Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution / Edition 1

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Overview

For nineteen years, Olivia lived the shadowy life of stripper, streetwalker, and heroin addict on the fringes of society. Leaving a troubled home at age sixteen to land a seemingly glamorous job at a Chicago stripclub, she became trapped in a web of prostitution and drug addiction that eventually forced her onto the streets and into a world of hardship at the hands of abusive men. But Olivia, a resourceful, vibrant woman of color, ultimately escaped the prostitution lifestyle and is now director of addiction services at a community counseling program, working to support drug-dependent women.

Listening to Olivia is the compelling account of her descent into poverty and abuse together with her hard fought recovery. By assimilating new research on the women and girls in prostitution—in addition to their male customers—Jody Raphael discovers that experiences like Olivia’s are alarmingly common and argues that the sex trade as an institution promotes violence against women. Smashing both the common stereotype of the depraved streetwalker and abstract feminist arguments legitimizing prostitution as the sexual liberation of women, the author uncovers an emerging multimillion-dollar global trafficking industry that detains women in a violent cycle of exploitation and dependence. Olivia’s own insights on her turbulent childhood, stripping in clubs, soliciting on the street, drug addiction, brutal pimps, her three pregnancies, and her extraordinary transformation highlight important new questions: who are the men who buy sex from such poor, strung out women; and why are so many of these men so violent?

Olivia’s story gives a human face to the overwhelmingly low-income, non-white, and unempowered young women in prostitution today. Combined with a wealth of new findings, this gripping and accessible study challenges the academy, the legal system, and society as a whole to wake up and listen to the women like Olivia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Raphael's accounts of women in lower levels and exploited forms of prostitution complements what researchers conducting street-level prostitution research have been saying for more than a decade. To her credit, Raphael is able to put a human face on what has been a hidden tragedy in the country and abroad. I applaud her efforts and hope that many more books and articles will be written on this subject. In order to intimately understand the tragedy of prostituted women, this book is well worth reading for anyone."—National Women's Studies Association Journal

"What makes all of Raphael's books special is that she focuses each one on one individual, but includes the research findings about the topics covered, letting readers know how typical her cases are, and what social scientists know about the entire subject discussed."
—Sexual Assault Report

"The most inspiring part of the book is Raphael's description of the long process of Olivia getting out ad healing from the 19 years of abuse she endured . . . Raphael provides a modest agenda to what society should do to prevent harm to women from the sex trade, e.g. coordinated community response."
—Sexual Assault Report

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555535964
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2004
  • Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,252,748
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

JODY RAPHAEL is Senior Research Fellow, Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, DePaul University College of Law. Freeing Tammy is the final volume of Raphael’s trilogy about women, poverty, and violence in contemporary Chicago that includes Saving Bernice: Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty (NUP, 2000) and Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution (NUP, 2004).

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