How I support my family as a sex worker

Guest post by Anonymous
By: Andrea RinaldiCC BY 2.0

I think I’m a pretty typical mom. I have three adorable kids. I wear comfy jeans to parent involvement meetings at school. I use cloth diapers, amber teething necklaces, and have a Beco, a Moby, and two Ergos (which obviously means I’m way into baby wearing!).

For all intents and purposes I have the perfect suburban mommy resume. With one enormous exception. I keep a huge secret from my family, neighbors, and friends. After a long day of story time at the library, playing with moon sand, and finger painting… I go to work. I don’t have a typical mom job. Not by a long shot.

I’m an escort.

Not an escort of the Ford Motor Co. variety. But an honest to goodness escort. The sort they make jokes about whenever Eliot Spitzer’s name comes up.

I have sexual contact with men and am paid for the time I spend with them.

Scoop those jaws up off of the floor, moms and dads, because it’s true. And it could happen to you.

I don’t mean you’ll be trafficked into sex work by some skeevy creeper on the internet — I mean that you may some day be in a position you never dreamed you’d be in doing things you never saw yourself doing in order to make ends meet.

Let me rewind to the beginning.

I was a well-educated stay-at-home mom. My husband didn’t make millions but he made enough that if we lived frugally, we were comfortable without an additional income. Then one day, he pulled the rug out from under me. He informed me that he had fallen in love with another woman. And then he left. Just like that. Years of marriage down the drain. Three children, a dog, and a cat together. None of that was enough to make him stay.

So there I was, a young single mom with three children, an apartment, and pets to provide for. I tried getting jobs, but nothing worked. The salary was never high enough and the hours were never acceptable. I have one school-aged child, a toddler, and an infant. I could have put the youngest two into daycare, but there would be nobody to walk my school-aged child to and from school safely. I have no family, no close friends, no support network, no church, no friendly neighbors, absolutely nothing.

I tried to go to the government, but there was no help there. Every job I could find made enough to disqualify me from welfare programs (no Food Stamps, no Temporary Assistance, no Daycare Assistance, nothing) but never enough to make ends meet. My biggest problem was my student loans. None of those public assistance organizations take student loan repayment into account. I spend more on repaying my student loans than all of my other bills COMBINED. If I default on those, I’ll never be able to get ahead. The interest and penalties will continue to build, and I’ll be financially sunk. I don’t get to file bankruptcy on student loans.

Then one day I bumped into an old college girlfriend at the grocery store. We spent some time catching up and I asked her, out of the blue, if she was still in the escorting business. You see, she put herself through college without a single loan, and without having to work her fingers to the bone in order to make ends meet. She did it by escorting. When I asked her back then how she did it, and she told me, I was horrified. I still adored her, I just couldn’t believe how a person could do such a thing.

My, how I have changed in the few years that have passed.

Here I spent all of these years of marriage living frugally and getting an education while raising my little family, and it all blew up in my face.

So my friend from college gave me the contact info that I needed to get involved with her coordinator in the business. I researched. I made calls. I read blogs. I lurked on forums. I was so afraid. But already the collections calls were coming in, my pantry was empty and I knew if I was going to make it, I was going to have to do something that horrifies most people — something that used to horrify me, too.

And you know what? It’s not horrible. I don’t hate my life. In fact, sometimes I think I have it better than most American moms. I work on the evenings and weekends the kids are at their father’s place (a total of two weekends and four weekdays every month). They never even know I’m gone. Then when they are with me, I get to be a devoted single stay-at-home mom.

I’m very careful to have various safeguards in place and I work with a top-notch company that caters to extremely wealthy clients. I don’t put ads on the internet, I don’t hook up with people on Craigslist, nothing like that. I’m about as safe as I can possibly be in the unsafe world of a sex worker.

It’s not an easy job, it’s not glamorous, and I know that most people reading this will be looking down their noses just SURE that they would never do anything so demeaning or degrading.

