Abstract:This narrative is about dissociation in the lives of women who have been exploited through prostitution. When we speak about prostitution, we do not speak often enough about the dissociation needed for women and girls to survive sexual exploitation. The author challenges the wisdom of governments such as Germany that legalize prostitution, treating it as a “job” and ignoring the violence and subsequent dissociation in women. The author describes her personal journey, explaining how women are traumatized even after the first commercial sex act, which is a sexual assault. They dissociate which makes their lives bearable, but they fail to see its negative effects that continue even after they leave prostitution. Finally, the author relates her personal breakthrough experience to end her dissociation while she was caring for horses. This realization allowed her to identify and connect to her own feelings and to be her authentic self.
In front of the largest furniture store in Karlsruhe (a large city in southwestern Germany), two advertising placards stand side-by-side: one for a brothel and the other for a restaurant, promoting its venue for celebrations of marriage (See Figure). In Germany both stand together and apparently that does not shock anyone any more. However, prostitution does not only have disastrous conse- quences for the women in prostitution, but also has consequences for betrayed women in relationships with the buyers of sex.
A former buyer of sex contacted me, Ingeborg Kraus, a Karlsruhe, Germany psychologist and anti-prostitution advocate, after reading some of my work on the Internet. Eventually a telephone interview ensued.
The interviewee, an independent entrepreneur, is a 56-year-old man who was
an active sex buyer for six-and-a-half years, quitting in 2015, nearly four years ago.
Married for 36 years, with three adult children, his wife separated from him in
2017, and a divorce is in process.
In this interview, which follows, I focus on the realities of prostitution on society, and specifically on the harm of prostitution on the sex buyer’s wife and on relationships between men and women. The interview demonstrates that what the buyers are doing to their wives is an incredible harm, causing huge mental health damages. These collateral damages of prostitution have not come into focus until recently. Given the fact that there are a great number of married men, or those living in a firm relationship, who buy sexual services, the number of psychologically injured women in these relationships probably reaches the two-digit millions.
From his active participation on Internet forums, the interviewee tells me that
he believes he is typical of many users of women in prostitution.
This article, co-authored by a six-year survivor of the sex trade industry in Germany (Sandra Norak) and a psychologist and trauma therapist (Ingeborg Kraus), provides perspectives on the difficulty of withstanding the coercion of traffickers and the difficulties of exiting prostitution in a country in which prostitution has been legalized, normalized and made “a job like any other.” This normalization persuades survivors to believe their traffickers that it is a legitimate occupation and encourages them to endure the violence. Liberalization also has prevented the development of needed trauma services to those seeking to exit the sex trade industry.
Here is the link to the article published in Dignity: Never Again!
In front of the biggest furniture store in Karlsruhe (remark: a city in the south-west of Germany) two advertisements are standing side by side near a road: one for a brothel and one for marriages. Do you want to buy non-binding sex or start a love attachment and swear mutual loyalty? Apparently, in Germany both things are standing equally side by side and it doesn’t seem to shock anyone anymore. However, prostitution doesn’t only have devastating consequences for the women in it, but also for the betrayed women of punters.
In this interview a former punter speaks about the consequences of his actions for his wife and demands a ban on buying sex. Pornography meant entry into prostitution. When his wife discovered his double life, she said he “had reduced their common life to ashes”. She had broken down completely. “She was harshly and immediately deprived of the base of trust on which she believed her marriage to be safe”, according to the ex-punter’s statement nowadays. “For a long time she suffered heavy posttraumatic stress disorders – like otherwise victims of torture do it – and has developed cardiac arrhythmia which still aren’t over. For a long time, my wife has been unable to work.”
These tragic „collateral damages“ of prostitution haven’t moved into the focus until nowadays. Supposed that of course the number of 1,2 million punters doesn’t reflect exactly the same ones who go to prostitutes each day and supposed that a huge amount of married men or men living in stable relationships are punters, the number of betrayed and, after discovery, psychically injured women is unexaggerated in an area of two-digit millions. We have to conclude that Germany is a country of betrayed women. Continue reading →
We got to know each other in our common participation as experts in the documentation “Brothel Germany – the billion-business with prostitution” which was nominated for “Prix Europa” 2018. Sandra Norak was a victim of lover-boys, a dropout from 6 years in prostitution who is now finishing her studies of law. Dr. Ingeborg Kraus is diploma psychologist and trauma therapist. In this common text we want to unite our experiences and perspectives.
Sometimes, for us the way appears very long, sometimes too long so that we think we won’t have enough power and won’t manage to go the way until the end. Exit from prostitution, a milieu which has mostly destroyed body and soul, is a very long and painful way which sometimes appears endless and on which you encounter apparently unbreachable obstacles.
Again and again we hear or read about dropouts who inside of themselves fight with the notion to go into prostitution again or finally really go back into it again, although they consider their experience in prostitution as traumatic and name prostitution a kind of violence. This behaviour isn’t understood by many outsiders.
