Survival sex within the context of Domestic and Family Violence.

November 23, 2018

The interest that I have in this topic stems from a young client who was murdered just a few days shy of her 18th birthday in 1999. She partook in the hidden life of prostitution and had numerous “boyfriends” who were violent and entrusted by her to ensure her safety.  The money she made feed the addictions of many in her life at that time.

She was fragile and vulnerable and the man who ultimately took her life believed that he had a relationship ‘of sorts’ with her. She used her sexuality as a mask and in brief moments in time, such as the lead up to the sex was the only time she felt that she was not vulnerable – she was in control. Over the years since her passing, I have looked for research that discusses not what happens behind closed doors, but behind the bedroom door when Domestic and Family Violence is present.

Survival sex is a term loosely applied within the homeless communities and refugee camps however can the same be said of the survivors within DFV. Is it act of survival or the feeding into the sense of entitlement that the perpetrator wields?

My name is Karla Reardon and I currently worked within the Domestic and Family Violence sector. I have previously held employment within Child Protection (Victoria and Northern Territory) and more recently with Qld’s Department of Child Safety, Women and Youth.  I previously held the position of Senior Practice Reviewer within the Commission of Children and Young People (VIC). My interests within the field include; Trauma bonds, the role of ritualistic substance misuse within DFV relationship as well as delving further into the concept of survival sex.

Kate can be contacted at

For further information and to book tickets for the upcoming 2018 STOP Domestic Violence Conference please visit