Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Intimate Partner Violence and Sex Work

Today is the first day of October, Domestic Violence Awareness month.

As an organization that promotes the rights and well-being of people involved in the sex trade, raising awareness about and addressing intimate partner violence in our community is incredibly important.DV-Awareness-Month1

Discussion on sex work and violence is prolific. People talk and write about the relationship between childhood sexual and domestic violence and work in the sex trade; about sex work as a form of violence against women or violence as inherent to the sex trade; about the murders of sex workers, and sexual violence at the hands of clients and strangers. Occasionally, discussion turns to stigma, criminalization, and violence at the hands of institutions and police. But violence against sex workers from those closest to sex workers is almost never discussed… And it should be.

As sex workers, we experience high rates of intimate partner violenceextra vulnerabilitieselevated levels of victim-blaming, and heightened barriers to getting professional and community support. And as participants in a fringe, if not underground economy, labor abuses and exploitation we experience is frequently similar to if not indistinguishable from intimate partner violence. 

This October, we’ll be using our blog to open discussion about and shed some light on intimate partner violence in our community. We invite current or former sex workers to participate by sharing thoughts, stories, essays or art work to publish on the SWOP-Chicago website.

If you’d to participate, please email meg@swop-chicago.org. We welcome anything and have included some ideas below. We’re also happy to provide editing support if you’d like.

Blog ideas include but are in no way limited to: art, first-person reflections, personal essays, tips on supporting sex workers targeting other sex workers, DV professionals, or friends and family, literature reviews, ideas on how to address intimate partner violence against sex workers, criticism of research, media, or culture, articles bringing together coverage of DV and sex work, and photos.

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