Why 'Anti-Sex Trafficking' Legislation Made Me Leave The Escort Sex Business For Good

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Self

New legislation that censors online escorting websites in the name of helping sex trafficking victims has shown me the writings on the wall that it’s time to get out.

Do I wish I had more financial cushion? Yes. Do I wish I had more “regulars” to rely upon, like sugar daddies, in my (semi)retirement? Yes. But I don’t want to spend over $1,000 to build a new website when I’m about ready to leave the business and delete my online footprint, anyway.

There is a lot of damaging evidence online about my secret life as an escort, but much of it has been deleted for me. I stand to save several thousand in “reputation protection services,” something I’ve always planned as necessary and non-negotiable post-retirement.

RELATED: The 10 Biggest Myths About Being An Escort (And What The Lifestyle Is Really Like)

Censorship might be a blessing in disguise for me, but it’s a huge blow to other escorts who need the work and aren’t as close to realizing their “exit strategy.”

I started at 27, advertising as “25,” and I had experience with sugar daddy dating sites and stripping before making the bold choice to place escort ads online. I was not coerced into the work and I knew which escort advertising sites were “classy” and likely to attract my target clientele.

I set my hourly rate at $400 to start, quickly bumping up to $450 because I had the intelligence, education and social graces to supplement my looks. I have been a fully voluntary, independent escort over the years, with the only exception being some moonlighting with agencies for quick cash.

In April, a packaged bill called SESTA/FOSTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, respectively) passed. This obscenely bipartisan-friendly bill was voted into law near-unanimously and like most laws meant to combat sex trafficking, it's misguided, hurting and not helping sex workers at all levels, including sex trafficking victims.

For example, a woman offering half-hour appointments for $100 or less is screwed when the third party advertising site she relies on goes down, making her vulnerable to pimps. New legislation targets websites that “facilitate” prostitution, purporting to have sex trafficking victims in mind, but they are forcing people onto the street who otherwise had the internet as a protective shield against bad clients.

I work at a more upscale level, but my time to feel the damage of SESTA/FOSTA arrived pretty quickly. The Canadian review site called TheEroticReview.com went down in the USA and my 15-20 reviews, accumulated over several years, vanished. I never liked the fact clients could review girls in an explicit manner but the reviews at least verified that I looked like my pictures, was fun, and had a pleasant, intelligent, personality. That I was legitimate, not a scammer.

Shortly after my reviews vanished, a client notified me my website was down. My website included every single professional photo from my last few shoots, tons of details about my rates and policies, a personal bio, and a personal blog that helped clients choose me based on personality.

The problem with my website was that since I’m not savvy with such things, I used a third party escort web template service to build it. Those enforcing SESTA and FOSTA have an easier time finding and shutting down sites like that than combing through the internet to personally censor me.

It’s easier for them to target large advertising, screening, and review sites for escorts and clients. Before SESTA/FOSTA, there were various scares about certain sites like Backpage and Rentboy. But now there's a whole sweep of scares not limited to one website.

I hope the general public will gain awareness about how we can actually help trafficking victims without endangering those very victims and their voluntary counterparts with misguided laws like SESTA/FOSTA.

RELATED: What It's Like To Be A Stripper With A Serious Adderall Addiction

For my part, however, I feel a sense of relief that comes from being forced into retirement just barely ahead of schedule. I’m finishing my higher degree in May and turning 35 a little before that. There is no reason to be in this business at 35+, with a higher degree.

I have mentally convinced myself I have to quit, but “quitting” is incremental. It’s very common for escorts to quit advertising but continue relying on regulars. I’ve noticed many of my prospective and existing — but not regular — clients finally booked or re-booked me because they are also apprehensive about going to someone new.

I refuse to spend money on a new website or any advertising sites besides the free, reputable one I’m still on. But I'm far beyond having “one foot in and one foot out.” I have all but one pinky toe out of the business and am glad for it.

I'm in addiction recovery and, although countless addicts have sold sex or drugs, there's a big conflict of interest between continuing sex work and becoming a better, more honest person who is willing to change behaviors besides drug and alcohol use. I’m pushing 35, and falling back on the strip club is no longer a viable back-up plan for cash.

Not returning to stripping was a boundary I set for myself the second I got clean and sober two years ago, and it’s not just age but how hard it is to avoid alcohol (and even drugs) keeping me away from clubs.

I feel blessed that anti-sex work legislation, combined with sobriety, are pushing me in the direction of realizing my potential of actually becoming the person I’m capable of being. Quitting alcohol and Adderall abuse, followed by quitting sex work, are eliminating two major “dealbreakers” from my life.

I'm learning self-love and self-respect. Instead of being angry that I’m struggling with tuition for the first time, I look forward to flexing my writing muscles applying for grants and scholarships. I have a post-graduation plan that feels almost foolproof (which, incidentally, involves teaching online courses! Ah, the internet!) and am beginning conversations with career services.

I have romantic prospects that seem attainable because I don’t just plan to scare them away with my temper and alcoholism, per usual, or pigeonhole myself into the “other woman” fantasy-fulfillment role.

RELATED: I'm A Prostitute —​ These 10 Things Break My Heart About My Job

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Jolene Dubois is a self-confessed seductress and professional escort based in the United States. She is currently working on her exit strategy from the sex industry and plans to attend graduate school and become a true working writer.