web version–We Got This! Safe Calls, Screening and Buddy Systems for Sex Workers

We Got This! Safe Calls, Screening and Buddy Systems for Sex Workers

by Juliet November

Version 1: Spring 2013 (corrected version)

dedicated to all the sex workers who look out for another–and to Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, Mirha-Soleil Ross, Monica Forrester and all street-based sex working revolutionaries showing us the way.

a huge thank you to all the sex workers who contributed their experience and wisdom to this zine and to Sar for being that final spark that got me started (during a convo about community-based violence prevention & sex worker safety). We can’t do this without each other!

Please copy and distribute this zine in its entirety only and with credit. This zine is designed for sex workers not voyeurs or “rescuers”. If you make copies, please ensure that they are distributed to sex workers directly.

For more information or issues, please contact me at julietnovember845@gmail.com

with love,

Juliet November

http://www.bornwhore.com

An enormous thank you to the designers at The Public Studio (thepublicstudio.ca) for donating the design of this zine and to Skittlez Gunn from the co-op program.

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Dear sex workers

Hi, I’m so excited that this is in your hands and to be sharing these tips with you! As sex workers, we are often barred from putting basic protections in place while we work (eg working at a brothel with other workers, openly discussing services). In spite of this, we use bazillions of genius little tricks to work how we want. This zine isn’t about how we should work. It’s just about sharing how we actually work so we can think creatively about our safety and decide for ourselves from all the possibilities. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of sex workers and have had countless conversations with those who are new to the industry. I share my tips and ideas but they are only one perspective on safety. This edition of We Got This brings together a wide variety of concrete, practical information about ways of screening, safe calls and buddy systems. I added in some additional tips folks sent me as well as some more general safety info from the folks at the St James Infirmary in San Francisco. It is a first version though and I know many revisions and additions will come!

Here’s one thing that’s also come out of all those convos: pretty consistently, I hear about more people (especially women) who are physically or sexually assaulted, robbed, stalked or even killed by their own boyfriends, husbands or male family members than by clients. So while I want this info to be useful, also think about all the ways you can create safety in your personal relationships. When people have talked to me about safety, they always assume that my work was more dangerous than my personal life and rarely offer support around that part of my life. This is because of stereotypes about us and our work. 

I don’t think our work is dangerous because we sell sex. I think it’s dangerous because we’re being punished by patriarchy and that punishment includes the laws, stigma, discrimination, harassment and disrespect. People (both men and women) are way more concerned about controlling our bodies and sexuality than making sure we earn a living wage or protect our overall health and wellbeing. We do our work in spite of this, whether we love or hate the work (or both on the same day).

No matter what you do to take care of yourself, if you have ever experienced any form of violence in your life or your work: you did not cause it. It was not your fault. The person who harmed you is solely responsible for their behaviour. 

There are so many ways we can have each other’s backs—and  that includes supporting whatever safety decisions we each make. if you tell someone they aren’t “being safe” it can suggest that if they experience violence, it was their fault. Try asking them (and yourself) if your safety strategies are working. That’s all that matters—not “right” or “wrong”. If they are working, great, more power to you. If they’re not working or you think they could be more effective, then see if any of the info in here might be helpful. 

You understand your circumstances the best. Be careful of anyone who tries to use this booklet to pressure you to work in different ways (including other sex workers) or of any shame or guilt you put on yourself because you don’t use any of the strategies included here—for example calling police. That strategy doesn’t work for alot of people. Oppressed communities are punished by police not protected. If you want to create strong connections with other sex workers, respect their knowledge about the world, the brilliance of their alternative safety strategies and recognize your own privilege in being able and willing to use police for your protection. 

With very few exceptions, only sex workers can give each other effective safety advice. This zine is by and for current and former sex workers only. People contributing are all genders, all have worked off-street/indoor and many have worked the street as well. It is designed to help us stay in charge of our own bodies and work. You make the call on what works for you. We can’t rely on policing or prisons when those systems are killing us and are unwilling to be accountable to us. What we really need is each other.

The information in here is necessarily only partial. Every sex worker does things so differently! So please send your thoughts and feedback to julietnovember845 @ gmail.com 

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A lot of times, I’m trying to do everything I can to encourage them to come. If I lose the call because of screening, I can’t afford that. Alot of times the safety precautions we want to take­—or people think we should—we can’t afford. They call and I say yes. I don’t generally answer blocked numbers but that’s just because they don’t normally book. I think that’s why safety looks like someone hiding in the other room. Because the client will come but you still have safety that the client doesn’t know about. If you’re a known escort, maybe you can screen alot but it’s going to reduce the money you’re making.

If I’m going on an outcall to a hotel I just need their last name to confirm the hotel room number. I call the hotel back and ask to be transferred to the room. I just say “hey it’s me, just calling to confirm”. Otherwise I don’t ask for his name if he hasn’t offered. They tell me their names when they get to my room.

“I think for me, it’s about boundaries, if they aren’t listening right way about how you want things to happen.”

Someone I know who hitchhikes alot alone was talking about her tactics. She asks the guys about the women in their life (moms, sisters, girlfriends). You hear if they have problems with women. Some guys are controlling and abusive and you can tell by their relationships with other women. But then sometimes they open up about their relationships with their moms and they get really fucked up and want to cry or are triggered in the angry way.

I think for me, it’s about boundaries, if they aren’t listening right way about how you want things to happen. A good client will ask if there’s anything they should know before we start. If they don’t ask that question before we start, it shows they’re not listening. If they just have bad listening skills I either say what I want more strongly or get really cold and they have a bad time and never come back.

-Anonymous

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Safety

I am a young indoor genderqueer + queer worker of colour female-assigned-at-birth who presents as female when working.

Safety is my capacity to trust myself. Recently I have figured out the conditions that allow me to do so… it makes a world of difference. When I started working, I didn’t feel in control… at the mercy of my clients. Lucky. Lucky to be intact. It moves into all the other spheres of my life. Do I have the capacity to keep myself safe in friendships? In relationships? On the street? In bed? In community spaces? At someone else’s house? In an institutional environment? In an unfamiliar environment?

I used to make safety calls to my friends but didn’t know what to tell them to do if they didn’t hear back from me. The cops? No. What else is possible? What are other possibilities?

For screenings, I follow my gut… over time, I have begun to distinguish types of clients over the phone. My intuition is strong. When I am present, grounded, I am so on it. Because I seldom do advance appointments I don’t usually have time to do extensive screenings. I save all the numbers who call me on my phone with notes. Infrequently I Google peoples phone numbers. I don’t bother conversing with clients who are trying to fuck with me and I save their number so I know never to pick up their call again.
The way clients are on the phone is an excellent indication of how pushy, whining or awesome they will be in person. I try to take the time to reflect on things that didn’t work and things that did after a day of working.