With our text, we want to clarify about the difficulties of leaving prostitution and simultaneously encourage women in the process of leaving and after. Continue reading →
Violence is pervasive in prostitution and can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). This study estimated the prevalence and demographic correlates of TBI among 66 women and transwomen in prostitution. Ninety- five percent had sustained head injuries, either by being hit in the head with objects and/or having their heads slammed into objects. Fifty percent of the women who had been hit with objects had been hit in the head with hands or fists. They also reported being hit in the head with bottles, bats, sticks, hammers, guns, telephones, canes, screwdrivers, belts, rocks, bed slats, steel tubes, and ash trays. Thirty-four percent of the women who had had their heads shoved into objects had been shoved into walls, with others reporting having their heads slammed into floors; against dashboards, steering wheels, or windows of cars; against furniture or sinks; against other people; or against vehicles, buildings, doors, or stairs.
Sixty-one percent had sustained head injuries in prostitution. The women described acute and chronic symptoms resulting from head injury and/or concussions. These included dizziness, depressed mood, headache, sleep difficulty, poor concentration, memory problems, difficulty following directions, low frustration tolerance, fatigue, and appetite and weight changes. Screening for TBI is crucial to the care of prostituted women.
This is the introduction of a lecture held in Stockholm, Sweden on October 2, 2017 for “the conference on the sex trade”, organized by TALITA.
Dr. Ingeborg Kraus
Last year I went on a tour with Simon through Canada and we were a really good team: I was the “baddy”, talking about the situation in Germany and he was the “goody”, offering solutions. And then he said: “Well, Ingeborg, you should come to Sweden, too.” I asked him: “What can I do in Sweden? People will chase me.” “No, you know”, he said, “we are so used to the law, that people don´t realize how lucky they are.”
15 years ago, Germany, in contrast to Sweden, chose to legalize prostitution without any regulations and it turned out to produce hell on earth. I won´t talk in detail about it, Manuela Schon will do this afternoon. But just to give you a couple of examples: before I came here, two police inspectors had briefed me. Helmut Sporer said that prostitution has risen up to 30% since 2002. We have made a huge mistake implementing this law and have gone the totally wrong way. Prostitution has nothing to do with sexual liberation, it is just money that counts, Sporer says. The profit of this business is enormous: we are talking about 15 billion Euros of transactions every year.
Speech held by Dr. Ingeborg Kraus on 25th November 2016 in Strasbourg / France.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women the Préfet of the Alsace Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine region, the head of the regional health authority in co-operation with the organizations called centre d´information des droits des femmes et des familles (CIDFF), Mouvement du Nid France and Pénélope 67 have invited to a cross-border symposion related on the subject of “Prostitution and Health: Challenges and Change of Perspective in Europe”.
I would like to thank the organizers for this German-French symposion. This first event after the introduction of the legislation for abolishing the prostitution system in France located next to Germany has a symbolic meaning to us. I think it is indeed necessary to wake Germany up. Germany, which provides guidelines with regard to a lot of European subjects, may – in this case – need tutoring from France and Sweden.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I would like to report about the dramatic consequences for prostitution after its legalization in Germany and I will prove that prostitution is violence against women. Afterwards, I would like to talk about its psychological impact.
The reason why I want to focus on the vioIence is because the political discussions in Germany have never really recognized the aspect of violence. Prostitution is seen as a private play which is none of the state´s business.Continue reading →
Thank you for inviting me here to Edmonton, especially to Kate Quinn from CEASE.
So, as you heard, I come from Germany, a country that traumatized the entire world during the second world war, and here I am today to talk to you about trauma. And concerning the handling of prostitution, Germany is by no means a role model; in fact, it’s hell on earth. And nobody seems to care, especially women. They don’t speak up. They shut up.
So first of all, I was asking myself: was it a mistake to invite me? An error? Weren’t you paying attention when you invited me?
Consultation seeking views on UN Women approach to sex work, the sex trade and prostitution.
Dr. Ingeborg Kraus, Germany/Karlsruhe, 15.10.2016
“Scientists for a World Without Prostitution“ based in Karlsruhe in Germany, is a group of health experts (medical, psychological and in traumatology) who offer women in prostitution therapeutical and medical assistance. This group authored a manifesto declaring that prostitution is humiliating, degrading and in violation of universal human rights, that it is an act of violence and that it perpetuates this violence in the lives of women. In other words, there is no “good prostitution“. Our group also demands a law placing the responsibility on the men by insisting on a legal approach that penalises the sex buyers, because we are tired of being used to “repair women“ while there is a policy that incites men to “break women“. The manifesto was signed by the best known and most influential trauma psychologists and specialists in Germany. We want to inform on the realities of prostitution and its harmful effects on health, inform on the disastrous effects of a law legalising prostitution, draw attention to the presence and the voice of health experts who are in direct contact with the victims of prostitution: share our clinical experience as well as texts and scientific studies on prostitution. Continue reading →