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Essential Components of Trauma Informed Court Practices: Understanding the Behavioral Adaptations of Sex Workers in a Judicial Setting. Pamela Albers, LCSW,BACS New Orleans Family Justice Alliance. Learning Objectives – or why is this important.
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Pamela Albers, LCSW,BACS
New Orleans Family Justice Alliance
By the end of this training attendees will understand:
**Please be aware that these are NATIONAL statistics and that the definition of sex work being used to calculate the numbers includes many types of sex work – not just prostitution.
* Behind Closed Doors: An Analysis of Indoor Sex Work in New York City 2005
Age of entry into sex work
The majority began between 15 and twenty years of age
The youngest was 11 years of age
Oldest age was 37 years old
Length of time engaged in sex work: <1 year to 37 years
Venues worked in the sex industry*
33% Escort Service
33% Strip club
* Some of the participants in the survey picked more than one venue.
16% Bars and clubs
15% Word of Mouth
3% Escort service
*some responders used more than means to solicit
Percentage of respondents who made enough money to live on prior to engaging in sex work 2
67% Did not make enough money
33% Did make enough money
Percentage of respondents for which sex work is the only form of employment 2
54% Sex work is the only employment
46% Employed in addition to sex work
Most sex workers enter the industry at times of extreme financial vulnerability.
Usually enter the industry because a friend or acquaintance in the business said that the work pays well.
Percentage of respondents who have lived in subsidized housing or temporary shelter
8% Public Housing
6% Section 8
Number of places respondent has lived in the past year
“when I hit 18, I lived on the street because my parents confronted me about being gay.”
7. Street-based sex workers want to leave the street.
False 1. Everybody’s circumstances are unique. It is crucial to recognize that we have many communities that we belong to and that this informs our experiences, the support we get and how criminalized we might be. Some of us refer to ourselves as sex workers, some of us do not.
False 6. Trafficking involves coercive methods and the use of fear. Wages are withheld, I.D.s are taken, involves transporting individuals from their home to another country, state, or region.
Our dignity was taken away…and a lot of people don’t realize that. They don’t really understand about how our dignity was taken away from us. How we were taught to be ashamed. Then our self-respect was gone. Once you lose self respect, how can you respect someone else. -- Anonymous
trauma is a protective mechanism that the
brain unconsciously employs to protect
“Everyone has the right to have a future that is not dictated by the past.” --Karen Saakvitne
of trauma and attempts to create a sense of safety for all participants.
and take care not to duplicate it.
and positive outcomes
“What the judge did was pretty incredible. He asked me to come forward. It created a sense of privacy. I didn’t have to shout across a really busy courtroom. He really helped me in that simple act of asking me to come closer. I was able to do what I needed to do, and he was able to hear what he needed to hear. I have been in and out of court for a long time – this is judge changed my life with one simple act. “7
“The capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by survivors and their communities”
Ensuring cultural competence includes having the knowledge and skills to work within the client’s culture, understanding how one’s own cultural background and the court influences interactions with court participants.
Primarily due to Transphobia. 10
For all sex workers, and especially Trans sex workers, sex work is a solution to systemic barriers to employment.
Sex work is often the ONLY solution due to social marginalization and other social factors.
Those and many more automatic thoughts happen in the minds of trauma survivors. It takes time, but with trauma based services, those thoughts turn into these……..
I have a name.
because of the work that I do. 9
Do not discredit a sex workers account of what has happened and assume he/she is an unreliable witness.
“ I think decriminalization is one step towards removing the stigma of prostitution as a valid career choice..but that is not going to remove the stigma for a long time. There are many things that will be needed. …Being a stripper, it’s legal…it still has a certain connotation to it. It’s kind of a slutty thing to do. You must be a bit of a slut to do that. And that’s something that they would always think of a sex worker as well… You couldn’t possibly be moral or ethical…if you sell yourself out like that… this stigma is a lot harder to remove than the legality about it.”
--female massage parlor owner, former sex worker
Beyond Decriminalization: Sex Work, Human Rights and a New Framework for Law Reform. 2006 Pivot Legal Society. www.pivotlegal.org . Downloaded May 2014.
7 --Essential Components of Trauma-Informed Judicial Practice
SAMHSA www.samhsa.gov. Downloaded :May 2014
8. Piche, Danica, Cristen Gleeson, Katrina Pacey, John Lowman, Mary Childs, Sarah Ciarrocchi, Francois Paradis, Emily Rix, Elaine Ryan, Elin Sigurdson, Maia Tsurumi, Laura Track, Megan Vis-Dunbar, and Lisa Welch. "Beyond Decriminalization: Sex Work, Human Rights, and a New Framework for Law Reform." : www.pivotlegal.org Downloaded: May 2014.