I am worried that my ex girlfriend has turned to sex work. Should I do something about it? She was once raped by a previous boyfriend, and her flashbacks and panic attacks seemed to be getting worse after she gave up on therapy. Also while we were dating I cheated on her with several escorts and only told her several months into the relationship. I am worried that there is a possibility that she may be doing this for the wrong reasons and harming herself. I care and would like to help, however I feel like it is not my place to do something.
You’re right; it’s not your place. Even if she weren’t your ex-girlfriend, what would you “do about it”? Turn her in to the cops? Because certainly, burdening her with a criminal record (and possibly getting her raped again in the process) would be a huge help, I’m sure. Just curious; would you be this “worried” if she were, say, joining the military or the Peace Corps or something like that? Given that you didn’t even say what makes you believe she might have taken this particular job (as 1% of Western women do at some point in our lives), I’m inclined to believe that you aren’t worried for her safety or mental health at all, but rather just offended that she might become a dirty whore. What I see is that you don’t have a problem with my profession, as long as it’s practiced by other, lesser women you can pay; you’re just upset because a woman you clearly still have proprietary feelings about might want to make a career of fucking other men beside you.
Perhaps you think I’m being overly hard on you, and your concern is based in facts you didn’t include in your letter; fair enough. If you think that’s the case, I call your attention to my answer to a similar question a little over three years ago:
Like practically everything else in the world, escorting is not right for everyone; some women thrive in the trade, and others view it as a job no better and no worse than others, but for some women it is a really bad idea. Generally, these are women with negative, moralistic or overly-romanticized views of sex, because they feel degraded by the work…[even if] your lady has [none] of those issues…[it doesn’t necessarily mean] she’ll like the work; it’s entirely possible the reality will be nothing like her fantasy and she’ll quit in under a week (a young friend of mine had a similar reaction to the realities of stripping). But it’s also possible she may find it very satisfying and it may even help her to overcome her [sexual issues]. The only way for her to find out if she likes it or not is to try it, so you’re wise not to obstruct her…it’s normal for a man to feel protective of a woman he loves. But at the same time, it’s possible you might be infantilizing her a bit. You say she’s had a troubled past…but that could be said of many people (including me)…The popular wisdom is that damaged people should wallow in their pain forever, but that’s self-destructive nonsense; the only hope of escaping the past is to live in the present and look toward the future. Even if she’s as fragile as you think, the only way to get stronger is to go out into the world, face its challenges and either overcome them or fail and learn. The only cure for innocence is experience, and a sheltered child never grows up. Furthermore, she’s in no more [emotional] danger…as an escort than she is in many another high-paying field that nobody would think twice about her entering (such as modeling or sales); sex work is a lot more mundane than people think, and there really aren’t any mysterious tentacles waiting to drag unwary ingénues down into the abyss…
I’m not saying you shouldn’t say anything; people who care about each other have the right to express their feelings. But that doesn’t mean she has to listen, and if she doesn’t you need to let her alone. And if you can’t handle seeing her do something that causes you emotional discomfort, it’s time to wish her the best, steel yourself and walk away from her. That probably won’t be easy, and this is really a case of “Do as I say, not as I do”; I’ve never been any good at walking away from relationships that have become painful to me, and I probably never will be. But if she won’t heed your words, and you can’t handle the way she conducts her life, it’s really your only option. And I pray Aphrodite that unlike me, you can actually do it.