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. Look down on you? No freaking way. I admire the fact you are doing the best you can for your family, children and your future. You sound very level headed and I wish you all the best!

  2. Much respect. I have been paid for sex in my early years, as have my 2 best friends. It’s nobody’s business but your own. Stay safe and take care of your babies.

  3. I want to wish this author well and am glad you and your children are safe and provided for.

    And well done for the editors to share this story on the site.

    However, I just wanted to share an observation with the others commenting and offbeat mama readers. Thank you for being so positive and supportive in the comments here! I had lost a little faith in the readership when there were a lot of negative/judgmental comments a while back on a post about a couple who were ‘house less’ and currently depending on the welfare system. I know these two stories aren’t the same, but I feel they were also in a difficult situation and were making the best of it to take care of their child.

    We all face difficult decisions as parents and I’m really grateful this community supports parents doing what they feel is best for their families.

    • I had lost a little faith in the readership when there were a lot of negative/judgmental comments a while back on a post about a couple who were ‘house less’ and currently depending on the welfare system.

      You ‘n’ me, both. That was a rough day.

    • This is exactly what I was thinking! I checked back with this post today and gave a deep sigh that comments were still open and positive 🙂

    • I think readers feel there’s a difference between doing whatever you need to look after your children, and (what readers saw as) an able-bodied young couple taking advantage of the welfare system — especially when the Anonymous poster notes in the comments that she still pays taxes on her earnings. I’m sure if that couple had omitted the part about their income/lack thereof, there would have been a lot more support for them simply choosing to raise a child without a house. Don’t want to re-open the debate, but I think it’s important to really compare the two situations and understand that while they both discuss controversial lifestyles, that wasn’t the real issue commenters were having.

      • Exactly. There is a huge difference between someone making ends meet because they have to, and someone who willingly decides to make society pay while they wander the country and occasionally make handicrafts. Also, I think that post struck a nerve because many of us are working our asses off to make ends meet and are paying taxes that then go to homeless/underprivileged people.

  4. I certainly feel compassion for the author’s desperation and can sympathize with her plight, but I am surprised by all of the comments that are celebrating a practice that objectifies and degrades women. I admire the author’s love for her children and I appreciate that she wrote this piece, but I do not find her actions heroic.

    • I’ve never understood that position. How many women have stayed in a “romantic” relationship with a man they didn’t truly love because of the financial support they received? Lived with a man? Hell, just had sex with a man because he payed for a fancy dinner? I think that to say that only sex workers are objectifying themselves is…unrealistic.

      I would personally be too afraid to do this, but I wouldn’t have any moral qualms myself, and I think it’s incredibly brave of her to do what she needs to do to take care of her children. Would it be better for them to go hungry? Or to never see her because she has to work 60+ hours a week at a minimum wage job?

    • Why is it necessarily being objectified? And why is that limited to work in the sex industry? I’ve had plenty of jobs that didn’t involve sex where I felt humiliated or demeaned. I don’t think she necessarily deserves MORE credit than any other single working mother, but I think she’s brave for sharing her story and is finding a way out of a shitty situation.

    • The only time I have ever felt objectified and/or degraded is when people make comments about how my work objectifies and degrades me.

      I would feel far more objectified and degraded being lied to by a handsome man in a bar, plied with drinks, being intimate, then being tossed aside for the next best bar conquest. People in my line of work are brutally honest about what they are looking for- and I have a deep appreciation for that.

    • I currently work as a stripper to put myself through college, and I feel incredibly lucky and empowered. I’m simply a smart girl taking advantage of a consumer demand.

      I felt more degraded when I was working in a bakery for less than minimum wage, being bullied and not paid properly, being given so many hours that I couldn’t keep up with my classes, and having to sell my things and not eat just to pay my rent.

  5. Lots of the comments seem to focus on the author having to resort to extreme measures for her kids. I wonder, are there people who actually want to do this for a living, and actually like it better than a more traditional career or job?

    Also, when I think about this profession, if I’m going to look down on anyone or imagine it’s degrading to a person, (which I really don’t btw) it would be the customer, not the worker. That type of job would not be available if there wasn’t a market to begin with.

    • I think the applause for choosing an extreme measure comes from the tone of the post itself. It’s very apparent it was a last resort, but she knew it was the best choice for her and her family. I’m sure many people get into the industry because they like it, it feels empowering, etc.
      I don’t think looking down on the customer is any ‘better’ than looking down on the worker. There are bad customers that patronize sex workers and good customers who are respectful and genuinely good people. It’s just like any industry, there are good and bad customers.

      • I think I worded my comment poorly, but I think you get what my question was about. I’ve known people who left for NV to do this, but, I never found out how they like it etc… Was it as “easy” or “fun” and they thought it would be? Is it anything like the reality shows?

        I love that OBM posts so many differnt types of stories because I”m so nosy and interested in how people live even if it has nothing to do with my life!

        • Was it as “easy” or “fun” and they thought it would be?

          I think the author makes her perspective on this pretty clear: “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.”

          To me that’s not easy, not fun, and she understands that people see it as demeaning.

