For the General Public: When does sex work become rape?

This post is intended far more for the general public than for those who usually read it.  It is not a post seeking sympathy.  I”m using personal experience to illustrate a point.

Recently I went to work for an outcall escort agency.  The agency does the screening of the clients with the idea being a date is supposed to be safe and not with a police officer.  I drive to meet the client, get there, get the money everything seems fine.  The session is 1 hour or 1 climax whichever comes first.  Rules are preset about how far I am willing to go.  First he want’s a massage.  Then oral sex.   Only he isn’t able to get the response from his body that he is hoping for.  This goes on, and on, until my jaw is literally locking.  Finally he pulled away and I made the comment that maybe this just wasn’t working.  He disagreed said he knew it could work and said he just needed a drink to relax.  Asked me if I wanted one?  No, thank you I’m fine………  I give him the speech about not drinking and driving as a personal policy.  While he is getting his drink I notice framed on the wall is his graduation from training as a FAM.  Federal Air Marshall.  I think, great, this guy is quasi law enforcement.  But until this point it was still sex work.  I still owed him a few more minutes and had no issue with trying again.  He drank his drink and in one quick move had me down, handcuffed and had a trashbag over my head.  When he first handcuffed me, I thought shit, he’s a cop.  The trash bag told me different.

He hit me over and over in the head telling me to stop fighting and to give in and let him have what he paid for.  He didn’t pay for what he took.  While oral sex didn’t arouse him anal did.  He made repeated points about his hatred of condoms and that I was going to see what it felt like to have plastic over my head.  Which was an odd twist of words given we were talking about different “heads”.   He hit me in the head a bunch more times until I agreed to swallow the condom.  I was too disoriented from what was diagnosed at the ER as a moderate concussion/post concussion syndrome.   I went to the Desiree Alliance conference in Vegas a few days after this incident.  For those who spent any time with me it was likely apparent I was suffering the effects of concussion.  Along with re-activated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When did it become rape rather than sex work.  When he forced me to do something I hadn’t agreed to.  People have argued with me that prostitutes can’t be raped, and that this kind of thing is an occupational hazard.  I say that totally wrong.  I don’t give blanket permission by virtue of being paid.  Certainly I didn’t agree to the trashbag, to the 10 plus blows to the head, or the anal sex which was never supposed to be part of the deal.  Without a doubt, swallowing the condom wasn’t.

Now that I’ve give the background.  Yes, prostitutes can be raped, we do get raped and we need full decriminalization so that we can go to the police rather than fear them.  Or be raped by them and their law enforcement colleagues.  The prohibitionists who allegedly want to end human trafficking by virtue of making it as illegal and hard as possible to do sex work.  The method doesn’t work.  How many trafficking victims are rescued vs. the number of prostitutes that are arrested, that are raped, assaulted.  Not to mention, in my case, facing another set of worries with the swallowed condom.  Although first HIV test was negative.

So general public, think before you sign documents like this one We need to move in the other direction.  Bring full decriminalization which brings it above the surface.  We need sex work to be regarded as work and abuses tackled like abuses in any other industry.  There are many of us who need the money we make in sex work and don’t have other choices.  This client gave me my eighth concussion in my life time.  He should have been arrested for multiple infractions.  If I went to the police, the likely arrestee would be me.

As soon as I no longer consented, it became rape.  That I’m a prostitute doesn’t matter.  Please don’t support things that make it harder for sex workers and trafficking victims.  Obscurity doesn’t solve the problem it only makes it occult.

We can and do get raped and it hurts us just as much as it hurts anyone else.  Rape should never be an occupational hazard.

29 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing on this again, Jill. I hope people hear you this time. I have nothing to add to this. I can’t. I’m amazed by your courage in discussing this in public so soon after the event and by still being willing/able to fight for our collective rights.

    Folks — this shit is NOT accepted as “part of the job” in countries where sex work is decriminalized. That this happens in America — supposedly still the leading country of the world — should be a reason for change.

    XX

  2. I’m coming out with what happened just before the D/A conference because I think it’s important that people see us as human, they see the danger we face, and they see that we still have to go back to work. I am still a sex worker. The rape will be with me for along time because I thought I was beyond that ever happening again. And I wasn’t. I also think it’s important that people see our humanity.