Safety is having knowledge and skills. Where to get Plan B and which sexual positions minimize risk. Always I am vigilant – where is the door, where is the money, where is their cock, where is the condom, where is the friend I am sharing the room with, what time it is, and if I need more lube. (In between I think about pleasure).

I used to do outcalls and will still do them occasionally, but most of the time I work in hotels. I have a circle of friends who I can ask to be my safety call. I will text them with the hotel info, and the clients name and number. If they don’t hear back from me within 15 minutes of the time they are supposed to at the end of my call, they should try to call my phone. If they don’t reach me, they should call the hotel and ask them to check up on me – making up whatever story is necessary to get them to do that  “We were talking on the phone and I heard her scream. Now she’s not answering her phone”

This has never had to be put into effect, but my friends are usually available to chat and listen to me about how my day went for which I am so grateful.

Essentially safety is about boundaries. Clients will try to fuck with you, just like anyone else in the rest of the world. Being direct and firm goes a long way, and it keeps me whole. Other workers gave me examples of how they talk to clients. For a long time I used to try to mimic them – that didn’t work for me. I’m good at saying exactly what is okay and not okay and I don’t know how to sugarcoat it so it looks like I’m flirting or they thought of it first. So now I just talk like myself, and it works.

-Anonymous

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I give my safecall the phone number for her to reach the concierge directly, and I also establish a “safe word” that I have to use during the conversation to tell her it’s all right. If I don’t use the word, she calls the concierge right away, and says, “I just called my friend in suite #whatever, and she answered, but sounded like she was in the shower… then, I heard a loud thump, and now she’s not answering her phone! Can you please run up there really fast and make sure she’s ok? I don’t want her to drown in her bathtub!”

The beauty of this is that it’s an emergency that’s time-sensitive, so the concierge has to deal with it right away, and doesn’t have time to think about it. But it’s not something where the concierge feels they have to call 911 first and wait for them to arrive, he only has to go up and check if I’m ok. It’s also a scenario where someone will start banging on my door asking if everything is ok, which should (hopefully) stop any bad date in progress without the concierge having any idea of what he’s stopping.

I also make sure that my safecall has all the information I’ve gathered on the client (name, email, phone number, physical description) so she can report it if I go missing or something. We also use a “trouble word”, which is a word that the I’ll try to work into the conversation if I’m under duress. For me and my safecall, she knows everything is fine if I say “all good here” and she knows there’s a problem if I say “doing great!”. Both are benign enough that no bad date would be able to figure it out, but she knows what they mean and it allows me to get the message out faster than if I just didn’t use the safe word – the trouble word basically means, “if the concierge doesn’t get on it right away, call the cops instead.”

Another security measure I’ve used is called a “walk-by” and that’s where I ask a friend to be present when the client arrives. I welcome him inside, and say, “oh, my roommate is just on her way out, we’ll have plenty of privacy in just a moment.” Then, she walks through the living room, and says something like, “See you later, have fun!” and she walks by the client, looks him dead in the eye (while taking note of his physical attributes) and walks out the door. That means he knows that someone has seen his face, in my space, at that exact moment, and he won’t be able to take any liberties with me without someone knowing he was there. Plus, since he has no idea who she is or where she’s going, he has no way of following up to stop her from calling someone if anything happens to me.

Most violence against us is opportunistic, and accountability is the best deterrent to opportunistic bad behaviour. It’s not necessarily foolproof, because it can’t stop anything from happening in the moment, but if he showed up expecting to be able to rob me or rape me or beat me up and get away with it, at least he’ll think twice the moment he sees my friend walking through the living room.

-Anonymous

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My safe caller routine for outcalls is as follows:

email or text or write on a piece of paper the hotel name, address and phone number

the client’s full name, phone number and any other info I have on them (via google search or through emails we’ve exchanged. Sometime I will just forward the whole email exchange to my safe caller)

I give them the room number

the times I will be calling (after arriving and after leaving)

I also tell my safe caller if it’s someone I have seen before or a new client

as I arrive at the room I tell the client that I’m going to make a quick safety phone call, and I stay near the door or go to the bathroom. If I’m late I’ll call the safety person and let them know *before* I arrive. I then call the safe person after I get out of the elevator downstairs – usually about 10 mins after the call ends.

My Emergency routine is

if they don’t receive a phone call on time then they need to call me.

if I don’t pick up then they will call the hotel and say they hear violent noises in the room X that sounds like abuse

then they need to call the police

OR If they call me and I do pick up but I say a pre-arranged sentence (something realistic but not signaling) then start emergency plan

I’d more than anything like to avoid having the cops involved in any way in this safety plan, and the thought of having them involved makes it a whole lot less safe. But at the moment, without a solid vigilante group about town, I’d rather be harassed/arrested by the cops then deal with a human being directing violence towards me.

Another thing that I’ve been thinking about is emotional safety. My sex worker past involves a stint with a stalker that included talking to the cops and moving out of Ontario for 4+ months, and seeing a therapist to deal with the lingering psychic effects of that experience. The nature of the client becoming a stalker was around thinking that we were dating. This means that when I feel a client is becoming emotionally attached to me, I can get triggered… I’ve started to explicitly use the word “buddy” (a term I’m extremely grateful to a loving regular for coming up with) to define the highly affectionate but realistic relationship between an escort and her client-lover. For me, emotional safety means taking account of the deep care we feel for each other while respecting the boundaries of work and life that distinguish us. If those boundaries are compromised then I can get pretty fucked up.

-Avery, Toronto

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Screening, safe-calls and buddying: 

I am an independent female sex worker and I learnt this outcall method from the UK based website SAAFE, and although I believe there are many ways to try to stay safer, this works for me. I work alone in big UK cities like London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

“I always let the client know that I am checking in with someone, so they know that someone is thinking of me.”

Step 1: get the client’s full name and the hotel room number.

I won’t do private residences unless I know the client very well; I have done just one in my two year career. There are separate procedures for private residences, some people I know get online deposits to weed out time-wasters and ask for a scan of a utility bill or other proof of address plus online references from other providers.

Step 2: find out the hotel switchboard number using an online search, don’t use a number given by a client.

Step 3: call the hotel and ask for the client by name first, only giving the room number if they ask or if they have trouble finding the reservation. This way, if the name doesn’t match, the receptionist will usually make a fuss on the line and I will think the client is dodgy and refuse the appointment. I refuse the appointment if the client won’t give me a full name and room number.

If the client is not in the room, or if the hotel has no room telephones, I will refuse the appointment. My time was wasted once going to a hotel with no room phones by a malicious client who was just looking to waste my time for kicks.

Step 4: before arriving, I give the name and room number to my safe call buddy and remind them of the phrases I will say for “everything ok” and “I am in danger”.

I use something with the word “dinner” in it for OK and “cinema” for danger. Like “are you going out for dinner tonight?” or “have you had dinner yet?”

