Founder of Treasures, a faith-based
outreach and support group for women in the sex industry
Case manager for the L.A. County
Dept. of Child and Family Services
Received the 2006 “Outstanding Youth Social Worker of the
Featured in Glamour Magazine, Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, and The Tyra Banks Show
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and M.A. in Social Welfare from UCLA
Married to John, daughter Johnny Ella
Harmony Dust: Scars and Stilettos
The life of Scars and Stilettos author Hamony Dust today is a shining example of God’s grace. She came from a broken home. Her alcoholic father left her and her mother when Harmony was a year old. Her mother had cocaine addiction. As a child and through her teenage years, she endured sexual abuse and rape by men and women.
At 13, she ran away from home after being abused by her mother’s boyfriend. She thought she must be doing something wrong or something was wrong with her, because she kept attracting these kinds of people and situations. All of these experiences taught her that her value as a person must be wrapped up in her sexuality.
An older boy in Harmony's neighborhood became her boyfriend and father figure. She was determined to keep her relationship with him. At 15, she started giving him money. Unfortunately, this became an unhealthy pattern, because he would just use her for sex and money but still see other girls. Tw years later, she was stealing money from her part-time jobs to keep her boyfriend. By 19, she was almost bankrupt and $35,000 in debt. She didn’t feel she had any options, so she got a job as a stripper. She thought she would only be there a couple of months.
In the meantime, her relationship with her boyfriend had become physically and emotionally abusive. She also got caught up in the lifestyle of the sex industry. She felt shame and isolation and only associated with industry people. All of this affected how she saw the world. Three years later, she found her life was out of control.
THE TURNING POINT
Around this time, Harmony met a woman at a community ballet class. This woman befriended Harmony and showed her the unconditional love of God. The friend invited Harmony to go to church, and Harmony saw something in her friend’s life that was different.
Harmony felt at home in the church, which is still her church home today. She started to learn about God, and her heart was changing. She saw changes in her behavior that the Holy Spirit encouraged. Harmony knew God had a better life for her. Gradually, she got to the point where she had to leave the business. She started selling her clothes and cut off ties with her ex-boyfriend who had been abusing her for years.
God continued His work and she eventually got baptized. Harmony says that God was a gentleman through it all and she got more healing from all the hurt and abuse. It was a process, but Harmony finally found freedom from her past in Jesus.
THE HEALING JOURNEY
Harmony says that every journey to healing is different, but Jesus has to be at the core. For her, Bible studies and Christian counseling helped her walk through the process of faith and healing fully. No matter what form, God will bring the resources needed in whatever form necessary.
She also says that developing a healthy community is vital to the healing journey. A healthy church with safe people helped her grow in faith. Her church showed her grace and not a license to sin. God has a good plan and never wastes a hurt. He cares about dreams. God heals pain and gives purpose. Giving and serving others is also part of the healing. Going from just a survivor to an overcomer is a matter of helping set others free.
Several years ago, Harmony was picking her husband up at the airport. His plane did not arrive yet, and she knew she would have to park at a nearby Taco Bell, where she would have to drive by the strip club where she used to work. As she drove by, she prayed for the women who were working in the club. She also thought of the women who she used to work with and felt a great burden for them.
Harmony wanted to take action and reach out to them somehow. In the side pocket of her car she found some postcards that came from a women’s conference she had recently attended. The postcards had a picture of a woman wearing pearls and a caption that said her value was far above rubies or pearls. Harmony thought that she could write notes on these postcards and place them on the cars of the dancers. On the cards, she told the women they were loved and that they would be welcome to come to church.
Harmony thought, what if she could continue to pass out cards or flyers to more women in more clubs throughout the city. She told her idea to her associate pastor, and he encouraged her to continue right away. From this, Harmony’s outreach, Treasures, was officially formed in January 2003. Today, Treasures goes to 170 strip clubs a year and has about 30 volunteers. Each month they go into the clubs and give gift bags filled with make up and jewelry as a small token to let the women know that they are valued. The ministry also has support available to women to show them love.
Treasures regularly stays in touch with a couple hundred of women and helps provide resources, Bibles, custom-tailored help to women, and one-on-one discipleship. Treasures also has resources and training for outreach in 16 U.S. cities and Canada.
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