Beauty From Ashes Videos


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senate Hearing - In Our Own Backyard: Child Prostitution & Sex Trafficking in the United States

Watch the entire 2/24/10 Human Rights & Law Subcommittee Senate Hearing HERE

At state & local levels children are being arrested and prosecuted for prostitution, in conflict to federal law. Comprehensive services are desperately needed. Sexually exploited children are not criminals, they are victims and needed to treated as such!

Why Senator Wyden's S2925 Trafficking Victims Support Act needs to be revised: CLICK HERE

Watch Playground Video the hearing opened with:

Celebrating 5 Years, Licensed Therapists, Outreaches & More BFA News

Wow, how time flies! This month marks Beauty From Ashes 5th anniversary of being approved as a 501(c)3 public charity and we are just astonished at what God has done. To celebrate this milestone & many others, we'll be launching our new website soon. It will feature daily domestic news stories regarding sex trafficking and commercialized sexual exploitation (CSE), a new blog, simpler navigation, videos, media & more. FaithNetwork has been working with us since October of last year to get it exactly the way we want it & we can hardly wait to share it with you.

We thank all of you that have supported us through prayer, encouragement and monetarily over the past 5 years. Our milestones are yours. Without you we would not of been able to do what we have been able to accomplish. Know that we love you and appreciate you. We also know the BEST is yet to come and look forward to the what God has for us in 2010. For a Summary of Milestones: CLICK HERE

LICENSED THERAPISTS: February 11th at the Lee County Human Trafficking Task Force, Lieutenant Brad Hamilton of the Lee County Sheriff's Department, reported the biggest gap they see is in victims services (due to a lack of funding & resources) and specifically mentioned mental health & after care. We are excited to share with you that Beauty From Ashes have been offered the services of 7 local licensed therapists! They are Christians too!!!! The amazing thing is. we didn't even share the need with them, their overseer came to us! Truly a demonstration of Jehovah Jireh providing for our needs. I have personally worked with a Dr. Bobbie Maybee locally for 6 years and she's been seeing survivors I bring to her in the past three months. This gives us 8 licensed therapists that can provide mental health care services to the precious clients of Beauty From Ashes. Praise God!

STRIP CLUB OUTREACH PRAISE REPORT: We served a delicious Valentine's Day meal and gave away gift bags filled with the Word of God and beauty supplies at our local adopted strip club, Saturday February 13th. Big thanks goes out to the cooks and all who donated gift items! The team was asked to pray with 1/2 the employees and participated in group prayers inside the locker room throughout the whole time we were there. The best news came late in the outreach when we were informed that one of the dancers Julie led to the Lord AND prayed she be filled with the Holy Spirit last month LEFT the business for good AND was BAPTIZED! PTL! To view pictures of the outreach: CLICK HERE

STRIP CLUB OUTREACH: Our next outreach is this Saturday, February 27 6-10pm. We'll be serving up another comfort meal. Since we have been offered the therapists AND a facility to provide additional restoration services to these women, we are considering increasing our local outreaches and doing them every two weeks. Relationships are KEY and by going in more regularly we hope to bring more depth to the ones we have already firmly established. We will need more workers to accomplish this. Please contact us if you're interested in cooking, shopping, gift assembly or being on the outreach team.

BIBLES NEEDED: We are in need of Bibles to distribute during outreaches. We firmly believe in the power of the Word not returning void and include it in every outreach. We don't want to hand them lipgloss & a business card, we want to give them what will change their lives forever! If you, your church or organization can provide them, please contact us.

WHY SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIMS SUPPORT ACT SENATE S2529 NEEDS REVISED: Please read what the human trafficking experts are saying in regards to this important victim's assistance act due to go to senate & let your senators know it's a great first step, but it needs to be revised.

COMPLEXITIES OF ACQUIRING A 'NORMAL' JOB FOR SURVIVORS OF COMMERCIALIZED SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: "Regardless of the diverse variables that pull the survivors back into the exploitation, they deserve the basic human right and opportunity(s) to be restored." - Julie Shematz. Reporter Youngbee Dale of the Norfolk Human Rights Examiner asked Julie to answer the following questions: "Why [do] women who worked in sex industry tend to go back to the industry despite the exploitation? Why can't they make a living out of waitressing or working at Walmart or something?" To read Julie's full response, click on link above.

NEW PORN HARMS WEBSITE: BFA Adviser, Patrick Trueman, former Chief of Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section of the United States Department of Justice, is overseeing this revolutionary, research & fact packed website on the harmful effects of pornography. Please check it out.