I have never yet had to use “what are you seeing at the cinema tonight?”

I reason that I must use something other than “everything is fine” as I would say that in front of a client with a knife or a gun to try and con him into thinking I hadn’t given a danger signal.

I help my safe call buddy and myself to remember which phrase is which by saying “dinner is food, which is nutritious and healthy” and “cinemas have scary films where sex workers die violently”. We both laugh and feel confident we know what we are going to say and hear. we also agree the time of the after call.

Step 5: once in the room, I call my safe buddy and deliver the phrase, as well as saying everything is ok. Sometimes I do this from the bathroom if I am in there freshening up, but I always let the client know that I am checking in with someone, so they know that someone is thinking of me.

Step 5a: if the client asks to extend the appointment, I ring the buddy, deliver a variant of the good phrase and add more time.

Step 6: after I have left the room, I ring the safe buddy and deliver the good phrase again so we are all done.

In the UK the work I do is not illegal, so if I was in trouble, I would expect the police to protect me, although I know it doesn’t always happen. I agree with my safe call buddy that if I don’t call within 10 minutes of the allotted time, they are to try calling me. I also set my phone alarm in case I lose track of time chatting with the client.

If there was no response from me, or I fail to deliver the phrase or say the cinema, I expect the safe call buddy to call the police and give them the location details. I hope that never has to happen.

A friend of mine only sometimes uses this. She rationalises that if someone is going to harm her, it wouldn’t keep her safe, and that we are more at risk from either people we know (greatest danger of abuse and violence) or on the street. It’s probably true, but my safety call procedure helps me relax, which in turn helps me concentrate on listening to my intuition. Intuition helps keep me safe. I will refuse the appointment if the client fails any of the steps or if I feel unsure at any point. I like to feel that someone knows where I am; it would help me not to panic if there was any danger.

I also don’t do any professional submission, or have any restraint placed on me; I like to wear high heels which I could use as a weapon and I often carry hair spray to spray in someone’s eyes if necessary. I would never accept a drink or any chemical from a client; most people know I don’t drink anyway. I take bottled water to drink during the appointment. If I was in danger, I would try to lock myself into the bathroom and call for help. I feel that making noise is a good way to attract attention, but in a big hotel, it may not be noticed. I have heard shouting Fire! instead of help! makes people come more quickly.

I know that the way I work is predicated on the fact that I am very privileged as a sex worker (I am white, upper-middle-class, speak English and I pass for straight, cis-gendered and non-disabled; actually I am queer, gender queer and have invisible health things). I have enough work to be able to refuse appointments I dislike the sound of, which is a huge privilege, as is the fact that my clients come through Internet advertising where there is a huge choice of providers. People tend to seek me because of my writing rather than my appearance, and most communicate with me a fair  amount beforehand, so I get the chance to scope them out. Some of my bookings come through a website with a feedback system similar to ebay, where providers can give feedback after bookings, which helps me know the client is genuine and not dodgy. It is difficult to know because of the lack of research, but the media and my experience meeting other providers both seems to suggest more dangerous situations occur in flats (brothels) or to street workers. For some people though, it might be the safest way to work.

I have never been in a dangerous situation with a client, so my greatest problem is people either cancelling at short notice, or not turning up. The booking website where I can rate helps with this; no client can risk a bad feedback on there. Taking a deposit where I need to make a financial outlay protects me financially (ie, where I need to rent premises or buy equipment) and very much weeds out non-genuine clients. I also try to budget for a certain amount of cancellation, ie, accepting appointments when I know a percentage of them will cancel. I have never double-booked clients, but I sometimes am in the happy situation of having to rush to do two close together. That’s better than saying no to the second one, then the first one cancels and I am left with no client at all.

In the uk, we also have a new national pilot scheme called ugly mugs (called “bad dates” in north america). I never check it, but it is supposed to work well. There are also some warnings on websites and forums for workers here and I occasionally get emails from similar girls warning of bad clients they had problems with.

-UK

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My safety protocols for sex work have changed somewhat since I first began. Initially, I was so paranoid about police, I would have every new client meet me at one of two spots close to my incall. Back then I didn’t really screen anyone, I just went with my initial gut reaction.

Presently, I screen folks in many ways. My main tool is my instinct. Sometimes I just “get a feeling”. When I’ve gone against that feeling, I’ve had mostly unpleasant experiences. I have a process I ask clients to follow if they want to book with me. I ask all of them to look at my website, and make sure I am the right fit for them. Generally, folks who ignore this won’t get booked for sessions.

“If a client has a referral from another sex worker, I will almost always see them without intense screening.”

For me, respecting my time and etiquette is very important. Clients who are serious about booking with me will follow the steps I’ve outlined. Also, having most of my information on a website prevents me from having to discuss most matters at length. This is a GREAT way to weed out time wasters or jerk-offs (a very real problem). The only time I speak to clients by phone is when I am doing their screening call. If a client has a referral from another sex worker, I will almost always see them without intense screening.

As for screening, I make sure they have a valid mobile phone with text capabilities before booking. I never, ever ever answer restricted numbers or texts. Folks who email/text me with a bazillion questions that are answered on my website generally do not get bookings if they persist after being directed to my site. If you don’t respect my time now, you likely won’t while we’re in session. When I decide someone has been respectful, I call them and get a sense of their personality. I check for politeness, them asking respectful, valid questions about me and our session, and I listen. If my gut is telling me no, I will usually tell them no.

On the odd day that I do see someone when my gut says NO, I will call a friend and let them know. The protocol is as follows: I will call them after the client arrives. I will then call them after the client leaves, and I give them an approximate time. If they do not hear from me, they call. If after a 15-minute grace period they can not reach me, they call either police or they come to check on me. Sometimes I make sure to let the client know I’m calling. I also let the client know, for example during a bondage session, that I have a neighbour, who has a key, and they will come down if I yell for them. it’s not true, but it makes me feel safer.

Further, I have a list of amazing sex workers with whom I share all of the info regarding bad clients, time wasters, etc.

My safety screening may be a bit more picky than others’, but it works for me. Knowing self-defence has given me a lot of confidence, and has helped me get at least one abusive asshole out of my bed. I think that being able to handle yourself is important, to the best of your ability. Sometimes, when someone is new or iffy, I will keep a non-lethal weapon close to my bed as well: plumber’s wrench, hammer, etc.

Further, I saved phone numbers from when I would take phone calls. It’s a great way to weed out time wasters, as they WILL call you again, 6 months after you spend 30 minutes with them on the phone, and act as though you’ve never spoken. I have some names saved as “waste”, and I save numbers of others who have assaulted other workers I know. Doing this has saved me A LOT OF TIME and energy.

