People from across the world are coming together to raise money for ‘Heather’: the sex worker who hit the headlines recently after shooting an attacker who could well be a serial killer who was active in at least three states.
Heather – who has not revealed her full name while still in fear of her safety – shot and killed Neal Falls after he had booked a session with the West Virginia-based sex worker on Saturday July 18th.
The terrifying series of events began as soon as Heather opened the door. “Live or die?” Falls said, pointing a gun directly at her before subjecting her to a terrifying ordeal in which it was made plain that he planned to kill her.
Some time later, Heather managed to wrestle her attacker’s gun from him and shoot him dead. Heather’s calm, patience and quick thinking in the face of terrifying adversity is beyond commendable and – not only having saved her own life – may well have prevented many more deaths in the future.
It soon transpired that Heather’s would-be murderer had a car trunk full of accessories that pointed to a man with awful intentions. Police recovered a shovel, an axe, bleach, garbage bags, handcuffs and a list of other women who had posted sex work classifieds online.
Police are now convinced that Falls is linked with a series of other murders of women across the United States. There will be some criticism aimed at the authorities for what appears to be a huge number of missed opportunities to act on some of the suspicions surrounding Falls and his activities. Despite having no criminal records, Falls had been accosted, spoken to or had his details run through by police in 20 states.
But from the ashes of this gruesome story comes hope. The Heather Is A Hero crowd-funding campaign has already collected nearly $5,000 in a short space of time. The total goal is $100,000 and at this rate it may be reached sooner rather than later.
Her hero status, unfortunately, does not come with any monetary compensation and provides no way for her to meet her financial and emotional needs after this experience.
“We must stand with Heather and provide her the support she needs right now,” states the crowd-funding page. “Her act of self-preservation is in direct defiance to a culture that allows men like Neal Falls to get away with murder, when we support her now we are sending the signal that her life and the lives of all sex workers are valuable and important.
“Please support Heather. Your donations will go directly to her account so she can have control over her finances and so that her housing and bills can be stabilized and she can process this experience. Donating $125 dollars pays Heather’s rent for a week and donating $100 makes sure her electricity stays on for a month.”
Heather’s story and the subsequent campaign shine a harsh light on the ramped-up campaign of stigmatization against sex workers from the public, fuelled by the world’s media. The recent ending of services from VISA and Mastercard for Backpage has driven swathes of sex workers further underground and apart from each other.
Last week saw the unwelcome contribution of cosseted Hollywood stars to the debate, decrying Amnesty International’s motion to decriminalize sex work across the world. Presumably, these stars – disconnected from reality enough as it is – are happy with making sex work even more dangerous and unpredictable for legions of women in the industry.
But, for now… let’s think about Heather. Be sure to donate and/or share and make the world just a little brighter.