Thank you for taking a moment to read the stories from several courageous, incredible women. Lavished Ministries is so blessed to be apart of their story. Please know that there are hundreds of stories from women experiecing hopelessness, brokeness, and challenges. We continue to work each day to reach, restore, and redeem through hope, compassion, and love.
Kendra did not come to Florida seeking to work in the adult entertainment industry. Excited for a change and because she had an older sister here, Kendra decided to make the move. Soon after moving, she found a job at a local coffee shop and started working as a barista. A bouncer from a nearby club began frequenting the coffee shop, and as time passed, she developed a friendship with him.
“There was no bag over the head; we are now trafficking you. It was a process.”
As the relationship developed, he began encouraging Kendra to quit her job as a barista. Continuously reminding her that she could make so much more money and create a better life for herself as a dancer at private parties. He emphasized her lack of resources and the fact she was living out of her car.
Eventually, she started going to parties with him. The parties usually involved Kendra making drinks for him and the other men. Until eventually, she went to a party, and it all changed. When Kendra arrived, the group had drinks pre-made and waiting for her. She remembers thinking it was strange because she usually made the drinks.
“I was at this apartment for three days. While they kept drugging me, there were moments of clarity. I knew what was happening but was too weak to do anything.”
The above situation became a regular occurrence, with Kendra going back and forth between different parties all over the panhandle of Florida. While internally, she knew what was happening to her wasn’t right, the psychology behind the abuse kept her from leaving. The bouncer continually reassured Kendra that she wanted this. She asked for it. She was just too drunk to say anything. This was all she was worth. The bouncer began to blackmail her with videos, continually reminding her of the potential consequences of escape.
“I was so confused. Did I really ask for this?”
Kendra tried to escape the world she found herself trapped in by moving and changing her friend circle, but without the resources she needed, she quickly ended up back in the lifestyle. Slowly, Kendra began to accept her fate and started believing the lies.
“This is me. This is all I’m good for.”
One day Kenda woke up alone in a Walmart parking lot wearing someone else’s clothes. She knew she was going to die if she didn’t get out. However, she felt trapped. Stuck in an abusive relationship, Kendra felt hopelessly lost.
That’s when she found Lavished Ministries. Kendra went to her parents’ church to hear Nicole speak one Sunday morning. Through compassion, empathy, and truth, Nicole helped Kendra see that she was being exploited and trafficked. Hearing the truth from an outside perspective empowered her, encouraged her to rediscover her own value, and realize the abuse and trafficking were never her fault. Lavished Ministries gave Kendra the resources, confidence, and assurance she needed to leave her old life behind.
Years later, Kendra continues to be an intricate part of our mission at Lavished Ministries and works alongside the organization to help reach and restore women. She is now married to a loving husband and has a ten-year-old son.
“There is a better way. And it is not your fault.”
My story begins with a lie.
A false belief.
The lie that I was alone and incomplete. The lie that I would remain that way until one day, I met the man who would choose and complete me.
As a young girl, I dreamed of my future – I would have an adoring husband, a loving home filled with happy children, and a rich and full life. I never imagined I would find myself living in a cycle of abuse. Soon my happy dreams faded away in the shadow of sexual abuse. My identity was distorted by a sense that there was something very wrong with me.
As I matured, so did my belief that I was invisible yet strangely exposed and unprotected from the evil surrounding me. At the age of 24, I married a man who made me feel like the most important person in the world. I needed so desperately for someone to see and choose me that I didn’t notice his controlling behavior. Almost immediately after we were married, the abuse began. I returned to the mentally safe place I had created when I was young, which allowed me to survive the abuse.
After ten years, my marriage ended, and I looked within myself for the strength to end the cycle of abuse in my life. I did everything in my ability to increase my value and heal my own brokenness. Despite all my efforts, I was still left with a desperate need to be chosen and loved. A few years later, I met a man who was skilled in his tactics with women. He was smooth with his words and was the son of a preacher. He was everything I believed I needed. He created a false reality for me of safety and security where all my past was validated. I felt I had found true love. We married quickly and began our lives together.
