Recovery Workshop

Assessing Prostitution

What is it?

There are two main issues involving prostitution within this workshop. Those who procure prostitutes (aka call girls, massage therapists, personal dancers, strangers, etc., when such roles include sexual contact in exchange for money/services/supplies) and those who agree to perform sexual acts in exchange for non-emotional compensation (i.e. materials, money, services). The main focus of this lesson will be on the former.

Those who compulsively pay for sexual acts tend to do so for a distinctly varied number of reasons. On the one hand, such behavior can often be traced back to emotional triggers: low self-esteem, intimacy issues, relationship anxiety, etc. The willingness to pay someone for sexual services provides an emotional safety net that allows them to engage in sexual activity without having to worry about rejection, humiliation, performance, etc. Another common trigger for such behavior is convenience. The individual does not want to invest the time or emotions necessary to maintain an affair, so they pay only for what they want, when they want it. A third common trigger is power/freedom — the willingness to pay for the experience of dominating someone sexually, or to engage in uninhibited sexual activity. Quite often, through a twisted sense of values, the thought of performing particular sexual acts on a loved one can be repulsive or shameful. The hiring of a prostitute allows the person to satisfy these needs, while at the same time maintain the "wholesome" images towards their committed partners. A fourth common trigger is the need to engage in illicit sexual behavior in order to gain full arousal. The person is not able to experience extreme sexual release unless the sexual act includes some type of socially reprehensible behavior such as paying for hand-jobs in public restrooms, paying others to role-playing elaborate sexual fantasies, engaging in sex with a "prostitute", etc. For such people, it is the very nature of the illicit act that triggers such an intense experience. Take the very same person, remove the illicit elements from the act, and the desire to continue the sexual experience ends.

As stated above, unlike most compulsive behaviors, where there is usually an easily identified pattern involved...prostitution runs the gamut in terms of how and why it is used. Additional triggers like curiosity, opportunity, boredom, lonliness, etc. can just as easily be identified — though they are not usually associated with the compulsive need to engage in prostitution.

Common Behaviors Associated with Prostitution:

  • Attending weekly massage appointments that include sexual stimulation/gratification
  • Hiring of street prostitutes
  • The use of call-girls while away on business trips
  • Paying strangers for sexual encounters in public places (e.g. rest rooms, parks, cars)
  • Offering free services in exchange for sexual favors (e.g. fix your car, forgive a debt)
  • Scheduling a personal dancer to entertain you alone at home
  • Trading drugs/other items of value in exchange for sexual favors
  • Paying for lap dances; strip shows (where touching occurs; money is exchanged)
  • Spending hours cruising through known prostitution areas; hanging out in public places where illicit behavior is known to occur

Elements Frequently Associated with Prostitution (from the Wheel of Sexual Compulsion):

  • Sensory Stimulation (especially physical)
  • Danger
  • Suspense
  • Fantasy

Other Behaviors Commonly Found in a Ritualistic Chain where Prostitution is the Primary Behavior:

  • Poly-addiction (especially alcohol/substance abuse)
  • Orgasm (more frequent for males than females; especially male-to-male encounters in public settings)
  • Past (especially when sexual abuse/emotional neglect is involved, or when sexual violence/promiscuity was observed in parents)
  • Power
  • Accomplishment (in successfully securing a prostitute)

Frequent Cues/Triggers Often Associated With Prostitution

  • Emotional imbalance (especially depression, loneliness)
  • Past history of parental neglect (especially emotional) or parental domination
  • Past history of sexual anxiety/performance anxiety
  • Low self-esteem (especially as it relates to physical performance, appearance)
  • Relationship difficulties (especially high stress; low intimacy environments)
  • Opportunity (travel, places, times and things)

Boundaries Frequently Violated By Prostitution:

  • Safety (involving STD's, pregnancy, potential violence)
  • Security (involving criminal arrest)
  • Honesty (especially as it relates to time management, financial disclosure)
  • Intimacy (in all but the rarest of situations, intimacy within the committed relationship is sacrificed)

If you have experienced similar behavior as described above (or have experienced additional behaviors that were not mentioned, but fall under the category of Prostitution), please include them in your responses below.

My History with Prostitution

First Name and Last Initial:

E-mail address:

Describe your history involving Prostitution. For this exercise, include not only sexual encounters that involve direct physical contact, but also those behaviors that include sexual contact with others involving other communication devices (e.g. e-mail, phone calls, chat rooms, etc.):

Think for a few minutes, then list all of your most common triggers for this type of behavior:

List any concerns, unusual circumstances that you currently have regarding this behavior. For instance, any bizarre rituals that you perform, dangerous objects that you use, frequency issues, etc.

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