-Toronto

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I joined a group of workers. Middle class white women. “High-end” escorts. They told me the first order of business was to make sure each of has someone we can call to check-in and out of appointments. “Anyone who doesn’t have a safe-call, put up their hand.” I put up my hand. Up until that moment I was not “out” as a sex worker to anyone within close enough proximity to keep me “safe” in the event that I was in danger. I have a lover who is local but he doesn’t know what it is exactly that I do and I don’t want him to know. I have friends here but they are not close friends and I’m a very private person.

I’m private by necessity. Because being poor and brown is lethal enough. Adding prostitution to that mix often makes it feel like a death sentence. It makes me consider the statement, “I would rather die than have them find out I’m a prostitute.” It’s funny in a morbid way, I think, maybe it’s true.

One of the ladies named Jollee volunteered to be my safe call. Jollee is a former big wig business woman who joined the industry after losing a major client. She says I should text her when I arrive at an appointment and leave an appointment safely. I wondered what she does if she doesn’t received an “AOK” text from me. We did not talk about what to do and she does not ask, which is fine because I don’t know what to tell her.

My closest family and friends live hundreds of miles away across an international border. I have the number for a criminal attorney that understands immigration issues. A lot of lawyers will recommend that clients charged with prostitution plead to a lesser offense but for immigrants, especially undocumented folks like me, this will often mean deportation with a lifelong ban from reentry. The U.S. maintains an archaic lifelong travel ban against anyone who they can identify as ever having engaged in sex work and they don’t distinguish between legal and illegal work. Not that it mattered; I was doing illegal work and I could not afford the criminal immigration attorney or any lawyer, for that matter, who was well equipped to represent me should I get caught.

The assumption is that Jollee would call the police. Even though they are whores just like me, I realize they perceive that the law enforcement, that the law itself, exists to protect them. They are probably right. Jollee does not know I am an undocumented immigrant. I am an illegal and a whore. She cannot fathom how my circumstances contextualize my notion of “safety” and that the cops are more likely than any of my clients to assault me, to rape me of my sex and freedom.

I know that these calls to and from Elizabeth are not what they mean when they say “safe-call”. I guess these calls don’t make me any safer, but these are the calls that keep me alive.  “

They know my friend and colleague Elizabeth and they know her story. She once did a “double date” where she saw one client and his friend back-to-back. When she was done with the second guy, when he was dressed and she was still mostly naked, he pulled out his badge and arrested her. He took her condoms to later use as evidence of prostitution against her. They confiscated her money as “avails of prostitution” so she could not use it to bail herself out. They are thieves without mercy, dignity or humanity They stole everything they could from her.

Even though the group knows what happened to Elizabeth and knows this is standard operating procedure with low rent whores like me and her, no one offers their number for me to call if I need bail money, which is the best way a person with disposable income could contribute to my safety. When the cops get a person like me into a cage they intend to keep me there for as long as possible and they usually are fairly successful in this endeavor, Bail, a good lawyer – these are things that could help. Both cost money I don’t have.

The stress of this reality is almost too much for me to bear by myself. I do not offer to be someone’s safe call. I have enough to worry about as it is. It is even too much for me to remember to text Jollee when I get in and out of appointments.

But I do call Elizabeth to talk about the burden, about the anxiety that she understands all too well. We call each other when the anxiety feels like a strangle hold. The burden does not weigh less after we speak but I seem to have a grip on it. The anxiety does not loosen because of our talks but I feel I can feel my breath again. I know that these calls to and from Elizabeth are not what they mean when they say “safe-call”. I guess these calls don’t make me any safer, but these are the calls that keep me alive.

-Anna, NYC

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I work in my condo. For me its important that when I open the door, I don’t move. If the client rushes into the apartment, I don’t follow him, I stay close to the entry door. This way I can leave if I need to. When the client comes back to me at the door, I ask him for the money. A bad client won’t pay you and will try to touch you before paying.

Handling clients who don’t like condoms 

As soon as your client has a quick look at the condom, the problems sometimes begin:

“wait, not now” “can we start without it?” etc. After 25 years of sex work I have no more patience for the condom talk. I just make it disappear, like a magician, the condom is ready, package is torn open, when the client isn’t looking, and is lowering his pants, i put the condom in my mouth, against my cheek. He never even sees it go on. Be careful! You need to practice a little with your boy friend or favorite dildo. Use your tongue to feel to make sure the condom is going on right.

When you are ready to perform your blow job, you just put the condom again your teeth and unwind it with your lips. Believe it or not, my last friday client, an old man with erection problem, thought he was sucked without a condom! ;)

-Montreal

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I’m a white cis-dude, university student, living in Toronto, Canada I’m lucky to walk into a client’s space with a certain level of privilege, no doubt. I don’t think my strategies can be applied universally, but I think many could use and value them. I screen from the moment I post an ad, to the moment I know that I’m well on my way home. What you say in your ad can really direct the kind of client responses you get. I think it’s crucial to use e-mail or text as much as possible. If they send a short (few word) response then they aren’t too worthwhile. It’s the difference between, “i want to fcuk you” and “Hi, I saw your ad, and I’m interested in meeting you…” I understand not everyone can be so picky about their clientele, but to avoid the bad, or awkward encounters, I try and get as much information from the way they write to me. You can really pick up on vibes through text communication. Choose your words in your ad wisely, fake it till you make it, strategically imply that you are open and out about your sex-work, “I value this line of work, I believe it to be important.” Even if it isn’t true, it appears that you aren’t afraid, and you aren’t hiding. I think its crucial to keep all your correspondance with clients, cross list new responses with older ones, ‘has this person contacted me before, and I got a bad vibe?’

Technology is your friend; do you have a smart phone? Use it. Any modern smartphone (iPhone, Android device, Blackberry etc.…) has multiple ways that allow you to share your location with the world, or with a select group of friends. On an iPhone you can use ‘find my friends’, on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry you can use ‘Google Latitude’ (there are so many more, do some research). The person keeping tabs can watch from any web-enabled device. Assuming you have a friend to share your location with, also let them have access to the e-mail account you use, what I call my ‘hooker mail’, any addresses, phone numbers and identifying information is there for them to use and find, if I am used, and cannot be found (har har). I don’t usually tell my clients what I do to stay safe, I don’t want to tarnish the experience, but also, it prevents them from doing anything about it, like turn my phone off.

-Andy, Toronto

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I use the following auto-response to any emails to my work account. Some guys do not give references but I can gauge if from correspondence (and gut instinct) if I should see them or not.

Hi!

Thank you for your email. If you are a new client, please first submit the required information as listed on my site on the contact page. This information includes:

First name

Age

Contact number

Board username

Reference from a current or recent MP/SP

Preferred date/time

All of the information must be included if you are a new client. I am very selective about who I see. This is also to ensure those gentlemen that show consideration toward my time as I enjoy seeing others who are considerate and respectful.

This is my current screening process: 

I understand that I am able to work indoors and screen my own clients with care and time. So I know that these options are not available to every sex worker at all times.

