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A Place of Escape

Staff from Asbury University’s and Threedom’s, partner Refuge for Women, spoke on modern slavery, awareness, and hope in Bennet-Bernard at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Ked Frank and his faith-based non-profit, Refuge for Women, founded safe houses in Central Kentucky for women sexually exploited by the stripping, prostitution, escorting, and pornography industries.

According to Nikki Mullins, an intern for Refuge for Women, 90% of graduates from the program do not re-enter the sex industry.

Frank founded The Refuge for Women, and in 2011 began the first safe house, a 50-acre farm in Central Kentucky, and one of less than seventy-five long term restorative programs in the US.

 

When Frank moved back to Lexington to become the pastoral care minister at Southland Christian Church, he prepared to form Refuge for Women through the church’s outreach to women in the stripping industry. Frank thought these sex industries were keeping women, who might have entered at fourteen, from exiting. Initially, Frank served three years as a drug addictions counselor at The Refuge in Ohio, much like he does now in helping women achieve normalcy apart from the sex industry.

Under what they call a “mentoring approach,” Refuge for Women transitions women in their program between three different homes. The nine month programs helps the women deal with past traumas in the first home, and learn life skills and overcome financial concerns in the second home. In the third home, job prep, the women develop a plan for a new life by living and working in Lexington. Mullins says most of the women have never been employed outside of the sex industry.

But underlying all that are the organization’s spiritual values. Refuge for Women says, “We believe that these women need honest hope and honest love to be restored and redeemed.”

When in Cambodia, Mullins visited a red light district, she witnessed a toddler being sold by her mother into prostitution. “I knew I never wanted to feel powerless again like I did that night,” Mullins said. As an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky, Mullins began hosting awareness events with resources for college students. Mullins responded, “It is not uncommon to see women in college stripping and prostitution as way of financing,” and she will be leading partnerships between different universities and Refuge for Women. 

 

Although Mullins admits that no woman story is the same, she says the majority of the program’s women victimized by the sex industry have been sexually abused as a child, and trafficked by a family member, such as a father. According to the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, 1 in 5 Kentucky women have suffered some sort of sexual assault. Mullins also mentioned the commonality between alcohol, drug, and sex addictions.

But Mullins says, “Every woman shares the same hurt and need for healing from those hurts.”

With Refuge for Women opening homes in Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, and Dallas within the next year, when asked what will be the most rewarding, Mullins says, “My relationships with the women.” As Mullins hopefully attends her first graduation ceremony with Refuge for Women this spring, she will be able to see the happiest of faces. After being an intern for Refuge for Women this past summer, Mullins says she can only imagine what it will be like to, “watch women be transformed.”

Refuge for Women celebrated its five year anniversary last July. But because Refuge for Women follows through with graduates of their program, they’ve already been able to witness hundreds of women-victims exit the sex industries, as Frank says, “We believe that every woman matters – that each woman should have the means and the resources to pursue the dreams they’ve had since they were little girls.”

 

Members from Asbury University’s Threedom along with students interested in volunteering will be partnering with Refuge at the inner-heart healing home on November 13, 14, and 15. Transportation will be provided.