The SWEET Violence Prevention & Needs Assessment Survey for Sex Workers in Austin TX / Travis County is a groundbreaking research study being conducted and led by peers with active lived experience in the sex trade industry. We are collecting data through surveys and interviews on 1) health and social impacts of criminalization and stigma of sex work among sex workers of all genders, races, and age, 2) sources of violence in sex workers lives (domestic / interpersonal / familial, state & police, clients) and what kinds / to what extent violence is experienced, 3) interactions with police and impacts on personal and community development, 4) access to social, legal, and health services, and 5) needs assessment for developing services.
You can donate to support this project through cash app: $atxsweet with "survey" in the memo.
The purpose of the study is to collect information from people who trade or sell sex or sexual labor for money or material resources about their experiences with violence and ability to access various services in Austin TX / Travis County. We want to hear from local individuals who have participated in the sex trade industry regardless of whether it was motivated by personal choice, financial circumstance, or trafficking / coercion / force.
When we say "sex work" and "sex trade", we mean any sale or trade of sex or sexual labor for money or other material resources (like drugs, food, transportation, housing, etc). During this study, we may use the term “sex worker” to refer to any individuals who trade sex or sexual labor. We want to hear from sex workers, or people who trade sex or sexual labor (for any reason), because those voices are often ignored in conversations about public safety.
Sex workers, or individuals who trade or sell sex or sexual labor, include but are not limited to: full service sex workers, street based sex workers, survival sex workers, escorts, strippers, BDSM / fetish workers, erotic massage providers, phone and webcam sex providers, sugar babies, OnlyFans and paid online content creators, and anyone else who trades sex or sexual labor for money or resources (for any reason).
Click here to receive more information about this Violence Prevention research project.
Why are we doing this?
There is currently no reliable data about people who sell or trade sex in austin / travis county, outside of arrest data. Organizations that do not serve sex workers as a primary target population and are also not run by sex worker organizers (like health clinics or domestic violence advocacy centers) do not have reliable data. This is because people who trade and sell sex or sexual labor are not always comfortable self-reporting their activity to agencies that do not provide a culturally sensitive environment or representation of sex workers in leadership.
This lack of data is a huge barrier to peer-led organizations receiving funding for services and staffing, and increases the stigma and criminalization that sex workers face from the government and society. We intend to use this data to demonstrate the needs and experiences of our community members to the general public, as well as to funders, service providers, lawmakers, and other stakeholders. By centering those with lived experience, we aim to explore how criminalization and stigmatization of sex work and sex workers contribute to the different kinds of violence our community members face.
● The data we collect will be used to demonstrate that decriminalization and de-stigmatization of
sex work/ers are essential steps in the effort to reduce violence towards sex workers, and may have significant impact for the future of sex worker led organizing in this region.
● The financial incentives we provide to study participants will allow individuals to share their experiences without being burdened by the time and emotional commitment.
● The leadership of individuals with active lived experience in the sex trade industry will allow us to collect and produce more accurate data; studies have shown that hard-to-reach populations are more accurately represented in data collection when their peers are directly involved in the research process.
● The impacts of this data on the political culture and treatment of sex work in the state’s capitol
region has the potential to similarly shape policy throughout Texas. These ripple effects will reach
other conservative states which view Texas as a model, providing many pathways for shifts in
policy that will benefit individuals in our industry across the country.
● The guide we produce will allow other community-led organizations to replicate this process to
collect data that is specific to their region.