I feel most unsafe not in the room with a client, but in social environments where people make jokes about dead hookers. I feel unsafe when people tell me they feel sorry for me, because the next step is always that they will try to rescue me or save me in ways that completely deny my experience. I feel unsafe when people assume I have a disease that I brought upon myself and won’t offer me non-judgemental treatment options or kiss or hug me. I feel unsafe when people assume that the violence and danger in my life only comes from clients when my experiences of assault and boundary-crossing have primarily been with intimate partners.
Mostly I feel unsafe when I can feel that people don’t respect me, when they think my work and life is less valuable than other professionals, and this feeling can come from clients, yes, but also from doctors, bank tellers, social service providers, therapists, lovers, friends and family.
I stay safe by remembering I have a right to safety, the respect of others, and by talking openly about the challenges I face in being a sex worker. I think it’s important to note that not all workers can be out like that, and some are outed against their will. I have some risks in being out to most people in my life but the benefits have also been so amazing—so many people share their advice and stories with me. I honour and love the stories I have been given access to, and I am so careful with them. I make videos and offer workshops on sex work topics to other sex workers and to the general public and I am on the board of Maggie’s Toronto, a local sex worker organization. These are things that make me feel strong in who I am, and that help me feel safe by working with others to provide safety and a long-term vision of sex worker rights and self-determination."