Who are you?
I am a girl on a journey with God.
How did you end up in the stripping industry?
Ultimately what led me into the sex industry was a long-term abusive relationship with a guy from my neighborhood who essentially became my pimp. I met him when I was 11. At the age of 13, my mother left me alone to care for my 8 year old brother. When my mom left, he came around, bought me food, made me feel protected and showed me the male attention I so desperately desired. Some people would call this “grooming”. He came from a pimp mentality and had it in his mind to “sell” me from the get go. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a victim of trafficking, although there was definitely a lot of coercion that went into me ending up in a strip club. And each night, I came home and gave him all of my money. By the end of it, he had recruited one of my co-workers to do the same. I felt completely hopeless and trapped.
How can we help prevent more young girls from being sucked into this industry?
I believe that early intervention for victims of sexual abuse is needed. When a victim is identified, it is important that she (he) has a safe place to talk about these experiences (ie counseling, support groups, a school counselor etc). This will help reduce the shame and isolation they feel. Also, hopefully they will be less likely to connect their sexuality with their self-worth.
What is Treasures?
Treasures is about reaching and restoring women. Our core message to the women is that they are loved, valued and purposed. This message is so powerful that many women collapse in our arms and weep at hearing it. We believe that true transformation is the result of a heart changed by the love of God.
What does your memoir mean to Treasures?
Why tell your story?
When it comes to the sex industry, I am passionate about humanizing the woman on the other end of the dollar. I believe that story is one of the most powerful and effective tools for doing this. If you see the humanity in someone, it becomes difficult to objectify and sexualize them. It also becomes difficult to judge them. And it is my hope that readers will see themselves in my story and will be encouraged that there is no place too far from God’s reach.
Have you been able to forgive your perpetrators?
Forgiveness has been an ongoing journey. I believe forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. And there have been people that I have had to choose to forgive again and again. Each time the hurt and pain comes up in my heart, I have to forgive. I believe it was Maya Angelou that said, “Forgiveness is setting someone free and realizing the prisoner was you.” I really relate to this because I have found that forgiveness is healthy for my own heart. Forgiveness is the avenue to freedom.
What’s one thing you would want to convey to someone who has been a victim of human trafficking?
Each of us who end up in the sex industry have a unique story that led us there. And while I can’t assume to fully grasp each person’s unique experience, I do know what it’s like to feel unloved, unworthy, degraded, trapped, and hopeless. AND I know that healing and restoration is possible. I strongly believe that Jesus is able to take our pain and use it for purpose and that our past does not have to define our future.
We want to thank Harmony for allowing us to feature her on our blog. We hope that all of our readers, both victims and non-victims, will take the time to check out the Treasures website to find out more about the impact Harmony’s ministry is having on victims of the sex industry. You can also read her memoir, Scars and Stilettos to learn more about her journey to becoming who she is today.