It’s not an easy job, it’s not glamorous, and I know that most people reading this will be looking down their noses just SURE that they would never do anything so demeaning or degrading. But I’m happy that I am able to provide for my kids. I’m glad we’re not living in a homeless shelter, begging in the streets. I’m glad they are warm, I’m glad they have food in their bellies, and I’m relieved that I can provide them with the basics that they need, and a few extra goodies when they’ve been especially well-behaved.

Being a parent is hard work. If it weren’t for my kids, I’m not sure what I’d be doing right now. One thing is certain: when I say that I would do anything for my kids….I mean it.

Comments on How I support my family as a sex worker

  1. I’d love to hear more from parents who have lived through true “I’ll do anything for my kids” experiences.

  2. You sound like such a strong woman and a wonderful mother to your kids. Good luck with your work!

  3. I just want to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly positive response to this post! I had a ton of butterflies as the publish date got closer and closer- I wasn’t sure I could handle seeing how people really feel about what I’m doing.

    I’m so humbled and grateful for the understanding you have all graced me with. <3

    • Thank you for this post. I wish there was a way to find a good company like you did or if there is a way for you to give us a little information as to where to search and how to know a good company. I would like to do something like this for the same reasons you have, I just have no connections to support (as you mentioned you did not either) and I don’t know anyone who could even point me in the right direction for something like this. If you are allowed to give anything, it would be appreciated. If not I completely understand as well.

  4. Just curious as to how your ex gets away with not paying child support or alimony? Isn’t our system supposed to help ensure that moms (and dads) like you don’t ever end up having to make decisions like this? I have male friends who have paid more than half their incomes to women they never married for children they fathered, so how does a dad walk out and not have to financially contribute?

    • Sadly, our system is not designed to make sure things like this never happen. Our system is designed in such a way that it pushes people into situations like mine. If I had ONLY my salary standard salary I would probably qualify for a number of local and federal help agencies. But because my exhusband has not shirked his financial duties, my ‘income’ puts me over the ability to receive assistance.

      By DSS standards, I should be able to pay everything just fine with no help from them. They do not take student loans into consideration at all in their fancy calculations.

      • Thanks. So it sounds like you do receive child support from him then? And it’s just not enough? I understand exactly what you mean about not qualifying for other benefits, I just don’t understand how the divorce court didn’t require him to pay you a pretty large chunk of his income to take care of his three children. I’m sure that support wouldn’t cover all of your expenses by far, but you’d think it would be enough to keep you from needing to resort to these kinds of extremes. I totally respect your decision to do so, but no mother should have to even contemplate this just to care for her children because her husband left.

        • I was going to state the same. For one child I recieve pretty well, and her father works are a department store…so for three children with a father who makes well over a department store salary…I am guessing maybe around$800 plus alimony. He would also pay something for child care costs. I am also a single mom to two children and go to school and working a regular job, but without all the extras and I am very happy knowing that I am being a strong mom. Kudos to you for doing what you feel is right.

      • The student loan system really needs reform. I’m very sorry that it is your student loans that is making it so that you have to do this. I applaud you for finding a way to support your family, and I’m glad that it isn’t making you miserable. However, no one should have to do something like this to pay their student loans. Student loans are the largest loans many of us will take in our lives, and it is ridiculous that they aren’t considered when calculating how much financial help a family needs.

        • Yeah, it’s pretty horrible that student loans are preventing you from being able to afford living off of a salary from a job you went to school for. That’s when you know the economy is screwed.