If something were to go wrong, I would not call the police. I have several guy friends who know what I do and who would support me if I were to get hurt (not anything illegal but get me to a safe place afterwards). “

I primarily use only email to book clients. A client usually emails me first asking for my availability. I usually respond and ask for first name, age, contact number, board username (or email if he contacted me via PM on the board), reference from a current or recent MP/SP, preferred date and time. If a client calls me from my work phone, I usually ask him the same in an easy going conversation that is usually over in 5 minutes. If a client wishes to see me shortly after the phone call, I usually text my friend to say I have a call. If I am able to cross reference my bad-date list or do-not-see list, I usually respond to the person if I can or cannot see him. I usually politely decline and say I am busy if they are on my do-not-see list. I say yes and give them more information on contacting me and receiving instructions to my location if I am able to see them and all else is clear. I then email them instructions to call me 30 minutes before their preferred time from an unblocked number to receive directions. I never text or email instructions until they verify that they are the ones receiving the directions. I had one client offer to call my cell number and leave a voicemail on my phone (he called from his work number so I felt comfortable giving him my directions via email not shortly after). Some clients call me to talk on their cellphone to verify that I can text them my directions. I usually text them directions to the number they just called from shortly after.

If something were to go wrong, I would not call the police. I have several guy friends who know what I do and who would support me if I were to get hurt (not anything illegal but get me to a safe place afterwards). I am also quite tall and I think this kind of intimidate clients who are the same height as me or smaller. Much of my harassment has been via email or text messages. I usually block them or filter them out. I don’t work past 10 pm and I don’t do outcalls to first time clients. I ask to see a client at my incall location first before I go to an outcall. I don’t allow a customer more than one drink when I am with them on a date in a private location. I wouldn’t take drinks on an outcall. At my incall I offer alcohol and I am the only one that pours it. If a client cannot provide me with basic information like a working phone number, I do not see them or give them anymore information relating to my location.

I would text my friend(s) if something went wrong. I have more than one just in case one cannot be there. I have not had anything go wrong in the sense of banging on the door and yelling (they are not close enough to do that). I have had them call me afterwards after I texted them after a client pushed the boundaries, and I had to tell the client to leave. They were in a sense a safe call. If I needed a place to stay for the night, they would be that person to call, come and pick me up, and let me stay at their place without asking for sex. I find this useful because they provide a place to stay where I can collect myself in a safe, relaxing setting.

The thing that has helped me the most is my gut instinct.

-south western ontario

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I slip up sometimes especially when I get really comfy, which is something clients really like about me. I’m not worried about getting stalked but I don’t want to get outed. I meet a lot of awesome guys so it’s not in my head to lie–but I have to be more careful.

I used to not say anything on the phone about my service to screen out cops. But if I’m going to get fucking busted, I’m going to get fucking busted. So now I just answer any questions. At least if I get busted, it was worth it.

I don’t do safe calls for incalls and I only go on outcalls when I think the person might be sketchy. I just feel like if something bad was going to happen, I’d know. That’s probably unrealistic. I just generally don’t fear it. Maybe because I’ve been in such scary situations that indoor work isn’t such a risk. I don’t know. Nothing can be as bad as what I’ve already been through.

I’m more hesitant if they call me late at night, at 3 or 4 AM. You don’t know what you’re dealing with at 3 or 4 AM and they may be drunk or high. I usually keep on my lobby channel so when I walk them into my apartment they know that they have been filmed. Or do the buddy system, pretending I’m calling someone so they know someone knows where I am. I keep a reference with a phone number. I try to stay away from unknown/blocked/Private numbers.

“Just because you’ve seen someone 10 times don’t trust them.”

I don’t like aggressive men, it makes me feel less powerful and I want to feel in control. You have to watch your intuition. I’ve had a date be all friendly and happy go lucky, the next minute I go to grab a condom and then be seeing stars because they punched me in the head. Just because someone looks genuine and nice, they can turn on you in a minute. Some of these guys think we’re hookers, trash, especially street-based women. When they assault girls, the cops take sides with the Johns. Exercise discretion about drinking and partying because it changes your perceptions. I was drinking with a client then he turned on me and strangled me. I told him never to do that with me. Regulars can be just as sneaky. Just because you’ve seen someone 10 times don’t trust them. They can get infatuated and want you to meet all their needs. Use discretion. I know a lot of women who have given client is a little more (time, the emotion) but it can backfire. The guys start to push for cheaper or free dates. I tell them “don’t take my hospitality for granted. This is my work. You are disrespecting me.” It’s important to lay down the law and nip it in the bud. I also say “We get along and chemistry between us is great but please respect me by remembering that this is my work”.

I’ve done the sugar daddy thing and they always turn psycho. Be careful. I’ve had a few girlfriends who have gone on trips, and the clients expect sex whenever they want and for you to give them all the attention. Sex sex sex all the time and dominate the whole time. Watch out because you’re vulnerable and they hold the keys.

-Anonymous

When I first started working, I just really wanted quick money–now– and so flew by the seat of my pants and made it up along the way. I was doing all outcalls to homes and hotels, without any screening except that I wouldn’t book with guys who used blocked or private numbers (or even worse: payhone calls). I did have a safe call buddy–though we didn’t really have a system for what she would do if I told her I needed help. I would just call her when I got there and give the client’s address in front of him and when I’d be calling back. When I got a bit more experienced, a friend told me to get tons of info about the clients (like a landline number) and to never see a client until I had confirmed his landline corresponded to a real address. I never felt comfortable asking for information from them because I was worried that they would refuse and I’d lose out on the money. Looking back, I could probably have gotten more information from him if I’d had more sweet-talking skills–but I was in a rush and just relied on intuition.

“When it’s intuition, it feels calm and it’s more like a sense of “knowing” than thinking or worry.”

The problem with using intuition was that initially I was paranoid and thought every client was going to be dangerous. But it turned out that when guys were weird, they were just nervous or had bad social skills. So when people told me to rely on my intuition, I didn’t know how to use it! My gut was telling me that everyone was dangerous–and while some were cheats or pushy–they weren’t dangerous. This is where knowing other escorts is amazing. Because then I asked another woman who described to me the difference between how nervousness feels and how “knowing something is right or wrong” feels. Here’s how she put it to me: when you’re nervous, it feels fluttery and high in your belly. When it’s intuition, it feels calm and it’s more like a sense of “knowing” than thinking or worry. Intuition is when you just know in your body, not your mind. There is no question. that’s been helpful.

