One of the amazing things about On Her Own is the opportunity to meet women from all walks of life, with all sorts of backgrounds and attitudes towards safety. It turns out that a lot of us are more similar than you might think at first glass, with many lessons learned to teach each other. Even though some folks look like they’re careening towards danger at every moment, living lives of high-flying risk, and others seek the traditionally quiet and safe with every fiber of their beings, we all want the same thing: to enjoy an existence that we define, that is made up of our choices. While the form of those choices, and who has input into them or who we allow to make choices for us may change, there are still some universal principles, truths, and skills. Like we talked about last week, your context always matters…but you can still learn from those who don’t seem like you in any way.
An area that is true for the majority of women at some point in our lives is meeting strangers and perhaps becoming intimate with them. While some of us may meet our sweethearts in grade school and marry them early in life, most of us go through some level of trying to meet potential life or sex partners at some point in our lives, whether through friends of those already in our lives, via shared activities, or straight up going on blind and semi-blind dates – including Internet dating. Regardless of how or why we go about it, at some point, an awful lot of us need to start considering how we can be physically safe in perhaps one of the most vulnerable moments we can experience. The folks who do it the most, with the highest risk? I’d say there’s a strong argument that they are sex workers, whose very lives and livelihoods rely on the ability to reduce immediate and long-term dangers from their clients. Those of us who aren’t may not face the same levels of risk, but we can probably learn an awful lot from them anyway, especially in early meetings with people we don’t yet know very well or if we’re simply looking for no-strings, full name-optional, Tindr-style hookups.
Recently, Anonymous SW from ND (who is NOT the woman in this stock photo) shared some of their safety tips with me, and I’m excerpting them below. They’re specific to and framed in the language of their work, but many of them are smart for any first in-person time together, whether you met online or in person and some of them even if you don’t plan on having sex with that individual during that time.
- Always go with your gut- just because someone appears “respectable” doesn’t mean they are. Looks can be deceiving.
- Stay sober, confident, alert, rested, and in control.
- Be friendly, yet firm when discussing rules, limits, and boundaries
- Share your location with 1-3 close and trustworthy people in your life AT ALL TIMES, inform them of all booking times, and have them and possibly the police on speed dial.
- Plan your exit(s) ahead of time and never allow the client to stand between you the exit(s).
- Avoid positions/activities where the client is not in your sight or is difficult to see- this will help prevent condom removal, being recorded, assault, etc. Use large mirrors to keep an eye on the client if these positions are unavoidable. Never allow a client to restrain you.
- Record names, phone numbers, addresses, license plates, etc of client if possible- destroy info after the booking is over and the client is gone.
- Avoid having over $40 in cash on you- but always carry a card with money on it.
- Screen clients the best you can using their name, phone number, photo, etc.
- Wear shoes you can run in and avoid rings that could potentially puncture a condom
- Only ever use your own condoms
- Do not carry any unnecessary belongings with you, and hide any personal items such as keys.
- Do not allow fluid exchange of any kind
- Have the client wash their hands before beginning the service
- Don’t share any personal information about you or your family- have a fake number, name, and email.
There’s more that SW from ND has to say, and I’ll share them in future posts, but I thought that these were particularly relevant and applicable to the entire spectrum of “searching for the one” all the way to “wanting to find the one just for tonight.” It’s not that every single tip will be necessary for you all the time, but the mere fact that you aren’t taking money in exchange for services doesn’t mean you should dismiss them all immediately. Instead, be thoughtful and consider how each of these items might help you reduce the risk to your health and safety before you decide to use them, modify them for your context, take the risk that’s implied by ignoring them, or toss them entirely because they don’t fit your life at all.