By Jessika F.
Many people have asked me over the years. “How do you get out of the sex industry?” I have widdled it down to a pretty simple answer. “There is no plan, you just leave.”
I was a dancer in various clubs on and off for 12 years. The first club I went to was purely out of curiosity. I had a friend who danced there, so when I turned 18, I walked myself down there, got on stage, and did my thing. I watched the crowd to figure out what the deal was with this stripping thing.
It never seemed like an honorable profession to me. I never felt honored, I never bragged about it, and I never felt like it was getting me closer to my dreams or goals in life. Still, when I needed money, I would go get a job dancing. Some times I was able to stay away from it for a few years. But then, some how, it crept back in. I saw it as a way to travel and be able to get money in any town I wanted to go to. I also liked that I could see my son all day, and even if I was tired in the day I was home. It’s not hard to see why it becomes a ‘reasonable’ option for certain women in certain situations. Now a days, it’s even glamorized in secular media outlets. I was a little shocked this last New Year’s Eve, watching the ball drop, and seeing some of my old stripper moves, and even similar costumes on the stage. But that’s a whole other blog….. I digress.
I was speaking to a care team member at the Annual Treasures Retreat and once again I was asked “How do you get out of the business?” Without hesitation I quickly answered “There is no plan. You just leave.” I hate to simplify it down to 7 simple words, but it really is a heart issue more than a logistical issue. As an adult entertainer, we can try to find other work first, or save up money, or make arrangements to live with family. But, if we aren’t sick to death of it, we will likely go back. There’s always a reason to go back; car breaks down, break up with boyfriend, need to pay for class, hospital bill, boredom….. By the time I left I didn’t even know why I was working there anymore. I had plenty of money (at the time).
I believe it’s a matter of a shift in understanding of personal value. The more someone outside of us values us, the more that seeps in. Treasures had been bringing me gift at the club for 3 years. Each bag had its way of sending me a message that I was valued. It’s so funny, how a little bottle of nail polish can have that effect on a person. I think it was the bigger message that was received behind the gift. These women, Godly women came all the way down here to the funky part of town when they could be out having fun with their great boyfriends, and their healthy families, to hand me a little bag of gifts. These women seemed to think that I still had some good in me.
Most women in or out of the club had openly badmouthed and judged me for being a dancer. Further convincing me that I was not wanted in the ‘regular’ world, and that I should stay in the sex industry where I belong. If I could get one message to people every where who are not in the sex industry it would be this “Please do not judge what is happening in the lives of these women.” Every rude whisper, and glaring look adds years to the duration of time that a girl might stay in that line of work. Just a few women accepting me where I was built me up to believe that maybe I could be somebody else and do something else. If they were kind to me, maybe there were other people out there who would also be kind to me, no matter what I had done.
On top of the Treasures, God brought in to my life a group of people to work with that treated me like their own daughter. I worked under this director for a number of years and he showed me the utmost respect, and sent me a message of value I had not really received from a man, or a father figure before. He insisted that his entire crew treat the women working with them this way, and I experienced what it was like to be treated as an honorable woman. He didn’t have to do that. He could have just let us fend for ourselves. But, he took the time to create an environment of safety and honor. I’ll never be able to thank this man enough. He changed my life, just by doing what probably comes naturally to him. But I had not really experienced that before. It changed the way I saw myself.
So, with all this honor, and value piling up, I just left the club one night. I turned to my fellow dancer, and I said, “This is my last night. I’m leaving.” And I never went back. More often than not I have heard other dancers say that this is also how they got out of the industry. There was no plan. It’s not a financial decision, or a career decision, or a family decision. Those aren’t enough to get out. It’s a heart decision. The pain of staying has to exceed the pain of leaving. And when that happens, you’re out!
About a year after leaving I lost my job, and couldn’t find work for two years. I never went back to the club. I didn’t care if I starved and died. It wasn’t worth it to me anymore. The pain of going back had become worse than anything else I was experiencing. It’s not that we need money, or stability, or the right moment, or the right boyfriend to get out. We just need to believe deeply that we are too valuable to be on that stage, misused, and forgotten.
I am certain that something happened in the life of each woman in the sex industry that caused her to start wondering if she is valued.
So, I leave you with this challenge. What can you do today to send a message of value to the women you cross paths with? It’s these little messages that add up, and give women everywhere the ability to make healthy choices that will bring them hope and a future. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus came for the stripper. He counts us in this number. He is talking to every girl on every stage everywhere. Let’s be the face of Jesus today. Let’s find opportunities to bring life and hope to the people around us. Every kind word helps.
May God bless you today. 🙂
PS. If you are considering leaving the industry or need help overcoming your past experiences in the industry, Treasures is here for you… You can contact us using the Industry Girls Only link above.