-Anonymous

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When contacted by a client I ask them (on my site) to “introduce themselves” – this means saying something beyond just asking me when I’m free to meet etc. The more  info I have about them (hobbies, interests, reasons for seeing an escort, whatever) gives me more information to intuit whether or not they’re real/can be trusted. If I’m unsure, I will ask them to call me and we’ll have a brief chat on the phone. In past history this has worked fine. So after exchanging emails we’ll book a date and time. I give them my cell phone and the incall address, and ask them to call about 5-10mins before arriving. When they call (no blocked/private numbers) I give them the instructions for entering the building and the condo apartment number. If it’s a new client I also always check through the peephole briefly – to check for multiple guys, or cops, or my past stalker, just to help make myself feel a little more at ease. I don’t use a safe caller for incalls but I share space with 8+ other girls who are in and out of the condo during the day for their calls.

I never respond to clients who write to me using one-liners, who use acronyms for sexual services, or ask me for things that are listed blatantly on my site as things I don’t offer. I also don’t respond if I feel a client is crossing a line that makes me feel immediately unsafe for example, if it’s a woman client writing and she asks if her boyfriend can be there “just to sit and watch”, or a male client asks to take photos.

Outcalls

I don’t see clients in their private residences. The exceptions to this are when the client is a regular of a friend of mine, and they’ve given him a good reference. I also take their full name, phone number and address, and use a safety caller (every single time).

I do book hotels for day rates, sleepovers and also visit clients in their hotel rooms. If the latter, I ask for their first and last name and I will call the hotel once I have the room number. When I am put through to their room, I hang up.

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Some Tips on Being an Effective Safe Call:

I’m both an escort and someone who is the Safe Call for my friends. Here’s a bit about what I do to be a good safe call.

-First I don’t agree to be a safe call unless I can be sure that I could drop what I’m doing and actually deal with it if something comes up. eg will I be on the subway going somewhere and unable to get texts?

-I have a conversation beforehand about what my friend would want me to do if there is a problem. For example:

-Do they want to use a code phrase or word to signal that there’s trouble?

-If I don’t hear from them at the end of the session, how long should I wait before going into our emergency plan?

-Would they want me come bang on the door and get them?

-Would they want me to call the police? If so, when?

-What do they want/not want me to say to the cops?

-Do they want me to just be a support afterward if something happens?

-I’m prepared to roll with it if something goes wrong and they are hurt or upset, to offer resources, show up, just generally offer whatever kind of support might be needed even though my friend can’t always predict what they might need.

-I make sure my phone ringer is on & I’ll be able to hear it & answer immediately (eg no leaving it in my room while I take a long shower)

-I don’t accidentally fall asleep if my friend needs a safe call late at night

-I ask where they are (address, hotel room number), name of the client they’re seeing and a contact for the client if they have it, how long the session is/when I should expect to hear back from them.

-I set an alarm to remind me about when I am supposed to hear from them telling me that everything is fine. I have to use an alarm because there’s no way I would remember otherwise.

-If I don’t hear from my friend, I would start with a text a few minutes after they were supposed to contact me. (“hey, is everything cool?”) If i don’t hear back in a few minutes I’d call my friend. I know that it’s very likely no big deal and that the call has just run a bit longer but it’s my job to double check.

-Sometimes get slack and forget to treat the Safe Call seriously. I have to remind myself occasionally that I am my friend’s 911 emergency call and someday something could go wrong–so remember to turn my phone ringer on!!

As an escort, I also have responsibilities to my safe call buddy too!”  

-I prefer to have other escorts be my safe calls if possible. which is in part because of the next point…

-Part of being a safe call is friendship/emotional support. That means responding when my friend texts me about how work is going (eg being asked for something particularly hilarious) because that reduces isolation. It can be so boring working alone all day!

-As an escort, I also have responsibilities to my safe call buddy too! For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to call or text my friend that the appointment has started or ended. Then I end up with 7 texts/missed calls from my buddy asking ARE YOU OK?? This sets a dangerous precedent that if I don’t follow through to get back to them at a specific time, it just means I have forgotten so nothing is wrong. If your friend isn’t following through on their protocol for checking in, let them know that it might mean you won’t know when it’s serious. What can they do to help them remember to call or text? (I started leaving a note on the table where I’d see it at the end of the session with a reminder: “CALL SO-AND-SO”)

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Quick Tips

I don’t personally state *all* my boundaries up front (eg whether I kiss) because some of them depend on the client. I worry about losing the client and I’ve found them to be more open to listening to me once they’ve paid their money and I’m sliding all over them. I know it’s risky that they’ll be upset not to be getting something they expected but so far it’s gone fine and we can always work something out. If I end up kissing or something else and wasn’t planning to, it’s not the end of the world. I can live with that.

Sometimes the cops will get on trans women’s cases claiming that the client called in reporting that she is HIV positive. Obviously the cop got info from someone (not a client). Just deny and lie. I just told my friends the new laws about HIV nondisclosure so they could try to be as careful as possible about not getting busted.

Definitely my favourite buddy system is working with someone else. A friend and I will often rent a hotel room together and trade off who gets the room as we each get clients. Even though they may be in the lobby or off having dinner while I see my client, I know they are very close by if something goes wrong and will be coming back to the room and that makes me feel a lot more safe.

I call a friend before I see someone to give her my client’s name and other information–but I never do it in front of the client. When he arrives I want him to feel like it’s a date and be relaxed and only thinking about me and a good time.

I don’t go out to motels, only hotels–because motels sometimes won’t ask the guy for any ID or a credit card. That means he can check in totally anonymous and I’m not as safe. So for me, major hotels only.

I only ever give the guy the address (by text usually) when they are on their way to see me. Before that, I just give the nearest intersection. I want to know that they’re really coming and if not, there would be double the amount of people who have my address if I gave it to them earlier. It makes me feel way safer when we’re in my home and they can see that other people live here with me. I look around my room to make sure that my wallet, ID, letters and wedding ring are hidden. I also never leave them alone in my room. I make sure I’ve gone to the bathroom before they get there and I don’t leave once they arrive.

I usually keep on my lobby channel so when I walk them into my apartment they know that they have been filmed. Or do the buddy system, pretending I’m calling someone so they know someone knows where I am. I keep a reference with a phone number. I try to stay away from unknown/blocked/Private numbers.

Using humour to relax him is really important while I get all my screening information. I keep it light and fun and tell him how excited I am to see him. This lets me get all kinds of information out of him including his place of work and business phone number and references from two other known providers. I make sure these providers are legitimate and actually call them to ensure they really did see my potential client.

I’ve learned to nip things in the bud in the very beginning. You gotta let them know right away how it’s going to go and who’s in charge, even if it’s all with a smile in your voice over the phone. So that means in the my screening, I’m clear about my boundaries and expectations and state them up front. At first I was really uncomfortable doing this but it’s given me alot more confidence dealing with men in my life (especially huge tall ones). I’m not intimidated anymore because I know I can still be in control with them.

