CARE provides confidential advocacy, support, and related referrals for students, staff, faculty, and alumni working who are currently or formally engaged in working in sex labor and who have been impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.
Because experiencing violence as a sex worker often intersects with multiple systems of power, CARE recognizes that there is not one resource or path toward healing that will best serve all members of a community. CARE acknowledges that a survivor who is also navigating the sex industry may have unique considerations as they determine the best path to ensure their safety.
While CARE recognizes and supports survivors of sex trafficking--in which labor is forced--CARE also acknowledges that sex work is a legitimate form of work that people choose to enter for a variety of reasons, including financial motivations, emotional fulfillment, empowerment, meeting basic needs, exposure to new experiences, accessibility to marginalized folx, and many more reasons not listed here.
What's different about interpersonal violence for the sex worker community?
CARE recognizes that voluntary sex work is not inherently violent; rather, existing forms of systemic oppression intersect to exacerbate violence that sex workers face.
There are multiple forms of violence that sex workers may endure, and responses to this violence may differ from other survivors. Some forms of abuse can include:
- Being physically, sexually and emotionally harmed by a client(s), managers, coworkers, etc.
- Financial abuse such as taking a percentage, cut or withholding the survivor’s earnings from sex work, punishing them for not earning enough, or denying them the right to use the money they earn as they choose.
- Minimizing of feelings about a negative experience in their work or blaming them for abuse they’ve faced from clients.
- Threatening to “out” the survivor as a sex worker to family or friends Being forced to consume drugs and alcohol.
- Being forced to partake in medical process such as STI/HIV testing, abortions, and sterilizations because of their occupation.
Cited from National Domestic Violence Hotline
Sex Work Laws
Laws about sex work vary across countries, states, counties, and cities, and they are constantly changing. CARE wants to empower sex workers to know their legal rights; thus, it is important to acknowledge that some forms of sex work are criminalized in the US and in California.
- HIV Criminalization: As of 2017 with the passing of CA Senate Bill 239, all prior felony “prostitution” arrests, convictions, and sentences based on HIV/AIDS status were vacated or dismissed.
- California Penal Code 647(b) PC: If you are over 18 years of age, in California it is a misdemeanor offense--punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and a $1000 fine--to agree to and/or actually engage in “prostitution,” which is defined as accepting and/or “manifesting an acceptance of an offer” of compensation, money, or anything of value in exchange for a “lewd act.”
- Title 8 USC 1182 - “Excludable aliens”: Any immigrant who “is coming to the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in prostitution, or has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status... is inadmissible.” Therefore, CARE understands that undocumented sex workers who are experiencing survivorship may have unique legal and material needs.
Sex workers may experience oppression and discrimination at the intersection of several identities, and CARE advocates recognize that institutions have historically perpetuated harm against sex workers. In institutional settings like education, healthcare, and law enforcement, sex workers may face violence, discrimination, criminalization, and exploitation from services that purport to support them. CARE understands that there are challenges that arise for sex workers when accessing resources, thus advocates can help survivors navigate these concerns. If you want more information about sex work, criminalization, and discrimination, please contact CARE or look at the resource list below.
Sex Work and Consent
Sex workers have the right to access or deny services while making voluntary and informed decisions within their work and personal lives. CARE acknowledges that:
- Sex workers have the right to revoke consent at any time while engaging in sex work and in their personal lives.
- Confidentiality is crucial to the safety of sex workers, and this includes: personal information, clinical records, lab results, or any other identifiable information.
- Survivors are experts of their own experiences.
The CARE office is a confidential resource on campus; what is said to a CARE advocate will not be shared with any other office on campus, with law enforcement officers, or with health care or student health services without the explicit consent of the survivor. The CARE office will never share information about a person’s status as a survivor, or their occupation in the sex industry, unless requested by the survivor. CARE advocates recognize that sex workers may want confidentiality about their occupation due to the stigmatization, discrimination, and criminalization that sex workers may experience.
CARE understands that after an assault a survivor may experience an immense amount of stress and feelings of fear and burden. CARE will always support any option a survivor chooses with regard to their healing, and every CARE advocate will discuss confidentiality while following the survivor's lead.
All faculty and staff, who are not confidential, are required to report all students’ disclosures of sexual violence, relationship violence, and/or stalking to the Title IX office to ensure consistent student services and Title IX policy compliance. A CARE advocate can discuss any student’s concerns one-on-one, without sharing the student’s name, identifying information, or any other details about their visit with CARE to other campus offices – your professors, coaches, RA, or cultural center staff members will not be notified that you have visited CARE, unless you explicitly request CARE’s assistance in working with them.
CARE recognizes that each individual may hold many of the different identities that our Communities we CARE for pages address. For more information on another identity, please go back to Communities we CARE for.
We support survivors from all backgrounds, the survivors that we serve are not limited to the identities listed on our Communities we CARE for page. If you do not see your identity listed, and would like to learn how interpersonal violence impacts you, please call our 24/7 confidential phone number at 805-893-4613 or make an appointment online to be connected with a confidential advocate.
Schedule a non-urgent appointment with a CARE Advocate.
To speak with a confidential advocate immediately, please call our 24/7 CARE advocacy line at 805-893-4613. If you have an emergency or feel that you may be in immediate danger, please call 911.
If you have experienced a sexual assault within the last five days, call CARE at 805-893-4613 or navigate to the Medical section on our Advocacy Services page to learn about the time-sensitive option to seek a free, confidential forensic medical exam.