Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly called Prostitutes Anonymous) was founded in August of 1987 by J.L. Williams in Los Angeles, California. This was a time before cell phones or the internet. To generate calls into the program - a "hotline" was also created. This was the first such hotline for adults who wanted help to get out of the sex industry whatever the circumstances were. The only other hotline at the time had been created for juveniles when Children of the Night created their program, and hotline, in 1979, also in Los Angeles, California. As of 2014 - the hotline has answered over 500,000 phone calls. Both J.L. Williams and L. Lee (founder of Children of the Night), were responding to a melting pot of reasons why they decided to take action and form these hotlines, and programs.
This was back before anyone even heard the terms "sex trafficking" because no one believed that such things existed in reality back in 1987. The term "sex trafficking" is actually a confusing one because it's even hard sometimes to draw the line about where "force" and "coercion" is involved sometimes because sometimes force can be done very effectively without handcuffs and guns. Many men and women do not feel they were "forced" in any way to be in some area of the sex industry. Some will even argue what they are doing isn't even "prostitution". When a woman from a popular site where the men pay women monthly for their "services" was quoted by a newspaper as saying "I'm not a prostitute because I don't get paid for the hour and I don't walk the streets" even the very definition of prostitution can be hazy for some.
Which is partly one of the reasons we changed our name to "Sex Workers Anonymous" in 1995. While many will readily admit they are a "sex worker" - many of those same people will balk at identifying as a "prostitute". Another reason we changed the name is because of the internet. For one thing, we had adult filters blocking the word "prostitute" so we were unable to even be listed in some directories or search engines (especially college computers). For another, there was the invention of the webcam studios. Now we had men and women coming to us who were not having physical sex with another person - but still wanting help to leave the sex industry. So to bypass the adult filters and be found, and to avoid any room at all for denial, or self-exclusion - we renamed our program to "Sex Workers Anonymous".
If you are not sure whether or not we can help you - we define our members as "a man or woman, of any age, race, gender, religion or sexual identity, who for any reason, feels they want to leave the sex industry whether that be prostitution, stripping, pornography, phone sex, web cams, mistressing, madaming, pimping, or any form of exchange for sex, or a sexually related activity, where there is a form of exchange whether that exchange be money, services, favors or goods - and that person wants help and support in leaving and healing from whatever this activity has been for them.
One does not have to feel they are "addicted" to the sex industry despite our name. There are other 12 Step groups such as "Divorce Anonymous" where the members are there to support each other through a divorce - and not there because they are "addicted to divorce". This does not mean however no one is addicted to sex work. On the other hand, if you've ever catch the TV show "Strange Addiction" you know that people can become "addicted" to anything whether it's eating baby power, sniffing gasoline, or drinking paint even. So yes some can be "addicted", but that is not a requirement for membership.
The only "requirement for membership" with us is a "desire to leave the sex industry - and find recovery". If you feel this is you - then please call our hotline at (702) 468-4529 or collect from any payphone. If you are worried your calls or call log might be monitored - you may call us from a payphone by dialing and we'll accept the charges. If you really want to be sure your call isn't monitored to us - you may write us confidentially at 6311 Van Nuys Blvd., #108, Van Nuys, CA 91401 Attn: J.L. Williams. Our phone is answered 24/7 by another recovering member of our program. All calls are confidential and we are not connected with law enforcement in any way, shape or form. Nothing you say to us will be used against you or repeated.