Skyla Herod, Ph.D.
Joy Collins Brodt ’07 had a flourishing career in the entertainment industry when she felt God calling her to leave it all behind. It was an abrupt change in course, surprising even Joy, who loved working for media outlets like NBC and Fox. “I was able to let go of that, because I knew God had a better and bigger calling on my life,” she said. “God just totally put me on the right path and connected me with the right people.”
That path, and the people on it, led her to Treasures Ministries, a faith-based outreach and support group for women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking. Joy serves as the operations and program director for Treasures, which provides support for women on their journey out of the sex industry. Each year, Treasures’ monthly outreach efforts reach between 5,000 and 7,000 women working in 170 strip clubs in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas. Treasures has also expanded throughout the U.S. and internationally by training and mobilizing churches and leaders to develop outreach initiatives in their own communities.
Their message to women in the industry is simple and uplifting, delivered in the form of gift bags including a note of support and encouragement: “Precious woman, we are here for you. Many of us have been in the business and understand its realities. We would like to offer you a listening ear, encouragement, or support in reaching your goals.” Once connected to Treasures, women have access to peer-led mentoring, vocational training, retreats, and social events focused on long-term restoration and wellbeing.
“Many of the women who work in the sex industry suffer from PTSD that is equivalent to combat war veterans,” said Joy. “When they leave, they have to work through those levels of trauma.” Survivor-led support groups provide a safe place for women to share what they’re going through with others who have walked the same road. “That’s such an important factor when you’re trying to find healing and redemption through your story.”
“Our story is what makes us human. It makes us have compassion for other people. To know another person’s story allows us to peer into who Jesus is and the fact that he loves us no matter where we’re at.”
The magnitude of the challenge at hand is not lost on Joy and the other leaders of Treasures, which was founded by sex-industry survivor, Harmony Dust. Today, there are more women employed by the sex industry than at any other time in history, and the vast majority want to leave but are trapped in a cycle of dependency, according to Treasures. “This issue is such a spiritual issue that we can’t do it without God,” said Joy. At stake are the lives of women in dire need of knowing that God treasures them—right now, as they are. “When a woman realizes her true purpose, when a woman realizes her true value, when she realizes that she’s truly loved, she becomes unstoppable,” said Joy. “It’s an amazing and beautiful thing.”