PRAYER REQUESTS: Send yours to:
1. OUTREACH - May hearts be hungry for the Word, softened and they receive the love of Jesus that enables them to trust and obey God as their Savior and Lord. Give us wisdom and workers for expanded outreaches.
2. VICTIMS & SURVIVORS BEING SERVED - Strength, healing, encouragement, transformation of their minds and open doors where there seems to be no way.
3. SEX TRAFFICKING RESTORATION - FREEdom™ PROJECT- We submitted two federal grant applications this past week for the critical resources needed to serve survivors. We also in the process of applying for grants and to foundations. May God grant us favor to receive the funding & necessary resources to serve at a greater capacity than ever before. If you are interested in finding out more regarding this detailed one year business plan, please email us. We absolutely believe God's Word when it says the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous & the transference of these funds, however, would you please also agree with us that God raise up the body of Christ, in particular churches, that will support our work as home missionaries?
4. WASHINGTON DC - We have been invited to come to DC to meet with senators, congressman, their staff and key players that effect legislation and funding appropriations. Please pray all the details come together in God's perfect will and timing.

WEEKLY GLOBAL PRAYER FOR CSE VICTIMS: Please join us every Friday 8am-9am EST to pray for the victims as well as the organizations reaching, rescuing, restoring & advocating for these individuals. Prayer Guide: CLICK HERE

WEEKLY BIBLE STUDY: Come out for food, fellowship and fun. Mondays 5:30 - 8:30. Call 239.939.9218 for location.

BFA MONTHLY TEAM MEETING: Saturday, March 6th 9am - noon. Call 239.939.9218 for location.

NEW VOLUNTEERS ORIENTATION MEETING: Saturday, March 6th 12:30 - 3pm. Call 239.939.9218 for location.

WE NEED HELP: Accounting, Administrative, Internet/Social Networking, Gift Assembly/Shopping, Cooking, Outreach, Event Coordination, Case Management, Mentoring & Babysitting. Contact Julie if you are interested.

CHILD OF GOD FUND RAISING CD: For your love gift, we will give you our private label, Child of God, CD for a minimum donation of $35 plus $5 shipping as a way to say thank you. To give online securely online, CLICK HERE or send cash, check or money order to 5100 S. Cleveland Avenue, Suite 318-148, Fort Myers, FL 33907.


If you're interested in scheduling BFA to speak or exhibit at your church, meeting or event, please contact us or call 239.939.9218. Remember, awareness leads to intervention & prevention of human slavery!

In His passionate love & fire,
Steve, Julie & the FREEdom™ Team

Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries
Where Victims Become Over-Comers
877.4BFA SOS (423.2767) International Toll Free Help Line

Complexities of Acquiring a ‘Normal’ Job for Survivors of Commercialized Sexual Exploitation

The following questions were asked to our Co-Founder & over-comer, Julie Shematz, by reporter Youngbee Dale of the Norfolk Human Rights Examiner. It's worth noting that in Julie's initial written response to Youngbee was the following statement: "'s complex, as is each case individually and collectively the topic of sex trafficking and commercialized sexual exploitation. I could actually go into other factors that hinder their ability to transition into having a 'normal' job, but I'll leave it at this for now."

"Why [do] women who worked in sex industry tend to go back to the industry despite the exploitation?

Why can't they make a living out of waitressing or working at Walmart or something?" QUOTE

I believe, based upon my experience of being a woman that kept going back, even after acquiring a college degree, and of working with survivors of commercialized sexual exploitation, that a number of factors or influences pull them back into the exploitation.

One of them is the quick money, but most certainly one of the biggest challenges in reconditioning a survivor is restoring their dignity and teaching them self discipline. Most are accustomed to being told what to do or alternately, working very little to make the money they need to survive. Making healthy decisions and exercising self discipline is a huge hurdle, yet necessary for even a simple 40 hour a week job at Walmart or waitressing. Not to mention that working a 40 hour week to earn what one previously could make in an hour or two is a tough transition.

Wounding from trauma, both physical and emotional, and trauma bonding with their perpetrators/exploiters also contributes to the revolving door of sex workers, not to mention their need for affirmation and attention; although it’s unhealthy, many times it’s the only kind of affirmation they have received. When not provided with a consistently, unconditionally loving community/family/support system, they tend to return to what’s familiar, missing the only ‘family’ they consider themselves to have.

