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66. The tragedy that makes career change feel impossible - with Emily Chavez of Valiant Hearts

bonus: faith + stories Jul 01, 2024
Blog/podcast cover with title: 66. The tragedy that makes career change feel impossible - with Emily Chavez of Valiant Hearts


In a world where trauma and exploitation lurk in the shadows, Emily Chavez from Valiant Hearts sheds light on the journey of women seeking escape from trafficking and sexual exploitation.  From overcoming overwhelming abuse to rebuilding self-esteem, Emily shares how every step is a life-changing triumph. We delve into the challenges faced by these women as they transition into new careers, highlighting the importance of understanding and support in the workplace. 



  • The forced career: Human trafficking and the adult industry 
  • What work is like for women in the adult industry
  • How our career transition can give us a peak into their experience
  • How leaders can better understand
  • How you can get involved


About Emily: 

Emily has over 20 years of experience in social work, specializing in healing trauma and helping adult women who have been sexually exploited. She is the Program Director at Valiant Hearts, providing invaluable support to women in their journey towards healing and redemption. Emily is passionate about helping women discover their value and worth, guiding them through life transitions and empowering them to dream beyond their current circumstances. She believes in the power of community support and the importance of each individual contribution in creating a network of care and healing.


About Valiant Hearts

Valiant Hearts exists to heal, restore, and empower sexually exploited women through compassionate and customized care.

Emily and the Valiant Hearts team and volunteers envision a world where women’s lives are changed eternally, igniting hope and transformation in their families and communities. They do this through outreach, emergency housing, support groups, customized care, economic empowerment, education, and advocacy.

Emily, together with Janet Lovrien, Executive Director for Valiant Hearts, have cared for, supported, and provided services to women coming out of trafficking and the adult industry for over ten years, and they do so with grace, humility, faith, and lots of love. Thank you to Emily, Janet, and everyone at Valiant Hearts for all you do! 


Ways to support and/or get involved



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66. The tragedy that makes career change feel impossible - with Emily Chavez of Valiant Hearts

So when that happens early on in childhood, that just it breaks an individual. It breaks a young girl. The industry may be the only thing they've ever done. And so what are they supposed to talk about? What are they supposed to put on their resume?

PATRICIA: Hey, friend, welcome back. On today's episode, we're talking to Emily from Valley and Hearts, and it's going to be a great conversation on a topic you probably didn't expect, but very much need to know about. So let's start the conversation. Emily, how are you today? I'm good. How are you? I'm doing pretty well. I'm doing pretty well. Do you want to tell everybody a little bit about who you are and what you do?

EMILY: Yes. Again, my name is Emily. I have been in social work for a little over 20 years, working in several different areas in social work, but I currently work for Valiant Hearts and we work with adult women who have been sexually exploited and our focus is healing from trauma.

PATRICIA: Yeah, so I've been volunteering with the organization for a good amount of time now and there are some things that have come to light that I didn't realize. And so today we're going to talk a little bit about, you know, what's happening behind the scenes in many locations around the world. And while you and I are working and feeling safe in our environments, we're also going to talk about what the career transition looks like for people like you and I and what it looks like for other women who maybe you haven't spoken to, maybe I haven't spoken to, but this is very much happening. And the transition looks very different when you're trying to look for a job, you're trying to go through interviews, you're trying to negotiate the offer. Something very different is happening in another part of the city, the country, the world. And then finally, we're also going to talk about leading and whether it's leading individuals and leading teams. And so if you're in leadership, this is going to be really important in that last segment to share a little bit about how situations are impacting women. And you might now be wondering what exactly we're talking about. So Valiant Hearts is an organization that works to end sexual exploitation. And this includes people coming out of human trafficking situations or people coming out of the adult industry that, you know, many times you in every single circumstance, you entered either by force or circumstance. And it's very, very unfortunate. Emily, do you want to share a little bit about kind of how it happens, how people end up in these situations that they then need to get out of?

EMILY: Sure. So statistically, 95% of the women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children. I would say in my seven and a half years at Valiant Hearts, that number is much higher. I haven't met anybody so far that wasn't sexually abused as a child or was exposed to some sort of very traumatic abuse situation. And so when that happens early on in childhood, That just, it breaks an individual, it breaks a young girl. And as they go through life, they typically are re-victimized. They have other vulnerabilities. And many times in this regard with the women that we work with, it leads into sexual exploitation in other ways. And so, the thought is to understand this better is, If you were abused as a child sexually and that was taken from you for free, then as they go through life and are re-victimized, that later when they are looking for work, they can go into the industry and now get paid for people to abuse them. And so we say by force or by circumstance because in the trafficking world is by force through manipulation, coercion, and force and fraud. other type of sex work, it's by circumstance. It's the abuse that has led down this path of getting into the sex industry. A lot of times that, you know, there are things in the family that that has also kind of led them down this path and they don't have the right support system around them to maybe make different choices or maybe that they feel like it's their only option.

