talk to someone: info@southendwave.org | text this number for more information: 07496 680555


Prostitution is an exchange of sexual acts for money, food, rent, drugs, or something else of value. Prostitution can be a form of sexual exploitation, and forcing or manipulating a person into prostitution can be one way that an abuser commits domestic abuse against his/her partner.

Sexual exploitation can include forcing someone to participate in any of the following:

  • street prostitution
  • massage parlours or brothels
  • escort services
  • strip clubs
  • phone sex
  • pornography
  • domestic and international trafficking


80 percent of the world population of prostitutes are female and range in age between 13-25.


70-95 percent of prostitutes experience physical assault during work.


60-75 percent of prostitutes are raped while working as a prostitute.


95 percent of prostitutes experience sexual harassment that in other industries would result in legal action.


Women who are prostitutes are raped 8-10 times each year on average.


Traffickers and pimps often target people in vulnerable situations, which could include women and girls experiencing domestic abuse.  Sometimes, abusers will also prostitute their partners as an extension of the abuse the victims are already experiencing.  Some victims of domestic abuse may turn to prostitution to escape an abuser, but prostitution is often also used as a form of abuse.

Conversely, people in prostitution are often in situations that make them vulnerable to entering into domestic abusive relationships.  Lack of financial resources, steady housing, or employment may give abusers power and control over a person in prostitution.  And if the abuser helps the prostituted person to leave prostitution, s/he may, in turn,  come to feel that s/he is dependent on the abuser or owes it to the abuser to stay with him/her even though there is domestic violence taking place in the relationship.

Prostituted women and men are often victims of violence characterised by power and control (much like domestic violence) by pimps and customers, often called “johns.”  The methods of control that pimps and johns use are similar to the methods used by abusers.  Some examples include:

  • physical violence
  • sexual assault
  • financial abuse and manipulation
  • isolation
  • verbal abuse
  • threats and intimidation
  • minimisation and denial of physical violence


  • There are many reasons that women and men do not or cannot leave prostitution. 
  • In a 1998 survey of 475 women who were involved in prostitution, ninety-two percent of them said they wanted to leave prostitution but couldn’t because they lack basic human services such as a home, employment, counselling and treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.
  • A prostituted woman might not leave prostitution as she may be afraid of what her pimp will do to her and afraid for her life if she tries to leave.
  • Leaving prostitution may be scary for other reasons, for many women and men, prostitution sexual exploitation and sexual abuse might be the only life they know. 
  • Many girls enter prostitution while they are under the age of 18 years old and various studies reveal that from 60% to 90% of those in prostitution were sexually abused in childhood. 
  • The thought of leaving prostitution and having to find a new way to support themselves and their family might be overwhelming or scary for some people. 

Southend WAVE wants to offer you support with practical and emotional services so that you can make positive choices for your future. 


Prostitution can be harmful on many levels, posing a threat to a woman’s or man’s mental and physical health among many other consequences. One small study of 130 prostitutes found that 68% of the prostituted women interviewed met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Women who are involved in prostitution may increase the risks of exposure to violence, which is traumatic in itself and these effects of the trauma last for a long time. Some symptoms of trauma and abuse are listed below – you may recognise some of these and if you would like to find out some more information or have some questions please text or email us.

  • Dissociative disorders (e.g. disconnection, distancing)
  • Anxiety disorders (e.g. fixation, memory loss, panic attacks, flashbacks)
  • Sleeping disorders – oversleeping, insomnia
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviour
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Drug and Alcohol misuse leading to long-term addictions
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Isolation

Is Prostitution a Choice?



talk to someone: info@southendwave.org | text this number for more information: 07496 680555