The "Viminal Space": A Life Between Victim and Criminal


Laura LeMoon & Alex Andrews | September 21 | 9:00-10:00 AM

Topic: Law Enforcement, Direct Service | Knowledge Level: Intermediate, Advanced

The Viminal Space, a term coined by Alex Tigchelaar for an art installation at the world-renowned Nuit Blanche art festival, explores the coerced social and legal construct of sex workers as victims or criminals, which often produces the same result: sex workers are victims if they do not agree to be criminalized, and criminals if they do not agree to be victimized. Services and support for people trying to survive in the sex trade - whether by choice, coercion or in the massive grey area between the two, often fall short of expectations, both for the victim as well as for the service provider. Access, stigma, gender identity, criminal record, substance abuse, trauma, age, race, and class are all factors that social service providers struggle with. The presenters have decades of lived experience with both receiving and providing services for survivors as well as sex workers. They will detail the necessary steps required to build trusting relationships with adults involved in the sex industry at the community level that will enable them to successfully transition out under their own steam and on their own terms for lasting success. Participants will explore new models of outreach and case management based on harm reduction approaches that will change the landscape of their work with trafficking victims and survivors.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Describe the difference between sex work and sex trafficking from a harm reduction perspective.

·  Discuss how street/survival based economies impact exploitation.

·  Convey how access, stigma, gender identity, criminal record, substance abuse, trauma, age, race and class intersect with exploitation.

·  Show how to navigate the worlds of clients/survivors who may have been incarcerated.

·  Explore what to do with victims or survivors who may have criminal charges pending.

·  Examine how to build relationships with people who engage in sex work as a means of survival at a community level.

About the Presenters