Building respectful relationships within our communities
As a sex worker, you have the right to feel safe and supported within the community where you live and work. In order to be recognized as a community member, it is important to be respectful of the neighbourhood in which you work. Starting to build healthy relationships with other community members and recognizing the various issues and concerns that exist for communities where there is visible street-level sex work is an important first step towards mutual trust and respect
Whether it is between a sex worker and a resident, business owner or employee, everyone needs to be committed to this process. Building healthy relationships takes time and not everyone will be open to dialogue. However, with patience and perseverance, everyone can begin to feel safe.
Below is an example of how these healthy relationships can begin:
1. When working in any neighbourhood, sex workers need to realize that their faces will become familiar to other community members and residents over time. Once this occurs, one of the most effective ways to initiate a good relationship is simply by saying “hello.” Be prepared not to get a favourable response on your first few attempts. But, if you are consistent and respectful, eventually the other person will respond.
2. Naturally, after you have built up a bit of a familiarity, the next step would be to engage in small talk. You could comment on the beautiful weather or make some other general pleasantries, to one another. In some cases, a small dialogue may begin and both parties will continue on their way with a smile.
3. In neighbourhoods where you work, it is important to feel safe and respected at all times. You may experience issues of hostility, verbal abuse, physical threats, shaming and even violence. Now that a relationship has been formed, this is the perfect time to address some of these issues with community members. Share your concerns and look for ways to work together to address issues of health and safety. We all want to live and work in safer communities and a solution will be found by all parties working together.
- If you are in distress, do not be afraid to ask someone for assistance.
- To avoid coming across as a nuisance, only seek help in those situations where it is of extreme importance, such as when there is an urgent need to make a phone call or find a washroom.
- Avoid working near schools or playgrounds.
- Know the neighbourhood in which you work as well as the community members who live and work alongside you. It helps to maintain your sense of safety if others are watching out for you.
- Remember that you are the eyes of the community. You can help prevent neighbourhood crimes such as vandalism.
- Please keep in mind that, although there may be community members who will not be sex worker friendly, there are also caring and compassionate people who are. They will lend support when necessary.
- The police aren’t always the best people to call in cases when no crime has been committed. Mobile services are available to assist sex workers if no other options are available. Keep these numbers handy.