Louise started in a lap dancing club when she was 18. An older friend and flatmate had been doing it for a few months and said it was ok. Louise worked in retail and was hoping to become a manager of a shop in the future.
Louise started and was able to make around £150 a night but after a few months, she was no longer making this amount. There were more girls in the club and it was competitive to get enough customers to pay for dances. Some nights she made only a few pounds after handing over her fees to the club. She also felt under pressure to go further and further with customers to attract attention and get private dances.
She realised that other women were arranging to see customers after their shifts and were being paid for sex. She had always said no to such requests but decided that the next time a customer asked for sex – she would go with them and have sex for money.
After work, Louise took customers to her own flat, which she shared with her flatmate. She also started to see customers on days when she wasn't working in the club. Around this time she started drinking more heavily and using cocaine. She found it difficult to keep up with her retail work and missed shifts. She was eventually sacked.
She also was drinking more and more and using more drugs. Her sleep was affected and she lost a lot of weight as she lost her appetite.
A man whom she had seen many times in the club and was a regular punter, sexually assaulted her one night.
She went to her local sexual assault centre and was supported by medical staff. She was given the details of an Encompass Service and encouraged to make contact. She tried a few times before she felt comfortable speaking to staff and arranging to meet them. She had a range of needs with the priorities being housing issues, mental health issues and drugs and alcohol issues.
She was very chaotic when she started with the service and wasn't ready to exit the sex industry. Her support worker linked her in with other services and spent time building up a relationship. When Louise was ready, she was supported to exit prostitution.
She is still in contact with the Encompass Service but this is mainly to update her worker with how she is doing. She has started a college course in hospitality management and hopes to work in that area in the future. She has also discovered a passion for cooking and enjoys having friends round to her new flat to sample her new recipes.