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ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “The Robe” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 17th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 2/11/2013.

There was one girl, recently, whose story hit me little harder. She was giving a guy a blow job when they walked up to the car. She was 19 and high on heroin. Although she’s a pimp-less ‘renegade,’ she was turned out by a pimp at 13. She picked up the heroin along the way. She now bounces from motel to motel, selling herself to pay for the rooms and her habit, everything she owns fitting into a pink school bag.

The Girl in the Robe

They took the guy to jail and they took her to the Genesis Project. The aftercare center is only funded enough to function part-time. They turned on the heat, the lights. Seinfeld was on the TV. Two on-call volunteers came in. She was hungry and chose a frozen chimichanga from the well-stocked kitchen, using the plastic fork and knife like an 8 year-old. They gave her a long, terry cloth robe.

“I’ve never worn a robe,” she said, a little incredulous, her voice dulled by the heroin.

“Well do me a favor and keep that one,” Brian, one of the detectives and co-founders said. “And then when you leave here, I want you to take a big old bag of clothes.”

She clasped her hands in from of her face, as if to pray, and started to cry.

“It’s ok,” he said. “This is why this is here, because we care about you.”

“I want you to feel at home here,” he continued. “I want you to feel like you can come here any time you want, go in the fridge and grab yourself something to eat, because this is yours….your family just increased by about 120 people.”

“We do this because we care about you guys.”

“Why,” she asked. “I don’t even care about myself.”

Before leaving, I knelt beside the couch. I reintroduced myself, reiterating that I was documenting the cops and the center. I reassured her she wouldn’t be identifiable, but gave her the option, if she wanted to speak with me later. She offered to sign something then, but it was too soon, and she was still high.

She’d come in wearing a short tube dress. To warm up, they’d given her a long sleeve t-shirt and pajama bottoms to go with her robe. She lay on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, eating peanut M&M’s, and watching Family Guy.

She turned back to me.

“Do I look normal?” she asked.

I nodded.

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4 Responses to “ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “The Robe” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update”

  1. [...] I’ve used the time to get closer to one of the young women the cops pulled in during the winter. She’s the one in the robe. [...]

  2. [...] This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 6/19/2013. Mid morning, I forget the day, and she texted. ALL CAPS. I used to have a regular work schedule, but with some of the late nights I’ve been keeping it’s been hard. First it was riding with the cops, on a 5pm to 1am shift, but recently I’ve been following Lisa, the young woman in the robe. [...]

  3. [...] passing weathered signs and week-long specials. I visited one motel regularly, looking for Lisa, the girl in the robe. Since she hung out in the area, I did [...]

  4. [...] They arrested Lisa in January. Instead of jail, they took her to the drop in center, the Genesis Project. Not long after, she let me tag along with her. The cops saw she was trying to leave the life, and they became invested in her. They hoped she might make the necessary choices to get out. [...]

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