Shattering the Myths

Many believe that women choose prostitution because they see it as an easy way to make money.

In our 30+ years, we’ve learned the reality is...

  • Nearly 100% of the women screened for participation in the Mary Magdalene Project have been a victim of child abuse or neglect.
  • Over 85% are victims of childhood sexual molestation and incest.
  • Greater than 50% of domestically trafficked women and girls are/were runaway or “throwaway” youth.
  • The average age of entrance into the commercial sex industry is 12 years old.  
  • A child is NOT developmentally, legally, or socially able to make the “choice” to have sex for money or to become involved in the commercial sex industry. They are coerced, romanced, manipulated or violently forced to make a profit for pimps and traffickers.
  • Family dysfunction – abuse in the home (sexual, emotional, physical, etc.), neglect, absence of a caregiver, or substance abuse – is a major risk factor for the commercial sexual exploitation of children and women.
  • A domestically trafficked individual’s history of victimization and trauma sets her up for a psychological belief that she deserves no better and has no other options.
  • Even in states where prostitution is legal and zoned or contained (Nevada is an example) it fuels secondary sexual markets for the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
  • Street prostitution is only about 10 percent of all forms of the commercial sex industry.
  • Demand is what drives the commercial sex industry which is a multi-billion dollar industry that grows bigger every year.
  • Prostituted women and children risk violence with every commercial sex act and are 9 times more likely to be murdered than the average working woman.
  • Sex trafficked individuals who are pimp-controlled give the pimp all their income.
  • Pimp-controlled victims of commercial sexual exploitation are intensely manipulated and coerced by their pimps to believe that they are willing participants in their own exploitation and worthless beyond their role as a money generating commodity.
  • Prostitution tends to repeat in families.  Daughters of prostituted women are 6 times more likely to become victims themselves.



  • Once a girl or women has been pimp-controlled, the cycle of violence and abuse can be broken, but it is difficult to get out of “the life” on one’s own; longer-term interventions by effective organizations have been proven to work.
  • Women & girls who have been in “the life” need support from other survivors of the commercial sex industry.
  • Commercially sexually exploited children who have not received effective interventions become the future clients of the Mary Magdalene Project once they become adult women.
  • All women are entitled to unconditional respect for their intrinsic dignity and value – “just because we’ve done what we’ve done does not mean we are worthless” – MMP survivor.