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I was a professional dominatrix in Ukraine. Then, the war came

Felicia Vina shares her experience fleeing the war as a refugee sex worker.

 

Felicia Vina

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Posted on Oct 24, 2022   Updated on Nov 4, 2022, 2:09 pm CDT

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My name is Felicia Vina. I’m a professional porn actress and professional dominatrix from Ukraine, and this is my story. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the media showed the violence we, as Ukrainians, endured. But I want to share a different view: The violence of losing your income, country, and livelihood all at once—from war.

In my country, sex work is still forbidden. It’s illegal to shoot pornographic content and work as a dominatrix, with pro-domme work being classified as prostitution. However, Fifty Shades of Gray attracted the attention of Ukrainians to the subject of BDSM over the past decade. 

Ukrainians still lack sexual education. For many, even the most innocuous fetishes like foot worship may seem like a complete perversion. Even the word “dominatrix” carries a taboo notion in my country. Domination and BDSM is a counterculture, one you may not see when you see Ukraine in the news. But I, like many other sex workers in Ukraine, deserve to have my struggle seen and my story told.

War is the most terrible, frightening, and disgusting thing that ever happened to me. When Russian forces started bombing Ukraine on Feb. 24, I woke up in the morning, as if it was a normal day. Upon seeing what was happening to my nation, I could not believe the news. I was in near denial that it was even true. It was horrifying. 

I remember visiting my parents’ house, near Irpin, the next day. All night, I stayed awake, listening to the bombs exploding nearby. That’s when I decided it was necessary to evacuate. Unfortunately, my parents did not support my decision and stayed in their home. 

The road back to Kyiv from the train station felt like a scene from a movie. There were soldiers and tanks everywhere, the train station was in chaos. When I tried to get on the evacuation train, it felt like the Titanic. 

In their quest to reach safety, people were going wild, pushing each other so hard that I thought they might accidentally fall under the train. Police were shooting guns in the air to chase the men away so only women and children could board the train. There were 15 people with me in a four-person compartment. The reality of war.

The train left Kyiv and returned several times as the ongoing war limited our movement. Bombs were falling, it was not safe to go on, but it also wasn’t safe to stay. It was like a dream. 

I’m not sure that while I was still in Ukraine, I felt fear. I felt it three days later when I finally managed to cross the border into Romania. Not for myself per se, but for my family and my country.

A week after the evacuation, even in a safe place, my first thought when I woke up was that I was still in Kyiv. I feared a bomb could come falling from the sky at any moment before realizing I was safe.

During the evacuation, I spent time across five countries and ended up returning home to Kyiv nearly three months later. It is unbearably hard for me to remember that time. It was then that the Russian soldiers came to my father’s home. My mother had already been evacuated at that time. I couldn’t contact him for over a week.

I did not know what to think during this blackout period. His last message was that the Russians had come to our home. It was impossible to lead an everyday life when the only thing I wanted was for him to be alive. 

As soon as it was safer in Kyiv, once the Russians had withdrawn, I immediately rushed to return home. It’s impossible to describe what it was like to see my father and friends again, all those who had decided to stay in Kyiv. For the first few days, it felt like bliss to be in my hometown. When I left it in February, I was sure I would never be able to go home again. 

My hometown had changed during the war, though. It was new and different for me, and the people had also changed. People in Kyiv seemed to be used to the war and didn’t even pay attention to the air-raid sirens. 

When I played with my friend and submissive, he claimed that everything was fine, but because of the constant thoughts of war, he could never fully relax. He shared that he’s not sure he’d want a BDSM session until the war is over. Unfortunately, I live in the same condition myself. It’s as if the war is ingrained in my brain and is always in the background of my consciousness. 

How can I work when my life is under threat? My work is already not accepted in my nation, and people in crisis don’t have the means or the money to engage in BDSM. In one fell swoop, I lost my work and my life as I knew it to war. 

I don’t know how I can stay in Kyiv, I can’t work here as a dominatrix in the wake of war. I think the best thing I can do for my country is to leave, work, and donate money. There’s no space for me here. Even though the war has retreated from Kyiv, it is impossible to forget about it. Ukraine has changed, and so have I.

In the wake of the war, I’m getting ready to move to London. I want to be fully immersed in the kinky world of BDSM and work as a dominatrix. I want to feel safe again.

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*First Published: Oct 24, 2022, 12:00 pm CDT