Featured Contributors

Wrenna Robertson/Show Off Books >>
The Healing Power of Sex Work

(May 29, 2011)

Wrenna Robertson
There’s a story not often told about sex work. It’s a story that most of society would scoff at if they did hear it; write it off as pure, deluded fantasy. Many of us won’t allow it to be true. I am a sex worker, and even I immediately felt that it was too-tall-a-tale-to-tell. It’s the story of the empowered sex worker who finds healing through their work. The sex worker who has become more whole a person because of what they do. But it is a story which rings true for many of the incredible women and men I have had the pleasure of knowing, who work as strippers, escorts, tantric practitioners, porn actors and erotic masseurs.

I have been stripping for half of my life - since just days after my 18th birthday. Almost immediately I became aware of the judgment that would come my way until the present day – from friends, partners, parents, sisters and strangers. They all expressed their disappointment in me for having chosen to make money by taking my clothes off for strangers. When I explained to people that I was doing it to save money for university, they eased off a bit, conceding that it was indeed a good way to put oneself through school.

18 years later, I’m still stripping. It’s gotten harder in the past few years to explain this. For most of my years in the industry, I have been a university student. When I was younger, it was a very plausible story: the stripper working her way through college. I finished one degree, entered my mid-twenties, decided I was enjoying life too much as it was, so continued stripping, and headed back to school for another degree. I traveled lots, earned the envy of others while at the same time accumulating greater disdain. It was celebrated that I was so committed to my education, so well traveled and free-spirited, but there was a growing sense of impatience among my loved ones about when I would exit the sex industry. I internalized the knowledge that I was letting my parents down. The first in the family to get a university education (financed by my stripping career mind you), and I wasn’t even doing anything that my parents could share with their friends. They were getting bored of telling their friends that I was a student. They were getting restless, that story was getting old. Partners asked me when I planned to quit. Clients asked me when I was going to quit. Read More >>

Amanda Pettis/HOPE Center >>
Not in our town? Sexual assault happens here

(April 27, 2011)

Two years ago, I shared my story of abduction and stranger rape in the Northfield News. While my assault did not occur in Northfield, I was a bit shocked at some of the responses I received by people who said things like, “Well, this sort of thing doesn’t happen in our town.” Unfortunately this belief gets in the way of a common understanding of the prevalence of, and need for services for survivors of sexual assault.

I believe there is still much denial about what goes on in our community, but I am here to tell you that it does happen here. I have heard these first-hand accounts:
A college professor who was slipped a drug and date-raped.
A college student who was sexually assaulted by her long-term boyfriend.
A mother who was sexually violated by an acquaintance and colleague in her own home.
A male who was sexually abused by clergy for several years.
A single, working professional who was the victim of stalking at her work place.
They are mothers and they are children. They are teachers and they are students. They are men and women. They are rich and poor. They are from all ethnic groups and faith traditions.

And they were all victimized in Northfield [Minnesota, USA].

By sharing my story, I have enabled others to share their stories, sometimes for the first time, with me. Yet, I know there are countless others who still suffer in silence.

We can no longer say, “This doesn’t happen in my town.” But we can say, “We will not stand for this to happen in my town.” Because the overall health and vitality of the Northfield community depends upon everyone living without the fear of violence, we must raise public awareness about how sexual violence impacts our community and work to educate ourselves, our children and each other about how to prevent it. As a mother and concerned citizen, I urge you take the time to learn more about this issue and what steps you can take to create positive changes in your own life.

If you are ready to stand up and acknowledge that sexual violence is a problem in our town, please visit the HOPE Center’s Web site — stories are confidential. We want your hope and your healing. To share your story, or to sign the pledge, go to www.hopecentermn.org and sign the Voices Against Violence pledge. If you are so moved, please share your own story of sexual assault.

The HOPE Center is the only organization in Rice County providing free, direct support to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. It is also committed to creating zero tolerance for violence by collaborating with many community agencies and schools to provide education and prevention strategies in Northfield and all of Rice County.

Become a friend of HOPE Center on Facebook or check out our blog. And of course wear a teal ribbon in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence, whether it was 10 minutes ago, or 10 years ago — we are here to help.

--This article was originally published in the Northfield News during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (2010). The author served on HOPE Center’s board of directors.