Harlotry: I Sought Sex Work As Group Therapy After My Rape

sex work as group therapy

Cathryn Berarovich is something of a renaissance sex worker; she’s currently employed as a pro-domme at a fetish house but has held numerous interesting jobs in the adult industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.

This is a difficult essay to start. By the time it’s published, you will all have essentially seen me naked. I’m no stranger to varying degrees of public nudity, but that is completely different from the nakedness that comes with displaying one’s battered, stitched up heart on the internet.

I considered just diving right back into my sex work narrative and writing another musing about my profession or possibly sharing some amusing anecdote, but I don’t think any of us would be served well by such a piece. Instead, I’m writing about recovery again, this time in the context of community among sex workers.

I’ve been a sex worker in a community structure three times, all of which have been different, and I prefer working in a group to working independently for a number of reasons. The main reasons is, of course, that by working in an environment with other women who not only know exactly what you do, but do it themselves, you have a built-in support network.

I’ve already written about the sense of community and sisterhood at Paradox. We were a tiny, close-knit group, bound together by deadbeat partners who lived off our incomes, the bizarre behavior of the men who came to watch us spread our legs behind glass, and the kind of friendliness that can only come from sharing a 5×15 corridor with four or five other humans, their assorted possessions, and a makeup counter. We got along partly because we had to, making sure that anyone who threatened the tranquility of our tiny dressing room was summarily ejected.

At Heavenly Creatures, I found a similar sense of community.

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    • Ash

      Cathryn, you column is really superb and is now something I look forward to reading. At first, I began reading because of your honesty and candor about your chosen profession, a profession I know very little about. I’ve enjoyed reading from your point of view and being able to see beyond the stereotypes.

      As you acknowledged in this post, the focus of your last few entries has changed. First, I want to say that I admire and thank you for your bravery. Over the past year, I’ve started to become more aware of the effects of the assault I experienced. Without going into too much detail, I was sexually assaulted at 14 in a medical setting. I’ve always been aware of what happened and been able to talk about it. But it has all been on the surface. It has taken over 15 years for me to realize there has been an extensive ripple effect from what happened, from never having a romantic relationship to trust issues and fears. Your posts have helped me analyze and admit some of these things to myself and hopefully I’m starting to deal.

      Anyway, this has just been a really long way for me to say THANK YOU and that I hope you keep writing, because I will be reading