          • I wonder, though, what it’s like for a sex worker in NV, someone doing it legally in a regulated environment. I’ve heard limited amounts on the subject (Stephen Fry stopped and talked to a few sex workers at one place in NV during his trip around the US, very interesting) and I wonder how different it is for people who work and live where it’s legal. is it still looked down upon? Without the secrecy and threat of losing children/feeling like it’s your ‘last resort’ does it become a more appealing, or fun (or even just easier) job?

          • I’ve known a number of sex workers, most of whom chose to do it because they thought it would be interesting. While it’s true that pretty much all of them had a horror story or two (whether it was a scary and/or uncomfortable situation with a customer or a run-in with the police), most seemed to get genuine satisfaction from their work. In fact all the complaints or problems I can remember were really about the societal stigma and the legality issues. I think at least some of them would have been really happy with their chosen work if it were legal.

            I remember asking one of my friends, who had just screened out a creepy potential customer over the phone, about the aspect of physical danger. She said that plenty of people choose dangerous jobs–cops, firemen, military, etc. etc., and get a lot of satisfaction from their work anyway. She said it was much the same for her.

  6. I just want to say again that this poster is awesome and I’m thrilled that our community here is so open minded, respectful, and intelligent!

  7. Comment sections like this really restore my faith in, forgive the cheesy expression, “sisterhood”. Especially now that I’m pregnant and lurking so much on other parenting forums. I usually leave them annoyed and somewhat insulted.

    You people make me happy. 🙂

    That said, this article is awesome, and really brave. My mom had to do some illegal things to take care of her six kids when my dad took off for another woman (hasn’t seen his kids more than 4 times since, and owes 97k in child support), and I completely respect her for having the guts to do so. I feel the same about the above writer.

  8. I look at my life right now, and see how easily it could lead to the situation you found yourself in. You’re making the best decisions you can and I respect the hell out of you. Those kids have a mom they can be proud of.

  9. i seriously thought about going into escorting when i was single-parenting my son, barely making ends meet. i made little enough to qualify for daycare assistance, but did not receive any child support during that time. i was debt free when i became single, but i racked up thousands of dollars on a credit card buying groceries because i didn’t qualify for food stamps.

    i am now in a different situation and hopefully won’t have to consider sex work again, but i wanted to chime in and give you props.

  10. Right on OBM for sharing this. And a HUUUUGE thank you to the fearless lady who wrote it and lives it every day. Do whatcha gotta do sister.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story, it is really interesting. I think you sound like a very strong and grounded woman.

    It brings up a lot of important questions for me. I hope you don’t mind me asking you your opinion about some things. Feel free to not answer if they are too personal.

    “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.”

    I’m curious if you find the actual work demeaning or degrading or if it is the stigma of the work that is degrading? Or neither? I guess I’m just questioning if paying for sexual contact has to be degrading if it is between two consenting adults.

    I’m also curious to know if you could change something would it be a priority for you to end the stigma against sex trade work or to improve the social welfare system so that women like yourself didn’t have to do sex work to make ends meet?

    Again, thanks for sharing your story and being so open to talk about your life.

    • It’s the stigma I was referring to. I don’t actually feel degraded by my clients at all. Usually it’s the well-intentioned know-it-all feminists that make me feel the most degraded. Ironic, isn’t it?

      And your question is a great one! I think that my number one priority would be to legalize and regulate sex work. I don’t think that the stigma will ever be gone so I wouldn’t waste my time on that. I want the women who make up the sisterhood of The Escort to be safe, I want them to not be afraid of going to the police if they are robbed or assaulted, I want them to be unafraid of police cruisers and to be able to get things like affordable healthcare, disability, workers comp, etc.

      We already have a welfare system in place, it sucks for some people, but it’s there. There is NOTHING for sex workers and that is what puts us in the most danger.

  12. You go momma, stay ahead of the game, and make that money!! It’s not scandalous, its not embarrassing, and its not disgusting. Your babies will thank you when they’re off to college on your hard earned buck.

    I just hope that everyone you meet for these dates is respectful toward you… I would hate to read that they don’t treat you nicely.

    You are doing something (that even though some of us might not admit in a million years) felt that they might have to do to eat a meal, or get a roof over their heads.

    I am proud that you are who you are, and I don’t even know you!!!

    • I am very blessed to be a part of a WONDERFUL and very small, private service that backgrounds and health checks every single client. I have been treated better by them than I have by most of the men I have dated!

  13. Thank you for posting this, I knew it must take major ovaries to do so, and good for you.

    I have a question, though: Have you tried going after your ex for child support? I also understand that child support enforcement in the US is pretty lax, to say the least.

    Again, thank you for having the ovaries to tell your truth, and I hope that you get your loans paid off and a fabulous home for you and your babies. *MAJOR HUGS*

    • The author replied upthread about child support – she does get some support, but the escorting allows her to supplement that and pay student loans. The child support is insufficient for her needs, but enough to disqualify her for meaningful government assistance as well.

  14. Wow! I love that Offbeat Mama posts things like this, that you would never see on any other parenting blog. So interesting to hear such different perspectives. Thanks for being brave enough to share this with us.

