The Facts



The UK Government suggests that approximately 80,000 individuals in the UK are believed to be involved in prostitution. The British Medical Association 2006 figures suggest that 1 in 10 men paid for sex in this country. We believe these figures are only the tip of the iceberg.

What draws people into prostitution?

There appears to be no single route into   prostitution. Often, there is a web of complex, inter-woven social factors that binds people into prostitution.

This gives the individual involved the appearance of having no CHOICE but to continue despite the desire to exit.


When asked if they would like to leave prostitution, 9 out of 10 women said YES!

Causes & barriers

There is a strong correlation with homelessness, sexual abuse, violence at home, run aways, drug use, time in care, poverty, debt and poor education. As well as drawing individuals into the sex industry, these social factors can also be significant barriers to exiting.

Women often feel powerless, isolated, excluded, vulnerable, marginalised and trapped.


Psychological Impact:

There is much academic debate over the notion of free choice – whether individuals enter prostitution voluntarily or are coerced by unequal power. More importantly, however, is the effect of prostitution on those involved.

Most psychologists believe the long-term psychological harm resulting from prostitution is comparable to that from rape or domestic violence. Beyond the Streets highlights that 76% of those involved in prostitution experience some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The core experiences of violence and psychological trauma associated with prostitution are disempowerment and disconnection with others. Internally these experiences often cause a ‘split’ between the mind, body and spirit.

Individuals involved in prostitution often develop complex coping mechanisms and rituals to minimise their pain and brokenness:


Dissociative disorders (e.g. disconnection, distancing)


Anxiety disorders (e.g. fixation, memory loss, panic attacks, flashbacks)


Substance abuse (leading to long term addiction and mental illness)


Sleeping disorders – oversleeping, insomnia




Self harm


Eating Disorders


Obsessive-compulsive behaviour