Shiny poles, 6-inch heels, exotic dangers and religion?
It’s a stripper ministry named “Eve’s Angels." It's a non-profit on a mission to save women from the sex industry.
The ministry was founded by someone that knows this world all too well, Anny Donewald.
“I call it a world because it is. It has its own rules, its own players. Its own law,” Donewald said.
Donewald said she danced for the first time at a local amateur night competition and won.
She was in college at the time and said all she wanted was a new pair of shoes.
“It just seemed easy. The way it was presented to me. Perspective is everything and I think at 19n you don’t really have any,” Donewald said.
The amateur competition led to a career as a dancer in places like Lansing and along Dort Highway in Flint at places like Déjà Vu.
But what started out as a seemingly innocent way for the teenager to make some quick cash ended up costing Donewald more than she bargained for.
She danced in clubs across the country, making a six-figure income in places like Las Vegas and Beverly Hills.
That fast cash led to prostitution and a cocaine addiction.
She said drugs were a way to escape her new reality.
“There was a couple breaking points that I had. I remember a day that I was sitting, and I had made, I don’t want to talk about an exact figure, but it was a lot of money, at work in a six-hour period. And I was sitting there with it and I thought, I’m not happy,” Donewald said.
After nearly seven years on the road selling her body and soul, she said she was spiritually bankrupt.
Now she looks back at what caused her to go down such a hard road.
She came from a high-profile family. Her dad, a successful college basketball coach, and a mother she said loved her dearly.
But when Donewald was 13 she said she was sexually assaulted by her uncle.
That changed everything.
“There was a lot of abuse and trauma that was, like I said, swept under the rug. Within the family,” she said.
Donewald said she thought telling someone about the abuse would hurt her father’s career. So, she internalized her suffering.
She said abuse is a common thread among workers in the sex trade.
“I’ve never known a girl that wasn’t, because it’s not glamorous. It’s traumatizing,” Donewald said.
She said things finally changed when she was at her lowest point, consumed by depression. She got pregnant and planned on having an abortion.
Lost and in despair, she prayed to a God she wasn’t sure even existed, and something unusual happened.
“I had to make five different appointments and for one reason or another they would get canceled. For example, I would leave two hours early and get stuck in three and a half hours of traffic. Amen," Donewald said.
Months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. She also gave birth to an idea that she was going to do something to help others, by dedicating her life to God.
“We put together a campaign to raise money for sex trafficking awareness; for T-shirts so we can raise some money. And now we are going to the strip club during the day because we got it like that," Donewald said.
She formed Eve’s Angels. Now she travels across the country once again, only this time with a different mission in mind.
With other former dancers, she hangs out in strip clubs sharing her story and her faith.
She also recently opened a safe house for anyone looking to get out.
“What is so amazing about Eve’s Angels and the safe house is that our main goal here through all of the rehabilitation is for women to know who they are. To believe that they are God’s loved daughter, that they are worthy. That they are beautiful and they can have a beautiful life," Donewald said.
Donewald said her organization has welcomed hundreds of dancers and anyone else caught up in the sex industry.
She helps victims start a new life and coaches them as they make plans for a brighter future.
“There is something that I find with every woman that I’ve worked with, including myself. And that there is a higher currency than money, and that something is passion and purpose," Donewald said.
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