  3. Maybe it will explain why I was so off at the conference.

  4. Jill, I really hope that, if at least physically, you’ll be okay. Best wishes.

    That being said, though, I got that petition in my inbox this morning from Change.org. I no longer subscribe to their newsletter. No loss, they were too chique and cookie cutter anyway.

  5. When he TOOK IT against your will and by force…

    In criminal law, rape is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with another person without that person’s consent. Outside of law, the term is often used interchangeably with sexual assault,[1][2][3] a closely related (but in most jurisdictions technically distinct) form of assault typically including rape and other forms of non-consensual sexual activity.[4][5]

    I hope his dick rots off.

    I hope you heal and come through this better than ever. I have been raped twice, not by clients, date rape years ago and I am okay. I know how scary it was and I can’t begin to imagine how this must have been for you… I was not cuffed, there was no garbage bag and I was not hit, nor was there anal.

    Bless your heart. I wish you peace.
    Cheyenna

  6. been diagnosed with PTSD, also raped–wish you plenty of healing and support for you and the rest of our follow sex workers, this was an excellent article.

  7. @5150 PTSD is a long term issue for me. Although I’d had it under control, but this reopened all the old wounds. Friends pulled me through this as I was very much over the edge a month ago. I questioned whether or not to even post the article because I’ve had such a violent history and I worry that people are sick of me making points via the harsh things that have happened in my life. But I chose to bring it to light hoping it changes some beliefs.

    @Cheyenna, I could have pressed charges but him being a FAM, me being a prostitute. No chance. Really this shouldn’t have effected me the way it did. I’m’ embarrassed about how hard a time I have had dealing with this. I was an unwilling (long story, see SWOP East’s website for more details) submissive for nearly three years to a brutal pimp. I can’t even begin to count the number of times i’ve been raped. I always figured if I was raped again it would be nothing. But it still was something that opened all the emotions again. I guess I’m trying to work through it by talking about it and using it constructively. I hope his dick rots off too.

    What pisses me off is he contacted the escort service and wanted to hire me again. He raved about me. Fucking prick.

    @untowardlady, I’m healing. I have a strong support network, a very good psychiatrist and lots of meds. I’m a pharmacy of psych meds right now. Essentially everything was tried to prevent a suicide effort.

  8. wow, im so sorry you went through this. Its horrible.
    :(

    trisha

  9. It’s not the victim’s fault.

    When a police officer is killed in the liine of duty, do people say “well that’s a risk that comes with the job” or “it’s a shame that cop was so desperate for money he chose a dangerous job”

    Every job has risks.

    Many people get killed on the freeways driving in rush hour traffic to work… Do we dismiss that as “a risk of the job” ?

    The only time I;ve suffered trauma on my job is when the swat team swarmed my house and took me to jail and charged me with a business licensing violation. My mother showed up unexpectantly in the middle of it and she got 10 guns in her face. It scared her to death, she’s never even had a traffic ticket.. Its been 2 years and she still starts shaking when the topic comes up.

    She doesn’t blame me. . Not at all. .. She suppports my work and has even told me she can tell whenever I’m escorting because I’m so much more pleasant to be around and she just wants me to be happy.

    Nobody chooses to be a victim.
    Nobody should accept that as part of any job.
    Victims should never accept the blame.

    But we can’t call for help when the people who are supposed to help us are too focused on victimizing us themselves… I don’t even want their help.

    Just do whatever heals you and forget about what people say. They are just repeating what they’ve heard law enforcement say to the press whenever something happens to one of us.

    cops carry a gun to work everyday and they might think they’re better than us, but they’re wrong.. …your trauma deserves the same respect if not more, because of their contribution to it.

  10. your worst accuser needs to be reminded that you’re not just another victim so tell yourself to shut up about being stupid because stupid doesn’t survive and stupid doesn’t overcome. .

    you might be stronger than you realize.

  11. @Trisha, it’s ok. I’m getting over it. It’s a process to get by this but I know what the process looks like too.
    @Jenna, I’m my own worst critic. I wouldn’t blame anyone else yet find it hard to forgive myself for not leaving when my instincts were screaming it didn’t feel right.