PATRICIA: Yeah, so part of the reason why we decided to record this episode is because I've been going into outreach events with Valiant Hearts. And just what you see when you meet these women is just absolutely heartbreaking. You can imagine what is going on in these strip clubs. And when you talk to the women, it is like you're talking to a friend it's another human being it's a sister that you're talking to and you see in many instances the life is just not there anymore and when you're able to you know i go in there and i'll start talking to somebody and when they feel like they're seen, then you see the life come back to their eyes. And it's just so sad to go in there and to recognize that every single woman that's in there until they feel seen, which they clearly don't in those circumstances, there's just, it's sort of like, I don't know if it's disassociation and I wouldn't even put a clinical term to it, but it's just, you're just not there because you have to check out from this horrible thing that's happening. And part of the reason that I was like, I have to record this episode is because I had a dream. Emily, I don't know if I told you, did I tell you? I had this dream. It was actually really scary. So I had this dream that I was, um, you know, I wasn't married at the time I was younger and I was hanging out with, you know, some friends, mixed company, right? Guys and girls. And I was a lot younger at the time. And there was this guy that very much treated me like a brother would treat a sister. I felt totally safe with this guy. This group of guys, like two or three guys, felt totally safe. And I remember them being like, oh, you want to go to such and such place? And I felt like I was always being protected by these guys. And so I'm like, yeah, sure. Why not? Just like you would, like any 16, 15, 14, 17 year old would go hang out with her friends. Well, we go and we're in the back of this truck. And it feels fine. And all of a sudden I start to feel scared and I'm like, I don't understand what's happening. And that same guy who's acting like a brother, like a protector kind of puts his arm around me. He's like, Oh no, it's okay. Don't worry about it. Like we're going to protect you guys. Don't worry. And so I'm like, okay. And I felt safe again. And I felt like nothing was wrong. This was just a normal day. I was just being paranoid. And so then we get into this room and when we get into this room, you know, basically like there's all this darkness in this room and there's all of these quote unquote outfits and these outfits are basically laundry. Like they're just very skimpy, just, you know, clothes you would see in a strip club. And they start telling me like what I'm going to be doing what I need to wear, what I need to do. And I'm like, oh, what? Like, no, I'm not. No, thank you. What the heck is this? Right. But all of a sudden, the man who seems to be like supposedly my older brother and protecting me and all this stuff, a friend all of a sudden turns into this like really mean person who says, you're going to shut up and you're going to do this because you have no choice. And I would look around the room and there was nowhere to go. Like at this point I was in too deep. And it was like, I had to literally shut my heart down. I had to shut my mind down. I just had to shut down completely in order to be able to say, okay, this is my life now. And I just kind of, in that moment, like gave up my life. I like gave up who I was because I just felt zero hope. And I just woke up just crying for these women because now I understand like how this happens, you know, when you think you're with somebody safe or when you're, you know, and there's so many different ways that this happens, but this is one way that God kind of showed me in my dream. Like, this is why you can't judge a person because they're in this situation. They're They're not in this situation because they decided that this was a creative mode of expression. They're in this situation because at one point they trusted in someone or they were taken against their will, or there was a force or circumstance that resulted in this. So that's kind of where this got brought out. What are your thoughts on kind of how women end up in these situations?

EMILY: Well, 100% what you're saying is accurate in that there's just something over time where they are led into the industry. And I know that there are some people who would say things like, well, she says she loves it, or if she didn't love it, she could just get out of it. So that's never been my experience ever. I've never met with any woman who's ever said, I really love being exploited. I really love my body being taken advantage advantage of, even at the cost of whatever. I've worked with women who make very little money and I've worked with women who make a ton of money and neither of them have ever said, this is totally worth it. I love every bit of it. And so there's the other side too of people thinking, well, then if you don't like it, just get out of it. So that is a very large statement and it's very complex in the answer because it's not a matter of just getting out. You've got years and years of trauma. that play into someone just leaving what they know. So if you know anything about crisis, also, you know, when people are in crisis and they're in a chaotic situation, they've lived in a traumatic situation, there is some form of comfort in that crisis, even though it's not comfortable, and it's not what they want or desire, there is some amount of comfort because they know it. they're familiar with it. They don't know what the future looks like. So just leaving what you know and putting your life in the hands of somebody else, even if it hurts to say, okay, I'm going to trust you to help me get out of this situation. That's a lot. That's a lot for someone to just hand over everything that they do know how to do, even if they hate it. And so them leaving the industry has multiple layers. There may be a criminal history if they're trafficked. there may be, maybe they don't have an education, or maybe they do. Maybe they're in the industry because they're working on their education. They're in school and they're working towards something. Maybe they have children and this is the best way to support them. Because I think we can all agree that the economy we're living in right now isn't paying the bills real well. And so if they can do this on the side, or maybe it's their full-time job, that helps put food on the table for their kids. And so again, somebody could say, well, there's other ways to do that. There are, but how many, how many jobs can you go work a few hours a week and make the money that they're making? I mean, this is a billion dollar business. And so, I mean, I worked with a lady who was making between 50 and $70,000 a month. Well, you're not going to, you're not going to get that working at, you know, the next local fast food place. they have a lot of things playing against them. Also, a lot of them just don't have the confidence. They don't know that they have skills. They don't know that they have giftings to be able to leave the industry and go do something else with their life. Patricia has been instrumental in volunteering at Valley Hearts on multiple levels, not only with our outreach and strip clubs, but being a career counselor with us and really helping these women see that everybody has skills. and doing skills assessment with them to say like, you have transferable skills, even things that you've learned in the industry, they can actually transfer over, but they're coming from ground zero. So whoever's listening, please understand that they don't know that they have any skills. So to just leave and go work somewhere else, that seems very foreign.

