“Why do you do strip club outreach?” is a question that we get a lot at Disrupting Traffick, and there are a few important reasons why this outreach is critical to the work that we do. But first let’s back up a little.
To understand our outreach, it’s first important to dispel some commonly held misconceptions about strip clubs in general. One major misconception is that all dancers are trafficking victims. This is not always the case, and trafficking changes with the market. Another misconception is that clubs are responsible for trafficking. In Nebraska, that’s not what we typically see. However, we do see traffickers attempting to recruit human trafficking victims out of clubs, which often goes undetected.
The fact that we aren’t seeing a lot of trafficking in clubs here in Nebraska is very area-specific – even when you get to Kansas City and Minneapolis it looks much different.
But even if dancers aren’t currently being trafficked, many have a history of trafficking and sexual abuse. The more you understand about how sexual abuse plays into the sex industry as a whole, the more you understand why individuals who work in the adult entertainment are at higher risk for exploitation, and the cross-over ease is much higher.
Approximately one in four American women are raped before the age of 16. Between 66% and 90% of women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children. That abuse is typically perpetrated by people they know well. Research show that women working in the sex industry experience PTSD at rates equivalent to veterans of combat.
What we’re doing when we go into strip clubs is we are forming a connection with the dancers. We are building relationships and providing a safe space, a true community, to prevent sexual exploitation.
If you think about it, strip clubs are often the front line, where traffickers surreptitiously try to groom and recruit. We are a preventative resource that dancers can trust if they or someone they know is being groomed by pumps. By building relationships, we foster trust, community, and frontline prevention.
If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of this aspect of our work, we have a “Why Strip Club Outreach” webinar that explores this question further.
And I want to thank you – all of you – for asking these questions, for caring, and wanting to learn. One thing I can tell you, it’s that kind of compassion and openness that fosters connection. And connection is what fosters change.