Victims and survivors are simply not stable individuals due to the fact that they have been severely wounded, abused, used and discarded often by the very individuals that were to provide them with love and protection. They do not trust anyone because they have been lied to, taken advantage of and exploited for so long. One of the first goals as a care provider is to establish trust and get them stabilized, both of which are more easily said than done.

Another factor, especially with international victims, is a lack of education (although it’s very common with domestic victims as well). Many times, their educational level is way behind their age and especially with minors, that produces the challenges of schooling them. We have had to register survivors in private schools and basically home school them because they would not attend public schools due the fact that, although body-wise they were an adult woman, not to mention street wise, but scholastically they had not completed kindergarten. We had a particular case in which the survivor consistently was expelled from school for her unmanageable behavior and inappropriate language. When someone is not disciplined, they will not be able to complete school at any level. Even completing a GED requires self discipline and in the USA, it’s needed to acquire even a basic minimum wage paying job.

You must also take into account that 80-90% of adult sex workers were victims of child sexual exploitation, which commonly results in psychological and mental complexities. Many of the victims/survivors are diagnosed with dissociative disorder, aka multiple personalities and/or borderline personality disorder, in addition to the typical diagnoses of bi-polar and ADD. Most cannot afford the mental health care they desperately need and their ability to make healthy decisions is often impaired.

Because of the deep and very painful events connected to the inner lies they believe to be true [sadly many times reinforced by society] (ie. I am not good. I’m a whore. I’m worth nothing. I am unlovable. I am only good for sex. I can’t do anything right. Nothing I do is good enough. I am dirty. I can’t trust anyone., etc.) that have been embedded into their souls, they tend to get emotionally triggered very easily and it’s natural for them to go back to what is familiar instead of committing to the long and often very painful journey of healing and restoration. We’ve seen over and over survivors placed into safe homes that they refer to as being ‘too normal’ and once they begin the journey of healing (uncorking the packed away pain,) they can’t handle it and run away, returning again to what they have known.

Additionally, you have to factor in denial for those that return. Denial that they can make a living working at Walmart or waitressing, that what they are doing is exploitation and not good for them, that they need help, etc. There are also drug addictions and until the root of the addiction is completely removed, like a weed, it will grow back & pull the victim/survivor back to self medicating the pain. A job at Walmart or waitressing cannot typically pay the cost of a drug addiction.

Consequently, it comes back to the initial goal of care providers and victims advocates: to restore dignity and establish trust. It’s not a simple process, it’s actually very complex, often extremely ugly and much easier said than done. However, until a healthy self esteem is established and they learn to trust, they most likely will not be able to maintain a ‘normal’ job. The need for specialized care of these victims/survivors is obvious. It’s not a quick fix and will require years and years of restoration. Many times it’s taken years to get them where they are mentally and emotionally and most likely will take just as many, if not more, to undo all the harm that has been done to them. Until that healing process is complete, justice has not truly been rendered to them as victims.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that even when they are able to acquire 'normal' jobs often times they don't hold them down for very long due to their mental & emotional instability, lack of self discipline and/or inability to establish and maintain healthy relationships. It's very common to see them go from job to job, church to church, even community to community that will embrace them, if they don’t isolate themselves. Sadly some frequently take advantage of caring folks (ie. church groups, shelters, individuals, etc.) and often end up exploiting the very individuals that are trying to help them by manipulating, using, hustling and/or stealing from them. Many times there is a destructive lifestyle cycle that desperately needs to be broken, yet the survivor is not willing to commit to the process it will take to break this. More often than not, they will seek out people that will enable them versus those that will legitimately assist them in what needs to be changed other than just a job or profession. Because their pain and inner healing never takes place, returning to the sex industry seems easier to them than facing their own stuff and committing to the journey of healing and change. Even for the ones that persevere in not returning to the sex industry, due to depth of their wounds, you can imagine how their unhealthy choices effect their self esteem. Consequently, we're back to their basic need of dignity being restored, yet the decisions they frequently make prohibit and/or significantly hinder this from happening. It’s like a vicious cycle they need to desperately break out of but often find themselves trapped in it.

Like I said, initially, it’s complicated. From my perspective as an over-comer of commercialized sexual exploitation and trafficking, and a care provider/victim’s advocate, there are two common factors regarding human trafficking: complexity and injustice. Regardless of the diverse variables that pull the survivors back into the exploitation, they deserve the basic human right and opportunity(s) to be restored.

Julie Shematz
CEO, Beauty From Ashes

Norfolk Human Rights Examiner Story: Safe Housing Is More Than a Roof Over the Head of Sex Trafficking/Industry Survivors