An Outlaw’s Insurance Policy

2 months ago, I was robbed in my home/incall by a man who demanded his money back BEFORE the sexual activity, and also got away with $250 more of mine AFTER I pepper sprayed him in the face three times.  This was the SECOND time that I had been robbed as an escort, alone, naked and defenseless (except for the pepper spray this time).  The first time, the attacker said he had a gun and he did have sex with me first, making that THEFT OF SERVICES attack a RAPE in my eyes.  (theft of services = theft of consent based on payment= RAPE)

The recent time, according to the police report that I did manage to do this time, was classified as “petty theft.”  Going to the police for petty theft is just as empowering as filling out a police report after someone breaks your car window and steals your stereo.  You know that you have lost and that no one, not the police or you will be able to do anything about your loss.  All you can do is clean up the broken glass and tape up your window.   This is the feeling that sex workers too often have once they have been robbed and/or sexually assaulted.

When I was a stripper in a club, I was fortunate enough to not have experienced this type of violence.  I used to say on panels that I spoke at “I had never been sexually assaulted WHILE a sex worker (only before).” but now that I have lived and learned the life of an outlaw escort, things are different.  This is not to say that strippers and brothel workers are by any means safe because they operate in a house or a club.  Violence against sex workers happens everywhere.

There are many who operate under the premise that women are weaker than men and that a sex worker is someone that will be an easy target for violence or robbery because of her outlaw status.  This post mainly speaks to female sex workers, not to discount the violence that male sex workers might face (but it’s just different).

I had never taken a self defense course, and I had never gotten in a fight.  I was strong in my mind and my body was athletic.  I knew, however that I had not the power or experience to fight a grown man and win.  Fortunately, all of the times that I have been sexually assaulted in my life, none have included physical altercations.  The guy who said he had a gun never showed me a gun, but I decided to not challenge it and sit there while he took back the money I rightfully earned by being with him.

This recent attacker was clearly mad that I had sprayed him in the face, so he came back to my house and slashed my tire.  I bought a stun gun the very next day and went to the Krav Maga training center to inquire about self defense.  For 3 days I entered my apartment through the back door and I turned on lights in my house preparing for his return.  The training was expensive.  There was a membership fee and a first and last payment, and they wanted $160 a month!  I charged the whole thing on the one remaining credit card I had.  I felt like I could not afford to not defend myself.

Being in a fight is a cardiovascular workout!  Adrenalyn is pumping and your breath pattern is altered even though you’re muscles are charged.  For the $160/mo you can work out and take classes as many times as you want but the average person works out 3 times a week.  You can take mixed martial arts, yoga, ground fighting and the main curriculum of Krav Maga defense.   I can’t tell you how much this program has helped my mind, my body and my power expand exponentially!  I have NEVER felt so strong and powerful than when I get to practice kicking a guy in the balls repeatedly at full force or when I learn how to pluck his hands strangling my neck against a wall!  Krav Maga trains women side by side with men.  You partner up with someone in class that is supposed to be your size and weight, but sometimes that isn’t possible and you get to experience sparring with a man.  Taking hits even while holding a pad HURTS.  But, I feel like I am in THE FIGHT CLUB now because anyone who has done this knows the adrenalyn rush you get from taking the impact of hits is almost as great as hitting.  You form a bond with your partner that is unlike any other sport I have participated in.  All of us have come to this training for an unspoken reason and it is from that fulfillment of each of our individual goals that we are bonded.  It is NOTHING like the LACK of comraderie that you feel jogging alongside someone on a treadmill or taking a dance class at the gym.

I am writing here to encourage ANY SEX WORKER THAT MAKES AT LEAST $200/HR per date to INVEST at least that amount in your self defense.  If all you can afford is a short 3 day weekend course, great, but really my feeling is that you need to train constantly to stay prepared.  One 3 day course 3 years ago is not, like J Lo would say “Enough.”  I feel that the battle is constant and that another attack can happen as long as I continue to do this work.  You are not safer because you work indoors.  Craigslist is just the “internet streets”, where the same predators and hustlers are meeting you with the same intentions except they look like straight people who go to medical school and have Blackberrys.

I consider myself in the same risk and danger zones as a street worker.  I am an upper working class anonymous client worker.  Screening is minimal.  I am a graveyard shift agency girl.  I work independently too but my main scheduled work is agency work til 6am.  Agency work operates on a bait and switch and upsell hustle which automatically throws wrenches in a clients potential respect of you as a sex worker.  I deal with de-escalating angry customers as a regular part of my shift and have to also get tips out of those angry deceived customers to make a living.  Interestingly enough, the robberies did not occur on agency time, nor did the time I was arrested from Craigslist; so I am not convinced that the violence is due to being an agency girl although the set up of the hustle I do sets me up for antagonism and sexist violence in an already unequal playing field.  The second time I was robbed I failed to screen properly because i was feeling GOOD not bad.  I had just gotten my hair done, had just had a guitar lesson…this would be the 3rd person that was to come in and out of my house and I just did not expect that the outcome would be so bad AT ALL. Things can get sloppy when you are feeling bad, but ALSO when you are feeling good!

