So you are about to be “rescued” from prostitution? Or perhaps you need some help with a specific issue and want to find a Sex Work/Sex Work positive Rescue Organization to give you advice or support of some kind. Regardless of how you got to this point, its important to make sure you have some questions answered before you get whisked away and into more trouble than bargained for. Here are 10 questions you should ask a Rescue Organization before you take the leap.
1. Is this rescue organization legitimate?
There is nothing wrong with asking for some sort of proof that the people who are in front of you are who they say they are and they should be able to prove it. Don’t be afraid to ask for Identification, credentials and references – especially if you are meeting them as a result of being in a “crisis” situation where law enforcement is involved.
Be especially wary of Organizations who don’t post contact information on their website. Any legitimate organization who is sex work/sex worker positive will have local phone numbers and an address posted on their website. Many post a phone number that is a “National Human Trafficking Hotline” and this number is used to report crime and is associated with local, state and federal law enforcement. If you call this number you are essentially calling the cops on yourself.
2. Do they have any “success stories” of other sex workers they have “rescued”?
Don’t be surprised if they either don’t have anyone you can talk to or if the person they do connect you with is only recently “rescued” as well. Many of these organizations used recently acquired “victims” who have not been with them very long to talk others into “joining” – borrowing techniques from “traffickers and recruiters” like they describe in their anti-trafficking rhetoric.
Many organizations recruit former sex workers (labeled as “survivors” or “victims”) to assist in their recruitment efforts. They may or may not be able to help you with specific issues but be aware that they have been recruited for the purpose of “saving” you from sex work. A good indicator of how much help they will be is if they LISTEN to what you have to say. If they talk more than they listen – they are probably not going to be of much help as they are not likely to discover what your needs are since they are too busy talking.
3. Are they promising to help you with legal issues?
A rescue organization that promises legal representation may NOT be offering you a lawyer – they may be offering you a caseworker. A caseworker cannot represent you in court and they cannot make deals with court officials. They also may not be offering the right kind of legal representation you need. Criminal, Civil, Immigration and Family Court Cases are all very different and require a lawyer with specialized skills and experience.
4. Do they offer residential support?
Many rescue organizations provide housing or “access to housing” but make sure you know exactly what kind of housing they are providing before you commit. “Access to housing” may be assistance with finding a single family home or an apartment but it also might be a residential group home where you will be living with other people you don’t know. Adult residential facilities are not always supervised with the residents safety in mind. They can also be tied to community based programs and faith based programs where the requirements are to “join”. The most common complaint we hear is when there is a promise made to “help you get you own place” but the reality is a “program” requiring you to jump through hoop after hoop in order to receive what you may or may not have been able to get for yourself. Be especially wary of what is commonly referred to as a “safe house”.
5. Do they offer NON-residential support?
Should you not need or desire residential assistance or support or if you have needs that do not require a housing component, there are many resources that you may be interested in. For example – if you need legal representation and they claim to offer it – you should not have to participate in other areas of support they offer if you do not want or need it. A Sex Work/Sex Worker Positive organization will have no problem with you picking and choosing the services you want or need without insisting that you subscribe to ALL of their services.
5. Will they respect your personal faith and/or ideology?
Your personal faith or ideology should be respected by any organization that offers assistance in the form of services. In fact – the subject of what you believe or don’t believe shouldn’t even come up if they sincerely want to help you achieve a goal. Very often – particularly with faith-based rescue organizations – faith and ideology is the first thing they will work towards controlling.
6. How do they provide services?
Organizations who are sex work or sex work positive will work to help you achieve YOUR goals…not THEIR goals. They will move at your pace and they will encourage you to facilitate your own care plan.
Organizations who are not sex work or sex worker positive will insist that you participate in their path to a set of goals they set for you.
7. Is the organization sex work/sex worker positive?
An organization is sex work/sex worker positive when they are more concerned about WHO YOU ARE rather than WHAT YOU DO. They will provide you with health and safety information. This includes keeping you safe by helping you to NOT get arrested. If you need assistance of any sort and they will only help you if you cease to be a sex worker, they are NOT a sex work/sex worker positive organization.
8. What steps do they take to protect and respect your privacy?
A legitimate organization will not share your personal information with anyone without receiving written permission from you. They will not ask you to “tell your story”. They will not create videos or documents that identify you as a sex industry worker (present or former) or ask you to “go public” about how they assisted or supported you. If you choose to endorse an organization and create any documents or videos or podcasts Rate That Rescue encourages you to create them YOURSELF, retain the copyrights to any documents, videos or podcasts and retain control of distribution.
9. Will they help me find alternative paid work within 3 months? (Job market permitting)
You may find you need a break from the industry and if that’s the case, you may need assistance finding suitable employment. You may need help with job training or school and if someone is promising you “rescue”, they should already have that in mind. If a legal issue or custody issue is the primary reason for taking a permanent or temporary break, you will want to work at a job that meets your needs financially.
10. Are they willing to provide you with written documentation about what they are promising?
Once you and the rescue organization agree on what they will provide – you need them to put it in writing and it should be dated and signed. Make sure that you are provided with a copy of the signed agreement or contract.