Former prostitute shares story in hopes of helping others - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Joe Birch

Former prostitute shares story in hopes of helping others

142 prostitutes were arrested in a Memphis police crackdown called "Operation Fallen Angel."

One woman who has "been there and done that" is now helping those who want to exit the sex for sale lifestyle.

The M-P-D invited us to tell Melinda's story because they hope other women caught up in Memphis' gigantic sex trade will follow her lead.

Melinda, now age 38, asked for help five years ago.

"Had no jobs skills. I had no education and I had 4 children and I had no less than a thousand dollar a day cocaine habit," Melinda said.
Melinda got sober, a GED, then became an honor roll college student with a job and custody of three of her children.
"Now I am fixing to graduate college. And I am giving back to the community as well, trying to help other women that they don't have to be a drug addict or prostitute," Melinda said.

Before her incredible turn-around, Melinda said she saw the seedy underside of X-rated Memphis. First as a stripper at Danny's, the infamous club that once sat on Airways near Winchester.

"The money sucked me in. My drug habit got worse. By the time I hit 28, I was considered too old for the clubs. So from there I went into prostitution and the money was even better there," Melinda said.

Thousands of dollars per trick is what Melinda said she earned as a so-called escort, meeting Johns in hotel rooms citywide.

"The real reality is: all the money that you're making is usually going into a drug habit and you don't have anything to show for what you're making anyway," Melinda said.

Melinda bottomed out, desperate to reunite with her children.

She found Carol Wiley's "A Way Out" program that helps women stop selling their bodies and reclaim their kids:

"And then you watch as their moms change and they go through parenting classes and those moms hearts are drawn to those children and you watch those children change and its awesome," Wiley said.

Prostitution is the number one complaint to the police organized crime unit. Police director Larry Godwin said he is now empowering officers to direct women in the sex for sale industry to reach out to Carol Wiley's program.

"What a difference this community would be like if more ladies were like her to step up to the plate, seek help, knowing that if I don't change, I'm going to die," Godwin said.

Director Godwin said he has heard hundreds of stories like Melinda's. Harrowing abuse suffered at the hands of pimps and johns, and the countless children who lose mothers to the chase for drugs and money.

Click here to e-mail Joe Birch. 

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