What's Up South Texas!: Local group provides support to women in adult entertainment industry

Many aspiring to leave industry don't know how, Lavish founder says

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Help without judgment is one woman’s motto while serving women who want to exit the adult entertainment industry but do not know how.

Kayla Moilanen created Lavish, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and support for women in the adult entertainment industry in San Antonio.

“We work with ladies that are in strip clubs, who work in brothels, women who are in prostitution” said Moilanen. “We are supporting all different faces of the adult entertainment sex industry.”

The group has outreach teams that visit several strip clubs, gifting women items such as personal hygiene supplies, love notes with inspirational quotes and prayer. They even provide resources like counseling or help with contacts for networking opportunities.

“Afterwards we wait for those calls to come in after we leave contact numbers and once they do, we find out what needs that woman has,” said Moilanen.

One thing Moilanen said she has learned is that there is a big need for resources.

“We are not there to tell people what to do or what not to do,” said Moilanen. “We want them to be aware that they do have options. It can be easy to view your body as a commodity when you have been used and abused in the past. Your body can now be a tool to get you where you want to be financially so you can leave your past behind, but in the process, sometimes women get stuck.”

This passion of Moilanen’s didn’t just come out of nowhere. Unfortunately she experienced a traumatic situation when she was a child.

“I am a victim of childhood sexual assault and it was very devastating growing up with that,” said Moilanen. “I was taking unnecessary risks, trusting unsafe people, partying, underage drinking, being promiscuous and more. I was not processing my pain in a healthy way experienced judgment in my youth when I was struggling, honestly, from my pain and trauma in my life. I was making the wrong choices wearing things that were not all that nice. But I was responding out of pain.”

Moilanen said she chose unhealthy ways to feel like she was in control because she didn’t know how to get help -- a frustration she later learned was shared with thousands of women in adult entertainment.

“When I found out up to 90 percent of women in the sex industry were victims of childhood sexual assault, I was completely floored,” said Moilanen.

So she began to turn her life around for the better.

“It was the love and support of my family and friends that helped me recover and helped empower me to continue on and not to forget about my dreams,” said Moilanen. “I want to be able to do that for others in need like I was.”

Now, Moilanen and volunteers with Lavish interact with dozens of women weekly, building relationships and trust with them.

“I’m not up here and someone else is down here. We are equal and we are helping one another and I have learned so much from these women and I have gained so much experience in their knowledge and it has helped me grow,” said Moilanen.

Because of their efforts to comfort these women with support, she said they have seen great results over time.

“We have seen women who has worked in the industry for over 10 years and go back to school, pursue their education,” said Moilanen. “We’ve seen women just come alive because someone believed in them and someone was in their corner.”

Her biggest goal is to spread love and not hate over women working jobs that many would pass judgement on.

“It is important that we don’t judge one another, in this climate right now in our country and city, we just need to look out for one another and care for one another better,” said Moilanen.

Now she said the next step is to have their own location for Lavish as well as invest in transitional housing for families transforming from an adult entertainment profession to something they have always dreamed to do.

For more information about the organization or how you can volunteer to be a part of their cause, visit their website.

If you know someone like Moilanen who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.

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