Client and Partner Violence Among Urban Female Exotic Dancers and Intentions for Seeking Support and Justice

J Urban Health. 2017 Oct;94(5):637-647. doi: 10.1007/s11524-017-0195-5.


Urban female exotic dancers are thought to experience unique risk for violence and barriers to care, though limited research has focused on this aspect of urban sex industries. We characterize recent client-perpetrated and intimate partner violence (IPV) and their correlates, and describe women's intentions for violence-related help-seeking, among venue-based exotic dancers in a high-risk urban environment. We conducted a cross-sectional study with new female exotic dancers (n = 117) in Baltimore, MD. Over one third (36%) reported intimate partner violence (IPV), and 16% reported client physical or sexual violence, in the six months prior to the survey. Both forms of violence were correlated with arrest, sex trade, substance use, and childhood abuse. Violence-related help-seeking intentions were highest for club management. Intentions to seek help from police and violence-related support hotlines were lowest among those with recent experiences of violence. Recent violence, particularly from intimate partners, was pervasive in this sample of female exotic dancers, and enabled by substance use, criminal history, and sex trade. Preferences for help within venues, rather than the justice sector and publicly funded support services, indicate the need for systems reform to meet the needs of this high-risk group of women.

Keywords: Exotic dancers; Justice; Violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dancing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Young Adult