“There are so many types of sex work and all are valid and equal. I want people to understand this and remove their assumptions and stigma.”

Alisha Ostberg Blog, sex work

Content warning: some content may be upsetting to some readers, or may contain potentially traumatic subject matter, discretion is advised.

In honour of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Shift asked sex workers “What does this day mean to you?”.

Read three stories submitted anonymously to Shift from different perspectives below.

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“Hello,

I’ve been a Pro Domme off and on for about 15 years, the last few years have been full time and I love it so much. The financial freedom it allows the ability to move my time around to help friends, are all perks to loving what you do. I love how much joy I bring to my subs lives, they truly are better in all areas. People hear “sex worker” and instantly make all types of assumptions. That all sex workers have sex with their clients, that they do it out of desperation, that they are damaged human beings. Wrong! There are so many types of sex work and all are valid and equal. I want people to understand this and remove their assumptions and stigma. Thank you.”

-Submitted Anonymously to Shift

 

“Changing faces!!!

I’m a 42 year old female that started at age of 14 in the sex trade. Appalling right? I know. As a kid I went from foster home to foster home, I was hurt at age 14 and ended up on the streets. I had no known family and I was a loner in school due to the abuse at home. I needed money and “voila” the sex trade became my escape. I know I was young, but I felt out of options and that was the one I knew. I have escorted periodically over the last 15 years and I think that the sex industry has various angles. If you are in it and want out, Shift can support you in this. If you’re in it and want to stay in it, Shift will help in any way they can. Know that you don’t have to do it alone and Shift is a great agency for many things. Shift saved my life in 2014 and I am great full for this amazing group of people. I know things can be crazy in the sex trade but it doesn’t have to be, Shift is a non-judgmental place and hope that it continues.”

-Submitted Anonymously to Shift

 

“To me this day means that there is a whole day devoted to brining awareness to the general public [about] the continued challenges facing sex workers, but also a celebration of the way in which sex workers from the beginning of time have been, are a group of really resilient people. It’s special to me because it means that it opens up the conversation beyond just the intimate group that it often remains inside of to a bigger group. For myself, I have flowed in the gamut between consensual and non-consensual sex work. One of the things that can remain so difficult about that, it regardless if it was my choice or not because of how society regards it I always feel ashamed of that experience.  Days like International day to end violence against sex workers addresses that stigma. Not only helping with my healing, to release myself of that shame and move on in a way that is healthy, it will then intern allow help me help other people understand better what sex work is, and the merit of way how it effects a whole bunch of different people. If I feel better I can help other people to feel better.”

Submitted Anonymously to Shift

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December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

This day is a day that joins sex workers, allies, and advocates around the world in recognizing violence committed against sex workers globally. This day demands attention to the violation of sex workers human rights.  Together we remember those we have lost, and renew our commitment to advocate for and support sex workers.

The Shift program takes a harm reduction and rights-based approach to sex work, and we recognize that sex work is a choice for many, and respect the rights of adults to make this choice. We also recognize that for some, factors such as poverty or exploitation can put people into situations where they don’t have control. Shift continues to be committed to the on-going struggle for empowerment, visibility, and rights to all sex workers.

To support HIV Community Link and Shift in our efforts to support sex workers of all backgrounds, donate here: http://hivcl.org/support-us/donate-online/