Myth: Sex Workers are Never Abused

From the “Women’s Aid” website.

We have listed some warning signs below to help you make sense of your situation. Any one of the following signs is serious. You do not need to experience several, or all of them for your relationship to be abusive

  • You are afraid of your partner.

Sex workers are afraid of Ruhama and “Turn off the Red Light” on many levels. The most obvious being because Ruhama and “Turn off the Red Light” are so determined to impose unwanted control and damage upon their lives and there does not seem to be a way to get anyone to listen and try to moderate them. Making Ruhama and “Turn off the Red Light” listen directly was given up as a lost cause long ago. They actively refuse to engage and isolate themselves from anyone who does not agree with them, particularly the vast majority of sex workers.

On another level Sex Workers are afraid of Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” because they continually assert their alliance with the same tabloid journalists who make a living out of stalking, invading the privacy of and inciting hatred towards sex workers.

Out on the street sex workers fear the Ruhama van that stops them earning a living until it is gone. 

  • You are constantly ‘walking on eggshells’ because of his mood swings.
  • You spend your time working out what kind of mood he is in and the focus is always on his needs.

If you are a sex worker and need help of any kind from Ruhama or a “Turn Off the Red Light” affiliate you must literally “walk on eggshells” trying to pretend to be whatever they want you to pretend to be and say only what they want you to say.

  • Your partner has been abusive in a previous relationship.

Many sex workers have already suffered serious abuse at the hands of Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light”, but beyond that, Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” were founded and are controlled by the same orders that ran the Magdalene Laundries and still refuse compensation or even proper apology to their victims .

  • He criticises your family and friends and/or makes it difficult for you to see them or talk to them on your own.

Anyone who supports sex workers in seeking the full decriminalisation that they want, because they know from experience this is best and safest for all is accused of being a “pimp” or part of the “pro sex work lobby”. Anyone who provides any of the support or advertising services that help sex workers maximise their potential and work safely are called “organised crime”, and any sex worker who “exits” through Ruhama or a “Turn Off the Red Light” affiliate is discouraged from maintaining personal ties to anyone in the sex industry or anyone outside it who opposes “Turn Off the Red Light” and/or Ruhama.

  • He calls you names and threatens you and/or your children.
  • He regularly criticises or undermines you in front of other people – including about the way you look, dress, and/or your abilities as a mother.

Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” insist on referring to sex workers as “prostituted women” a degrading and inappropriate term that sex workers find incredibly insulting. They also insist that sex workers are ill educated and ignorant, when nothing could be further from the truth.

They insist that sex workers are all stupid enough to give most of their money to pimps when, in reality, that hardly ever happens at all.

They routinely refer to sex workers as being in need of supervised care and sheltered accommodation as though they were mentally defective.

They insist that sex workers are likely to turn to appalling crimes like drug trafficking unless contained and controlled.

They base their entire ethos on the assumption that sex workers are incapable of insight, awareness and informed adult consent.

  • Your needs are not considered important or are ignored, and he makes the decisions in the relationship.

“Turn Off the Red Light” and Ruhama have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid open discussion with sex workers and to prevent sex workers speaking for themselves or having any input into decision that only directly affect their lives and families. They had even gone so far as to present complete frauds as speaking for them.

  • He controls your access to basic essentials such as the car, the family finances, food, the telephone and internet.

Ruhama’s submission to the Justice Committees North and South, which is promoted and supported by “Turn Off The Red Light”, is aimed at doing all of the above.

The real aim (and guaranteed effect) of criminalising the purchase of sex is to control sex worker access to any means of support.

They specifically request laws that would give them control over sex workers access to telephones and internet as well as laws which would give them the power to make sex worker homeless upon demand.

  • He has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do.

The whole mission of “Turn Off the Red Light” is to use the destruction of the market their earning depend on  to force sex workers to comply and engage with organisations, like Ruhama, that they are morally opposed to and find deceitful, irrelevant and personally abusive.

  • He has threatened to have you deported because of your immigration status.

Several foreign nationals have allowed themselves to be presented as “victims of coerced trafficking” just because Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light’s” offered that as an option to prosecution and/or deportation when the were in custody, and they were too afraid to say no.

  • He tries to control aspects of your life such as whether you work, and where; who you see and when; what you can spend; what you can wear; what you watch or listen to on the radio or television.

Isn’t that a pretty apt summary of the whole purpose of Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light”? Giving you the freedom to be whoever they tell you to be?

NB: As a rather shocking codicil, Sarah Benson, the CEO of Ruhama last worked as the helpline manager for Women’s Aid…make you wonder, doesn’t it? The good news is that there are 7 other criteria for abuse that Ruhama and “Turn Off the Red Light” do not meet – yet. Perhaps “Women’s Aid” should reconsider their membership of “Turn Off the Red Light” before they do?




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