    Out of curiosity, what do you tell people if they ask how you support your family? If you appear to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, people must wonder how you make ends meet. What do you tell them? Or do people just tend to keep their questions to themselves?

    • At this point when people ask what I’m doing (which is relatively rare because I really don’t have many people who would be interested in the first place!) I tell them that I am in the events planning industry. It’s not too big of a bend to the truth and it explains how I’m able to spend so much time ‘working from home’ (or at least that’s what people think, in actuality I’m playing with my kids!) and it would explain why people may see me in social settings at times.

      It’s certainly not perfect but I wanted to keep as close to the truth as possible.

  15. You are awesome!! I don’t plan on ever having any children myself, but I’m totally in awe of the lengths people will go to to provide for their children. (And even if you didn’t have kids and were just doing this to support yourself, you would still be a rock star!)

  16. this is an amazing story. you’ve got balls, lady! you’re dealing the best you can after exploring various options.

    just curious, i do hope that ex-husband of yours is financially helping out with the kids as well? it’s not fair that you’re carrying the weight of the family, while he’s gets away completely consequence-free.

  17. Thank goodness a job exists that you don’t so much mind doing to support your kiddos. I think it’s very noble of you.

  18. As a middle-aged man who has spent time with many escorts over the years since my divorce and between committed relationships, I have nothing but respect for you (as well as for 99% of the escorts I’ve had the honor and pleasure to spend time with) as well as respect and admiration for the choices you have made to care for your children and meet your financial obligations. This is indeed an honorable and respectable professional and/or career choice; it is ridiculous that our puritanical society demonizes this profession and has not legalized it as has been done quite well in many countries. Most of the women I have encountered this way are single mothers who have made their choice to do this type of work for financial reasons. They have had a range of post-partum bodies and are not stunning “10” 20-somethings. The majority are warm, intelligent, often well-educated women such as the blogger who was brave enough to post her story and her rationale for the choices she has made. I would hope that most of the clientele that escorts such as the blogger encounter treat them with the caring and respect that I do, though sadly, I know that this is not the case 100% of the time. There are numerous online moderated chat rooms/boards where men such as myself post information and/or reviews (discreetly and respectfully) about escorts we have spent time with, sharing the woman’s contact information (with her permission)so as to assist the escort in building her clientele and/or discuss sex worker-related issues with both other men and with the escorts themselves. Women are most often uniformly spoken of with respect, fondness and gratitude. Yes, there is too much sleaze and disrespectful if not outright harmful information on the web about this profession, but this is not representative as a whole of the opinions and sentiments of those of us who respect all women including women who have chosen to be an escort to provide for their families (too often because deadbeat dads do not step up to their responsibilities to care for their children after divorcing, leaving or abandoning the family they have helped to create)or to pay for college.

    You are a brave and sentient being. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Kudos to you for being sensitive and respectful to escorts, yourself. I can think of no reason why an encounter between escort and client can’t be a fun, sexy, perhaps even personally fulfilling experience — but only as long as the clients are well aware of boundaries and treat the escort with the utmost of respect and dignity.

      So thanks for being among those who do that.

  19. My kudos to you as well! I really appreciate that you’ve been around to answer commentor’s questions too, that’s really cool!

    This comment section has been wonderful, but I do have to wonder if that’s just due to heavy comment moderation.

  20. You go mama! I love that you do what you have to, I love even more that you wrote about it. I was a single mom once upon a time and things get hard when you aren’t sure where your money is going to come from or if its going to be enough. I don’t think anyone should look down their nose at you, its not like you’re doing it to support a drug habit or something, its not like you could have gotten the money from a relative or something to live on. Life is an occassion; Rise to it.

  21. I’m so sorry our system failed you so terribly. And I say that with this in mind:

    1. I don’t think sex is shameful
    2. I don’t personally think there is anything INHERENTLY shameful about sex for money

    But, there’s still an amazing social stigma surrounding it, and historically, it’s one of the many things women used to have to resort to for a lack of options. So it’s not the job itself that I feel bad for you over — I’ve known women who were escorts and actually LOVED it — it’s the fact that there was so little else available to you in order for you to meet your needs, especially as I’m sure that while you’re not miserable, you’d rather not have to do what you do.

    So while I’m totally pro on sex work as a legitimate job for those who truly enjoy it, I still recognize that it’s something most women would really rather not get into. And I wish so much that you hadn’t had to. A country like ours shouldn’t paint people into such corners.

    • The “THIS!” button doesn’t really convey the full amount of “THIS!” that I feel about this comment.

  22. Well, to start; I am not looking down at you at all… Been there, done that in a past incarnation and have to say you are one courageous mama. Funny I read this now lol, as I watched (no it’s not a habit!) Dr Phil today and there was a couple doing late night work to support their little girl… My hubby & I said, “good on them”. All we can hope is that we can get on top of our bills as easily as they have! I must say it is risky and I have concerns as to whether people will judge and the whole “if the kids find out” stuff but overall, I’d give my vote to a sex worker over an investment banker right now… Good luck on your journey and hope you make ends meet & much more 🙂 K

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