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).

If you feel your safety and wellbeing has been compromised with a client, you can sign up to NUM online for free.

As a member you can:

  • Get email alerts about incidents in the area/dodgy punters.
  • Use the email and telephone checker to see if your client has ever been reported.
  • Report an incident. We can support you with this if you need.

Safer working.

On the street:

  • Know the area you are working well. Important landmarks like police stations, shops and pubs will give you somewhere public to go if you are in danger.
  • Let someone know the route you’re planning and make a safety plan with them in case you are in trouble.
  • Never work in areas you don’t know. If you are going to a new area, familiarise yourself with the surroundings before you start working.
  • Try to work near a busy road and stay on the same side as oncoming traffic.
  • Try to work in well-lit areas but be mindful of policing activity, residents, and other workers.
  • Look out for new street workers and support each other.

In a vehicle:

  • Try working with someone else so they can write down the car registration and look out for you. Let the client know you are doing this.
  • If working with other people, agree a sign with them you can all use if you aren’t happy with a client to help you leave the situation.
  • Look for potential weapons in the car or signs that the vehicle may not be safe.
  • Check how many people are in the vehicle before getting in and make sure you are happy with the situation before getting in.
  • Arrange services, price and location outside the car where possible and try to lead with where you want to go. If the client suggests somewhere else, only agree if you are happy to work from that place.
  • Get paid first and put this money in a different place to other money.
  • Ask the driver to keep your window wound down so you can still escape if the car is locked.
  • In two door cars, insist on staying in the front seats.
  • Keep on as much clothing as possible in case you need to leave quickly.

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 – your address, the street name.
    3. Follow their instructions and try to stay calm.
    4. Await the emergency services arrival.

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 “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.

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, Transgender.

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. They also have advice and information for sex workers who are affected by Revenge Porn:  Support for sex workers | Revenge Porn Helpline

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:

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


What is exploitation?

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

This could include:

  • 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 or tricking someone.

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.

Other safety information. is a website set up by and for independent sex workers. Have a look for safety tips from people with experience of working in the sex industry.