Find out about the police in your area! Some cities don’t have “vice squads” or don’t tend to bust escorts. But sometimes police departments in the very next suburb will set up elaborate stings to catch escorts and massage parlours. This is especially a problem if they also get someone on a drug charge because then they have alot of leverage to force the sex worker to give up names of who she works with. Is your city or suburb changing and becoming more expensive and white? These things usually go along with more intense policing. So think about that and take care if you want to pump up your business by working in other parts of your city (eg near the airport, in a nearby city) to find out about local policing practices.

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I was so nervous when I started working that I know I lost work because they clients could hear it when they called to book an appointment. I developed a little list of things I needed to say and practiced it with friends so I wouldn’t sound so nervous! I’ve really had to refine my screening conversation over the years.

I do what I call “passive screening”. I only ask the client for his name–but I will google his name, number and email as well as punch it into an online bad date list that I’m a part of in Toronto (called The No List through Maggie’s). He doesn’t know I’m checking up on him but at least I know if he’s been reported. The other side of that is that I report all my time wasters and bad dates to the No List as well.

It’s so easy for me to be in the moment with someone but for some guys they can’t handle being close to you then not. I had a client who became a friend and lover but became obsessed. I cut him off but he stayed as a client for 2 more sessions. For trips, negotiate sex twice per day and then make them feel special by surprising them with an extra full service will blow job. Then they think they’re the king.

If you want to work out of your own home, have a cover story ready and practice it with a friend. “Yeah I do Reiki from home”. Whatever. Just come up with something and stick with it. Say you run a small consultancy and see clients at your home. You can also say some of your clients are in hospitality so they have to meet after hours. Also say that you are a therapist who deals with men with sexual dysfunction so that’s why all your clients are men or that you sell sex toys.

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My rules

Rule #1: get the money up front, every time, no exceptions just because he seems nice and has already paid for the first hour (or whatever service)

Rule #2: no blocked, private or payphone calls. Ever. At best these guys are timewasters. At worst, dangerous.

I’m a sex worker in Melbourne, Australia. I always work with a driver, and depending on how safe I feel, they will either sit in the car and wait for me and come knocking on the door if I don’t ring by the right time, or will in fact come to the door to collect the money and then collect me at the end.

-Australia

I hear this alot from other sex workers: stay calm. So for example, a friend of mine was telling me about how she picked up a date on the corner and went to his house. They were standing in his kitchen discussing the service and price but they weren’t agreeing on it and he got angry. At the exact same moment, they both happened to look down at the kitchen counter where a large knife rack was sitting. She said she felt a chill, like they both knew that he had thought about using one of the knives on her. So she played it cool, flirted with him and told him to go get the lube. When he went into his bedroom, she ran out the door. He chased her but she got away.

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Overcoming Objection
(to screening questions)

When a client raises an objection to your screening policy these are responses you can use to overcome those objections:

I completely understand your desire for privacy and safety. I feel the same way. I can assure you that I have taken every stap to make sure your information is safe. My computer is set up to clear its browsing history every hour so no record of the search will be attainable on my computer. I use the best possible encryption software on the market. Your safety and privacy is very important to me.

It is important for you and I to establish a bond of trust prior to meeting so that we both feel safe, and so during our time together we both feel free to express ourselves openly and honestly.

Both security and privacy are important for us to establish a safe, open and honest dialogue. I’m an entirely independent practitioner and it’s necessary for my safety and security  to verify everyone with whom I may meet.

Ask them if they can think of another way they can be screened. If you are comfortable with their suggestion then proceed. If you are not then suggest that they try another provider and thank them and say goodbye.

—Donia Christine

Super-star-sidekick and business muse specializing in professional development for Sexperts. http://www.doniachristine.com

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Excerpt from MANAGING SEX WORK: INFORMATION FOR THIRD PARTIES AND SEX WORKERS IN THE  INCALL AND OUTCALL SECTORS OF THE SEX INDUSTRY. 

[note this includes info on working with agencies and receptionists, called “third parties”]

Screening Clients

Screening is a process that sex workers and third parties use to determine whether someone is a desirable client (e.g., if they are respectful, pay upfront and in-full) or to be avoided (e.g., if they are potentially violent or undercover law enforcement).

“The lack of client information is difficult because you don’t know what the client is looking for. You just get a name. One agency that was incall and outcall used to give a name and a room number, and eventually, it was just a room number. Half the time, I never even knew I was seeing someone who saw me before.” 

Lee, incall/outcall sex worker, Toronto

Two aspects of screening are: 

Acquiring legitimate information from a client (e.g., phone number, full name, or a reference from another sex worker).

Talking with the client to find out what they are like, what service they want and what they are willing to pay.When third parties schedule appointments, they may be the first person to be in contact with a client. Third parties and sex workers use different methods of screening at different points in their interaction with a client. Sex workers that have particular screening strategies may want to communicate these to the person doing their scheduling.

Screening extensively can mean:

evaluating if the client is drunk or high.

keeping a list of barred and restricted clients that, for example, do not respect a worker’s boundaries (e.g., taking off a condom during a service) and individuals who are violent or disrespectful.

knowing and communicating a client’s interests to the sex worker (e.g., special service, costume or clothing).

keeping track of bad matches between clients and workers.

getting legitimate information from clients and, if possible, a reference from another sex worker.

Legitimate information can mean: a phone number to call back and confirm, a reference from another sex worker, a full name or work contact information.

being familiar with the pay phone in the area for phone number recognition during two-call systems for screening.

knowing who and how many people are meant to be with the  client when the sex worker arrives (e.g., couples or groups).

keeping up to date with “Bad Date” bulletins from sex worker organizations and warning messages from private message boards.

A Two call system is a system of screening that asks clients to call twice for incall — to obtain the location of an incall, the client must call a first time to receive directions and parking instructions, and then call a second time when they are at the establishment — and within visual sight — to obtain the specific address, apartment or hotel room number.

Legal Considerations for Screening:

Third parties and sex workers also use screening to avoid law enforcement or police that may pose as clients. To do this they:

refuse to book appointments with someone who asks too many questions about the agency or business.

get references from another agency or sex worker.

refuse calls from blocked or untraceable numbers.

Safe (Phone) Calls

“I go through a number of different safety aspects and I tell them [sex workers] what to do under certain circumstances.”

Beatrice, outcall agency owner, Toronto

Safe calls are check-in phone calls between a sex worker and someone who is providing security and protection (e.g., an owner, manager, receptionist, driver and security). Safe calls can happen at various points during an appointment and are often accompanied with pre-determined code words between third parties and sex workers.

