The Sex Workers Outreach Project is an example of an organization that walks – even marches - its talk. SWOP’s work and influence reach far; they manage to do a great deal of good with often very limited resources. As a psychotherapist and sex therapist who has long worked with marginalized sexualized communities, an increasing amount of whom are sex workers, I've been impressed by SWOP's on-the-ground, in-the-trenches approach to advocacy, education and their commitment to stopping the violence and discrimination that sex workers experience in far greater degrees than almost any other profession.
As our society becomes more accepting and more and more sex workers become comfortable talking about their work, the more I realize how many sex workers I actually know – and love: my patients, friends, lovers, students, and even members of my family. This is part of why I donate to the Sex Workers Outreach Project regularly. SWOP USA's work toward ending the violence and discrimination against sex workers and replacing stigma and shame with education and access is exemplary. This is a movement I'm proud to be a part of – both personally and professionally. If you know a sex worker, or even if you don't, check out SWOP’s website (http://www.swopusa.org/) and think about joining our work.
David Ortmann, LCSW
New York City and San Francisco CA
Review from Guidestar
SWOP is amazing at defending and promoting the human rights of sex workers. The information they provide regarding emerging issues is immensely enlightening and helpful.
SWOP is at the forefront of ByUs/ForUs organizations working to end violence and stigma against those of us who do sex work, especially for those in criminalized forms of sex work, who live on the margins of society. They helped provide me with much of the information and support I needed to begin fighting for my own rights - and the rights and well-being of my community.
Being involved in SWOP has kept me from being isolated and has given me purpose in life. Constantly playing cat and mouse with the cops is very stressful and scary. With SWOP I feel like I have people who will help me if something bad happens to me. We are a tight knit group and it feels good to belong.
Getting involves with my local swop chapter has helped me challenge social stigma surrounding sex work and share resources with like others. SWOP is a great place to gain skills around community outreach, training, and advocacy.
For those who are in the sex trade, whether a worker working of their own volition or someone who is being trafficked, there is great need for education and services that can help. SWOP provides that. It is an organization of Sex Workers, former sex workers and sex worker activists, who strive to reduce harm in communities and reach out to those that society has thrown away. When most groups have their own idea about how sex work is to be dealt with SWOP allows the individual both dignity and choice.... Something that is not done enough in this day and age. This is an organization that does a great deal of good for their community, and that needs to be supported.
I first contacted SWOP because I needed a support group that catered to women like me. I am a "retired" Sex Worker. I had been out of the industry for about 6 years and my life was lacking something.
I felt a deep seated void in my soul and became very depressed. I had been quietly watching this Org grow over the last few years via their various social media accounts.
When I could no longer stand the pain from the emptiness I felt, I reached out to them and inquired about when they would be starting a chapter in San Antonio, the area I live in.
San Antonio offered nothing for Sex workers in way of a support system. SWOP USA, suggested that I organize a chapter here.
At first, I didn't know what to think, but then two of the Board members just happened to be in San Antonio, so I invited them over.
We had an enjoyable encounter and I felt comfortable with them.
That's when my whole life changed.
I decided to accept the challenge of organizing a chapter in San Antonio. It was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.
Since I became an official SWOP member, organizer, and founder of SWOP-San Antonio, I have felt the void, the emptiness, and the pain I had been feeling slowly disappear from my entire being.
SWOP members from chapters all across America have welcomed me with unconditional friendship and love, it is an acceptance of ME that I have never experienced or felt before.
I have never been happier and I owe it all to the way SWOP took me in and didn't treat me like an outcast because of my past.
I didn't/don't have to hide or keep secret anymore about what I have done for work for over 35 years. This alone has broken some of those chains that had me bound.
I am now SWOP-San Antonio and offering this same support to the areas Sex Workers.
This is a much needed project in many communities across the world for women in the sex industry, as we are, all too often, viewed with stigma and moral judgement and pushed into the shadows of society.
If not for SWOP, I don't know where I would be right now.
I have been "born again" and I feel like I am actually living for the very first time in my life. Thank you SWOP, you have made me whole again.
Review from Guidestar
SWOP-USA is a powerful grassroots, volunteer run organization dedicated to empowering the highly stigmatized and misunderstood sex worker community to organize and speak up for their rights. Due to respectability politics and criminalization, sex work can be an isolating occupation, and SWOP-USA helps to foster community and peer networking , so that sex workers can come together, support each other, and address the issues that impact them most. SWOP-USA is non-hierarchal, and every local Chapter has a huge amount of autonomy to pursue the issues that concern them most. SWOP-USA serves to provide mentorship, leadership, and fiscal sponsorship to local Chapters, and works to showcase all regional efforts, painting a clearer picture of the often overlooked and marginalized sex workers rights movement.
I have served as a volunteer with one of SWOP-USA's local Chapters, SWOP-Seattle, for 2 years, and have recently joined the Board of SWOP-USA. I am floored by the integrity and drive of this group, and expect to keep volunteering my time to this cause for a long time to come.
Review from Guidestar
I love SWOP--It's the only organization in the United States that is 100% devoted to supporting sex worker-led organizing around the country. It develops leaders. It builds grassroots groups in cities across the United States. And it does an amazing job of ensuring that culturally competent, empowerment-based options are there for people impacted by the sex trade and that sex worker voices get heard.
The national organization is transparent, flexible to local needs and local organizers, and just insanely filled with energy across the board. On a tight budget, SWOP, does an amazing job of ensuring funding and technical assistance is really hard-to-fund and hard-to support work.
Review from Guidestar