Safety & NUM

We are here for support, advice or advocacy if you experience any form of violence, abuse or harassment. We can offer advice on safer working – such as safety planning, negotiation and boundaries with clients.

National Ugly Mugs (NUM) – 3rd party reporting and alert schemes.

Any sex worker or escort agency can sign up to NUM online (you can use your working name) for free.

As a member you can:

  • Get email alerts about incidents in the area where you are working.
  • Use the email and number checker to check if your client has been reported before.
  • Report an incident and get support.

You can also contact us if you would like support, advice or help with making a report after an incident.

Other alert and reporting schemes.

Client Eye is app designed by workers in the sex industry for sex workers to share and check for alerts about dangerous clients and time wasters.

Check out the Beyond the Gaze Project website for more tips from sex workers:

Making the booking.

  • Try to speak to your client on the phone: You can tell more about a person by talking to them (don’t rely just on text / email).
  • Screen your clients: Run your client’s number or email through National Ugly Mugs and ClientEye number (email phone number checking services).
  • Set Boundaries: Find out what they expect from you. Make it clear what you will / won’t do before you agree to go.

Clients and your privacy.

  • Hide evidence of anything personal (e.g. photos, bills, letters) if you are working from home.
  • Have a separate work phone and private phone.
  • Make sure that you cannot be traced through social media.
    • If you have a personal Facebook account, check your privacy settings so that punters can’t find out your private details
    • Don’t allow clients to friend you on personal pages
    • Be strict about who can “friend” you or access your personal profiles
    • Remember personal profiles can give people access to your friends and family
  • Is your face or a distinctive tattoo on your professional profile? It may be possible to trace your personal profiles and information about you through image search and facial recognition apps
  • Personal social media profiles:
    • Avoid putting a photo of you in your profile picture.
    • Remember that apps such as WhatsApp will show your profile photo. If you use WhatsApp with clients, make sure your profile photo is not a personal one.

The Beyond the Gaze Project has more information about online privacy and preventing others from using your images

Incalls and safety.

Before your client arrives:

  • Don’t give out the full address – ask your client to contact you when outside.
  • If you can, get a look at him through a window / in a public space before giving out your flat or room number.
  • Plan what you will do if things go wrong. Plan escape routes and who you will call / where you could run to.
  • A hidden emergency phone and clothes or shoes that you can put on quickly close to the door could be useful if you need help or must escape.

In your workspace:

  • Personal safety alarms / panic buttons or a security camera help keep you safer.
  • Mirrors in the room / hallways and can help you keep a better eye on clients.
  • Don’t leave personal things out (photos / papers).
  • It is safer to work with someone else – but the law makes this difficult if they are also selling sexual services.
  • What is in the room? Is there anything that could be used as a weapon against you? If so – keep it out of site.

When your client arrives:

  • Take ALL the money up front.
  • Remind him what you agreed when he made the booking (what service, how long, price).
  • Don’t let him see where you put your money.
  • Split up your money and hide it in different places – so if someone robs you, they won’t get all of it.

During the service:

  • Staying in control: Services or positions where you can keep arms or legs free are safest (on top / above if involves penetration or giving oral sex).
  • BDSM services: Whether you are dom or sub use “safe” words and research / before you try. It’s best to avoid being tightly bound / gagged etc. unless you work with a “buddy”.
  • You have the right to change your mind.
  • If you want to get rid of someone safely, sometimes it may be safer to give them all or some of their money back.

Beyond the Gaze has more information about safer working and problems when working from home or rented accommodation.

Outcalls and safety.

Tracing systems

  • Where possible, find a “buddy” let them know where you are, who you are with and what time you expect to arrive and finish the service.
  • If you don’t have a buddy, you could contact us at SWOP for further advice.
  • Ask your buddy or driver to call to check on you at an agreed time
  • Make sure you and our “buddy” are both clear about what should happen if they don’t hear back from you at the agreed time:
    • What do you want them to do?
    • Are you happy for them to call the police if they think you are in danger?
    • You could agree a “safe” word or phrase so that you can discreetly let them know you are in trouble
  • There are a number of SOS apps that you can add to your smart phone.
  • A “find my phone app” can be a way of tracing where you are if things go wrong. You could give log in details to your “buddy” BUT only allow this if your work phone is separate to your personal phone and your Buddy is someone you trust.  Make sure you have control over changing log-in details.

Check out Beyond the Gaze for Buddying, Mobile phone tips and Emergency Help Messages

When you meet your client:

  • Take ALL the money up front.
  • Remind him what you agreed when he made the booking (what service, how long, price).
  • Don’t let him see where you put your money.
  • Split up your money and hide it in different places – so if someone robs you, they won’t get all of it.

During the service:

  • Staying in control: Services or positions where you can keep arms or legs free are safest (on top / above if involves penetration or giving oral sex).
  • BDSM services: Whether you are dom or sub use “safe” words and research / before you try. It’s best to avoid being tightly bound / gagged etc. unless you work with a “buddy”.
  • You have the right to change your mind.
  • If you want to get rid of someone safely, sometimes it may be safer to give them all or some of their money back.

Transport and Environment

  • Try to arrange your own transport – it will put you more in control.
  • Are you going out to someone else’s home? An outdoor space? A car? & How will you get there and back? :  If you are taking public transport, keep a note of bus/train times and routes and work out if you can get away in a hurry. Try to keep money aside for an emergency taxi if you need it.
  • Do you know the area you are going to? Looking for “safe places” (pubs, shops) and a map of the area before going out will make it easier to get away if you need to
  • Car meets are less safe and can make your situation more vulnerable:
    • you could be taken somewhere you do not want to go
    • you are dependent on your client to get you home
  • If you do car meets then send text or photo of number plate to a “buddy”. Make it clear to your client that someone knows who you are with and has their registration details.
  • Be aware of your “comfort zones”. If it does not feel right, trust your instincts and leave.
  • You have the right to change your mind.
  • Pre plan excuses you can make in case you want to leave.

