How to respond sensitively to women’s safety needs
Have a non-judgemental approach – be clear that being involved in selling or exchanging sex in no way justifies any abuse or violence she has experienced in the past or present.
Recognise that women have developed and already use a variety of coping strategies and tools so encourage her to identify and build on those.
Ensure that women are aware of their rights – let her know she has a right to report abuse and violence if she chooses to but avoid putting pressure on her to report. Give them enough information so she can make a decision about what feels best for her. Organisations like the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid can help explain justice processes.
Have an open conversation about mitigating risks and help her create a safety plan – if a woman discloses she sells sex, support her to consider potential risks and any harm reduction strategies she could use. It is important to allow the woman to identify these based on her own resources and circumstances. She can use the above leaflets and tips for her own safety planning.
Consider suggesting women to use apps which other women have found useful to report or record abusive behaviour - the National Ugly Mugs and Client Eye can be used to report buyers/ client’s behaviour. The FollowItApp can be used to record instances of stalking and Hollie Guard is a free personal safety app.
Inform women of specialist support services in Scotland and check if they would like any information or guidance – Encompass is a network of organisations that offer non-judgemental support for women who sell or exchange sex.
Visit our safety resources page to find more information about things you can do to improve how you respond to women.
CSE Aware is a project from the Women’s Support Project developed alongside other agencies and the Encompass Network. The work is funded by the Scottish Government through Delivering Equally Safe.