PATRICIA: Yeah. And you know, one thing that you mentioned, you know, we're here in conversation, right? And so if you're listening right now and you have been in that situation where you kind of feel like you have these golden handcuffs, you know, you've been in this career for 10, 15 years and maybe it's the environment or the boss or, you know, the work that you're doing and you just feel like, oh my gosh, I cannot take another Monday. I need to get out of this field. The crazy thing is imagine everything that you and I take for granted, like, you know, not having a boss who hits you or not having to take your clothes off or to do indecent things in order to get paid. And by the way, you may not get paid because there's no laws or regulations protecting you, right? So what it reminds me of is, you know, when we're in our job for 10, 15 years and we feel like you have these golden handcuffs, like we can't leave. Because we've sort of, in a way, kind of created this semi-cage for ourselves where it's like, okay, now we have to upkeep this lifestyle or pay this mortgage or take care of our kids that at some point we lost control of our budget or our work choices, right? And so it's this very same situation in just a different context that just feels so much more all encompassing. And so that's part of the piece, right? So there's three things that we were really aiming to kind of chat about today. And one of them is that work experience, right? That while you and I are working at the computer, our biggest anxiety might be micromanaging from a boss or maybe a toxic work environment. What we believe to be toxic is you know, very different than what a woman in the industry is going through. And so while we're working, a woman in the industry, unfortunately, is getting beat up, is getting assaulted, is, you know, being absolutely dehumanized in the worst possible way. And so I don't know, what are your thoughts as far as, you know, what the, what is a work experience like for a woman in the industry or who is being trafficked?

EMILY: Yeah. I mean, you just named a lot of things that I hear all the time. I think, um, it brought me back to a conversation I had with a lady that was still working in the clubs and, um, she was talking about getting out and And we host a weekly support group. So this is where this conversation was. It was in a closet. I was picking up and she was just talking about leaving the industry and where she could work and what this looked like and how her boss hit her. And I backed up and I said, Wait, what? Your boss hit you? And she said, Well, yeah, the manager hit me. And so there had to be a whole conversation around, and this lady was in her early 30s. So we're not talking about an 18, 19, 20 year old. She was in her early 30s, and this had been her life, is surrounded by control on a level that was highly abusive. And so she said, yeah, I mean, he hits me when I don't do what he wants. And I said, well, that doesn't happen in the corporate world. That's not, that's not real in the real world. And, and she was completely perplexed. Like she had no idea that that wasn't real life in the corporate world. I said, absolutely not. Like the, you could file a lawsuit. Like that's not, that's not what happens. And it just opened her, her eyes in that moment of, just like what her world could be, like how different it could be to work somewhere where she felt safe, where she could mess up and make mistakes and not have physical repercussions from it, where maybe she could grow and somebody, a manager might could train her and help her grow as an individual, as a person as a human as a professional as opposed to hitting her when she didn't do what he wanted her to do and so it's a very abusive industry you have to produce you have to make the money. In order to continue working and if they're working in a strip club many times i have to actually pay, to work there to begin with. And then they have to recoup that money in some way. And then they pay their managers and whoever else. So it's a very different environment than what I think most of us are used to. And for me, even being in this field for so many years, it's unfathomable what's actually taking place in a different world outside of my regular workday.

