I didn’t know how to get her out either but I was going to try. I gave her some money and bought her someting to eat and dropped her at a house on Cross. I didn’t see her for over a month after that. In the meantime though, I had researched programs like, homeless shelters, rescue missions, free clinics, drug treatment programs, etc… I had a bunch of pamphlets and flyers I carried in my car in case I saw her again. When I did see her again she recognized me when I pulled over and got it the car. I asked how she’d been and all, she was kinda quiet about it so I didn’t push. I showed her the pamphlets and flyers I had gathered as we stopped for hot chocolate at the gas station, she asked why I was doing this and I told her that I just wanted her to know that SOMEBODY cares. We talked probably 15 more times after that (even went to the movies and a sit down restaurant together…she asked if I would take her. She said it made her feel like a “normal” girl again) and then I didn’t see her for a few months. Finally one early morning I saw her by the DQ on Mich Ave & stopped. She got in the car and gave me big hug and said, “you are just the person I need to see right now!” She talked about how it was time for her to make changes and that she had been in jail, for the past couple of months & really had time to think and that the judge was really nice to her and told her that he’d like to see her get her life back together. We talked for a little while she really seemed happy and I really belived that she was ready to be” just like a normal girl again”.
    Well, as it turned out, she was arrested later that same day for prostitution and drugs (crack) :-( Seems her old boyfriend (pimp) had found her shortly after I’d dropped her off. I visited her in the Wash county jail a couple of times. She was still wanting to change her life but was distraught that she’s messed up so quickly after getting out the last time. I told her that she needed to get away from the bad influences and she said that it was too hard because when she got out she had no place to go. I reminded her of the pamphlets and flyers I had given her and I looked up a place on the internet and told her about it. She said she would like to try it. We talked about it for a few more visits and then she asked me not visit anymore. She said she wanted to do this and that she would call me when she was out & done with the program. I wasn’t sure about this but I decided that she had to do this for herself so I stopped visiting. I heard from another girl I tried to help that she did get out of jail and go to the program. I have no way of knowing if that was true but I haven’t seen her since so my hope is that she followed through with it and is now a “normal” girl again. Kimberly, if you read this and it’s true, I’m very proud of you!
    Sometimes just showing someone that somebody cares about them CAN make a difference. Try not to be rude to these girls and guys. What they do is ugly and they live in a dark world that most feel helpless to get out of but we don’t know the circumstances that brought them to that lifestyle or what keeps them there (pimps, drugs, hopelessness, etc…) but sometimes if you just show some compassion and extend a little niceness to them, a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day perhaps? It can make a world of difference in their lives. God Bless!

  38. margaret terrell
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    As for Hubba Bubba maybe you need to have a more current conversation with her. I am a recovering addict and have lived the lifestyle for many years. My friend shotgun died Tuesday April 13, 2010 due to a heroin overdose that happend at hubba bubbas house, with hubba bubbas dope and with hubba bubba sticking the needle in shotguns neck……..should I go on? so going from prostitution which is a misdemeanor to felony delivery causing death is doing good? Being the big shot dope dealer…..Yeah! My friend is gone and you praise this female?

  39. Glynn
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m struggling to have a normal life after being trafficked. Obviously, the name I listed is not a real one. It’s just that I don’t want my past to find me. It’s good that I started talking to a professional. I did go back to school. I go to church, and I’m learning how to be a good mother and wife through older women there. I still find it hard and lonely though. I worry about the other girls all the time. I have bad dreams about them and wonder who made it out alive or who is not/is in prison and/or flinging dope or doing tricks on their own. Can someone direct me to a safe place, person, or thing that can offer support for me? I feel so often misunderstood and alone. Thanks.

  40. Posted June 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the note, Glynn. I’m moving your comment up to the front page, where hopefully more people will see it and respond.

    Can we assume that you’re in southeast Michigan?

  41. Glynn
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    No, but been in houses there. Was there when I was 12 and twice again when I was 17. I’ve been in a lot of places for short periods though. Was in the hospital during a bust and just took off and tried not to look back. Thirty now. I thought maybe someone just had an idea of where I could start. I don’t even know how or where to look for help.

  42. Posted June 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    The reason I ask is because most of the people who read this site live in SE Michigan, and I suspect that most of the resources they’ll point you toward will be here…

    If you don’t mind my asking, where are you?

  43. Glynn
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Ohio

  44. Valerie
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    This was a interesting article for me. In ways I can relate, in ways I can’t.
    I am an escort looking for a way out before its too late.
    I grew up middle class with zero abuse. Except some issues that stem from being bounced between divorced parents because neither wanted to deal with my teenage behavior. 
    When I was 19 my boyfriend, the only person I knew this side of the mason Dixon kicked me out. All credit lines maxed out,  I slept in parks and was going home with any man who would have me. Just for a chance to sleep in a bed and take a shower. I’m not sure if it qualifies as “survival” but it sure as hell felt like it. 
    With no integrity left, I started looking on craigslist for anything.  An apartment, car, job, trick. Within a day an agency had me on an airplane and a 4 star hotel waiting on me. They were good days.  I never used drugs. The other girls were newbies like me and we ran around upscale hotels in downtown locations like a sorority. At night we went out on the town, or ordered room service and gossiped about our clients. I even had thanksgiving with these women. Within a month, I could buy a car cash, rent an apartment, and pay off my debt.  
    In my first attempt to quit, The money went fast. It’s amazing how fast your bank account dwindles with no income. So I found some regular clients in my town. In 4 or 5 appointments i can make 1500-2000 a week. And I rarely see anyone new. All regulars and nice men. At 23 I’m in my prime years. But I want to quit.  I want to date a good man and have a steady job. I want to deal with what I’ve been doing, come to terms with my past and start a new chapter of life. I would love if there was some kind of organization that helped people plan an exit strategy. 
    Step 1 save
    Step 2 pick a goal or stop date
    Step 3 move
    Step 4…?
    How the hell do I find a job that fulfills me enough that I don’t go back?
    In the last 4 years in this industry I have pursued careers and looked for “real” jobs.  At a time when unemployment is high, I am competing with educated people for server jobs. I always end up feeling discouraged, rejected, and unworthy. Maybe I lack job hunting skills? Maybe im not good at selling myself (Yes thats a joke). 
    I have realistic expectations. I look for things that pay $13-15/HR, make me feel challenged, and teach me a skill or industry. I know I’ll never make what I do now. But that’s why I’ve saved and I’m very close to paying off my condo.  And no one will ever be able to kick me out again!

    I know that with no abusive pimp or addiction I am low priority for “help” services. But there’s not even a website out there that has any words of encouragement for us.
    If some business owner would spend a little time training me I could be a good employee. I could still be a good wife or mother. But words of wisdom on my transition would be appreciated.

  45. Kim
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I suspect this comment is fiction, but, at the very least, the mention of 4-star hotels tells me that the author isn’t from around here.

  46. incredible
    Posted June 10, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    This discussion is incredible. I’m so happy that I found it (quite by accident) tonight.

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  1. […] summer, I started a thread here about prostitution in Ypsilanti, and the challenges faced by the women looking to leave the life. If you haven’t read though […]

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