MARTINEZ, Ga. (BP)–Her name was Amy and she wanted out of prostitution. I came across her in some research for an article. The topic was ministries to the sex industry. And Amy said some things I hadn’t unexpected.
Amy lived in Memphis after having run away from foster homes. She was raped at age 5, with more abuse through childhood.
So she ended up on the street as a 10-year-old. That meant sleeping in gas station bathrooms. Then a car pulled up and offered a ride. It was the owner of a topless club nearby. He let Amy live in his house.
That led to a career in the sex industry. Amy began as a waitress, then a topless dancer and finally a prostitute. She couldn’t remember school, only nights filled with strange men and fear.
“I used to wash with lice shampoo every week,” she said. “I didn’t have lice, but it made me feel cleaner.”
The abuse continued, with the club owner demanding sex for himself and friends.
“I thought that was what life was about,” Amy said. “Everywhere I went, that’s what they did.”
Years passed and the desperation grew. Finally she went home early one night, wanting to end her life. She pulled out seven phone numbers from different Christian groups in Memphis and was about to give up when the seventh answered.
It was a woman named Carolyn McKenzie. She was a nurse with her own family but ran an outreach for women who wanted out of the sex trade.
Carolyn took Amy into her house, arranged free medical care and started the girl back in school toward a career as a cosmetologist.
But her problems continue with men. Amy can’t be in a room with one or even ride in a car alone. The panic starts and the hatred returns.
That’s understandable. She’s still a child inside with emotional wounds. Men in those sex clubs thought Amy really liked them.
“I did it for the money,” she said.
Amy had no feeling. It was an act. Customers expect workers to enjoy the encounter.
But the girls involved feel repulsed. And that’s the irony.
Jesus gives us a pattern for real love. It’s sacrifice for the needs of others and not demanding your own.
Women respond to that message. Commit and serve, not take and use.
Amy’s getting better but it will take more time and help.
“Carolyn is like a real mother to me,” she said. “They’re my family [that] I’ve been looking for all these years.”
Renick is a writer from Martinez, Ga., and a member of Curtis Baptist Church, Augusta, whose “Time and Season” column was syndicated by Hometown News in Spartanburg, S.C.