Program offers sex-trade workers a lifeline

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Hendrik Sybrandy | FOX31 Denver

DENVER -- A Denver area facility is offering hope to sex industry workers who want to leave that line of work behind. Street's Hope is providing a lifeline to women who were involved in prostitution, exotic dancing, pornography and escorting.

"We provide services to help a woman become balanced, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically," said Nina Martinez, Street's Hope Program Director. The facility has as many as eight residents at one time and offers help to non-residents as well.

34-year-old "Joyce" is a recent graduate of the program. She used the online marketplace Backpage.com to solicit clients for sex.

"The frequency was there," she said. "If I wanted to see up to four, five people in a day I could, easily."

Eventually, though, the lure of money and freedom was replaced by the fear of getting caught.

"There comes a point where you don't want to be saying that's what you do," Joyce said. "It's not cute anymore, you know?"

She took advantage of classes and counseling at Street's Hope, graduated and now has a more normal, nine to five job.

"There needs to be more houses like this because girls in the sex industry, that's money, you can't just quit that," she said. "Could you just quit your job? You couldn't?"

The program is struggling financially. Martinez said Street's Hope relies on grants from church organizations and individuals, many of whom she said are reluctant to donate given the nature of the clients.