09 March 2017

​The Red Files story so far…

My name is Estelle Lucas and I’m the founder of Red Files. I’m currently, as of 09/03/2017, the only Director. This is my story with Red Files so far.

Three years ago I embarked on the journey to observe, research, analyse, imagine, organise, build, negotiate, manage, consult and now launch a database where sex workers could inform each other about dangerous or nuisance clients and situations in their workplace.

This all started when I had to helplessly witness my friends and peers repetitively hurt by incidents that could have been prevented. I watched serial abusers and offenders get away with abusing, discriminating and harassing my own again and again and again, because no one seemed to respect our bodies, our time and our choices. I had enough - I wanted change.

I looked to the past to learn of the mistakes from our foremothers and fathers. I looked at what everyone else was doing, consulted with them and thought of how to improve current efforts to support sex workers. Then I looked to the future and I dreamed big. I filled in the gaps that were missing.

I had to design something with a strong foundation, something that could hold hundreds, maybe thousands of sex workers safely. I needed it to last forever. I needed it to be protected from the inside and impenetrable from the outside. Theoretically, the plan wasn’t so hard – it was the doing that proved to be the hardest. I was in no way qualified to be the doer, I had to learn as I went. I learned many things the hard way. I placed one brick upon the other trying not to think of how much my arms hurt. There was a method to my madness – the sweat and tears were temporary state. But love doesn’t die and love was driving me.

It didn’t matter how long it took to build this structure, this space, so long as it was built. The mugs and the dangers they posed to sex workers weren’t going anywhere, and so I had to commit to building a safer space for the community. When I threw away the towel, and called it quits, I found myself returning to the project whether I liked it or not.

I have written over 200,000 words. I have spent thousands of hours. I have sent off money I’ll never seen again. I have talked and listened to those more experienced than me for hours. I cried a lot. I smiled just as much. I have been scrutinised, dismissed, judged, discouraged and patronised. I have equally been respected, encouraged, supported and appreciated. I have been broken and miserable. I’ve laid idly in my bed, drinking or fucking my pain away. And then I rebuilt myself and went on with it. Many sex workers have helped me. It’s taken me two years longer than I had hoped. Red Files has been the hardest project of my life and greatest character building exercise. Experiencing the things I have in such high volume, with such severity, is a lot for one human to digest. That’s my story with Red Files so far, and it’s only the first phase. I look back at my story and I laugh. Was it worth it? Of course, without a doubt. I'd do it again, if it meant we all had the opportunity to co-create our future industry.

I am a philosopher and a dreamer at heart – not a leader or a maintainer. I am the spark that lights the flame but I’m not the fuel or the oxygen that keeps the fire going and growing. I would love the opportunity to step back as a Director and have those sex workers who are capable, willing and dedicated to step up and fill in the roles needed.

As Red Files has opened its doors I invite you to make Red Files part of your story and be a co-writer with me. Walk into what I have created and improve it. Make it your home. Feel free to change things, to adjust things, to make it fit for you. Red Files is a give-take system. I have given you the spine and book cover for this story to be written in. Contribute, make it stronger, and help it grow. Like anything, Red Files will wither and crumble if it is neglected, but it can also flourish and enliven so many lives with attention, participation and love. There’s so much you can do. All you have to do is commit.

Let’s all write the Red Files story together, as a community, and let’s never let another sex worker be hurt, lost or forgotten again. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

With lots of love,
Estelle Lucas.