UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A narrative exploration of the process of transitioning out of street sex work Klubben, Laura M.


Women’s experience of entering, involvement in, and exiting street sex work is frequently confounded by issues such as addiction, poverty, abuse, trauma, and disempowerment. Many female street prostitutes report a lack of choice in entering sex work as well as a desire to leave the sex industry. While considerable quantitative research exists on aspects of involvement in the sex industry, there is a dearth of qualitative literature on exiting the street sex industry. Furthermore, few studies take a critical perspective, leaving out a contextual understanding of the process. To support female street sex workers wanting to exit, it is imperative to learn from those who have successfully left the sex industry. Using an indigenous feminist theoretical framework to inform a collaborative narrative research design, this study explored eight women’s stories of the process of exiting the street sex trade in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Results revealed the following seven themes: (a) relapsing and readiness to change, (b) a need for stability and time for reflection, (c) goal setting and perspective, (d) systemic and structural barriers, (e) support and community, (f) mental and emotional health, and (g) finding meaning and purpose. This study provides an in-depth and critical understanding of the exiting process in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for female street prostitutes. Potential implications concerning the Downtown Eastside community, counselling psychology training, theory, and research are discussed in attempt to make the transition out of the street sex trade easier for women who desire to do so in the future.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada