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'So many women are still trapped'

Former stripper Harmony Dust has been telling Premier Radio about her journey to faith, and her ministry to women in the sex industry ...

Harmony Dust’s earliest memory, aged three, was being exposed to pornography by a male relative. She experienced sexual abuse her whole life starting at age five and was raped as a teenager.

With a cocaine addict mother and an alcoholic father who abandoned Harmony before she was a year old, her life was full of shame and she had a deep sense of pain and being unloved.
 
Aged 13, she and her brother, eight, were abandoned by her mother and boyfriend. She was eventually pimped by a man who looked after her and, desperate for money and with debts of up to $35,000, she became a stripper in a club.

She told Premier that at the audition she danced in a room to Prince’s Purple Rain watched by a manager: “They just said go back behind the curtain and come out without your clothes on. I was terrified. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up straight. I was closing my eyes, I just felt like I was going to faint any moment. I was certain that I did not get the job. I was hoping that I did not get the job but, you know, they hired me.”
 
Asked by Premier presenter Maria Toth if victims of child abuse experience sexual activation which results in unwanted attention, Harmony said: “Completely. I was sexualised from as early as I can remember. That’s definitely a part of it. It just like opens Pandora’s Box. I was exposed to things I shouldn’t have been, I saw things I shouldn’t have seen.”
 
Harmony’s life changed forever after someone invited her to church: “It was a totally new, new arena for me but I just found myself falling in love with God and just being absolutely amazed at who He is and what He says about me, and that I’m loved and that nothing can separate me from His love, that He offers forgiveness, and He’s merciful.”
 
She has since finished her Masters, written a book about her experiences (Scars and Stilettos, published by Lion Hudson) and started an organisation called Treasures, reaching out to and supporting women in the sex industry, including handing out goody bags: “It's so rewarding and so exciting that there so many women out there who are in the industry and are still trapped and want to get out – or maybe want to start dealing with some of the issues and some of the pain in their past, or even their current circumstances. That’s an honour to be able to be there with them and to walk them through that.”

Find out more about Harmony's ministry at http://iamatreasure.com/

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