It is said that pole dancers have a specific purpose; that they perform as a form of therapy for female survivors of sexual abuse and of physical abuse they may suffer as a result (Cullen & Kneiby 1981).
As a group, pole dancing combines two elements which are central to the sexual experience:
The pleasure derived from the physical contact with the partners
This is the theme through which the work of pole dancing draws its energy.
Pole dance and physical abuse are both forms of sexual abuse.
Pole dancers in particular, can be victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
What do pole dancers do to avoid such experiences?
Many dancers find it difficult to resist being the object of an abuse in the context of pole dancing. It is very common for them to want to make a statement about where their own feelings lie and who they identify with in a group setting. These are often not the words and attitudes of the perpetrator.
This is not to say that there is no abuse, not if you’re a pole dancer; but there is an overwhelming tendency to identify with the sexualized role of the pole dancer. It can be very challenging (and even scary) for someone without an understanding of pole dancing, to be aware of the issues of pole dancing in this context.
To avoid becoming a victim of sexual abuse, pole dancers cannot just avoid being the object of an abuse – they can also seek to become free from the experiences associated with the abuse.
In light of the history of sexual abuse suffered by women and girls in Australia, we are looking at ways to encourage and empower women and girls to overcome abuse before they start to engage in pole dancing, if they have not already done so.
This page is for those women and girls who are not yet victims of abuse and who don’t want to have their experience defined in this way – but who feel they may feel safer in the context of a community that encourages and provides women with support.
How can I be a part of changing the discourse on pole dancing?
You are not alone.
Every year an average of 2,900 women and girls die as a result of violence in Victoria (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012).
A study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that nearly one in four women who die of complications resulting from childbirth will have been subjected to sexual assault (Australian
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