• Tue, May 14 2013

‘Whoremom’ Is Raising Money For A Documentary About How Sex Workers Get Their Kids Taken Away

whoremomIf you think your custody battle was tough then I will kindly direct you to the story of Tanaha Koontz. The mother of three and former prostitute based in St. Petersburg, Florida says that she found herself without virtually any rights to her babies after her husband yelled “whore!” in court proceedings. But Tanaha alleges that it was her abusive husband who was sex trafficking her to begin with, pimping her out after losing his job. Unable to recover her children so far, Tanaha is now raising funds to tell her story — and that of many other women like her. A documentary that she hopes to entitle “Whoremom.”

On her website whoremom.org, Tanaha says that she was “abandoned” at 15 and became a homeless teen wandering around Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was then that she  ”fell into prostitution,” a profession that included an arrest and her first experience being trafficked by seemingly gracious pimp.

Tanaha stopped prostitution at the age of 19 after marrying. She writes that she was certain that she had given up sex work until her physically abusive husband started asking her to give it another go:

I thought that I would never be in that life again. I suffered abuse year after year knowing that I should stay with him because he is a good provider. He didn’t abuse the kids, only me. So I stayed. When he lost his job in 07 he could not find another job.  After two months he cried and asked me if I thought I could put ads in again. I knew what that meant. By the next day I had an ad up on the internet in the Erotic Services section of Craigslist.  I would have never imagined life turning out this way.

While she worked at night, her husband apparently stayed home to care for their three children. But his abuse continued and Tanaha began to contemplate divorce, among other sources of income:

Six months after my abusive husband began trafficking me on the internet I began to resent him, and thought that if I had to be a hooker, there was no reason to put up with his abuse anymore. I could afford the child care and rent on my own and began to work toward becoming independent from him, and furthering my non prostitution related ideas for websites. I began to study web development and created an adult network online though it has yet to show any profit.

She claims that if was not longer after the D word came into play that her husband began to become more violent, resulting in him being arrested twice. She further alleges that he kidnapped their children. But when she reported the abduction, police were less inclined to help her. The gamechanger? Prostitution allegations:

You would think that state agencies would help me to recover from an abusive husband that fancied himself a pimp, and had more than a dozen documented cases of domestic violence reported. I thought they would help me recover my children but in reality the opposite happened and my children have not lived with me in three very long painful years.

Apparently the State of Florida thinks whores are far more dangerous than wife beaters. Or maybe they reduced the charges in their minds to “whore beater” in my husbands case.  He never admitted to being my pimp, and I never admitted to being a whore. I lied and used the “time and companionship is not illegal to sell” defense claiming I was doing nothing wrong so that they would give me back my children. They agreed eventually, and dropped the prostitution allegations, but they never returned my children because they knew I was a whore.

Furthermore, her husband claims that he only started assaulting Tanaha when he learned that she was a “whore.” And despite documented instances of abuse, her husband was granted custody.

Tanaha writes that she was inspired to develop “Whoremom” from these traumatic experiences — a documentary addressing  not just her own circumstances, but the prejudice of sex work in child custody cases.  Sounds like her voice, and that of many others, is sorely needed.

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  • faifai

    Humanity is a complicated, complicated thing. Poor lady.

  • Rachel Sea

    Our legal system sucks at admitting that most sex workers are victims, not predators.

    • mike gibbs

      When you make a decision to buy a Chevy or a Ford, to cut your hair or grow it long, go to college or not, or even to become a prostitute or a doctor… do all those choices make the decider a victim as well?

      Your logic is ill-logical!

      Sex workers *chose* to walk right up to somebody and say “I will sleep with you for money” and THEY are being victimized???

    • Succubus
    • Rachel Sea

      Almost all street (including Craigslist) prostitutes are trafficked women. They can choose to sell themselves or they can choose to be battered or worse – like the woman in this story. Some “choice.”

      There are other sex workers, who work either on the grey market, like escorts and professional fetishists, or who work above board in licensed brothels, who are not victims, who make money from sex because they choose to, but they are the minority. Most sex workers are runaways and addicts who are under the control of a pimp.