Everyday that I train, I am preparing for my next attack.  I refuse to just stand there and let them take from me again.  I go to class and practice boxing and fighting and then I shower and get ready for my agency shift.  I am more ready for an attack than ever before.  THIS IS THE ONLY INSURANCE POLICY I HAVE.  It is expensive but worth it.  I feel that I cannot afford to not train like this.

It’s very expensive for me and the training is totally inaccessible for most people.  The crazy thing is that Krav Maga is the SAME training that is taught to police officers and military forces, because it is the martial art of the Israeli army (FREE PALESTINE).  I have political views that I must put aside while I train, and aside from the origin of the martial art, there is nothing that indoctrinates the state of Israel anywhere in the training center.  ALSO, interestingly enough the Deputy District attorney of Los Angeles (head honcho cop/lawyer) OWNS and is the Lead Instructor for Krav maga in LA.  I am thinking of approaching him about giving victims of violence who have filled out a police report 2 months of training for free.  It seems like it would be something that a cop/lawyer could go for since it advocates going to the police in some way and doesn’t mention the word sex worker even though many many sex workers would qualify.   I wonder how many of those training beside me ARE cops? are sex workers? or are training to defend against a partner in a domestic violence situation?  I am simmering on trying to pitch the idea to the owner, or just stay silent and anonymous..please check out www.kravamaga.com to find a training center near you!

13 Responses

  1. […] wrote something on Bound Not Gagged and I’m going to write something on the Yes Means Yes blog too.  check it […]

  2. You’re the second person I know to recommend Krav Maga training.

    I also like this point: “I am writing here to encourage ANY SEX WORKER THAT MAKES AT LEAST $200/HR per date to INVEST at least that amount in your self defense.” It makes sense to invest a certain proportion of income in training.

    Thanks for sharing Mariko!

    XX

  3. I never took Krav Maga, but there was a group that met in the same place as my Tae Kwon Do classes and damn, Krav Maga is clearly *awesome*.

  4. It’s awesome that doing this self defense training makes you feel empowered. That’s VERY important and amazing!

    I’ve been physically assaulted and I could never fight back, it’s just not my nature. My defense is the complete lack of one. I just do my best to not react to them hitting or kicking me. They tend to tire of me easily, since I imagine it’s so much like hitting a punching bag (tho I’ve never actually done that myself). I’ve never been beat up badly enough that I’ve needed to visit the hospital so far. It was a weekly occurrence for a while. I’ve managed to learn where not to go, to keep the violence to a more manageable level.

    So while my viewpoint is different (but not necessarily correct for anyone other than me), I do think it’s VERY important for people to think about, and plan a strategy for their safety, be that self defense classes, personal bodyguards or whatever it is that works for you.

    Great post Mariko, thank you for sharing!

  5. Thank you for sharing and good on ya for empowering yourself!

  6. You know we offered three self-defense training classes specifically for sex workers here and pretty much NOBODY showed up. Had to beg people to come to one session, two times only one person showed up so we kinda gave up on the idea. Everybody talked about what a great idea they were and we tried to make the class affordable, but in the end, nobody wanted to come to the classes for whatever reason. I talked to some people about it and what i heard was that a lot of people felt they didn’t need them or felt “protected” because they had never been a victim of violence before. The guy who taught them showed us some really amazing moves too, that would work for sex workers and non-workers.

    The guy who taught them showed up at out December 17 event and stressed the same thing…the cost of a few classes is an investment in your life. You can’t afford NOT to take them. I wish there was a way to get the message out to other workers, but I dunno anymore.

  7. the crazy thing is I WAS ONE OF THOSE F*CKING WORKERS! Sitting on my ass thinking luck or instinct would save me, which it DID but that’s cuz both times the guys didn’t have a weapon or ulterior motive. I had to get robbed again AND be in fear of repeat confrontation before I was ready to make a $450 investment in not just a little self defense, but THE BEST PROGRAM IN TOWN. There is a block to taking a self defense course as it has elements of trauma and triggering which cause us to either hesitate or hurry up. Krav Maga doesn’t focus on the trauma, but somehow you exercise it out. You meditate in yoga classes and you cry on the inside as you get stronger and get to train with another person getting stronger like you. It took me sooo many years of thinking about taking something, brewing on it for 10 years…never did it til now.