When using safe calls third parties and sex workers:

use safe calls at two moments during an appointment — when the sex worker arrives, and when they are about to leave, or just after they have left. This ensures the third party knows where the sex worker is and can respond quickly if there is an issue.

establish a code word between the third party and the sex worker to indicate a problem with the client that needs to be addressed immediately.

train sex workers in exit strategies (e.g., go to the washroom and say you are not feeling too well and must leave).

trust a sex worker’s initial assessment: there should be no repercussions if the worker uses an exit strategy (e.g., fines or driver fees).

have a driver wait nearby so that the sex worker has someone to physically respond to a situation if necessary.

ensure drivers and third parties answer their phone if a sex worker calls from an appointment.

the full booklet is available here: http://www.socialsciences.uottawa.ca/gis-msi/eng/publications.asp

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Safety & security while you are working

by St James Infirmary Staff

Sources: L. Synn Stern, Tricks of the Trade: Reducing Risks for Sex Workers; Multnomah County Health Department, Occupational Safety in Adult Entertainment for a Healthy Community; Home Alive, Sex Worker Resource Guide

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Quick Safety Tips for all workers

Trust your intuition. If you sense something “off”, walk away!

Know your coworkers /neighborhood.

Have a support system and people to talk to if something does happen.

Know where you can get medical care (emergency and ongoing care).

Use your own equipment (condoms, lube, sex toys, domination gear, etc.).

Negotiate prices and services in advance.

Educate yourself on safe “dating”, domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, and self defense.

Know where to get services and support in your working area.

Pick your own parking spots, hotels, or other work areas and become familiar with your surroundings.

Be aware of exits and avoid letting your customer block access to those exits.

Be aware of where your client is at all times, as much as possible.

Don’t blame yourself if something happens.

Dressing for Safety

Shoes should come off easily or be appropriate for running.

Long earrings or big hoops may get pulled accidentally or intentionally. Wear small earrings, clip-ons, or none at all.

Avoid necklaces, scarves, across-the-body shoulder bags, or anything else that can accidentally or intentionally be tightened around your throat.

Wigs should fit so that they can’t slip and cover the face.

Wear clothing that doesn’t have to be removed to fuck or can come off and on easily and quickly. This saves time— and if there’s a problem you won’t lose your clothing when you run away.

Clothing should be “straitjacket-proof.” A half-zipped or buttoned jacket can be pulled over shoulders to trap arms.

Wear nothing that can get caught in or on car doors, like loose bracelets, billowing dresses or long coats with dangling, attached belts.

Make yourself noticeable/attractive to customers, and ensure that you can see them as well—if you need glasses or contact lenses, wear them.

Always act calm and stay secure

Negotiate with Customers before going 

to work

Have a price list and stick to it—decide in advance what you are and are not willing to do.

Have a time limit for each service—if a customer can’t come within a reasonable period he’s costing you money by preventing you from seeing other customers. His failure to get off may also make him agitated or violent.

Have an ample supply of condoms, lube, napkins, hand-sanitizers, wipes, and Band-Aids.

Be willing to turn down particular customers, particular requests, and payment offers that are below your standards.

Use some mentholated salve (the kind used for chapped lips or colds) inside your nostril—you’ll smell the customer less when you give head and you’ll not sniffle so much if you’re in withdrawals.

Working Out of Cars

Approach the driver’s window, keeping enough distance to avoid being grabbed, assaulted with spit or spray paint, or pleasing “window shoppers.”

Study the customer, the car, and the door-lock system.

Circle car completely before entering so you’re clear on how many passengers are in the car—and take the license plate number or pretend to. If you can, text-message all license plates to a safe person.

Arrange price, service and location outside the car.

Circle car completely before entering so you’re clear on how many passengers are in the car—and take the license plate number or pretend to. If you can, text-message all license plates to a safe person.

Arrange price, service and location outside the car.

Wave good-bye to work partner (or pretend to) and shout expected return time.

Before you get in, make sure the passenger-side door can open from the inside—if not, DON’T get into the car!

Before you close your door, check the back seat or rear cab of a truck for anyone else that may be hiding. If you see a blanket, lift it up and check underneath!

Get a good look at the customer and the car; it’s still not too late to back out—if he’s drunker than you thought, you see a weapon under his seat, or you get a creepy feeling, get out immediately!

Let him see you stash his payment, and keep it separate from the rest of your money—if he tries to rob you maybe he won’t find your whole bankroll.

If you carry a purse, put it where you can find it without looking (in an open space on the floor between your feet).

Act in control and keep your eyes on him, and his hands, at all times.

Don’t let him get between you and the exit.

Once parked, keep door open a crack if he lets you.

Be aware

Do not carry a weapon that can be taken away from you and used against you. If you are threatened or being attacked, use your voice.

Make a lot of noise. Scream! Turn on the car lights. Hit the horn. Try to get the door open, attack and run. Attack soft areas, such as throat, eyes, Adam’s apple, nose, testicles. Kick shins, stamp on instep; poke with fingers, nails, keys, spray hairspray in his face. Do not let him restrain you; if you see rope, handcuffs or bindings, fight like hell! Break a strangle hold by joining hands, and swinging your arms up against him while simultaneously moving your body down and away. Run against traffic, and toward lights and people.

Telephone privacy: remember 

to dial *67 to block your number before you enter the rest of the telephone  number you’re calling.

Have Community

Having a community is important for Sex Workers. We are subject to isolation, and isolation makes the job harder. Isolation can even kill. Having someone to talk to about all the bizarre, funny and insane things of the job will make life easier. You will enjoy your work more, and have someone to trust when you need to talk about the important things. Try sharing your dates with another Sex Worker. The wealth shared can go both ways. If you can’t speak out in general about your job, try to have at least one person you trust to talk to about your work and experiences.

Security & Self Defense

Working through the Internet is a relatively safe way of doing sex work. Nonetheless, physical assault, rape and theft do occasionally happen to escorts. It is extremely helpful to take physical self-defense courses. They’re offered in most cities, especially through college campus clubs and women’s groups. If you’re traveling for work, it’s ideal to tour with a fellow worker and share hotel rooms or at least have separate rooms in the same hotel.While working in hotels, don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Whatever hotel you’re staying at, dress as the average hotel patron would dress. Don’t leave clients loitering in the hallways or lobbies while you do last-minute touch ups to your makeup. Don’t discuss business with your friends in the lobby or common areas of the hotel and don’t answer your work phone in those areas either. Use common sense!

Your Safety: Screening Clients

There are a few simple screening methods that are common among most escorts. None of these methods guarantee anything to you, but they at least help you evaluate clients before meeting them:

Require a reference from at least one verifiable provider; this is the simplest method of screening.

Require the person’s full legal name and professional information including company name, title and main number of the company where he can be reached. Call and ask for him, say you’re “Emily from Dr. Brown’s office calling about a personal matter.” Verify that he’s actually employed there by ringing through to his desk.

Require full name and registered landline phone number from your clients. Use Intellius.com or whitepages.com to run a reverse phone look up. Verify that his name matches the registration.

copyright, St James Infirmary 2010 3rd edition. full copy available at: stjamesinfirmary.org

2 thoughts on “web version–We Got This! Safe Calls, Screening and Buddy Systems for Sex Workers

  1. Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

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