    • I work as a single mother advocate and I’ve never heard of a man paying more than 20% of his personal income for child support, whether he was married to the mother or not, 20% is the standard. Which is pathetic, if you ask me. The only times men end up paying more is when they get behind on child support and end up having to pay back child support. Or if they change jobs and their income decreases and they don’t go back to court to get child support levels changed (both of which has happened to my father).
      Sadly, many more men “get away” without paying anything. All you have to do is not send checks, and if the mother doesn’t take the steps to garnish his paycheck, he’s off scott free. Other highly effective methods of dodging child support include working under the table so you appear unemployed in court, skipping state or the country, or staying intentionally unemployed.
      Most of the women I know who’s ex’s actually pay child support never see a dime of it. When you go to get food stamps, cash assistance, and other forms of assistance the state takes the father if your child to court for you, garnishes his paycheck, and then he pays his child support to the state. It’s a pretty fucked up system.
      I’d be very curious to hear the full story of these several men who give more than half their paycheck to child support. I am skeptical that’s what’s really happening, given all my experience with child support law, but I admit I don’t know everything. What I do know is that most of the time child support payments are pitifully small (around 100 – 200 per month per child, for most women I know), and half the time fathers do get away without paying anything. They still have rights to visitation even if they never pay a dime in child support though. At least in the US, visitation and custody are not connected with child support. In all US states and territories it is illegal for a woman to withhold visitation on the basis that the father isn’t paying child support. She can go to prison for doing so.

      • Thanks – that’s helpful. I do know three men that paid upwards of $1000 a month while working close to minimum wage jobs, but I can totally see how that may not be the norm, given what little I know of their situations.

      • Jessica, you are not correct. The way you describe is not how child support is calculated. It is much complicated than that and depends on which State you are. What probably happens is that you are working with women who either don’t have lawyers or don’t have money to pay a good lawyer, therefore they don’t have idea of the area they are stepping in and you are making assumptions based on their situation. I know it because I am an attorney myself and I work in this area. The best advice I can give you with regard to the women you are talking about is to send them to a lawyer. Do not give them advice with regard to child support if you are not a lawyer.

    • I have a friend with a 5 year old, and the child’s father lives out of state. He hasn’t paid child support in years, claims no income and no fixed address (he makes money under the table and stays with his mom or girlfriend), and never shows up for court dates. Its mind boggling.

      • The difference here is that she said her husband still splits custody with her at least part of the time. So it just seems like he should be paying her some sort of support. I just am curious if it’s typical for that amount to be so small as to force mothers into these extreme decisions.

        • It really depends on the income. If the father beings in 1000 a month, and she gets the typical 20% of that, then yes, it’s not enough to support three kids. If the father makes a six figure salary, she would probably get quite a bit more, but probably still not enough to survive without working. My father made a six figure salary. My mom got $600 per month per child, which totaled 1200. It usually covered rent and utilities, but not food, clothes, medical, daycare, school fees, etc. My single mom worked 60+ hours a week outside the home for my entire childhood.
          I get no child support for my son. The story behind that is complicated but I believe we’re better off. Escorting sounds far less miserable than military service, which is how I made ends meet the first few years of my son’s life. Of course, I was in the military before I got pregnant, it is not a practical choice for a woman who is already a single mom to join the military, as you have to sign over custody of your kids to someone else while you are in basic training and AIT, which often means women never get full custody back. It all depends on how much you trust your ex, I suppose.

    • They can legally make someone responsible to pay- but the system cannot actually make them keep employment and pay- this is why some of us are owed upwards of $100k in unpaid child support for our children. They can work jobs and get paid under the table- move from job to job, move states and basically fly under the radar- despite bench warrants etc.

  5. I wanted to congratulate you for being brave enough to share your story and brave enough to do what it takes for your kids. I believe that sex work should be legalized and regulated instead of criminalized and pushed underground. I don’t know if our puritanical society will ever go for it, but kudos to you for finding a safe and lucrative way to do it.

  6. I also want to say Thank You for holding your head up high and sharing your story. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of and I hope your long term planning works out!

    And Thank you to OBM for providing the kind of venue where we can even read such a post, have a legit discussion and everyone gets to be “their own special snowflake”

    Finally…YEAH! Where is the money from the Father? And I wish you had the support system you should! We have one child and when I tell people we have no family in the area they look at me like I am nuts! Not the same level as this post but reminds me how people forget than when you have kids YOU MAKE IT WORK!

  7. Frankly, I think that you’re one of the most committed mothers I’ve ever heard of. To go into a line of work that society frowns upon for the sake of your kids? Yeah, that’s not Super Mom, that’s THE Mom!