    The bigger issue of the original post of the thread is hopefully mainstream people reading this blog get the concept that prostitutes can be raped.

  12. I AGREE, THE HONORABLE PROFESSION OF RISKING ONE’S OWN LIFE TO PROTECT INNOCENT PEOPLE IS TOTALLY COMPARABLE TO BONING OTHER PEOPLE’S HUSBANDS FOR MONEY!

  13. @Whybother
    You’re entitled to your opinion.
    It has little effect on me unless it has some factual basis.

    @jill
    Once you stop blaming the victim, you’ll have a better chance at getting other people to.

    my 3 keys to happiness

    1. love thyself – if you don’t, change until you can.

    2. forgive thyself – you can’t change past mistakes but you can learn from them, if you stop dwelling on them.

    3. trust thyself – your instincts by definition cannot be wrong but thinking will often interfere. if something feels wrong, leave… . dont ask yourself why.

    I’ve had my share of trauma and I try to grateful because I know I can survive almost anything. Which is a good thing to know since I’m going straight to hell if I don’t.

  14. Jenna, you handle those posts from people with “boning” anger issues with tact and class. I applaud that.

    I also applaud you Jill for posting this to get that point across and I do hope that each day you feel better and better.

  15. @JennaPurr, Good advice, the trick is implementing it

  16. @momof2,

    psych meds, lots of them actually, are helping

  17. 5150,

    Thank you for your compassion to Jill and everyone else who has gone through what she has.

    XX

  18. Amanda, you are too kind.

  19. Oh no!…I just read this and emailed you. I hadn’t read this or heard this before. You are such an amazing person and activist, and I know you are so strong, but I knowit must be a very very hard period now for you. I hope to connect with you further about ways I and others could support you now.

    I was raped when working and I understood very deeply, once more, how important it is that we have a legal context to protect ourselves.

  20. With sex work criminalized and stigmatized,, I feel rape and abuse is not a matter of ‘IF” but “WHEN”!
    I am so sorry to hear this happened to you Jill. You are brave for standing up and making others aware of these issues that are happening everyday to sex workers with little to no recourse.

  21. @Carol, got your email, will respond shortly. I am really sorry that you too have suffered rape in sex work. Rape, regardless of circumstance is always traumatic. I wish it hadn’t happened to you. Or anyone.

    @Liz, I made poor choices that allowed it to happen. I had a chance to leave before it happened, as my intuition was screaming something was wrong. But I didn’t. And I paid the price for not listening to myself. I came forward with this because I think it’s important for the general public to realize in the anti trafficking hysteria that consenting adult sex workers can be turned into rape victims when consent is taken away.

  22. I’m sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing. I’ve passed the link around to my social circle, which is mostly composed of the “general public.”

  23. @JackyV, please don’t feel bad for me. While it has been a tough thing to go through, I don’t want the message to get lost in the event. I posted this so that the general public can see that sex workers do get raped and how the US criminalization of prostitution takes away our rights and puts us in more danger than what would exist under decriminalization

  24. @Jill, I want to tell you that i am one of those members of the mainstream public you’re referring to. You’ve really opened my eyes (not that I had strong opinions on the topic either way, before -but I now do!) Thank you for sharing this story, and so articulately. I am still trying to imagine how one even swallows a condom without choking. I’m glad you survived to tell the tale… all strength to you.

  25. [...] limited to local law enforcement personnel; activist Jill Brenneman reported in September on her rape by a federal air marshal (WARNING: this is both graphic and disturbing).  Do I believe that a disproportionate percentage [...]

  26. [...] Brennerman eloquently describes a consensual session that turned into assault for those who are still confused about the differences between consensual activity with a client [...]

  27. Hi, I found your blog through the xoJane link; thank you for having the courage to share this terrible experience–how ANYONE could read this and still think sex workers can’t be raped is beyond me. I’m so sorry for what you went through and I hope things change…

  28. This is a terrible thing for one to go through and yes, rape cannot be brushed away as an occupational hazard. It is not right.

  29. […] a whore (yaknow, evidence!). The stigmatisation of sex workers not only heavily increases police violence towards sex workers, it also means you are more likely to be battered or raped by cops if they just […]

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