Washington Post

Stripping away the stigma: Christian ministries help women escape sex industry

This story appeared in The Washington Post and in media outlets across the nation.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion News Service

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — The smoke, the loud music and the smell of perfumes trigger uncomfortable memories for Polly Wright.

But Wright ignores those reminders of her past as she and a troupe of women make their way to the strip club’s dressing room to deliver gift bags filled with fingernail polish, colorful earrings and handwritten notes with messages such as “I’m praying for you.”

The bags also contain tubes of lip gloss with contact information where dancers can receive help and support. A finger can cover the tiny print so a pimp or abusive boyfriend can’t see it.

“We are in there saying, ‘You are loved, valued and cherished, and you are not alone,’” said Wright, founder and executive director of We Are Cherished, a faith-based organization that regularly visits more than 50 adult entertainment venues throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Across the nation, dozens of similar ministries, such as Treasures in Los Angeles, Jewels in Salt Lake City and Beauty From Ashes in Fort Myers, Fla., provide emotional support and a potential way out for prostitutes and other sex workers.

Such organizations often partner with law enforcement authorities to identify and help the tens of thousands of women and teens who feel trapped in an X-rated industry that generates billions of dollars a year in profits.

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