LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It is often called the world's oldest profession and is arguably one of the most dangerous. According to the National Task Force on Prostitution, one percent of women in America have worked as a prostitute, some right here in Lubbock.
On Sunday, NewsChannel 11 took you along as Lubbock police officers executed a reverse prostitution sting. Their target was not the prostitutes but their customers. Officers arrested and charged eight men with prostitution.
So what is it like to work the streets for a living?
The number of male and female prostitutes varies from city to city. Yet Lubbock police tell NewsChannel 11 prostitution does exist here and the numbers of arrests are on the rise. But efforts are underway to change that one woman at a time.
"Have you been addicted to drugs?" Tara Skinner said on the phone.
Tara, 35, is a reassuring voice for those in need. About a month ago, she came to Gods Agape Love Ministry in Central Lubbock.
"The world of God is in everything that we do. Biblical principles are applied daily. There's a tentative schedule daily. There is prayer and devotion and there's chores," explains founder Regina Nelson.
It is a place where Tara says she learns the little things, like washing dishes. They are simplicities of life, which for six years were not part of hers. "So you would work in truck stops?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "Going from truck stop to truck stop and I could make $500 or $600 in two hours," Tara replied.
Tara says it is not uncommon for prostitutes to have as many as 20 sexual partners in one day.
We asked if she would just ride in their trucks or go truck to truck. "No, I had one certain driver. And we would be in his truck and that way I could be on the CB radio talking to men all the way down the highway. I would already have two or three dates lined up and where we were going to stop for the night," said Skinner.
More than 10 years ago, life was a different story. Tara had a banking career, a husband and two young girls. However, during a divorce she turned to crack-cocaine. Within months, Tara started prostituting from a truck stop in her home town of Nashville, Tennessee. Two years later, she turned to life on the streets.
NewsChannel 11 asked if Tara had a pimp. "I've had several pimps," she replied. "You have to come back directly back to your pimp. Give them every single bit of the money. They keep it for you. They give you a certain amount of drugs and they put a certain amount back for like clothes. They wanted you to look nice since you were representing them," Tara said.
Tara's prices were $50 for oral sex, $100 for intercourse; but it could be less depending how desperate she was to get high. "You are willing to take whatever risk you are going to have to take ensuring you get you high."
"Even if that means going behind bars?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "Behind bars is a vacation to people like me. You get three meals and a bed for like a week maybe. That's rest."
NewsChannel 11 asked, "So you essentially become a sex slave?" "Yes ma'am, you do," Tara said. "All to fuel an addition," she added.
Tara says she spent at least $1,000 a day on crack and that drove her to accept things that most of us could never imagine. She says a so-called "date" once kept her locked in a closet for three days. "He would let me have drugs and put them in the closet and just give me drugs throughout the day and keep me to where I would do what he wanted when he would pull me out of the closet. And in my addictive state that was OK," she said.
Tara has been clean and off the streets for more than two years, and she is now helping other women become free of drugs and prostitution. "It helps me stay sober is by just giving to others and helping them realize there is life. There is life that is so much more abundant than what we've ever had," Tara added.
To be clear, Tara says not all truckers she met got involved with a prostitute.
To contact Gods Agape Love Ministry you can call (806) 368-0459 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-Depth look at increasing prostitution numbers
It is a so-called job that many expect to find only in big cities, but that's not the case. NewsChannel 11's Julia Bruck takes an in-depth look at prostitution in the Hub City.