Travelling and going abroad with clients

  • Put a really clear safety plan in place.
  • Before you agree to go, make sure you are both very clear about what is expected. (payment, how much time you spend with each other, transport and other costs, sleeping arrangements, who else will be there).  If you’re not 100% happy, don’t go.
  • Make sure they are clear that this is a professional arrangement: Paying for a trip should not give them rights over you. You have the right to leave at any point.
  • Insist on having copies of all the booking details of where you are staying and share these with a “buddy”. Keep your “buddy” updated about where you are.
  • You may want to make your own arrangements to protect your privacy. If your client books your ticket, he will need your personal details.
  • Insist on keeping your own plane/ train ticket.
  • Never let anyone else hold your passport
  • Make sure you have a credit card or enough money aside to get you home if you need to leave.
  • Research local transport to check you can get away on your own if you need to. Remember public transport (including taxi services) may be limited in rural areas.
  • Keep a list of emergency contact numbers, including numbers for local emergency services.

Check out Beyond the Gaze for safety information for outcalls and agency escorting

If things go wrong: getting help.

In an emergency dial 999.

  1. On the phone, tell the operator if you want the police, ambulance, or fire brigade.
  2. Tell them where you are (address, the street name).
  3. Follow their instructions and try to stay calm.

Reporting Options.

If you are not in immediate danger and decide that you would like to report to the police:

Third party reporting options if you do not want to report to police:

  • You can report direct to National Ugly Mugs (or to us at SWOP).
  • With your consent, information about the incident your attacker can be shared with the police, keeping you anonymous.

Rape and sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact (including touching or forcing you to perform a sexual act on someone else).

Rape is any unwanted sexual act that involves penetration with a body part or object.

  • It is never your fault. It is never just “a hazard of the job”.
  • Paying for sex does not entitle someone to do what they want to you, nor does it entitle someone to make you perform any sexual act / service you are not comfortable with.
  • Being married or in a relationship does not entitle someone to make you do any sexual act you are not comfortable with.
  • You always have the right to change your mind and withdraw consent at any time.

Getting help and support:

  • Contact us – SWOP can offer emotional support, link you in with specialist services for ongoing support or healthcare (including sexual health concerns) or reporting.
  • Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC)The Saturn Centre can offer support  to people across Sussex. They have a 24 hour helpline. They will not insist you speak to the police, but can take medical evidence in case you would like to report and make a statement in the future.
  • The Portal – the gateway service for people in Brighton & East Sussex affected by sexual or domestic violence.
  • Trans Survivors Helpline – a national service for trans and non-binary people affected by rape and sexual abuse.

Hate crimes.

Hate crime is an attack on a person motivated by a hostility based on five protected characteristics; Disability, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Gender.

Below are some definitions of hate crimes; if you feel like you are a victim of one or more of these and would like help finding out more about how to deal with it, contact us and we can support you.

  • Whorephobia: hatred, discrimination and prejudice against sex workers.
  • Racism: hatred, discrimination and prejudice against someone of a particular race.
  • Transphobia: hatred, discrimination and prejudice against transgender individuals.
  • Homophobia: hatred, discrimination and prejudice against those who identify as gay.
  • Sexism: hatred, discrimination and prejudice against someone of the opposite sex.

Revenge porn.

Revenge Porn is the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent.

  • Visit the Revenge Porn Helpline website to find out more about whether you could be a victim of revenge porn. The website will also give you advice about what you can do in terms of reporting and getting support.
  • You could also contact us for support if you have been affected by revenge porn.

Stalking and harassment.

If you feel pestered, harassed or under threat of violence by someone following you or contacting you, you may be being stalked. Stalking can be online, by phone / text, following you or turning up at your home or work.

Getting help and support:

  • Contact us for support or advice
  • VERITAS offer advice and advocacy for people in Sussex affected by stalking
  • National Stalking Helpline: 08088020300

Exploitation.

What is exploitation?

This can involve someone who persuading, threatening or intimidating someone in to doing things they are unhappy with for their own personal gain.

A person can be exploited by a stranger, a partner or a family member.

  • Making you fear violence to you or loved ones.
  • Making threats to “out” you as a sex worker to family or friends.
  • Withholding your medication, drugs, money or passport.
  • Persuading you by deceiving you in some way.

There are different kinds of exploitation:

  • Financial or material
    Someone taking advantage of a person and forcing them give them their money, medication other possessions.
  • Cuckooing
    When someone has tricked you or forced you in to letting them live in your home or to use your home for illegal activities such as drug dealing, cutting drugs or to run brothel.
  • Sexual exploitation
    Someone forcing or coercing (tricking) you to do any sexual act and making money from this. They may be not paying you or taking all or most of your earnings. This usually involves taking away your control and choices about what sex you are having, what customers you see, if they or making you feel you have no choice about what services you provide.
  • If someone is persuading you into a sexual act by threatening you with homelessness or threatening you to sack you from a job, this is also sexual exploitation.
  • Modern Slavery
    This is when you are being forced to do any form of work without payment, this could include being forced to perform sexual services, but could be forced work in any industry.
  • Human Trafficking
    This is when you have been forced or tricked into any form of labour and you have been brought into the UK from another country OR you have been forced to travel around any area in the UK in order to do this.

Getting support or advice.

At SWOP we can listen to your concerns, support and advise you of options to make your situation safer and link you in with other services who can help, including access to a safe house or refuge.

Contact us – call, text, WhatsApp or email our professional, friendly female staff.

Other organisations that can help.

Safety advice from other sex workers.