The Emotional Trajectories of Women's Desistance: A Repertory Grid Study on Women Exiting Prostitution


This research identifies and explores the emotions of women who are exiting (leaving) prostitution. In both the prostitution and desistance literature, emotional factors clearly emerge as part of the process of change for exiters and desisters; however, there has been very little direct focus on their importance and impact on this process. The research makes a unique contribution to the desistance literature by mapping the process of change for women with particularly complex and challenging circumstances and focusing on the emotional aspects of this change. Overall, the research confirms that understanding the emotional aspects of exit offers new insights and gives rise to a new approach to service provision. The findings reveal that emotions are central to desistance and that role transition is a prerequisite for desistance. The data has shown that exit is a process of self-determination, becoming one’s authentic self, and that this process is bound up with emotional drivers and barriers. The process of exit necessarily involves fostering positive emotional experiences through both external and internal changes. The data suggests that an understanding of dominant emotional constructs at any given time will give a gateway into how best to respond to the needs and motivations of the exiter through service provision and offers an emotionally intelligent model to meet these needs. Service provision plays a key role in bridging the change in lifestyle of exiters through generating emotional energy, increasing access to alternatives, fostering hope, and enabling women to reimagine their lives

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This paper was published in Kent Academic Repository.

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