    I think we’d all like to say, “Well, I would NEVER do such a thing!” when things are going great, but what about when the fridge is empty? When the car is repossessed? When you’re living day to day terrified of when the landlord is going to kick you out? What then? I’d like to think that I’d be brave enough to do WHATEVER it took to keep my kids happy, fed, and secure. It’s not glamorous, it’s not even ideal, but it puts food on the table, and anyone who condemns you for fulfilling the basic requirements of any decent mother, food, shelter, and security, can frankly jump off a cliff. Preferably the Grand Canyon.

    Would I ever be able to do this? I have no idea, and no offense, I hope I’m never in a position to make that sort of decision. But you have all my respect, just keep being a fantastic mom, and everything will fall into place.

    • It’s very individual. Some people just work places like craigslist, while others google escort agencies. I happened to have a personal connection to someone in the industry so I was able to slide in with relative ease.

  8. I’ve never visited this site before, but was sent this link on Twitter. I’ve been a sex worker for almost a decade, and it’s really awesome to see so many positive comments on this post.

    To the commenter who asked who would pay to see her body – you might be surprised at how un-“perfect” most sex workers look. Society imagines you need to be a 9 or a 10, but in reality, most of us are 6s, 7s, and 8s. We’re cuter than average, but not supermodels, and most importantly, we know how to display/use our own bodies in the most flattering ways. For people who are heavier or less “conventionally attractive,” you can still make it work, although the market for curvy or punk/butch sex workers is smaller. For “unconventional” looks or special talents, fetish/dominatrix work or fetish/niche porn might be a better choice for you.

    I have no financial incentive to suggest it, but The Internet Escort’s Handbook (sold as 2 books) by Amanda Brooks is a good starting point for people looking to get into independent escorting. (That means running everything yourself, working outside of an agency.) There are a few other “how to” books floating around out there, but they all seem either sketchy, outdated, or written by people who have never actually done sex work.

    A lot of sex workers are isolated from other sex workers, but that’s changing. More and more sex workers’ rights groups are popping up around the world, so consider attending an event in your area, or just sending one an email to ask about local sex worker meetups or how to connect with a local community.

  9. This is kind of off-topic, but I’m wondering, don’t you have to conceal or launder the money? I mean, if you don’t have a visible job, and you’re able to pay cash one day for a house, won’t someone ask where that money came from? I guess I’m thinking of Weeds and the fake coffee shop she “ran”.

    Don’t feel obliged to answer. I’m just thinking out loud.

    • I don’t really want to get into the fine details here on the blog, but I make sure to pay taxes on everything that I earn. I don’t want Uncle Sam chasing me down 🙂

  10. i can so relate to your situation. i have four kids. i am on assistance. there is no way i could ever make enough to support my kids at a job and pay for daycare and pay for food and pay for rent and pay bills and pay off student loans and pay for anything extra my kids need like clothes… if i get a job, i am fucked, i would get kicked off assistance in a heart beat. if i stay on welfare i am extremely poor but i have food and shelter and i get to take care of my kids. i also don’t have family or friends around for support. i am alone when it comes to raising my kids. their dad is not even in the picture and if he was, he would not be supportive. if i was in your situation i would most likely end up doing the same thing as you. you get to be a full time mom and support your kids. there is nothing wrong with what you are doing. i applaud you for taking your life by the horns and making it work for you.

    i wish we didn’t have to make choices like that to support our family. i wish things could be easier for us as a single parent and we had better choices. it is sad that we don’t.

  11. It doesn’t get much more self-less than that. It is a great story that proves sometimes you have to go through and do the inconsiderable life lessons to see how strong you really are. Not everyone gets to see that in themselves, some just give up.

  12. I did the same to get through college. I don’t regret it at all. I now have a child and am SUCH a cookie-cutter suburban PTA mom. And it’s my little secret. You’re strong and brave and don’t ever feel guilty. I used to feel guilty not because I really felt like I was a bad person, I just thought I was SUPPOSED to feel guilty. Well I don’t anymore. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about other people in the process of escorting. Thanks Offbeat Mama for posting this, and thank you for writing it.

