This quote is one of the reasons why I am so excited to celebrate our beautiful survivor leaders at our upcoming luncheon. These women are a true picture of strength and resilience.
No one decides as a little girl that they want to grow up one day and become a prostitute. These women were once innocent children with the same dreams and aspirations as you and me. Unfortunately, their story may be marked by a childhood filled with neglect or sexual abuse. Their dreams may have been stolen by the adults in their lives that failed to protect them, but that has not stopped these ladies from succeeding in life and achieving more than they thought possible!
So often we fail to recognize that our zip codes and households we are born into often determine who we become before we ever have a chance to decide on our own. Despite the harsh realities that these ladies once faced, today they stand tall on their hard work and determination. They have overcome the shame and pain from their past and now walk in healing and freedom.
Please consider coming to support these women and learn about how you can be voice for them out in the community. To care for those in our own backyard. The NET’s Survivor Leader Luncheon is on Thursday, April 14, at the Fort Worth Club from 11:30 am to 1 pm. You can find out more information here.
By simply attending the event itself you are saying, “You matter!”
I’d like to introduce you to Arletta, who will be at the luncheon on April 14.
Almost 4 years ago, The NET’s Purchased team met Arletta. She is a true example of a Survivor Leader, and we love celebrating her story of strength and resilience. We originally met Arletta when she came into our partner program called RISE, Tarrant County’s Prostitution Intervention program, with over 20 arrests and 10 felonies under her belt. Although we may be able to say now that our advocacy and friendship through Purchased was a blessing for Arletta, joining the program wasn’t necessarily an easy choice for her. Four years ago, her choices were to either join the program or serve serious prison time, meaning leaving her children, forfeiting watching her grandchildren grow up, and risking a high possibility of relapse. So Arletta made the “choice” to change her life and join the RISE program.
Arletta, however, was familiar with having a lack of choices. At a young age, she was subjected to sexual abuse by the hands of those she trusted, which catapulted her into a reality that millions of women and children find themselves in every year: a reality of shame, fear, humiliation, anger, and a twisted view of what a healthy relationship should be. And like so many others, she sought to nurse the wounds of her childhood trauma through the arms of abusive men and the dependence on the numbing effects of drugs.
As a result of her experiences as a young girl, Arletta developed a distorted worldview and sense of self. She sought to numb her pain through the temporary fix of drugs and learned to use the only asset that others taught her had worth and value: her body. For the next two decades, Arletta would be enslaved to drug addiction and the world of prostitution. There she endured violence from boyfriends and “johns ” or customers, and society viewed her as a criminal, rather than a victim.
Thankfully, Judge Brent Carr and The NET do not share this same view; rather, we see how much women like Arletta need not only an opportunity for rehabilitation but also to be loved and cared for. Judge Carr created RISE to empower women to regain dignity and independence. Through our programs, Arletta got clean, received her high school diploma, obtained her own housing, and reconciled with her children. Today she is 4 years sober and just recently graduated! Arletta has lead as an example of hard work and determination. She has a servant heart and has been a light, not only to other women in the program, but to others in the community. She has bravely shared her story as a way to advocate for other survivors and to change society’s perspective on the sexual exploitation of women.
I have always wanted to start a non profit or somehow make a career out of helping others, specifically the marginalized and the poor. I was able to launch and found my own 501c3 called The NET in 2012. My husband Jamey and I thought it would be a great idea that same year (while I was working at a church full time) to open a restaurant/coffee house called BREWED with some friends, all while we were also remodeling and investing in historic homes in our neighborhood. Did I mention Jamey was on tour with his band and that I was going to school in the evenings to get a degree in social work as well? Whew!
Although I wouldn’t suggest the insanity of the way we got here, I am thankful for our crazy unconventional and very full lives. Right now my favorite ‘new venture’ is being the mommy to Roosevelt Pearl, my sweet baby girl. Our goal is to follow where God leads us and to do our best to steward those things well.