Ex-prostitute helps change lives

July 10, 2008 5:26:48 PM PDT
It's called the oldest profession -- sex for money. A recent Texas law can send prostitutes to prison after three convictions. But a recovery program to get women out of the sex trade is helping women change their lives, and director isn't afraid to tell you that she's been there and done that. Kathryn Griffin knows what the life of a prostitute is like. She's been there before -- on the street, in motels, in jail -- and it's all experience for the job she has now. She's founder of a program called 'Been There, Done That.' It's a rehab program for women who were prostitutes, just as she was.

"Sheila" said, "I done got beat from the tricks out there, the guys, beat from them, beat up real bad, stealing their money."

It's 37 weeks of meetings several times a week. Griffin is a fashionable, energetic example of life after drug addiction and prostitution. She doesn't judge, she encourages.

"Every time I see somebody that's gone on and picked up their life and pulling it together, no money in the world can pay for that," Griffin explained.

Until 2003, the county jail was what Griffin called home. But that year, on her last drug charge, she asked for help. Her drug court coordinator listened.

"I asked her, 'If you've been in treatment 27 times why do you think this is going to be different?' And she said, 'I'm tired and I want to live and don't want to be hopeless,'" recalled Mary Covington with STAR Drug Court.

Griffin went through the court's STAR program -- Success Through Addiction Recovery. After that she developed her own recovery plan for addicts and prostitutes. The court now recommends clients to Griffin. Some seek her out on their own, trying to rediscover hope. For some, it's working.

"Faith" described her dream, "To get my LVN license and become a nurse."

Griffin seeks out candidates as well, n the streets she once walked. Not all are ready for help, but when they are, she'll be there.

"I'm going to make sure that if you need me you call me," she told a woman. "Let me give you my card."

Kathyrn Griffin's full time job is as an assistant to Houston City Councilman Peter Brown. The Been There, Done That program is based at the Bonita House of Hope.

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