Trade Secrets is an excellent resource manual developed by the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities to support health and safety in the sex industry. The guide, designed for sex industry workers and stakeholders in the broader community, aims to create working environments and cultures that adhere to human rights laws, common law and labour standards and aims to stop exploitation, violence, youth involvement and forced involvement in sex work.
Sex workers’ safety tips
Sex work can be a dangerous business especially at the street level. Here are some tips to keep safe and take care. Let’s help others reduce the risks. Pass this on!
- Always negotiate price and service. Get the money up front.
- Do not work when you are high or drunk. You will be less likely to take risks.
- Wear shoes in which you can run, or that you can slip off easily.
- Do not wear anything around your neck that a client can use to strangle or drag you such as necklaces, scarves, etc.
- Carry a cell phone. You can call yourself and leave a message with a description or text the license plate to a friend. That way they know you are not as isolated and vulnerable.
- Work with friends if possible. If you have to work alone, be creative and carry a piece of chalk with you to write down the license plate of your next client on the sidewalk or wall where you are standing. Always casually tell a client you have been seen leaving in their car and are expected back at a certain time.
- Carry a whistle. Some prefer to carry devices that can be used to protect themselves, such as mace. However, it has been proven that such things can be turned against you at any time. A whistle is safe, small, compact, legal and loud.
- Use condoms to protect yourself.
- Share information with other sex workers. If you have had a bad experience with a client, pass the details on to organizations that have a direct connection to bad date reporting.
- You can report bad dates to the following organizations:
- MAP Van—604-720-5686
- WISH Drop-In Centre Society—604-669-9474
- PACE Society—604-872-7651
- SWAN Vancouver—604-719-6343
- Sister Watch—604-215-4777
Describe the car, the person and anything else that will help others avoid this person.
Choose your environment
- Fairly safe: take out an ad in the local alternative paper or on the net.
- Fairly safe: sign up with a service.
- Less safe: work in clubs and bars.
- Least safe: be extremely careful on the street. Try to work with others.
Observe the client
- Trust your instincts and be willing to turn customers down.
- Listen to their voices.
- Pay attention to smells, tattoos, accents and whether they’re clean or dirty.
- Observe their body language.
- Listen to your intuition. If it does not feel right, there is a good chance it is not.
- Are they high? Are they drunk? Are you prepared to deal with them? Always ask yourself these questions.
Entering a client’s vehicle
- Make sure the client is alone. More than one person increases your risks.
- If you are able, get the car colour, model and the license plate number.
- Check behind the back seat to make sure that no one is hiding.
- Always check door handles before you close the door to make sure that they work.
- Make sure you know how to unlock the door before entering car.
- Avoid vans, pickups and SUVs, especially with tinted windows.
- If the client tries to drive the vehicle close to a wall so you can’t open the door, get out.
- Pay attention to what is in the car – a car seat, garbage, air freshener, work tools and supplies.
- Pick your own parking spots and hotels.
- Unless it is a regular, avoid bridges, overpasses and dimly lit unfamiliar places.
- Check the address. If clients say they are taking you to one place, but pull up to another, this may not be all that they are lying about.
- Do not enter a room if there is more than one person. If others show up, leave immediately.
- When in a car or in a room, keep an eye on the exit at all times and do not let the customer block your access to it.
- It is safer for you to bring a client to your house and hide a friend in the closet than it is for you to go to the client’s house and have his friend hiding in the closet.
- If clients take you to their places, check for hidden cameras (especially in mirrors) and unexpected guests in all the rooms and closets.
- If you get into trouble, scream and make noise.
Stay true to yourself and know your limits
- Take charge of the situation. Control negotiations with clients, set clear limits for accepting or rejecting and maintain prices and safe-sex practices.
- You are less vulnerable if you are on top.
- It is wiser to give than to get. This goes for bondage, spankings, water sports, oral sex and rimming.
- It is never a good idea to allow a stranger to tie you up.
- Decide for yourself what you will and will not do.
- Do not carry drugs or excessive amounts of cash.
When you’re with clients
- Do not rob your clients. This may promote violence toward you or the next sex worker that the person hires.
- Be honest about your gender. Many transgender men and woman have had extremely bad dates due to not disclosing their identity.
- Do not promise a service that you are not willing to do. If you don’t intend to do it, don’t offer it and be clear from the outset.
- When you get paid, take your money to another room so you can’t be robbed.