Some common threads run through the lives of many prostitutes. The most common factor, according to researchers, is an economically deprived upbringing (Goode, 1994). However, because high-class prostitutes, who often come from wealthy backgrounds, are less likely to be caught and arrested, research studies may concentrate too much on poorer women.
Early sexual contact with many partners in superficial relationships has also been found to be related to prostitution. Prostitutes are also more often victims of sexual abuse, initiate sexual activity at a younger age, and experience a higher frequency of rape. Intrafamilial violence and past physical and sexual abuse are also common (Earls & David, 1990; Simons & Whitbeck, 1991). Overall, black women who have a history of emotional or physical abuse have been found to be more likely to engage in prostitution than white or Hispanic women with similar abuse (Medrano et al.,
Sexually abused children who run away from home have been found to be more likely to become prostitutes than those who do not run away (Seng, 1989). Perhaps these experiences also affect a woman’s decreasing sense of self-esteem. Parents of prostitutes often report experiencing stress due to a history of failed intimate relationships, economic problems, and unstable relationships. In addition, many prostitutes grow up in poor neighborhoods, which provide easy access to prostitution careers because active prostitution circles are common.
Keep in mind that though these factors contribute to a predisposition to prostitution, they do not cause a woman to become a prostitute. For example, we know that many prostitutes have had no early sex education either in school or from their family; however, this does not mean that the lack of sex education caused them to become prostitutes. Many different roads lead to a life of prostitution.