Sex work is a difficult job. Many in the field have few (if any) workplace rights, and there’s a high risk of abuse and violence.

Anywhere from 45 to 75 percent of sex workers around the world experience workplace violence in their lifetime, according to a 2014 review. Plus, intense stigma around the profession can both negatively affect mental health and dissuade people from seeking treatment.

Yet sex workers ― a term that describes a plethora of jobs related to sex and eroticism, from adult film stars and strippers to people who work at brothels or on the street ― rarely feature in discussions about mental health. There are few studies on the topic, and the research that does exist is limited in scope, often omitting male and transgender sex workers, for example. In fact, trans people and people of color make up an outsize segment of the sex worker community, yet they’re often left out of the conversation entirely.

Sex workers are regular people, says Dr. Victoria Hartmann, and they deserve access to mental health care just like anyone else. Hartmann, 48, a clinical sexologist, certified mental health counselor and executive director of the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, has spent over 10 years working with sex workers. An advocate for the rights of sex workers ― a community that includes her own husband ― Hartmann fears that recent legislation will intensify the stigma they face.

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Sex Workers deserve Mental Heath Care, too. by Catharine Smith

July 3rd, 2018