It was not long before he began pushing boundaries in our marriage and the cycle of abuse began again for me. He weaponized my past trauma and pushed me to do things I never imagined. Skillfully, he made me believe he was freeing me from my trauma and abuse, yet I was becoming his prisoner. As he pushed me further into his demented plans, he began trafficking me to anyone he chose. I was fully defeated and brainwashed. After living in this prison for a year, I contemplated ending my life. I saw no way out – until God intervened. My abuser’s sister had a strong intuition to check on me one day, and it turned out to be a God-ordained moment. For hours, she held me while the truth of my experiences flowed out of me. Her witness to my pain gave me the strength to reach out to my family. While in Florida with my family, I crossed paths with a woman at their church who knew about my troubled marriage. She invited me to have lunch with her and her friend Kendra.
As I sat there with Kendra from Lavished Ministries, I told her the diluted version of my story, heavily protecting and defending my husband, insisting that he loved me. I blamed our struggles on my difficult childhood. Kendra asked me if she could share some of her story with me, and I agreed to listen. During the next ten minutes, something broke inside of me. As Kendra shared her story, I heard echoes of my own. As she explained the brainwashing, the love-bombing, and the trauma-bonding, I began to tremble. I heard the truth, a truth almost too ominous to bear. I knew I had to get out of the darkness. Kendra introduced me to trauma counseling and connected me to resources to help me begin unraveling the tangled web of my life, and I decided to stay in Florida. I clung to the women at Lavished because I saw myself in them, but I saw them on the other side of the hell I was in… and I wanted to get to where they were.
I’d experienced a personal relationship with Jesus several years earlier, but I’d drifted far from Him. As I drew closer to the women at Lavished and saw His love in them, I rededicated my life to the Lord. Days turned into weeks, and I slowly became more empowered and began living in freedom. Through the support of my church, trauma therapy, PTSD treatment, mentorship, and legal assistance, I have been able to reclaim my life and my identity. After decades of hurt, I can now say that the wounds planted deep within me since childhood have been healed. I now know that I needed to become complete on my own, with God and my sisters at my side, to be healthy. The cycle of abuse ends here for me. I am giving the rest of my days to help set others free, not because I’m anyone special, but because of God’s power to use truth and clarity to show me His amazing love and grace. I once was lost, I am now found, and I will give my life to save even just one other lost one like me.
I heard about Lavished while sitting in jail. Undercover officers came into the club I was working at and arrested 10 of us on misdemeanor charges. It was my first time in jail. My mind was blank. All I remember thinking was that I desperately wanted a Bible. I figured that was the one thing people should do in jail — pray and read the Bible.
I left the jail the same day I met the entire Lavished team for lunch. I felt an immediate and intimate connection with each of them. The first time they prayed for me, I felt peace, which I hadn’t felt in a long time. I have loved getting to know the Lavished ladies for the past two years. They have done so much for me, even just being a listening ear at 3:00 in the morning. After that, I began going to church, somewhere I never thought I’d go to again.
After I rededicated my life to following Jesus Christ, Nicole baptized me in the ocean. Lavished brought me a Bible and had it personally engraved with my name and a personal note inside. It makes me cry each time I open the pages and read it. I’m not the same person that I was five years ago.
A few months after initially meeting the Lavished team, while I was still working in the clubs, God transformed my life. He healed me instantly in the strip club dressing room from my severe anxiety, depression, and chronic hip pain. Through the loving support of the Lavished team and God’s power, I have been drug-free for 13 months. I experience no withdrawal symptoms from my oral or IV drug use. God is still working on me, but He speaks to me very clearly now. I know His voice. I’m forever grateful to the Lavished team for not being afraid of doing what they do. God used Lavished to change my life forever.