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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BFA's National Training: Inspiring & Perspective-changing

The July 2012 Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries Sex Industry OutREACH & AfterCARE Training was, in two words, inspiring and perspective-changing. Many people who attended represent a variety of ministry and professional settings, which was inspiring because I got to hear about their different experiences and points of view. It was perspective-changing in that it revealed the realities of the sex industry and characteristics of sex workers.

Sarah Hurley, who leads Kristi’s House in Indiana, shared how she hopes that one day the program will be self-sustaining and will empower women to be responsible for taking care of the environment around it. Other attendees work or have worked in safe home settings and needed extra training in how to lead in the wisest, most professional way. Two of the most impactful modules in the curriculum discussed boundaries and mental health issues, among both caretakers and sex workers. Many women leaving the sex industry need to see a good model of boundaries, because they may have never seen one before – they need love and compassion as much as they need empowerment to rebuild their lives.

Many victims of sex trafficking suffer from issues such as dissociation, borderline personality disorder, and codependency, and because of these things, as the curriculum stressed, caretakers need to be careful not to allow these women to become too dependent on them. When caretakers act as sources of dependency for clients and survivors, they are in essence enabling these women to continue in their unhealthy lifestyle patterns of abuse and exploitation. The curriculum teaches best practices support for this population, given where they may be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It revealed how this specific population has its own set of needs and characteristics.

I was also greatly reminded in this training not to use public information and social media to further exploit these women [clients]; stories and testimonies should not be used to advance an agency or ministry in any way. While these stories can encourage partners or others who are not directly involved with the women being reached out to, they should not cross any ethical and personal boundaries. Once again, there is a huge need to balance encouragement with boundaries – a lesson made clear throughout the training manual.

The curriculum provided really important tips and reminders on reaching out to sex workers. During outreaches, it is important to keep in mind that these women are working; outreaches should be conducted in a nonjudgmental way that keeps this in mind. The teachings in this curriculum can apply to sex workers in a variety of settings, not just strip clubs, and I hope to carry these important lessons with me as the Lord leads me in compassion.

Kelly Bolton is a senior at the University of Florida (UF) majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences was a summer 2012 intern with Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries and we will certainly miss her. Kelly is involved in Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) at UF and leads the International Justice Mission, UF student chapter.  Her talents and hobbies include playing the drums, creating art, writing, and horseback riding. As a believer for 13 years, her passion is to serve the Lord, and seek justice for the poor and oppressed, through ministry and her future career. We look forward to seeing what God does with Kelly as continues to pursue Him and His perfect will for her life. 

Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries, Florida's first and only, human trafficking, overcomer-led, community service agency, offers college and non college internship opportunities.  If you're interested, email us at

Beauty From Ashes' next National Sex Industry OutREACH and Aftercare Training is scheduled for January 9-12, 2013 at Barry University in Fort Myers, Florida.  Sign up today.  Limited seating and registration required.  For more information, CLICK HERE.

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