Friday, January 23 2015
You can fill in who “they” are and what you want them to do - endlessly. For CASH, they are commercially sexually exploited adult women and prostitution is what many would like to see stop. Why, so many wonder, don’t women don’t just leave "the life" in favor of something that is better, healthier?
Unfortunately, it really isn’t that simple. There are reasons for starting and barriers to leaving this life. The visible pattern of prostitution or drug abuse is only part of the story. A more complete story includes grief and loss, trauma and strength. It includes being OK with “the life” and hating it. It involves choice and coercion, violence and friendships made on the street. At CASH, we watch women navigate this harsh place. We see them work to stay connected to their families and their community – even though their daily struggles are very real. We’re pretty sure we can learn from women with so much fight.
At our Drop-In Center, every woman becomes a part of our community. She is fundamental to our organization and the other women we serve. Sometimes she shares a resource or lifts another woman up. She offers a helping hand or provides a few hours of companionship to another woman - just when she needs it. Often, she generously shares her story so we can all understand how women with great obstacles get back up, long after many of us would have stayed down. That is the beauty of the drop-in center. All of the women belong and we are lucky to learn from each other.
It is from this perspective that CASH operates. We are non-judgmental because there is nothing to judge. We don’t have a magic wand to cure all of the things that contribute to the sexual exploitation of women in our community - although we are certainly interested in being part of the solution. We don't claim to have all of the answers. We do, however, have a deep belief that all women deserve dignity and respect. We all have something of value to share and we are all better off when we choose to meet people where they are. For more than 6 years, CASH has been developing relationships and building a community. Today, we are a band of strong, capable, funny, beautiful women with lives that are valued. It is from this place that women choose for themselves what is next in their life.
We are starting our blog here so you can get to know a little more about us. Over the next year we will post information, articles that challenge us and the status quo, and stories that inspire. Thanks for reading!