Sexual Exploitation and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Ask many of the women who work in the sex industry, and they’ll tell you that violent crime is a big issue. Every day, sex workers operate in potentially dangerous situations, increasing the everyday risk that that may suffer at the hands of a violence crime at some point in their lives.

As a result, a high proportion of sex workers suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. According to a recent study, 68% of women working in prostitution suffer from the condition, that’s compared to just 7% of the general population of the UK.

Violence against sex workers

Violence against sex workers is an on going problem that simply refuses to go away. According to the Ugly Mugs scheme, a sex worker is violently attacked or raped in the UK everyday.

Though the police and organisations like Ugly Mugs are working to try to reduce these numbers, women in the sex industry are still much more likely to suffer a violent assault than women not working in prostitution.

In some cases, the trauma experienced by women in the sex industry results in PTSD. Without the right treatment, PTSD can cause serious long term mental health problems, making life even harder for women in the sex industry.

Post traumatic stress disorder

Post traumatic stress disorder is a serious, long term mental health condition that can affect the sufferer’s quality of life and make normal relationships a challenge.

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Symptoms include hyper-vigilance, difficulty concentrating, irritability, increased psychological sensitivity, flashbacks and difficulty sleeping.

Counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and medication can all be used to help ease the symptoms of PTSD, however the condition generally requires ongoing treatment to control symptoms and improve the sufferer’s quality of life.

Where to turn for help

A lot of research has been done into PTSD in recent years and these days there are lots of places to turn to for help.

If sex workers are registered with a GP, their doctor should be able to refer them to a therapist for specialist treatment. Doorway Women’s Services work with woman looking to get out of the sex work industry to help them figure out what to do next and where to turn to at this often overwhelming time.

As there is no overnight cure for PTSD, sufferers will need to be committed to long term treatment and be aware that their symptoms may not disappear immediately.

However, over time, they will see their quality of life improve and many will see their PTSD symptoms disappear altogether.

To find out more about the help and support available to sex workers, give us a call on 0808 800 1030 today.