PATRICIA: Yeah. And I think, um, and this is crazy because when I first started volunteering, Emily, you remember, I mean, it was, it was kind of comical on my end because I was so like, well, what do I say? Can I say this? Can I say, like, you know, like, I just felt like everything was crossing the line and more and more I learned, you know, um, we may joke about how awkward I was and that's always fair game, but like once I went in there and learned kind of what these women have been exposed to and what is appropriate or seems appropriate for them. I realized like, I'm too worried about offending someone who has been offended to an unbelievable level that I'm not even being myself to like fully be there with them in those moments, right? Like I'm someone who doesn't typically cuss or doesn't typically say things that are, you know, a little bit inappropriate, but it's like in that space, there is a place for you to kind of, you know, if you've gone through through trauma, like some serious things. Sometimes, you know, we joke about it and we're like, oh, this happened, you know, just to kind of lighten the mood because you can only do this really heavy, heavy life for so long. And that's one of the things that that I learned is like, you know. Our world is so different and I've gone through abuse, you know, you may have heard my story on another episode, like I've gone through some pretty heavy abuse, but like nothing in comparison, right? And so that just opened my eyes to be like, there are people suffering and they are not across the world. They are across the street. They are, you know, down the street, down the road, you know, in places where you may not even recognize that things like these are happening in sporting events and, you know, football games, people are being trafficked against their will.

EMILY: I want to piggyback off of something that you said a while ago. You were saying, you came in, you're like, what do I say and do? First of all, Patricia was a natural. And I think part of that was the conversation we had of just being yourself. And so I just want to be clear too, that these women are just humans. They're just women. They're women who want to be seen. They're women who want to be heard. They want to be loved for who they are. They have skills, they have giftings, and they were created for a purpose. And so they're really looking for nothing more than a person who can see them, love them, and walk alongside them. I mean, that's the biggest thing that I feel like I do, Valuing Hearts does, or volunteers do, is just being another woman to walk alongside them in their journey without judgment.

PATRICIA: Yeah, that's been just a beautiful thing. Like I think, what was it? No, it was more than a couple of weeks ago, maybe a month ago, maybe longer. But I remember driving home and I don't know if I was talking to you, Emily, or if I was talking to someone else, but I remember like, I literally broke down into tears because I remember thinking, I came in here thinking that I was going to be serving these women, but like, I'm feeling like, I've been so much more blessed just by seeing these women, like by seeing them.

EMILY: Oh, 100% because they are, they are strong and resilient and brave. And, um, oh, I feel that way every day. I'm so humbled constantly in my job, which doesn't feel like a job. It feels like a passion. It feels like a ministry, um, to, to do just that, to walk with women, who encourage me, who teach me so much about life and about loving people, about kindness and about understanding that people have things going on in their life that we just don't even know. So when they're behaving a certain way, when they're acting a certain way, when they're whatever it is, we have no idea what's going on behind the scenes and in their everyday life. We don't know the abuses that that they're suffering from, and they may have a smile on their face and showing up to the PTA meetings and doing normal life things. And I think that's a common misconception too, is just this idea that they look a certain way, and that's not true. I mean, I've worked with somebody who would tell you um, that by day she was the PTA mom and the room mom and showed up to all the things at school, um, with her kiddos. And then by night she was trafficked and nobody would have ever known that because she looked like you and me. And so they're having to endure, um, horrific abuses and exploitation and then move on as if things are normal.

PATRICIA: Yeah. Yeah. one of the things that you said earlier, actually, as you were talking, I was like, oh, I forgot to mention this. There are some beautiful stories. I know this might sometimes feel like a darker topic, and it is a darker topic that needs to be addressed. It needs to be brought to light. But there's also some really beautiful stories of resilience. I just talked to someone two, three days ago where I had done her resume months and months ago. She was going for a job, I think as a airline stewardess, right? And she reached out to me just a couple of days and she said, Hey, I've got this other opportunity, but they want to give me the job, but they need an updated resume. And so we go on there, we work on her resume. And she just filled me in on what's been going on in her life. And my goodness, like the resilience and the strength in this woman, like she has been working multiple jobs. I mean, imagine working like you know, Insta, what is it, Instacart and Uber and like all these different app jobs and you're working like six or seven of them and you're working events, you're working so many different jobs that you need three Google calendars just to keep your life together. Like, that just, it reminded me of like, Oh, I remember when I was 20 and I was working three jobs. Right. And then I realized, hold on, this person's not 20, this person's closer to like 40 or 50. Right. I don't have the energy to do all of that. And to see that not only is she doing that, but she's also going to, you know, she's looking at ways to potentially, you know, whether it's buy a home or to get a job in an office and you just see this constant strength and like you're walking this uphill battle, but it's joyful. I just cannot explain it enough. And that brings us to our other topic is that, you know, once women, you know, whether it's through Valiant Hearts or through a different organization, they meet someone or they just come across the knowledge of, I can work somewhere where I'm not hit, where I don't have to take off my clothes. I can work somewhere where I am respected as a human being and where I can actually make an impact, a positive impact on someone else. Women want to transition out, right? But imagine like when we go and we go job searching, what's the first thing you think? I will bet $10. It's like, I got to get my resume done, right? for women in the industry, it's a completely different conversation. It's, I've never even, I've never even had a resume. Like what would I even put in there? What are some things that come to you when you tell them, Hey, do you have a resume?

