By: Darlene G. Snyder
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Imagine with me if you will that you just received a phone call from your daughter, sister, niece, or a close female friend who admitted she was working in the adult entertainment industry. More specifically, she was working as a stripper. After the shock, disgust, tears and grief has settled in, you try to understand why. There are many questions and you encourage her to leave that world behind. She tells you she wants out and has actually tried, but the drugs, the men and the need for money continues to drag her back into it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a phone number of an organization that could help get her out and who could offer her a safe place, with counseling and life skills training?
My friend _______ is a woman who has been caught up into the adult entertainment industry, working as a stripper. She is currently trying to get her life back together. She graciously connected me with the founder of http://www.refugeforwomen.org/, Ked Frank who allocated some time to talk to me, not only for me to learn about the ministry, but also the need for it. Ked says that in Kentucky alone there are five thousand women working in the adult entertainment industry. Some of course, are satisfied with their lifestyle choice, but many of these women are bruised, alone and searching for a way out.
While Ked was on staff at www.southlandchristian.org/in Lexington Kentucky, a member came to him to discuss a ministry she started a few years earlier. She and her daughter started the ministry by taking home cooked meals to the strip clubs. They would go into the back door and feed the girls who seldom enjoyed home cooked meals. She soon had others helping and that program went from a mother and daughter ministry to over 200 volunteers. These women forged friendships and bonds with the strippers and served as a witness to Christ’s love for them. When the mother came to him for help, she said there needed to be a next step – a place for the women to go who wanted to leave that world behind.
Because he had experience in working at a Refuge for Men program in Ohio, he knew how the program should work. A friend donated an old farmhouse for use by the Refuge. It was remodeled and redesigned using volunteers and donated supplies. They soon became a non-profit organization and Ked left Southland as a staff member to become Executive Director of Refuge for Women. The house completed for under $20,000.00, had room for seven women.
According to their website http://www.refugeforwomen.org/ “The Refuge for Women is a twelve-month holistic journey for women who wish to leave the adult entertainment industry. There is no charge to guests as they live and work together as a family towards healing. During their time at The Refuge, women will develop and work on a “Life Plan” – focusing on physical and emotional health, spiritual growth, education, and life skills necessary for a stable and productive life. As women complete their time with us, they will have the opportunity to serve other women in the industry through ministry internships, or may choose to pursue resources towards further education and stable employment.”
Ked says that some women come into the program, but finds it too difficult to either abide by the strict rules, or they just can’t take the next step. He likens their hesitation to John 6 where Jesus was teaching on the mountain.
John 6: 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (NIV)
When the level of commitment goes up, it becomes too hard and the people walk away. As the commitment becomes harder, then it is human nature to walk away and give up. It is hard to change patterns. Jesus knew from the beginning what they would do. He knew some would find it difficult to follow his teachings.
Ked also knows that this program, which by the way is not just a program for Kentucky, will not help every woman in the adult entertainment business who says they want out. It will help only those willing to make the commitment it takes. National average is a 10% success rate in programs such as this. The girls in the industry feel that even as bad as it is, as bad as they are being treated, they are comfortable in their chaos. They are trying to survive – the thought of something better gets harder and harder to see. They don’t know how to do anything else.
Consider the following information found on the website http://www.refugeforwomen.org/ :
- The sex industry is a 97 billion worldwide business annually
- There are more strip clubs in the United States than any other nation in the world.
- There are 3,829 adult cabarets nationwide, employing over 500,000 people.
- Statistics show that a single gentlemen’s club in a major metropolitan area averages between $10-20 million per year in gross revenues. A small club in a rural area (Less than 5000 square feet) can generate over a million dollars, while cities in secondary markets such as Cleveland or Pittsburgh have clubs that gross approximately $2 million per year.
- The number of major strip clubs nearly doubled between 1987 and 1992, and by 1997 there were around 3000 clubs nationally. The industry is estimated to be a 15 billion dollar business, with the annual revenues of strip clubs ranging from $500,000 to over 5 million (Hanna, 2005; Schlosser, 1997).
- A study of exotic dancers found that 100% had been physically assaulted in the clubs where they were employed, with a prevalence ranging from 3-15 times over the course of their involvement in exotic dancing. Violence included physical assault, attempted vaginal penetration, attempted rape, and rape (Holsopple, 1999).
- In another study, 51.2% of women working as exotic dancers were threatened with a weapon (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004).
- Between 66-90% of women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children.
- More women are employed by the sex industry than any other time in history.
- Compared to the general population, women in the sex industry experience higher rates of: substance abuse issues, rape and violent assault, sexually transmitted diseases, domestic violence, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is obvious this is an area where Christians need to focus some time and energy. For too long now, this has been a taboo area for Christians. It is a prime opportunity to show God’s love, grace and redemption.
Consider words of ___________ from one of her updates on a social network,
“I’m not a perfect girl; my hair doesn’t always stay in place. I spill a lot of things. I’m pretty clumsy and sometimes I have a broken heart and maybe some days nothing goes right but when I think about it and take a step back to remember how amazing life truly is and maybe, just maybe I like being imperfect.”
“When I say I am a Christian, I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.”
This is a girl truly touched by the grace of God and by loving Christians who were not afraid to get their hands dirty. At the moment, _________ is living temporarily in an old remodeled farmhouse, which is located in the middle of nowhere; getting the professional help she needs and is being helped by employees and volunteers connected to the http://www.refugeforwomen.org/ program.
To discover ways you can help, check out the Refuge for Women’s website.