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Phoenix program helps women out of prostitution

In this image made from an Oct. 11, 2011 video made available by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Highway Patrol Officer Donna Watts arrests Miami Police Department Officer Fausto Lopez who was traveling at 120 miles per hour to an off-duty job, in Hollywood, Fla. After the incident, Watts says that she was harassed with prank calls, threatening posts on law enforcement message boards and unfamiliar cars that idled near her home. In lawsuits, she accused dozens of officers of obtaining information about her in the state's driver database. (Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles via AP)

Many young girls and women get trapped in a lifestyle of prostitution because they don’t have the resources to leave, which is why the DIGNITY program was started.

Laura Toussant-Newkirk, spokesperson for Catholic Charities and DIGNITY(Developing Individual Growth and New Independence Through Yourself) was started by a sex-trafficking survivor when she noticed a lot of women going in-and-out of jail because they didn’t have services to overcome their issues.

“A lot of people think of prostitution as a victimless crime,” Toussant-Newkirk told Mac & Gaydos. “Most don’t realize that 85 percent of them came from abusive homes and started as young as 13.”

DIGNITY provides outreach on the streets and in jail.

Toussant-Newkirk said if individuals are arrested for prostitution, they can elect to do an intensive 3-month program to rebuild their lives.

“89 percent of the individuals that complete the program are not rearrested,” she said. “That saves the city of Phoenix a little over $300,000 in jail costs each year.”

DIGNITY also provides a year-long residential program where women can work on overcoming issues of self-esteem and breaking the cycle of that lifestyle.

“93 percent of people who graduate, leave the life for good.”

For many of the women in the program, they have no permanent address, no job experience, no health care and very low self-esteem.

They are constantly looking for volunteer help and donations so those in the program can find success when they leave.

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