EMILY: Yeah. I mean, as you're saying that I almost felt anxiety. which was an interesting thing. I've literally had to sit here and process, why am I feeling anxious as she's talking about this? And I think it's taken me back to a couple of times in my career where I was sort of at a pivotal moment in maybe having to change careers or change jobs. And I remember how terrifying that felt. And that's, I have a degree And I've been in my field for several years. I have some experience and trainings and all these things that I could put on a resume. And yet I remember feeling terrified at the thought of having to go tell somebody my strengths and hoping that they saw the same value in me. Wondering if the things that I saw that were valuable actually were valuable. Like it made me question all these things about myself. that then I could go back and look at these women and go, Oh my goodness, they have to do that 10 times. Because again, the industry may be the only thing they've ever done. And so what are they supposed to talk about? What are they supposed to put on their resume? They can't have a tenure gap. What are, you know, do they say, I'm just, you know, been staying at home and hanging out like, you know, so it brings you to that place of, there are a lot of people that when you say, well, let's do your resume, well, what do I put? That's such a daunting thing to think about. And you would like to be able to write an essay and say, well, these are the things that I think are valuable. And I think for a lot of us listeners and myself, we could maybe talk about the things that are valuable about what we can offer somebody. or a company. But we're also in a very different place in life. These women have not discovered their value and their worth yet. And so we're starting from ground zero. No value, no worth, no skills, seemingly none of these things, because they haven't learned those things yet. And they haven't healed from their trauma yet to understand their value and worth.

PATRICIA: Yeah, and there's a ground zero. In my mind, if I may, in my mind, I feel like ground zero is, you know, I'm straight out of high school just figuring things out, neither good nor bad. But I feel like when I've talked to, you know, I'm thinking of one woman in particular who just has so many skill sets. but her self-esteem had been taken well below zero. And it was like, no matter what we come up with, she could have won the Nobel peace prize. Right. But it was like me just asking her questions. And I remember I talked to you, remember I would call you and I'd be like, I would just ask her like, Hey, so, so when in this period, you know, what could we put on here? And I'm trying to kind of strategize with her. Right. But it's such a sensitive topic and it almost didn't matter how I asked the question because it was such a deep rooted, like it wasn't, it was past an insecurity. It was like a personal, very like to your core attack. Don't ask me. about anything, because any question you ask me lets me know that you already don't think I'm good enough, that you're evaluating me based on these awful things that I've done. Right. And it puts all the like this guilt and responsibility and shame on this person as opposed to a perpetrator who kind of violated this person, you know, during that time. Absolutely. So yeah, you hit the nail on the head. Yeah, it was it was a really hard. I remember that being a really hard conversation. I have personally had a really hard time and I had to kind of like just talk to God, check myself and be like, You know, I really can't be over here boohooing about how difficult this conversation was because this conversation was difficult for me asking the questions. I just cannot imagine how she endured even our conversation where she felt attacked, let alone the situation that led to this.

EMILY: Well, and I remember the same lady that you're talking about the very first time we opened the door to talking about a career or something different. And I think you were there at support group and you were going to do kind of this soft intro into skills assessments and that kind of thing. And I sat with her and you were there. And I think the question was something along the lines of like, let's talk about your skills. And I remember her giggling and saying, what are you talking about? Like, I don't, I don't have any skills. And so that was, I'll never forget that because, and that was multiple years ago. And it stuck with me because now I'm like, wow, she doesn't even know that she has skills.

PATRICIA: And she had a lot, by the way. I've talked to multiple women. And sometimes we have to pull on a little bit more abstractness, a little bit more of natural skill sets, right? And we have to be just a little bit more creative because of the type of experience. But she had experience. I mean, middle, midlife, career history type experience.

EMILY: And, and some education under her belt. Yeah. But it was the self-esteem that, and, and value. Like it just went straight back to, I've never felt valuable to know that I have skills.

PATRICIA: Yeah. Now imagine, right, let's kind of transition because we could talk about this forever. You and I, Emily, and everyone listening, we can sit, have our cup of coffee, and just really like dig into this topic. But we know your drive is about a half hour, so getting into this third kind of part of the conversation. Let's say this woman comes out of the industry because she wants a new experience. We work with her to prepare her resume, to talk about gaps in her career, or talk about examples of experience that don't involve her prior history and situation. And so she's able to transition. And now she's your employee. You are providing leadership for her and you may or may not know, in most instances, you won't know. And so if you think about the people that you lead and the people that you manage and the people that you work with, everyone in your environment, you don't know who in your organization has gone through this experience. And so when someone has gone through situations like this, It's a whole different experience to go through an evaluation. It's a whole different experience to have a small hiccup or a mess up at work. Um, what do you, what are your thoughts as far as like how that shows up?

