VIOLENCE

 against women who sell sex on the street

Many of the photos in background of this page were taken of bruises sustained by the women we serve

The studies cited on this page refer to women who sell sex on the street and do not differentiate between trafficked versus non-trafficked people

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“Once you hit the streets, there’s no guarantee you’ll come back.” 1

“You just give them what they want and pray they don’t kill you.” 1

“Society and law enforcement consider a prostitute getting raped or beat as something she deserves. It goes along with the lifestyle. There’s nothing that you can do.” 1

 

"Prostitution, drugs, and violence go hand in hand; it’s all in one palm, OK? And because the prostitute is out there to get drugs and because she has an addiction and—whether it be violence from the date or violence from the dope boy, either way we’re looking at it, there’s still violence involved." 2

"It’s like there are two worlds, there’s a good world and then there’s a violent world and it’s like alls we know is violence, alls we know is violent men."  2

Dalla, R. “Night moves: a qualitative investigation of street-level sex work.” 2002. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 26 (2002), 63–73

Surratt, H., et al. “Sex Work and Drug Use in a Subculture of Violence.” Crime & Delinquency. 2004. 50;(1)43-59

ABUSE HISTORY OF WOMEN WHO SELL SEX

  • 90% experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse as a child 5,6

  • 45-49% reported a history of childhood physical abuse 3,7

  • 51-57% reported sexual abuse 3,5,7

    • 25% of girls nationwide are victims of child sexual abuse 8

  • 52-62% reported emotional abuse or neglect 3,5

    • Emotional abuse: belittlement, humiliation in front of others, severe emotional detachment of parent/guardian, and long-term neglect

  • 57-64% had spent time in foster care and group homes 5,6

  • Childhood history of sexual abuse or molestation greatly increased likelihood of transactional sex 1

  • Sexual abuse was related to sex exchange, which in turn was related to drug use symptoms in women 2

  1. Ahrens, K., et al. “Association between childhood sexual abuse and transactional sex in youth aging out of foster care.” Child Abuse and Neglect. 2012. 36(1): 75–80

  2. Verona, E., Murphy, B., & Javdani, S “Gendered Pathways: Violent Childhood Maltreatment, Sex Exchange, and Drug Use” Psychology of Violence. 2015.

  3. Surratt, H., et al. “Sex Work and Drug Use in a Subculture of Violence.” Crime & Delinquency. 2004. 50;(1)43-59 [45% report physical abuse as a child; 51% sexual abuse; 62% emotional abuse; 59% neglect]

  4. Medrano, M., et al. “Childhood Trauma and Adult Prostitution Behavior in a Multiethnic Heterosexual Drug-Using Population.” 2003. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 29:2, 463 – 486

  5. Benoit, C., & Millar, A. “Dispelling Myths and Understanding Realities: Working Conditions, Health Status, and Exiting Experiences of Sex Workers.” 2001. The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. [89% respondents reported some kind of physical, emotional or sexual abuse; 55% reported sexual abuse; 52% had experienced emotional abuse and neglect from their father/male guardian and 51.5% from mother/female guardian.]

  6. Nixon K, Tutty L, Downe P, Gorkoff K, Ursel J. “The everyday occurrence: violence in the lives of girls exploited through prostitution.” Violence Against Women. 2002;8(9):1016-1043. [64% had been involved in “child welfare system” however, overall the article is less data driven and instead relies on “semistructured” personal narratives]

  7. Farley, M. and Barkan, H. “Prostitution, violence, and posttraumatic stress disorder.” Women & Health. 1998; 27(3) [130 people selling sex in San Francisco were interviewed: 57% reported child sexual assault; 49% reported child physical assault

  8. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childsexualabuse/fastfact.html

VIOLENCE ON THE STREET

  • 100% witnessed violence on the street daily 1

  • 55-90% have been physically attacked by a customer 1,3,4,5

  • 46-75% had been raped by one or more customers 1,4,5

  • 48% have been raped more than 5 times since they began selling sex 5

  • 22-38% had been held captive 4,8

  • 15% of women who sell sex have jumped from moving cars to escape violent dates 2

  • 7% have a chance of being killed by a serial killer 6,7

  1. Romero-Daza, N., Weeks, M., & Singer, M. ‘‘Nobody Gives a Damn if I Live or Die’’: Violence, Drugs, and Street-Level Prostitution in Inner-City Hartford, Connecticut.” Medical Anthropology. 2003. 22:233–259 [35 of 35 drug addicted women in prostitution report witnessing violence on street daily; 60% reported being raped by customers; 90% reported being physically attacked by customers]

  2. Surratt, H., et al. “Sex Work and Drug Use in a Subculture of Violence.” Crime & Delinquency. 2004. 50;(1)43-59

  3. Fehrenbacher, A., et al. “Exposure to Police and Client Violence Among Incarcerated Female Sex Workers in Baltimore City, Maryland.” American Journal of Public Health. 2020. 110(51) [Of 250 incarcerated women who sold sex, 65% were physically or sexually assaulted by customers]

  4. Miller, J., & Shwartz, M. D. “Rape myths and violence against street prostitutes.” Deviant Behavior (1995) 16:1-23. [75% raped by one or more customers. 88% victims of physical assault; 38% held captive]

  5. Farley, M. and Barkan, H. “Prostitution, violence, and posttraumatic stress disorder.” Women & Health. 1998; 27(3) [130 people selling sex in San Francisco were interviewed: 55% physically assaulted by customers; 46% raped by customers; 48% had been raped more than 5 times]

  6. Brewer, D, et al. “Extent, Trends, and Perpetrators of Prostitution- Related Homicide in the United States.” Journal of Forensic Science. 2006. Vol. 51, No. 5 [35% (892/2542) of prostitute homicide victims in the United States between 1982 and 2000 were killed by serial perpetrators of prostitute homicide]

  7. Potterat, J., et al. “Mortality in a Long-term Open Cohort of Prostitute Women.” American Journal of Epidemiology. 2004. Vol. 159, No. 8 [Few of the women died of natural causes, as would be expected for persons whose average age at death was 34 years. Rather, based on proportional mortality, the leading causes of death were homicide (19 percent)”] {35% of 19% is 6.65% or 7 % chance}

  8. Finn M., Muftić L., and Marsh E. “Exploring the Overlap between Victimization and Offending among Women in Sex Work.” Victims & Offenders. 2014 Sept;10(1):74-94 [of 38 women in the sex industry, 22.2% reported being kidnapped]