    I am so sorry to hear about your low attendance. (I know it too well!) I almost planned a self defense in the alley course…but I was going to bring an instructor into an already formed group of sex workers, which is a route you might want to try. A conference..like Desiree Alliance, or a needle exchange where mostly workers would be there but other non workers also invited

  8. Yeah, i mean one month we had the self-defense classes as our monthly SWOP meeting and even the core members of SWOP-Chi didn’t even attend (except for one). So disappointing. When the guy came and spoke at one of our closed meetings to the group, everyone was down with the idea and then when the class actually happened, everybody was busy.

    I volunteer at a needle exchange each week where a lot of street workers come and it;’s the same thing. They had a different self-defense person and were offering to PAY the women to attend a short class and they didn’t show either. In the end, they videotaped the session and have it on the van for women to watch if they want. I really think it’s up to people to take the initiative and seek out self-defense classes for themselves. And unfortunately (as you know), a lot of time it happens AFTER someone’s been assaulted.

    I got my green belt in Hapkido last year, but I’ll be honest…i wouldn’t remember any of the moves if I was actually attacked. It was a lot of memorization, which I’m terrible at. The Krav Maga looks awesome, though. Saw there’s one place in Chicago offering it so I may check it out.

  9. My girlfriend got robbed once (that I know of), a while back. It wasn’t a case of the guy threatening her, more like after he left she realized he had lifted her money.

    Well, she went to his house, and got her money back. My girlfriend is crazy like that🙂

    She also refuses to accept calls that don’t show up on her caller ID, and I have the password for her phone (she gave it to me).

    Cold comfort if she ever disappears, but at least I’ll be able to find the guy.

  10. That’s funny Paul, cuz im CRAZY LIKE THAT TOO! And even crazier now that I have been training to STREET FIGHT for 4 months since I’ve been robbed! But I have lots of discipline and good morals. Plus I’ve been to lots of therapy so I don’t have to take out my rage on my clients..unless they wrong me first. I don’t use unneccessary force. I realized that I am EXCELLENT at VERBAL DE-ESCALATION and feel that it is my ability to verbalize a sufficent defensive stance that it has saved me from further violence. When you go back to a guys house who you think lifts your money sometimes, all that is necessary is a good verbal slaughter and humilation coupled with the ESTROGEN TERROR that female sex workers are NOTORIOUS for (our inner Monsters LOL)

    But so what if you have your girlfriends phone code because if you have a guys # do you think you would be able to find her or the guy and where they were if she didn’t tell you before hand?

  11. This is exactly the kind of thing that you can never imagine happening to you, until it does. When I was a young girl I was assaulted half a block away from my home. I was on my way to a singing lesson when a strange man approached me, grabbed me from behind and spat in my face. I was completely shocked and had no time to react. I was so naive that after he ran off I stood in the street wondering if I should tell my mum what happened. I wasn’t sure if it was even worth noting. Now, looking back, I play the scenario over and over in my mind, thinking about all the possible things that could have happened that day.

    Who knows what his intentions were, what his motives were, where he was coming from or where we sought shelter once he ran off. I’ll never know. He could have grabbed me and pulled a knife out, or held me at gunpoint. He could have kidnapped me.

    At any moment these things can happen to us, especially if we make ourselves vulnerable. Sometimes I feel as though people view sex workers as troubled women painting targets onto our backs; perhaps that’s how they want us to be perceived. It’s important that all sex workers know that it’s not okay to let clients scare you, or rob you, or hurt you, and that by sending out a message of strength we can protect ourselves from the creeps who want to harm us.

    “I felt like I could not afford to not defend myself.” Our bodies are temples, our minds tender and our lives precious. Investing in a self defense class is the best decision any of us could ever make. I did, and it changed my life for the best. At first I was afraid to walk down the street alone. After learning how to fight and defend myself, I’m no longer afraid. I’m not naive, I’m no Hercules – I’m prepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

  12. I am a sex worker and I have been practicing martial arts since I was 5 years old (WAYYY before I even thought of sex work lol). I have done tae kwon do and Karate, boxing and some mixed martial arts.

    One day i will teach a self defense workshop for sex workers and do it free.

  13. […] 2 months ago, I was robbed in my home/incall by a man who demanded his money back BEFORE the sexual activity, and also got away with $250 more of mine AFTER I pepper sprayed him in the face three times.  This was the SECOND time that I had been robbed as an escort, alone, naked and defenseless (except for the pepper spray this time).  The first time, the attacker said he had a gun and he did have sex with me first, making that THEFT OF SERVICES a … Read More […]

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