  • http://twitter.com/witavorr AE Vorro

    What an amazing woman. More light needs to be shed on human trafficking; the more victims who come forward, the lower the stigma.

    • mike gibbs

      ‘Human Trafficking’ would be defined as someone being forced to do something against their will. Since she admitted that she was a whore in the past, and since she decided on her own to go do it again (not being forced to), I fail to see how in the world you can say, “what an amazing woman” unless you mean amazing in that she would be willing to put their children in such jeopardy AND care less about bring home all those STD’s to her husband THEN I would agree…

  • brebay

    This happens every day in custody cases on a more subtle level. When parents separate, if the dad moves in with another woman, he looks like he’s creating a stable home for his children, if the mom moves in with another man, she’s a whore who’s exposing her children to a potential pedophile. Happens evvvvvvery day; The old “women are either mothers or whores.” This documentary should be good, I’ll be watching for it.

  • random

    I don’t think that most sex workers are victims at all. Sex work is work. Its a job. Trafficking is when someone keeps the avails of ones labor, be it sexual labor, agricultural labor, or any other type of labor. It does not always mean that the labor was coerced or forced. In a society where prostitution was decriminalized, women would not face the fear of police that led her to lie to begin with. It is the laws of prohibition that allow this to occur.

  • http://twitter.com/WilsonKM2 Kevin Wilson

    Trafficking and pimping are the extremely rare in sex work, and it’s a shame these distracting non-issues are being introduced; the real issue is the the government stole this woman’s children and placed them in substandard conditions for no other reason than the stigma involved in sex work. Cries of pimping, trafficking, and general agency-denial only perpetuate that stigma, and serve to distract from the utter injustice of this case.

  • http://twitter.com/EmilyClocke Emily Clocke

    I don’t think either parent should have custody of the kids. The father, obviously, for being an abusive pimp. And the mom for being so spineless and weak that she agreed to prostitution. If she can’t take care of herself, she can’t take care of her kids.

    • gypsy

      Interesting that you would think that prostitution to provide for your family is more spineless and weak than say- holding a hand out for Obama to hand over a check that we all pay for.

      I fail to see where you make the assessment that she can’t take care of the kids.

      I read that she owned a restaurant during the case while the husband worked not paying taxes, but that still didn’t lift the “whore” stigma from the “restaurant owner” but you clearly demonstrate the “once a whore always a whore” philosophy that so many in America have when you make statements like that.

      Maybe you didn’t read the story and just took the chance to take a jab at a woman that would do whatever it took to provide for her kids.

    • mike gibbs

      Or maybe the entire story of her husband ‘pimping her out’ was made up by her in order to gain an advantage in family court. Women do this on a routine basis to steal the children away from their father but it does not matter; she alone was the one who ‘put her self out there’ on the street. She could have said ‘no’ but made the individuality choice to break the law. Fathers in divorce to not have to break ANY LAWS to have their children ‘legally’ kidnapped and he goes from seeing them every day to only 4 days per month! Last I checked prostitution is still illegal and considered putting the children at risk.

    • Amber

      By your logic, everyone on welfare and all disabled people should have their kids taken away. After all, if they can’t take care of themselves, they can’t take care of their kids.

  • MIKE GIBBS

    You and you alone made the choice to be a whore. Stop blaming everyone else around you just so you don’t look as guilty as you really are. If you really are a prostitute (as you admit to being) then yes, you do not deserve to subject your innocent children to that lifestyle and they should be taken from you. Happens to men 24/7/364 EVERY SINGLE DAY! and they are guilty of nothing other than being a good husband and father. So It begs the question; “how does it feel”. My advice? Get behind the fathers who are trying to change the extremely corrupt family court system and advocating for SHARED PARENTING post divorce, not “the children will default to the mother NO MATTER WHY THE DIVORCE HAPPENED!”

  • Just common sense

    Most sex workers ARE forced. And that’s what a lot of people don’t get. Another thing is, the ones who choose to do this aren’t always a druggie.

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