Tough Love

By Tom deMers


Home was the third floor of a house with a balcony out front. It was the top floor a few blocks from one of Denver’s busiest streets. It was secure. Three locked doors separated the apartment from the street below. But it wasn’t safe. Renee had keys to none of those doors. She was allowed out once a week when they went to Wal-Mart. She wore oversized sunglasses to hide the bruises and always walked behind him. He pointed to things, she put them in the cart. If the damage to her face wasn’t too bad, they stopped for lunch. He sat between her and the exit.

 

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Forget the Bootstraps, Part II—Breaking Free

Interview and Transcription by Margo Pierce

I am a survivor from the life, of the life of prostitution. Everything that we represent here, I am a survivor of—domestic violence, prostitution, drug addiction, criminal justice system, homelessness, rape, all of that. I came here as a client and was a participant in the program in the beginning in 2001. I came straight out of incarceration into treatment and treatment introduced me to Breaking Free.

Joy Friedman, women’s program manager at Breaking Free in St. Paul, Minn, makes direct eye contact as she speaks. There is no edge in her tone of voice and no hesitation in her manner. She is an advocate in a house of advocates helping women leave prostitution. When the door is closed to her office, what was once a bedroom in a converted house at 770 University Avenue West, her presence fills the space between boxes, piles of papers on a cluttered desk and the two guest chairs that leave only a skinny floor space for navigation.

 

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