Sex workers share their top safety tips on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

In light of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Vivastreet surveyed over 250 sex workers to ask about the challenges of their profession, tips to fellow sex workers and the support they need to stay safe.

Sex work, while a profession like any other, can present a unique set of challenges, which means safety is not always a given. Due to the level of victimisation sex workers experience, most of them also choose not to involve the police when a crime takes place in fear of stigmatisation and lack of trust in the system.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was formed in 2003 by a former American sex worker Dr Annie Sprinkle. This day is observed annually on the 17th of December to raise awareness of hate crimes committed against the sex work community and commemorate the lives lost and the need to remove the social stigma contributing to violence against sex workers.

Sex workers and their advocates, friends and family unite during this time to challenge the stigmas, discrimination and criminalisation of sex workers that perpetuate such violence.

What challenges do sex workers face?

When we asked sex workers about some of the challenges they face in their profession, 76% answered their biggest challenge is timewasters. Another 32% deal with price haggling, nearly 25% with clients refusing to use protection and 20% with violent behaviour.


The biggest challenges sex workers face while working


Some sex workers also highlighted challenges such as people asking for free photos with no intention to book, racial abuse from clients, threats and crossing sexual boundaries.

What form of abuse can sex workers experience?

According to our findings, the most common form of abuse sex workers experience is verbal abuse which was experienced by 58% of those who answered. Furthermore, 27% of sex workers experienced physical abuse and over 24% experienced bullying or cyberbullying.


6/10 sex workers will experience verbal abuse


“I was stalked to my house with the client spitting on me, trying to tie me with cable ties and then refusing to leave my home,” said one sex worker, while others mentioned being held up at a knife point or robbed, demanding texts and intimidation.


The types of violence sex workers experience while working


What tip would you give fellow sex workers to stay safe while working?

To stay safe while working, over 22% of sex workers stressed the need to always be careful, look out for red flags and trust your gut. Nearly 15% recommended either telling friends or family about your whereabouts or sharing real-time location and 14% of sex workers said to always use protection.


Sex workers share tips to stay safe while working


Be polite, but firm, put your health before money.


Others also advised:

  • meeting in public places
  • not sharing personal information
  • being clear about the services you offer
  • blacklisting bad clients
  • having a panic alarm
  • avoiding timewasters
  • sticking to regular clients
  • working from a place where you feel safe
  • not accepting intoxicated clients
  • speaking to the client through a video call before meeting them
  • ignoring customers who want bareback
  • avoiding arguments


Don’t take on a job if you think there’s something dodgy, if you think your client is going to put you at risk or any sort of danger. If you don’t want to do something, just say no, and be firm.



Always have someone you trust around. If you’re visiting a client at their house, send someone your real-time location with the customer’s house number for your safety.

What support would sex workers like to stay safe?

According to our findings, over 21% of sex workers would like easy access to health services such as free contraception, STI testing or mental health services. Further 20% would like more support from the police if a crime takes place, action against abusers and a police hotline specifically for sex workers.

Moreover, over 12% of sex workers answered they want clearer legislation around sex work and to allow sex workers to work in groups to enhance their safety.

Other sex workers would appreciate professional support, advice and training on all things sex work from safety to finances as well as educating the public about sex work to eradicate shame and stigma towards the profession.


Awareness that sex workers are professionals like every other and need to be respected.


Sex workers share what support they would like to stay safe


Training to be safe and how to diffuse difficult situations, the power of no, manners and the skills to make good deals.


To enhance the safety of sex workers in the UK, there are leading organisations doing great work. These include:

National Ugly Mugs (NUM) provides specialist non-judgmental support to sex workers in the UK, and facilitates access to resources and justice for victims of crime.

ClientEye allows sex workers to report timewasters, no-shows, nuisance calls, and abusive and dangerous clients.

Changing Lives’ Net Reach Programme offers a variety of support services to those advertising sexual services online.

The right for better protection for sex workers continues. If you’re concerned about your safety, read our articles and advice on how to stay safe as a sex worker in our Sex Worker Safety Hub.

Follow the #IDEVASW hashtag across social media on 17th December for more information about this day.

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