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10 Things No One Tells You About The Dangers Of Being A Sexworker

by Ossiana M. Tepfenhart 4 months ago in advocacy

Now that we're openly discussing sexworker's rights mainstream, let's talk about the real struggles in the community.

10 Things No One Tells You About The Dangers Of Being A Sexworker
Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

Hey there!

I've been working in the adult film world as a writer, interviewer, and jack-of-all trades for years. When I was younger, I was trafficked. So, I've seen a lot of the scene. With recent attacks geared towards sexworkers making the news, I feel it's time for me to speak up about what I've seen in the industry.

As someone who's an insider to a world most people will never see upfront, I can tell you that the recent shooting in Georgia highlighted some very scary things that are 100 percent true about life as a sexworker. We live in a society where being in sexwork at any level is verboten, and where it's acceptable to

People are only now beginning to realize how much society dehumanizes us. But, the truth about how dangerous this line of work can be is only beginning to come out. If you've wondered what it's like to be a sex worker, here's the real scoop.

It's not an if, but a when, your family and friends will find out.

Here's something I've always noticed about sex work: people claim it can be anonymous, but it almost never is. This is especially true when you're dealing with something along the lines of camming or porn.

People say it can be anonymous, but the truth is, once your nudes are out there, they're out there. That's why I don't advise people to enter the industry if they're worried about their reputation or about people finding out.

People often will try to force you out of vanilla jobs once you start working in this field.

This goes hand-in-hand with the issue of being discovered. Discovery poses a very real and clear threat to anyone who wants to work a regular day job while moonlighting as a sexworker.

Over the course of my time in the scene, I've heard of women having their degrees or licenses revoked as a result of being caught. I've also heard of friends being outed at their day job, then being forced to quit due to the harassment they faced by coworkers.

Most of the people who go into sexwork don't leave, or decide to make their own businesses with the money they make. Getting hired after you're discovered is extremely difficult, to say the least.

Then, there is the matter of having no recourse for stalkers or violence.

This actually happened to me. When I was in college, I was dancing at a club and had my drink rufied. I woke up in a pool of blood in a train station hours later. I got up, and something sharp fell out of me.

When I went to a clinic to get tested, the nurse asked me how many people I slept with. I told her it was around 20 in the past week. Then I told her I was raped. She looked at me and told me it was my fault, and that I should expect this if I was "going to be that loose."

Believe it or not, this is fairly common. Most sexworkers don't even bother going to the police out of fear of being blamed, or worse, arrested when they are the actual victims. The threat of being denied care for both mental and gynecological issues is real.

I've had this kind of stuff happen so many times, I all but gave up on trying to get any sort of medical help. It sucks, but it's true. While I'm one of the more extreme cases in this matter, I know I'm not the only one who's had this occur.

Speaking of which, the stalking is real.

I cannot name how many horror stories I have heard about people stalking sexworkers. I've heard of people going so far as to analyze a camgirl's keystrokes to find out her passwords. One adult film star ordered a pizza on set, and ended up being stalked by the delivery guy.

Most of the time, the stalkers are male. However, if what I've heard is true, it's women who can actually be worse about it. Many wives tend to see sexworkers as "the other woman," and tend to try to punish them as a way of doling out the hurt they feel from men who betrayed them.

It's not uncommon for law enforcement to look the other way when a model ends up asking for help with this. Needless to say, it can get scary.

Then there are clients who seem to enjoy nothing more than to tear you down.

Almost every single sexworker has had at least one person come onto their chat site or ask for a session with them, only to have that client treat them like dirt. Many people, for one reason or another, feel like it's acceptable to shame and scorn sexworkers for doing their job while they're on the job.

It takes a ridiculously thick skin to not let it affect you. As a result of this kind of treatment (which, by the way, often goes unaddressed), there's a serious issue with trying to find therapy and assistance for mental health in the community.

Due to the fact that sexwork can be lonely, many people who are in it have a hard time with mental health.

This is not their fault, either. Honestly, the stress that comes with being in adult films, camming, fetish work, or escorting is enough to make anyone feel a little low once in a while.

There are several groups that work hard to try to provide counseling to sexworkers, but there's never enough to go around. Oh, and if you're looking for a therapist, don't be shocked to find out that many won't take you as a client.

Sex-positive therapy can be extremely rare in many parts of the country. And trust me, nothing feels worse than being judged by the very people who are supposed to help you.

Despite what many people think, sexworkers DO pay taxes.

Remember when people thought it was funny to tell the IRS about cam models? It was more of a nuisance than anything. Sexworkers are legally required to pay taxes, just like anyone else. There's even tax assistance for porn stars out there.

Even though they pay taxes, there's a major problem...

Local and national legislation ends up making it harder and harder for sexworkers to stay safe.

This is a major issue that made me speak up. There are a lot of scummy, horrible people out there who pay on people who are desperate for love, money, a home...you name it. These are people who end up luring people and doing things to them that should never be done.

Sexwork does not mean trafficking. Sexwork, believe it or not, can be safe and consensual. In fact, a lot of my closest friends in the adult film industry adore their jobs, their fans, and the fun stuff they get to do. Unfortunately, getting legitimate gigs in adult films isn't easy unless you have connections.

There's also the matter of escorting and prostitution. I know PLENTY of escorts who love their clients and the work they do. It's amazing, right? Well, guess what---Uncle Sam hates it, or at the very least, conflates sexwork with what happened to me.

So, they pass legislation to "protect" us, which never actually does what it's supposed to be. Rather than listen to sexworkers, they ignore them and refuse to hear what their two cents on the matter is. After all, optics seem to matter more than effects to politicians these days.

The police have a phrase for deaths involving sexworkers, and it's not pretty.

I'm not going to get into it, but the phrase is "no humans involved." In other words, many people in law enforcement view sexworkers so lowly, they're not even people to them.

Imagine being told that your daughter or son was killed, but then overhear the cop tell his buddy say, "Yeah, it was a no humans involved kind of case."

If that doesn't make you angry, I don't know what to tell you.

While it often feels like the world is against them, many sexworkers continue to do their job because it is a calling to them.

Sexwork is real work. You would never guess how hard it can be at times. However, there is a rewarding side to it that people often don't understand. Many sexworkers act as the friend, lover, and confidante people otherwise wouldn't be able to get.

Over the course of my interviews with porn stars, I've learned about how many of them truly cared about their fans. There's a reason why sexwork is a thing. Many people genuinely need human touch or to feel admired by others, and we live in a very lonely society.

As a result, the people who are long-term sexworkers tend to be some of the bravest people you'll meet. They're caring, and they're hardcore. So, maybe it's about time that we actually listen to their stories and help them the way we should have been all along.

advocacy
Ossiana M. Tepfenhart
Ossiana M. Tepfenhart
Read next: A Night at the Theatre
Ossiana M. Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of NJ. You can message her via Twitter on @bluntandwitty or via Instagram on @ossiana.makes.content. She's always looking for freelance work and collabs!

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