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The impact of trauma // Bella’s Story

Posted: 14/03/2017

At Women’s Services we’re passionate about providing support to women who face multiple barriers, many of which are often compounded by the stigma and marginalisation that comes from working in the sex industry.

Women's Services

At Women’s Services we’re passionate about providing support to women who face multiple barriers, many of which are often compounded by the stigma and marginalisation that comes from working in the sex industry. Here’s a glimpse into one our clients lives and support we were able to provide, because of our service.

Bella arrived in Sydney in her late 20s shortly after making a transition from male to female. Inner-city Sydney was a refuge for Bella compared to her conservative upbringing in regional Queensland, where she had suffered public humiliation, widespread discrimination and rejection from her family due to her gender. This exclusion from society led Bella into sex work as an occupation, as she was unable to find work and had to support herself. When she arrived in Kings Cross, Bella quickly made friends in the transgender sex worker community, and found they were a tight knit group which looked out for each other.

However after experiencing a significant violent assault from a client, Bella’s mental health deteriorated. She found she was too terrified to leave the house, and was tortured by nightmares. Bella’s health declined and she developed significant health problems, and continued to suffer with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Bella had almost no support, with no family contact and a limited circle of friends, and her complex needs combined with agoraphobia meant that many services had not been able to meet her needs, and others refused to work with her, and she didn’t know where to turn.  

Bella was moved to tears when Women’s Services called her after a peer referral and she was offered tailored flexible and ongoing support. Bella has received case management support to engage in health programs and mental health support. Bella’s case worker worked with Bella to advocate for her with several government agencies which Bella feels have discriminated against her due to her gender. As a result, Bella was placed on the priority housing list, a breakthrough after several years of trying to advocate for herself.

Through the encouragement she received at Women’s Services, Bella has grown in confidence and regularly attends open house events at Women’s Services, which are the highlight of her social life. She has reconnected with some of her old friends and made some new ones. Bella tells the staff at Women’s Services that now she has a hope for her life and that she can be happy and strong despite what she has been through.