Boundary Setting, Advertising & Safety
Based on the information BtG gathered from sex workers, we have produced some tips about language that can help right from the start:
- Think about the key points you want to communicate in your advertising which get across messages about your boundaries and expectations from customers.
- Being clear about boundaries is seen by many sex workers as key. In the first instance those boundaries will properly be communicated through your online profile or website.
- Be clear about the services you will and will not offer, your prices and where you prefer to work (in calls, out calls, hotel, etc.)
Some people have terms and conditions on their website that include specific things such as:
- Services and condom use.
- Confidentiality policy.
- Screening policy (without giving too much away).
- Deposit policy (if you charge deposits).
This is also an ideal place to give yourself an opportunity to limit service should you need to (say, for health reasons) so for example:
- I reserve the right to refuse or amend service.
Some crime takes the form of harassing or abusive texts, so you could lay your boundaries out here to by saying something like:
- Please don’t use overly sexual or abusive language when contacting me. This is a professional service and I expect to be treated as a professional.
Using such wording can be useful down the line to refer back to if a person starts to be abusive or to harass you.
Taking Calls and Boundary Setting
- Decide what you will and won’t discuss on the phone and stick to it.
- Decide the hours when you will have your phone on and be firm in sticking to them.
- Some sex workers found the more timewasting or troublesome clients tended to call late night/early morning hours, including drunk or ‘partying’ clients. This might be something for you to consider.
- A lot of experienced workers choose to disengage from annoying, needy or demanding texts and emails and they also save the number as ‘ignore’ or ‘problem client’ or something else to warn them not to pick up the phone or respond to texts.
- You could also simply tell a troublesome enquirer/client that you are fully booked. This prevents unnecessary exchanges.
- If they persist, some workers use simple but firm words like: ‘I’m sorry I don’t think I’m the worker for you, I wish you well’. It’s all about gentle but clear and neutral wording that hopefully will diffuse a situation before it happens.
Industry Abbreviations and Safety
There is a huge array of terms used for adult services. These are readily available online so we have chosen not to include them in this document. It may be worth looking into industry specific language before negotiating services with clients, not being aware of some commonly used terminology could lead to unfortunate situations of agreeing to a service that you are not comfortable with. For example, one worker we consulted, who was new to the business, misunderstood A-levels to mean the client was requesting a role play session when “A-levels” is a common way of referring to anal sex.
Language and Diffusing Situations
- When you are already in a difficult situation and the client is there standing in front of you, try to stay calm and try to diffuse the situation.
- The language you use can help you to diffuse or ‘de-escalate’ a potentially difficult or dangerous situation. So long as it isn’t an emergency (in which case you would follow your own emergency system) you can be clever with your words, speak in a low but firm tone, use friendly sensitive language and try to show understanding.
- Use terms such as: ‘I understand you’re feeling frustrated, but I did make it clear I don’t do that (activity)’ or ‘I think we’ve got crossed wires here, the fee is, I accept cash upfront’ and ‘Ah right, I understand now, no that doesn’t feel right to me’. Note the language here, which are just examples.
Some assertiveness trainers and personal development coaches call this ‘owning’ or ‘neutral language’ or ‘the quick diffuser’. What this means is, instead of using words like: ‘you can’t talk to me like that’, ‘you already know my fees, they’re on the website’ or ‘stop harassing me, you’re making me feel…’, what you are communicating is your truth, your boundaries and the essential thing here is that you are ‘not blaming’ the client with the language you use – this can diffuse a potentially difficult conversation.
- Even if you must bite your lip until you leave or the session ends, it is well worth it to prevent a problem.
- If they are asking you to do something you don’t want to do, distraction is often a great remedy: ‘How about we try…. I think this would be fun…’, that kind of thing. In the worst-case scenario if your client isn’t listening, using the gentle, owning not blaming, technique can still help, and it might even be worth waiving your fee in order to encourage them to leave. Short term loss, yes, but you might be grateful for them shutting the door as they leave.
If you feel you are in danger calmly invite the client to leave. You may need to leave if this is the safest thing to do.
Social Media and Your Safety
- Some workers have said that potentially troublesome clients had seen their posts on social media and sent them abusive texts, so try to keep your posts light and/or work specific.
- Be mindful what information you share. Most sex workers have completely separate social media accounts (for those who have them) for work and personal, with different personas.(See protecting your privacy section).