A Fresh Start for Ex-Prostitutes

Experts say women may want to escape sex trafficking and prostitution but often believe they have no choice but to stay. A task force in Snohomish County is working to give women a choice. Plans are underway to create a place for women to rebuild their lives.

“Women want to leave. They may not have any education. They often have criminal history and may have drug and alcohol issues. They don’t often have any place to live. It’s very difficult to walk away,” said Paula Newman-Skomski, a nurse with Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse.

Newman-Skomski is part of an effort to start a two-year program for women who have worked as prostitutes. Peoria House is being planned by the Sexual Exploitation Intervention Network of Snohomish County. The network, a coalition of local agencies, aims to end child sex trafficking. It will give women a place to live, drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, medical and dental care, education and job training. Eventually, the program also will include a small business run by the participants to help them build job skills and also make money to support the program.

The program would be open to women, 18 and older, because it’s more difficult to get girls social services once they become legal adults. Organizers hope to create partnerships with local colleges to help the women obtain high school diplomas. They also hope local business owners will lend their expertise to set up a business that the women can run. Profits would help pay the cost of the program.

“Prostitutes are seen as throw-away women. They’re not,” Newman-Skomski said.

Learn more at Diana Hefley’s The Herald article: Program gives ex-prostitutes a fresh start.

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