    • I love hearing from other people who have been in the industry. What a fun secret to keep at the PTA meetings!

  13. Thank you for sharing this. Your kids will someday thank you for doing what you’ve done to keep them clothed, fed and housed. You are a Saint for your dedication to your kids.

  14. Respect from me, for sure! I haven’t known any escorts (that I know of) but I have had many friends in the sex industry (including family members). I want to see the US have a clean, safe, legal sex industry.

    Thank you very much for sharing your story.

  15. Thanks for the post!
    An update on your career via another story would be great.
    We all make sacrifices to get by and you do what u have to!
    Sex working is one of the oldest professions, I say legalize it so sex workers can be protected by the law!
    P.s. I had NO idea student loans aren’t taken into consideration by welfare. How ironic seeing u cant report student loans for bankruptcy!

    • Neither did I! I thought I was being responsible by getting a solid education (at community colleges and state universities!) and only borrowing what I needed. I drive an old sedan that I bought with cash, used, many years ago, live in a tiny apartment, have NO other debt.

      I thought I did everything right. Our government isn’t set up in such a way to get people to better their circumstances. They do it in such a way that seems to keep people in a state of need and dependence.

      • That is quite true, unfortunately. We say that we want people to help themselves, but as a society we don’t give people the means to do that very often.

        Also, our society pushes college really hard when there are lots of other ways to get ahead in life. College is wonderful, and everyone who wants to go should be able to go. However, there are a number of cases where a vocational school might better serve a person’s personal and career goals and get them earning money more quickly than a college degree. There are so many people going to college these days who don’t need to and don’t want to but were pressured into it by well meaning parents and/or guidance counselors. I’m not saying this was the case with the author of this post, just saying that the pressure to go to college has gotten a bit out of control in this country.

        • The college vs. vocation debate is way bigger than this thread, but I just wanted to say that I am SO with you on this!

        • I agree with you….
          The UK is heading more towards – you have to have a degree or you won’t get a half decent job. Which is OK whilst our student loans are pretty relaxed (we don’t pay them back until we’re earning a certain amount, we only pay a small percentage of our wage and if we die our next of kin doesn’t have to pick up the bill.) So if you’re unemployed, you don’t have to worry about student loans. However I can see our system becoming a lot more like the USA over time.
          I think the USA and the UK need to relax over the sex industry. It’s unfairly taboo. If consenting adults are involved, the only difference to something like tinder is, money is exchanged.

  16. I will admit I was a bit disturbed and taken aback when I first heard about this blog but after reading it I really have to commend you for taking care of yourself and even more importantly your children! I agree with the other commenter that is pissed for you that society in a way led you to this choice but at this time it seems you are happy and comfortable with it and that is what counts! Best luck to you now and in the future too!

    • Thank you! My entire point in writing this blog was to show people the lives behind the title. The majority of escorts out there aren’t drug addicted, strung out, STD infested junkies. Most are just like me- just trying to make ends meet as quickly as possible.

      I’m really happy to be able to shed some light on the people within the industry.

      • My hat goes off to a strong brave and loving mother! I spent the last 25 years serving this great country of ours in the USMC and believe me when I say I have seen more than my fair share of suffering so the fact that this mother was able to find a way to support her kids and herself and do it: as in the immortal words of the GREAT Frank Sinatra (I DID IT MY WAY!!! )I’ve also be on the other end of that type of a transaction and let me just say that I admire and respect the girls that are able to do this and it NOT make it where they are unable to have a happy and healthy relationship with someone that they truly care about! I have a couple of favorites that I REALLY do care about and think of as good friends. So if I may :the next time someone is looking down on you because of what you do to support yourself and your children tell them to GO FUCK THEMSELVES with my compliments!!! A retired marine

  17. Thanks for writing this!

    This part really struck a cord with me: “I have no family, no close friends, no support network, no church, no friendly neighbors, absolutely nothing.” I can so empathize with this; what the heck happened to communities? I am almost in the same boat, although after having my daughter I moved to be near my parents which has been a god-send. Until I had a kid I never realized just how hard you have to work to create a support system these days.