EMILY: Yeah. So they're easily triggered. First of all. Um, like I said earlier, Valiant Hearts, um, overall goal is to help them heal from trauma. So we have counseling and mentoring and life coaching and multiple things in place to help them heal from trauma. And then we have Patricia who helps with the career part. But the part that we can't do is walk them into a job interview and help them with their interview and say these great things about themselves and how they've been asset. We can't handhold them in their job. And when they're triggered because someone spoke harshly and maybe it wasn't even that it was not appropriate to correct, but in their experiences, correction meant abuse. And so then they're triggered and that could show up in a lot of ways that could show up in them barking back. at their boss, it could show up in withdrawing completely and just not being able to function. They've just now dissociated and now they can't bring themselves back. So it can show up in a lot of different ways in the workplace. But even with the interview part and all of that, I think some of the barriers is them getting a job when there's a criminal history that's pulled and there's prostitution charges, for example, because they were trafficked and there was a time and it still is happening. Texas is getting a little better about this with new laws in place. But there was a time where the victim was charged and the buyer was let go. And so if that's the case, and they're going in with multiple prostitution charges because they have a trafficker that is forcing them to go and make money. And so then they're walking into a place, hoping they even get the interview to begin with, and they have these charges. What are they supposed to say? That is so embarrassing and shameful. And then they have to maybe share part of their story to try to explain what's happened. So even getting to the interview is like, there's multiple barriers. But then once they're there, yeah, they're faced with, a whole different environment of people than what they're used to, which causes some anxiety. Like I said earlier, when you're used to crisis and you're used to a chaotic certain situation, there's some level of comfort in that. And so now they're walking into a new environment and although it's not abusive, but hopefully in a corporate environment, it's still very new and they don't know what to do with it. So that alone can be triggering. They don't know how to maneuver and navigate some of those normal things that are really normal for you and I.

PATRICIA: Yeah, yeah. And so so you might be in a leadership position and you might have some people on your team and you might be like, I don't understand why this happens. Right now, we're not going to make the assumption that they came out of trafficking or sexual exploitation. But this is just kind of like an open call to just be like, you know, maybe it's helpful to take a minute or two and and look at the people that you work with or that you supervise or that you lead. And just, you know, I don't know, I guess consider sort of like what's going on outside of work or what has gone on in the past that may contribute. Because oftentimes as humans, whether in leadership or not, right, we might assume that something that somebody does is because of us, like, and now we take all this burden on ourselves. But oftentimes it has to do with something that maybe you or someone else did or a situation that reminds us of something else that happened or reminds this person of a different situation. Like Emily said, right, like a trigger. And so that's just kind of to have a little bit more of like that grace and understanding and seek to understand people more so than to kind of You don't take things personally, which can come really easily.

EMILY: Yeah. And then one thing that we're trying to do or that we would like to do is have specific partnerships with businesses where they understand the population we're working with. And we can also train maybe their human resource department, because we also don't want everybody in the company, obviously, to know that they're coming out of this exploit, exploitive environment, because then there's a large chance they could be re-exploited there as well. But to be able to train the human resources on what do triggers look like, just in people in general, not necessarily with women who've been sexually exploited, but people in general, what can that look like in a work environment? And how can you, like you said, well, Patricia, how can the manager, how can the people overseeing Humans who go through life stuff how can we do that better and really help a person grow and who they are and grow in their skill set as opposed to just writing it off as. incompetence or laziness or, because laziness is not laziness. Like the root of that usually comes from a place of overwhelm or fear, anxiety. And so how do we, and we can't solve all the world's problems in the business setting, I understand, but what if we could just be a little more sensitive or maybe a little more in tune with the fact that we're dealing with humans who have things outside of work that we're dealing with. I think we would be, I think we'd be a better business. I think we would have, we would produce better employees, more well-rounded employees and overall just better humans.

PATRICIA: Yeah. And there's something in it for you too. Like I know we're all inherently kind of want to know, okay, yes. And I want to be this you know good samaritan and i think that's you know the ultimate reason why we do this but even from a business standpoint there's this you know little thing called discretionary effort right this there's the doing the minimum work and then there is going above and beyond staying late doing things that maybe are outside of your scope of work or just putting extra effort into things to do them well the first time right these are the types of benefits that you have an organization When as a leader, you take time to really understand and get to know your people. So it's really a win-win for everybody to have this sort of. kind of sense of understanding of grace and of trying to always put ourselves in other people's shoes.

