The Story Of a Sex Trafficked Wounded Healer

At 11:30 on a Friday night, five women park outside a strip club called Cabaret Royale in Northwest Dallas. They're about to launch a mission. The women — Rebekah, Dominique, Lisa, Aeisha and Emily —  are representatives of an organization called Valiant Hearts which seeks to end sexual exploitation in North Texas. This is their monthly outreach, when they visit places where women are possibly being trafficked for sex. They offer the victims a way out.

At a prayer meeting hours before, Rebekah Charleston prayed for safety. Charleston is the leader of Valiant Hearts, which doesn't share the last names of volunteers or the women they help. She, Dominique and Lisa unload pink gift bags from the trunk — enough for the 40 dancers working at Cabaret Royale this night — and head for the club's double doors. 

The other two women stay in the car. They're the support team. Charleston will be on a two-way radio the whole time they're in the club, just in case tensions flare. 

Inside, they're greeted by a house mom, a matronly club employee with a long skirt and a supply of snacks and hygiene products for the dancers. Her name is Patty. She gives Charleston a hug and ushers the ladies to a backstage dressing room where several women sit in front of makeup counters, smoking and ignoring the throb of music and men on the other side of the wall. Lacey is on stage. She always dances to Brockhampton. 

The visitors pass out the gift bags and ask the dancers about themselves. They don't sell or cajole. Charleston is uncompromising on that point. The women need to feel that they have a choice. For many, it's the absence of choices that landed them in this life. 

It was for her.

Ryan SandersComment