In a group support session at the Community Against Sexual Harm’s Oak Park drop-in center, peer counselor Avon Tyra Brown kneels before a room full of prostitutes and tells them they’re more valuable than any amount of money. “Don’t accept being bought and used because you’re above that,” she said.
CASH was founded in 2008 by female police officers searching for solutions to help break the cycle of recidivism of long-time street prostitutes along Stockton Boulevard and Broadway in Oak Park. They partnered with neighborhood business associations and professors from Sacramento State who interviewed sex workers.
The women expressed the need for a safe environment, free of judgment, where they could receive support and resources. The drop-in center was opened, providing food, clothing and other services, as well as street outreach and peer counseling by former sex workers and survivors of violence and addiction.
“So many of our women are broken,” Brown said. “We make them know how special they are and that they’re worth every bit of energy we can put into them.”
For more information go to cashsac.org or call (916) 856-2900.
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PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLOG: Additional photographs and story: blogs.sacbee.com/exposures.