Beyond the Streets launches new report which highlights support needs of women involved in UK sex industry
We are delighted to share the publication of our latest research report: Support Needs of Women Involved in the UK Sex Industry: Learning from Frontline Services.
Drawing on data from 90 initial assessments completed with women accessing Beyond Support, our national support service, this report provides a unique insight into the support needs identified by women selling or exchanging sexual services in the UK. The report highlights the complexities women are navigating as they engage with the sex industry and underscores their resiliency. It is our hope that the findings of this research will contribute to the ongoing development and improvement of support services for those involved in the UK sex industry.
- Almost two-thirds of Initial Assessments referenced experience in multiple sex industry contexts, whilst the vast majority (82%) mentioned escorting. Furthermore, just under a quarter mentioned experiencing sexual exploitation and it was clear this was taking place across a range of contexts.
- 18 different support themes were identified and the mean number of themes mentioned in the Initial Assessments was 7.5 demonstrating the multiple support needs presented by women who are/have been involved in selling or exchanging sexual services.
- Analysis of each theme highlighted the interconnected nature of the different themes.
- The most frequently mentioned support theme was Mental Health.
- That the top three most frequently recurring support themes were (1) Mental Health, (2) Family, Friends & Relationships, and (3) Support Service Access reveals the isolation faced by many women selling or exchanging sexual services.
Implications for specialist support provision:
- Services need to be equipped and resourced to support women in a range of sex industry contexts, recognising that fluidity between contexts is common.
- Services need to recognise that women may be experiencing sexual exploitation and to create a safe space for women to disclose exploitation whilst not assuming that this is the case. Adopting trauma-informed approaches and fostering an empowerment bias will assist with creating such a space.
- Services cannot be experts in all areas of support women seek but can serve an important role in simplifying access to, and advocating for access to, a range of support services. This requires effective multi-agency working; clear signposting and referral pathways; and strong confidentiality and information sharing polices.
- Ensuring women can access appropriate psychotherapy and counselling needs to be a fundamental part of support provision.
- Services can play a vital role in helping to break down the isolation women selling or exchanging sexual services face and in ensuring women are able to access the support they deserve.
The report has been written by Grayce Collis, peer researcher, and Katie Thorlby, our Research and Impact Manager.