The present article refers to an empirical study emerged by the collaboration of the Forensic Unit of the Second University Psychiatric Department and the prison services regarding the case of 27 HIV – positive sex workers who were arrested and prosecuted under the charge of attempting both serious and intended physical injury. Although sex workers had attracted the lights of publicity in the past, never before individuals were being pilloried for having AIDS. Members of the Forensic Unit, assessed the women’s psychological state, address their specific mental health needs and developed a rehabilitation plan. During the interview process we have approached them form a relational standpoint perceiving this type of procedure as a violation of interpersonal relationships. It became evident that those women had been living as both victims and offenders, since patterns of recurring physical and/or sexual relational standpoint use were present throughout their childhood and adult life. Most of those women viewed past trauma experiences as a baseline for tolerating the current stigma and secondary victimisation. Within that context those women received care, developed mutual understanding and felt safe to share their stories as both victims and “offenders” gradually refraining from self – harming behaviours. Is this the beginning of a restorative process?
sex workers, HIV positive, stigma, abuse, secondary victimisation