The Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion program is an intensive education-based program for women who have been arrested for prostitution. The program provides the opportunity to avoid jail time and to divert women from reoffending.

Friday, 01 February 2019

Finding Freedom After Sex trafficking

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You would never suspect it, but for most of Jenny’s life she hid a secret. From the age of 15, Jenny learned that she could get everything she needed including drugs or money — by selling her body.
She hid this part of life. As a single mom, Jenny did whatever she could to provide for her three kids. She had no support and took pride in providing everything the family needed by herself.

Escaping Controlling Pimp

In 2018 she hit rock bottom. “I was working two jobs and working the streets at night. My rent was $2,400 per month and I couldn’t pay it,” said Jenny. A controlling pimp was taking Jenny’s money and abusing her. She couldn’t take it anymore.
In February, she packed her car with her kids and their clothes and drove from California to Arizona for a fresh start. She said that starting with nothing was a relief after what she had been through. 

Freedom at a Price

Things were better for a while, then the unthinkable happened. “My pimp found me. I was terrified,” said Jenny. Her pimp did everything he could to control her, even threatening her kids. He told her she could have her freedom, for a price.
Jenny went back out to work the streets, but she really wanted to be free. And she wanted her kids to be free. Instead, she was arrested for prostitution.
“I was a 38-year-old woman who had carried this secret for half my life,” said Jenny. Now that everything was exposed, Jenny knew her life had to change.

Dignity Diversion

She learned about Catholic Charities Dignity Diversion program, an intensive education-based program to divert women from reoffending. This program includes a 36-hour educational class, rehabilitation services that offer support, education and resources as well as life skills class. Once classes are completed the charges can be dismissed.
“This program changed my life. It gave me hope and it gave me strength,” said Jenny. She committed herself to changing, both for herself and for her kids. “Change is possible if you want it bad enough. When you want it, you’ll find a way to get it, even if you have to crawl through fire on your hands and knees.”
Jenny has worked hard her new life. She worked through the Dignity Diversion program and found a job earning minimum wage. “I started at the bottom, but now I’m a manager,” said Jenny. She would often work two,- 8 hour shifts a day and ride a bike to and from work.
Jenny’s biggest regret is the impact her life has had on her children. For a time, her oldest son turned to drugs. Now he is clean and living on his own. Her other children have also overcome a lot. They are now proud of their mom and the life they have.
The controlling pimp was arrested and is serving 2 years. 

Strength through Faith

Through tears, Jenny recounts her darkest moments and how God provided her strength to keep going. The story of the Prodigal Son is one that Jenny relates to. “I had to find God again. I lost Him, but He never left me. I got my faith back and my relationship with God today is beautiful.”
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