  18. This is a very courageous thing you’re doing.

    I think I would be too scared to do this. Even if I safeguarded against the obvious dangers, I don’t know if I could live with that secret hanging over my head. I would be afraid I’d lose the kids if somebody found out and reported me to Child Protective Services. Even if everybody close to you is OK with this, all it would take is one nosy neighbor or a secretly disgruntled friend.

    But at the same time I can’t think of “another plan” for you either! I wish it were different. Sometimes I wonder if making prostitution illegal actually perpetuates the problems associated with it (exploitation of women, transmission of diseases, etc ).

    • I think your line of thinking that making prostitution
      (or escorts, or any form of sex working) illegal causes the problems
      that are part of the industry is exactly right. If it’s legalized, it can be regulated.

    • One thing you need to keep in mind is prostitution is indeed illegal HOWEVER escorting IS NOT illegal. You are being payed for your time the same as a doctor a lawyer a cpa or ANYONE else that charges an hourly rate for their time PERIOD end of story!

  19. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I greatly respect your decision and would never judge you for the decisions you have made. However, I do very harshly judge our society for forcing you to enter into employment you would not otherwise choose. I am very happy for individuals to work in any industry they would like, but it makes me sad when people are forced to work in an industry they don’t like because they don’t have any other options. I have many cousins in the military because it supports them and their families. That makes me sad. And while I am in awe of the sacrifices you have made for your kids, I hope it doesn’t make you upset that I am also sad that our society has not bestowed other options upon you.

  20. I also feel that it is so unfair of your ex husband to have put you in such a situation where you have to do something purely to support your family and not because it is your chosen career path. Surely when you get divorced the husband needs to make sure that he can still provide for his kids etc?
    I take my hat off to you… You are a strong women and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you will soon be abled to follow all your dreams. Your kids are lucky to have such a devoted and strong mother.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  21. I will be honest – i was a bit shocked when I read this. I guess everyone living outside of the US thinks that you live in the land of milk and honey… but I guess thats not the case…$100 000 of students loans is equivelant to R 815 000 the price of some houses…. I feel disturbed by that and the fact that the help that is offered by your government has so many loopholes for them to get out of helping you is crazy (we dont get any assistance of any kind in this country, for a women to get assistance she must earn under R 2500 a month which is like $306 a month which is impossible anyway and then they only give you R500 I think)
    When I was a teenager my boyfriends mother was basicly a hooker…it was weird becouse her family behaved like it wasnt really happening when it was and I guess that made me feel diffently about the situation. I dont think it can ever really be the best situation, but if you find yourself unable to keep your head above water any other way then you should do it. (she was in a really dodgy situation that was not safe in my opinion) You are safe, you take precautions and your children are at this point unaware of the situation. It is not your goal in life (no one thinks gee one day im going to be an escort for a living you have goals and ambition to make your and your kids lives better) I thin the biggest problem with your career would only be once your children and their friends and friends parents become aware. There is no way anyone in a ‘normal’ setting would understand – thats really sad but its how life is. I really hope that you keep safe and enjoy this time with your kids – your luckier than some of us working moms…

  22. I take my hat off to you! You are much braver than you give yourself credit for!!

    I’ll be sure to send some good thoughts your way!!

  23. I’ve been exactly where you are, and sometimes still am. I’ve written a comprehensive book about it. Please let me know where you are so I can send you a free download link for it. I feel so much camaraderie with you that I want you to have it!
    If you check out the site posted you’ll see that I’m for real. Believe me, I know how important trust is in this situation.

    A. Phoenix

      • If you click on her name at the top of the post it takes you to her website, with a contact button – hopefully that helps 🙂 It must be good to be able to talk to others who know the industry.

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