Thursday, November 15, 2012

Daytona Streets, the Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

Sometimes if you read my blog long enough you will find me drawn back to the streets of Daytona. I find a lot of research for my book, Daytona Streets in writings by Lyda Longa. She writes with compassion but also the hard truth. Here is my take on a previous article she wrote:

It is hard to focus on one subject when there are so many people that need to be commended concerning the article by Lyda Longa, "An ex-prostitute's story: 'I've done it all for money'"

The first person I would like to mention is Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood. He has gotten a lot of criticism in the past, he is pretty blunt sometimes and probably that goes along with his job description. But people on the street realize that he is tough on crime for a reason; that they might be helped and protected. I don't know him personally and there are probably things we would disagree with, but it reminds me of the song that talks about Jesus being a friend to sinners. If a prostitute who has seen it all, lived it all in a painful way, yet sees that this man is approachable enough to want to call him and ask for help; well I would say he probably may be living out the scripture from Matthew 25:40 NIV. It says “The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me ..." and is one of my favorite reminders of how to live.

An excerpt from the article says:

"I've done it all for money," Betty said. Then one day this past spring after she decided to stop prostituting, Betty telephoned Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.

"I had seen his name in the paper and I wanted to praise him," Betty said. "I also wanted to ask him for help."

The chief responded quickly, referring Betty to the Police Department's victim advocate, Sophie Vessa.

"She wrote me a letter and it was incredible," Chitwood said. "She sounded sincere."

Vessa met with Betty and knew this was the real thing.

But getting help for a woman who wants to escape the life of prostitution is challenging in the Daytona Beach area, Vessa said.

There are no halfway houses or rehabilitation centers that specialize in helping prostitutes shatter the mindset they operate under — selling their bodies to make a quick buck.

"When these women ask for help or they get arrested and are mandated to get help, they always get sent to a drug rehab," Vessa said. "Drugs are only a symptom of the deep-rooted problems most of these women have."

Vessa said many women who become prostitutes are victims of childhood sexual and physical abuse, and their self-esteem can be non-existent."

I think Vessa would be the next one to be commended and I thank her for being there for victims. And believe me, someone who had been molested in childhood, will have a victim mentality for a long time, until someone steers them on the path to true recovery. It is very true that there are a lot more resources for men than for women even in the addiction treatment areas and our city was not really willing to help support at the time the one home opened for prostitutes, Heaven's Garden some years back.

When I think about a woman working the streets I think that many people don’t really want to think about them and that they may have been childhood sexual abuse victims. They may have once been pretty but the hardness of the street life and the walls they have had to put up around their hearts have taken their toll. We are horrified to think our sons, brothers or husbands have “used” them. We forget that they themselves are “somebody’s daughter,” a woman who God loves and wants to redeem.

The next person I want to thank is Lyda Longa for always giving us heartfelt articles that draw us in, about the streets of Daytona. I still wish there was an update on some of the people she and Seth Robbins wrote about in “The City You've Never Known" about six years ago.

Lastly, though, I thank Betty for having the courage to reach out for help and for learning that she can overcome her past.

Donna Collins Tinsley

PS Jed Linstrom and Let’s Go Ministry will be having Motel Church in December, ministering help and hope to those on the streets of Daytona.


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