EMILY: Well, you'll produce a healthier environment. I mean, I know that even we walked through some hard things as an organization. And when we came back together, we said, okay, so in order for us to be internally healthy, so that we can then serve these women and be healthy for them and show them what health looks like. We're going to need to go through therapy ourselves. So we did individual therapy and we did group therapy just so that we could understand, we can learn how to just be better ourselves. And, and it created a better work environment. And going forward, that will be, that will be what we do moving forward. That will be the environment that will be not maybe the brand, but that's what we want to do with anybody coming in is really set the tone for, um, let's figure out how to do this really well, because what it produces, like you said, what it produces on the out on the, on the end is a better staff, a better team, a healthier team, a stronger team. And then nobody's working extra hard. Like you're all doing it together.

PATRICIA: I love that. I love that. And it just, it just, you know, going more in a more general sense, regardless of what situation you know, you have been, or, or, you know, your employees have been in, it's this sense of like, if you build a foundation, well, the fruit will come naturally. Right. And we work so often, um, especially in leadership and as you get higher and higher levels, you know, it's so easy to work on the surface things, right. Here's the behavior that needs to change. Right. But when you build a foundation, well, It's sort of like, here's the health of the people, especially it starts with the health of the leader. And then that trickles into a more healthy relationship between, you know, the group and the dynamics and the organization. And then from that sprouts everything from. You know the ability to be vulnerable and experiment with things and then you get better ideas you're able to you know have conflict among organization there's so much more that we can go into an entirely different set different conversation here but as far as you know kind of starting to wrap up. this episode and sharing what life is like for women who are coming out of trafficking or who are trying to leave the industry, there are many ways that you can support. And the very first way, if it just kind of hit you today and you thought, hey, I have a space for these women, I'm going to put you on the spot, Emily. What is one way that they can reach out to you if they are an organization that wants to help support and hire women coming and trying to make this transition?

EMILY: Well, yeah, that's a great question. So we're a nonprofit and we, like most nonprofits, we function on our volunteers and our donors. We have very, very little overhead. And so a very large percentage of donations goes right back into programming. And we're very proud of that because we want everything that we do to be about the women and growing them. to be strong, independent human beings who are giving back. And so donations are obviously always helpful. If you're a business who is local in the DFW area, or maybe it's a remote situation, I don't know. And this is intriguing and you have a heart to want to partner in some way, please reach out. We are looking to be able to funnel these ladies out of the industry when they're ready and into a dignified employment that is also sustainable in terms of finances. They have to be able to have a livable wage like the rest of us so that they don't have any need or bit to go back into the industry to make ends meet. And then, you know, as far as donating, like I said earlier, that goes right back into programming that can look like counseling, all of our support group classes, and we bring in subject matter experts and LPCs to lead those. And we're very much a choice-based organization. It's also for life, so we don't have an end to what we provide. they can stay for as long as they want. And we also try to do customized care, meaning we take an individual and whatever her need is, we really try to meet those needs. And so that can look like a lot of different things. Sometimes it's literally helping with rent because we're trying to keep them out of major crisis when they're moving forward. It can also look like workshops. We do workshops throughout the year that focus on digging more into their identity, more into even just emotional intelligence and having conversations that are healthy and learning boundaries and safe people and what that looks like. And this year, Patricia and I are partnering. I'm super excited. We're partnering on a couple of workshops that will be focused on what are the possibilities? How can you dream outside of what you're currently doing? What does dreaming even look like? Is it possible to dream and actually attain those dreams? Of course, a lot of us listening know that that's possible, but it's not to them. So what does that look like? And giving some tangible things to make it possible to leave what they're doing and enter into a career that they're proud of. And so I know right now, donations to go towards having this workshop would be incredibly helpful.

PATRICIA: And I love like one of the things that I'm going to let them in just a little bit in our planning, because I think our planning conversations are so much fun. Because part of what we think about, right, when you think of dreaming, you think, OK, I have this dream. And then as much as we want it to be a straight line, it never is. Right. There's like a zigzag. There's a setback. There's like all these things and we have to stay resilient. to reach those dreams was very much the same for these women, right? Like, so there's this dream that they have, but in order to get to that dream, there's all these layers, right? We talked about legal layers and charges that, you know, for things that have happened by force, right? There's financial circumstances, there's kids involved, there's custody battles. I mean, there's so many layers to this. Not to mention those personal layers of self-esteem, self-efficacy, confidence, communication skills, how you present yourself, how you carry yourself, what you wear. There's so many layers. And the beautiful thing is that even beyond you know, the career piece, their valiant hearts like supports in so many ways to kind of slowly hit at each of those layers. And then women can at their own pace work on, like she said, emotional intelligence and personal healing. And even there's like a cool little boutique that we set up every once in a while to have women go shopping in there. And by shopping, I mean for free, which is awesome. So there's all these different ways in which it's really a whole person that we're serving through Valiant Hearts. And so it's a beautiful thing when you see a woman reach these milestones that it's just one, it's like a drop in the bucket if you've heard that, right? It's like a drop in the bucket, a drop in the bucket. And next thing you know, that bucket is full and this woman has built a beautiful life. And so I'm really excited.

