Loved or Used?

Take a look at the stories and statistics about women working in the sex industry, and you’ll quickly see that they come from huge variety of backgrounds and become sex workers for an even bigger number of reasons.

However, in many cases of sexual exploitation, women have been forced or coerced into the industry by a man. Often, the men behind sexual exploitation have convinced their victims that they are in a relationship, using emotional blackmail to force them into sex work.

So how can you tell if your relationship is really based on love or whether your partner is just out to exploit you?

Their personality changes once you’ve committed to the relationship

Abusers who use emotional control to coerce their victims into sex work will generally wait until they are sure that their target is completely committed to the relationship.

If your partner’s personality changes dramatically after you’ve moved in with them or committed yourself in any other way, it could be a warning sign that they are not who they first seemed.

They ask you to do things you’re not comfortable with

Most abusers will start exploiting their victims slowly, perhaps initially asking them to sleep with someone ‘just once’ to pay off a debt or return a favour.

If your partner asks you to do anything you’re not comfortable with, you should seek help and advice immediately and walk away from the relationship if necessary.

A relationship that involves exploitation in anyway can be very dangerous, so even if you think you’re doing it for your future, any sort of sexual exploitation should send your inner alarm bells off.


They tell you that it’s for the good of your relationship

Some abusers will also try to tell you that sex work is the only way to earn enough money to build a better future.

In the vast majority of cases this will be untrue and placing all of the pressure on you in this way is deeply unfair, especially when it involves placing yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

They introduce drink and drugs to the relationship

Introducing drink and drugs into a relationship is a common way for abusers to gain more control over their victims. By making their girlfriends or partners dependant on drink or drugs, they in turn make them more dependant on them and more desperate to earn money.

If your partner is encouraging you to get involved with drugs or to drink more, it could well be a sign they don’t have your best interests at heart.

If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs of sexual exploitation or you’re looking for some help and support, call our confidential Freephone helpline on 0808 800 1030 and talk to Doorway Women’s Services today.