Please be aware that this story discusses rape.
Nadine (real name not used) engages in survival sex often to sustain her drug dependency. Individuals engage in survival sex when they have an immediate need that must be met.
We met Nadine one day at a day shelter. She was shivering, cold and upset. This is unusual for Nadine, who is usually feisty and bubbly. We took Nadine into a quiet room to speak to her and she disclosed to us that she had been raped.
A man had told Nadine that he would pay her after sex. Usually, Nadine would always take payment first, but she was beginning to suffer withdrawals and was desperate for the money, so she agreed. The man refused to pay her afterwards. This is classed as rape as Nadine had only consented for the agreed payment, had she known he wouldn’t pay she would not have consented. Nadine had spent the rest of the day begging in the cold to afford her drugs.
We talked to Nadine about her options, including reporting the man to the police. Nadine mistrusts services and did not want to contact the police. We helped Nadine connect with the local centre for women who experience sexual violence where she could receive specialist support. Nadine is also receiving counselling.
We need services, councils, and the government to recognise the challenges women face, and to respond with increased gender specific spaces, support and services. That way we can ensure women are truly supported, and truly counted.
For women experiencing homelessness, please know that support is out there. Our outreach workers can offer support and advice, as well as signposting to services in West Yorkshire that support women. Please get in touch with our team.