EMILY: Can I say one last thing? Yeah. you know, when we use the term, it takes a village that, that is so true on so many levels. We had one of our ladies, we talked about redemption earlier in, in this podcast. Um, and how, yes, this is a dark subject, but I want to make it clear that we see redemption all the time. Like that's what, when people say, Oh, the work you do must be so hard. Yeah, no, it's not like, it's amazing because you get to actually watch somebody go from square one and watch them walk this path, this journey of healing and redemption that is just absolutely beautiful. So taking a village, I had working with a lady who has just come so far and is attending an Ivy League university now. And we were talking about her village. And so we started brainstorming on creating a network analysis that we could present to volunteers and donors to show a visual of what it actually means. So if you think, well, I can only, this is the only piece I could possibly do. You have to understand how important that piece is. If that means bringing a meal for them, for support group, because they're hungry, that's important because we're always going to provide them with a meal because they come hungry. If that means that you're going to do a skills assessment and do the career counseling part, like with Patricia, that part is so vital. And so it does take a village. Valiant Hearts can't do everything. So we have to, everybody with their skills and their giftings, pour into the one individual to get them moving forward. So please, if you're listening and you think, well, I can't do much. I bet you can. I bet I can. I bet I can find a way that you can then you can help and give if that's your heart.

PATRICIA: She is very creative, y'all. But here's the other thing, too. It kind of reminds me of like a chain of links. You know, some links are really are really big. Some chains are smaller. Some links are smaller. And it's like, you know, it doesn't quite matter if you're like, I'm gonna donate $100,000, which we will not stop you. But, you know, like when I first started, I was like, okay, the only thing I can do is, you know, provide some time, right? So, and that was only what, like an hour of time at the beginning, but it's like that hour of time, you could have provided hope, you provided, whether it's a meal, whether it's maybe you provided and that money went to a gas card that a woman could not afford to go to group, to spend time, to get healing, to meet with other women like her going through the same, you know, same circumstance, right? Now this woman was able to go there. So it's very much a lifeline. And so whether it's time, whether it's donations, whether it's partnerships, like these are all ways that you can be part of that village and part of someone's story. 100%. Yeah. I love it. Okay. So one last time, we're going to let you go now, but Emily, can you just share just a quick blanket statement of like, how can we, you know, support reach you links, that kind of stuff?

EMILY: Yes. So valiant that's hearts with an S. Um, if you go to our website, then you will see where you can donate. You will see where you could sign up if you're local and want to attend orientation and we can learn more about our history and then ways that you can serve. If you are a person like Patricia said, that said, Hey, I don't have my time to give, but I would like to give, then like I said, there's a donation button. You can also call me. We can just call and chat about whatever. I'm always happy to talk more about what we do and where your donation would go and how it would really help the one person. All of our services are free to the women. And so we do really thrive off of our donors and our volunteers. We can't do it without y'all. And so I love what I do. Me and my coworker all the time say it's the best job in the world. And it really is because we get to see lives changed on a daily basis. And it's not because of us. It's because of all of you who choose to give in some way to make one person better and move forward.

PATRICIA: I love that. I love that. So listen, I'm so glad that we all got a time to just kind of sit and chat and bring this to light, also bring you into the conversation that's being had on the other side of the microphone. I know that you may not know that this was going on, that I was volunteering at Valiant Hearts, that Valiant Hearts is doing such great work. And so we're so happy to invite you into this world to be a part of the village that helps these women. And I think other than that, Yeah. Reach out to us. We'd love to have conversations with you. And if you want to support, know that when you, um, go through coaching, whether it's with me or with other coaches that maybe, you know, also partner with similar organizations, you're helping in that way too. Um, all right. So Emily, before we go, yes. Word of wisdom. If the whole world were listening and you had 30 seconds, right. What would you, what would you tell?

EMILY: Wow. That really threw me off. The pressure is on. What would I tell people? It sounds so cliche, but man, to be kind, to look at individuals as human beings who have life going on, not to judge quickly, love easily, Um, and just, just be there and walk alongside somebody, like help them grow. Right. Like we all just want to grow. That was more than one word, but I'm grateful to be here. You're such a great friend and volunteer, and this was so fun. And thanks for listening to me talk about Valiant Hearts.

PATRICIA: Hey, I had a lot of fun too. I hope that you did as well. Know that, um, throughout all the episodes, we continue to pray for you. Know that we love you. We'll talk to you on the next one. Hey, thanks for listening. I really appreciate you spending time with me today. If you found this episode helpful, please tap the five-star review on the show's homepage in your podcast app. It would absolutely make my day, and it helps others discover The Uncommon Career podcast. Now, to download your free career resources and learn how I help seasoned professionals land amazing offers in as little as 90 days, click on the link in the description or go to Thanks again, and I'll see you on the next one.


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