Secret Lives of Single Moms: Susan
Dr. Phil speaks with single moms who are tired of trying to cover up their secret life.
"I'm a single mother of two and to support my family, I work as an escort," says "Susan," who is wearing a disguise while telling her story. "I was 12 when I ran away, and I ended up being a prostitute. My mom fought very hard to get me off the streets. I went back to being an escort before my 20th birthday. I've never had a job outside of
being a prostitute. I have a lot of people skills, but they're not the kinds of things that's going to get me a job. What do I put on a resume? I give great [oral sex]?"

Susan has gone on as many as 12 calls in one night. "Sex is expected on every call," she explains. "If he has fetishes, they get charged more. Domination, depending on the type: mild, medium, or severe. I play off of his fantasy or desire. I would say I'm orally gifted," she says, laughing. On a serious note, Susan admits, "I think it's disgusting, sleeping with men for money. I try to avoid sex at all costs. I'll tell the gentleman I like to watch men masturbate."
When Susan is not working, she's devoted to her kids. "I tell my children I'm a bartender. If they found out, it would break my heart." She hates being dishonest about her career. "I teach them that lying is wrong, and I lie to them on a daily basis."

For Susan, the choice is between being a prostitute or giving up the luxurious lifestyle it affords her. "On a busy night, I can make $1,000. You get so used to the money that you forget about getting a real job. I live in one of the nicest buildings in my town. I love the amenities, the pool on the roof. It's secure. If I gave up working as an escort, I'd be living in the ghetto with my kids."
Dr. Phil encourages Susan to talk about how she feels after seeing her story on tape. 

"I'm very much ashamed of what I do for a living, but at the same time, I feel trapped," she says. "I don't know how else to support my family. I want to change. I don't want to be that person."

"You say, 'I don't want to be that person, but I like the lifestyle. I like living in the fanciest building. I like the pool. I like all of those things.' So, you know, there's a bit of a tug-of-war there, right?"

"I like the comfort and the security that money gives you," she explains. "I grew up very poor. I never had anything. And I don't want my children growing up in that environment."

"I'm not going to feel sorry for you. Neither am I going to judge you, " says Dr. Phil. "You know, you're not a prostitute, that's something you do. And here's the good news: when you stop that, then you stop that ... And every day you go through without doing that, you're creating a new history in your life."

For the show, Susan chose to hide behind a disguise and a fake name. But Dr. Phil says that off camera she'll have to get honest. "You want to tell yourself you're trapped, you have no choice," he tells her. "No, you do have a choice, and you're making a choice. Because I'll promise you, there are a whole lot of single moms in this world that are doing a great job raising their kids and taking them to the science place and showing them love and caring and leadership and concern without having to go sell themselves for money. And if they can do that, you can do that. OK?"

 
Susan's life may be luxurious, but it's also risky. Dr. Phil points out that Susan was once raped on a call. "And you said you felt better about that call than most of the other ones you've been on. Why?" 

"Because it wasn't me doing the act," says Susan. "It was something that was taken from me."

 

"Susan, if getting raped is the high point of your month, you're in the wrong job," says Dr. Phil. "Do you realize the contradiction of what you're saying?"

Susan reflects on the source of her pain. "There was something that was robbed from me as a child. My innocence was taken over and over again. I'm numb. I'm very much numb when it comes to intimacy

and sex," she says.

"But we're going to take that back," says Dr. Phil. "You don't have to live that way for the rest of your life. Do you understand that there is hope here?"

Susan cries. "I hope so."

"I'm not a big one for making excuses," he says. "I think people have to make choices and own their choices. But the truth is, things happened to you when you were a very young child over which you had no control ... You were molested repeatedly. Ten different people across time ... to the point that at 12 years of age, you wound up essentially being captured into child prostitution."

Dr. Phil asks Susan to describe her feelings and her self-image.


"I'm very ashamed," she says. "I don't necessarily look at myself in a positive light. I know I'm capable of so much more. I know I deserve so much more. I just don't know how to get it. I don't know anything else," she cries. "I take the most intimate thing in this world, and I put a price on it."

Dr. Phil offers his take on Susan's choice of career. "It devalues you. You begin to equate sex and love. You begin to say, 'This is all I'm good for. This is what I am. This is what I do. This is what I have to offer the world.' You know, forget about the fact that you are intelligent and articulate and energetic and healthy and have hopes and dreams, it just boils down to 'The one thing I know I can do from the time I was a child is present myself for sex and get paid for it.'"

"It's a means of acquiring things," adds Susan. "It's all I've known as a child, even when I was being molested. I wanted a new bike, I kept my mouth shut, I got my new bike. It's almost like a barter system that I learned."

Despite her long history of trading herself for financial gain, today, at 27 years old, Susan is at a crossroads. "Isn't this question not if you're going to change, but when? Because don't you realize that as you get older, your marketability is going to go way down?" asks Dr. Phil.

"I'm aware of that," says Susan.

"At 37 and 45, it ain't $150 an hour," he points out.

Susan does have a plan. She is going back to school and hopes to become a psychologist. Dr. Phil reminds her of the difference between dreams and goals: "'Some day, I'm going to be rich and famous,' or 'Some day, I'm going to have a Ph.D.' That's a dream. It becomes a goal when you put a timeline to it, and you identify the steps that you have to take to get there, and you start putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time ... That's when it becomes realistic."

 

Will Susan's addiction to her lifestyle keep her educational dreams from becoming realistic goals? Dr. Phil addresses her problem. "You're addicted to the money. You're addicted to the hours. You're addicted to the things that you want to give your children, that you didn't have when you were growing up. But I'll guarantee you, they would rather have a mentally, emotionally, spiritually healthy mother than an iPod and a laptop. I'll promise you they would give it all up in a second."

Dr. Phil continues: "I want you to say, 'Today is the day that I start doing something about this' ... You have to make a life decision here. You have to say, 'I'm rewriting my life script. I'm reordering my priorities. I'm saying, "Look, I'm going to live my life with dignity. I'm going to live my life with self-respect. And we may have less for a period of time. We may have less for a long period of time, but I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that because we truly will have more."'"

 

This sound advice, plus an offer of psychological help and career counseling give Susan a new lease on life.


"I want to get something action-oriented in your life every step of the way so you can start making a change," Dr. Phil tells her. "Are you going to have to move from your tony building with a pool on top? I suspect you are, but you know what? Clean and safe and healthy and sound is a good place to start from and that's what we're going to do to help you."

 

"Thank you," says Susan.