When Katie Rhoades founded Healing Action, she made a commitment: every peer counselor she hires has worked in the commercial sex trade, and gotten out. Including herself.
“They have walked that path," Rhoades said. "They have, through help, and sometimes not so much help, have been able to come out and do something different with their lives. And that creates a sense of hope and possibility for the women that we serve.”
Healing Action is the latest addition to a regional effort to stop sex trafficking and exploitation in St. Louis.
Rhoades, a graduate of Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work, moved the organization into a permanent location in February. Counselors lead group therapy sessions and one-on-one counseling for more than a dozen women who are living in shelters after leaving the sex industry. In July, the agency will expand to a day program three times a week.