Holding a Story is Sacred…”Dixie Fund” helps Women Leave the Sex Industry
by Emily Mills
The weight of holding a story is a sacred one. Holding your own narrative, really owning your story is powerful. I learned how to own my story through an unlikely source. Commercial sex exploits, women working in the sex industry, invited me into the journey of self-discovery. Over a decade ago, I began reaching out, extending myself to women in strip clubs. Looking back, I know now why I was there. It wasn’t about saving “them”… it was about knowing myself. Through the sacred journey of holding their stories, I began to own mine.
Like many of the women I met, I too experienced childhood sexual abuse. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with this term. I was no victim. I was a survivor. I didn’t “need” anything from anyone. I would learn how to do life on. my. own. And this attitude is EXACTLY the story of a commercial sex exploit. What a perverted sense of pride I had found in “pulling myself up by the bootstraps”. My addiction bore the markings of religion, theirs the sex industry. What was the difference? Both of us used something to make us feel powerful. Needless to say, God has continued to save me daily through the work of Jesus Said Love, a ministry sharing the revolutionary love of Christ with women in the commercial sex industry. I have learned that I am she, and she is me…and we’re in this life together.
Last year, we embarked on our first gala-esque fundraiser, Wild Torch. A night carrying the story of the women we reach through the visual and performing arts. It was purely magical. This year, Wild Torch will blaze on April 11, 2016, at the Hippodrome. Our concept is to swim up the river a bit and through the arts answer the question, “Where does the life of a commercial exploit begin?” And while we can’t make grand assumptions and sweeping generalizations, the statistics and data are flooring:
- The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry is 12 years old for a female.
- Upwards of 80% of commercial sex exploits were sexually abused as children.
- 70% of all human trafficking victims in the US come through the commercial side.
- The number one risk factor for human trafficking is poverty.
- 89% of women in the commercial sex industry say they want out but have no other means of survival.
For more facts and information visit: http://jesussaidlove.com/freeher-facts
While the data is gut wrenching, Wild Torch will display the remarkable story of three women who have beat the odds of the industry! Through powerful dance, song and film we will share and celebrate their resiliency! The funds raised this year will go toward The Dixie Fund, a transition fund for women escaping the industry. Through this fund we not only are able to alleviate financial crises due to leaving the industry, but also empower women with funding for entrepreneurial endeavors!
Last year’s funds went to refurbishing the new JSL headquarters at 1500 Columbus. This year, funds raised for The Dixie Fund will help us transition women out of the industry through educational programs and job training, employ former exploits, and launch businesses! Come carry fire with us at Wild Torch 2016! Find out more at www.wildtorch.com.
Emily Mills received her B. A. in Communications from Baylor University. While at Baylor, Emily participated in various opportunities to serve the marginalized and lead worship. This began her passionate pursuit to “put feet” on the songs she was singing. In 2003, while leading worship at a conference for women exiting the sex industry, these two worlds collided and Jesus Said Love was born. Emily continues to lead worship around the country with her husband, Brett. They have three children: Hattie, Lucy and Gus. To learn more about Wild Torch, visit wildtorch.com or our website JesusSaidLove.com. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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