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Batts' court file held a number of letters of support from state and national sex workers' rights organizations.What Batts was doing — screening clients with online background searches, providing a safe house for sex work to take place — they said, was "harm reduction" for women in a line of work that isn't going away.Batts is living in a halfway house and working in a restaurant kitchen. She's interested in doing some advocacy work for women in the sex trade when she gets out, she said. Amber Batts, photographed in her room at the Glenwood Center halfway house in Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. Batts pleaded guilty and was convicted of sex trafficking in 2015.
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During one, in 2007, she stabbed a stranger in a bar with a broken bottle, nearly killing him.
The rage that overcame her was connected to the way her past had damaged her, she said. "It's hard for me to actually have a healthy relationship with another person, because of my past, because I don't know where the care and concern and sometimes persuasiveness melds into manipulation," she said.
Amber Batts, photographed in her room at the Glenwood Center halfway house in Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. Batts pleaded guilty and was convicted of sex trafficking in 2015. I contacted her in jail and, over a few visits, she told me about her life and how she understood sex work in Alaska.
(Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News) Amber Batts, photographed in her room at the Glenwood Center halfway house in Anchorage on Thursday, Nov. Batts pleaded guilty and was convicted of sex trafficking in 2015. Our conversations underscored what I heard from advocates and investigators: Many women involved in the sex trade come to it as victims of abuse and exploitation and, eventually, a few, like Amber, may become perpetrators of abuse or exploitation themselves.
Amber wasn't interested in diversion programs or prosecuting johns.
The victimization that primed women for prostitution, the circumstances that led them into the life, to her, seem inevitable and unstoppable. She was columnist and reporter at the Anchorage Daily News, was Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage and has written about Alaska for a variety of publications.
Her business didn't make her rich, but she was comfortable, able to pay for a car and her trailer in South Anchorage as well as the apartment where the prostitution went on. She never met a woman in the business who didn't have some kind of history of sexual trauma.
"Generally, there would be some DV stuff, most recent, and there would usually be some sexual abuse in the family.
Batts placed ads for them online, took credit cards, screened potential clients and maintained an apartment where women took men to have sex. She was sentenced to five years for second-degree sex trafficking.
Batts had prior felony convictions that influenced her sentence.
She began writing an online column from jail, railing against sex-trafficking laws in Alaska.