Helen Taylor is a rare blend of fierce and lovely. Her story tells of a fire that God started deep in her heart as a young woman. It's apparent that God had a plan to ignite this woman into a brilliant force to fight for women. Her strength is not loud and boastful, it is calm and patient. Through her work with Exodus Cry she educates, advocates, and works tirelessly to free those who have been exploited. This calling reaches deeper than a job and has become her life's mission.
Exodus Cry is committed to abolishing sex trafficking and breaking the cycle of commercial sexual exploitation while assisting and empowering its victims. Their international work involves uprooting the underlying causes in our culture that allow the industry of sexual exploitation to thrive and helping those who have been sexually exploited. - www.exoduscry.com
When Helen was a teenager, her father would take her shopping in London, England (where she's from). Along the streets outside the shops, whenever he would walk past a red phone booth, he would go inside and pull down the ads for prostitution stuck to the windows, explaining to her, "People shouldn't be advertised for sale in a phonebox, like a pizza. Prostitution exploits vulnerable women". It struck Helen deep in her heart and planted a seed that would bloom into the radiant light she is today.
God continued pursuing her heart about the need to stop sexual exploitation. One day Helen was out in London and took a wrong turn, finding herself in an area of the city with strip clubs and peep shows. The whole concept of what the ads inside the phone booths were advertising became real to her when she saw a woman in a red dress.
The woman was standing in the alleyway alone and waiting inside a doorway of what seemed to be a brothel. She looked Eastern European (most women in prostitution in London are from Romania or Bulgaria) and the sadness of the situation and how uncomfortable she looked moved Helen's heart. She wanted to give her a rose - a gift to tell her she was seen and to remind her she was beautiful. There were no florists nearby and so Helen was unable to buy her a rose, but she was deeply impacted by what she witnessed.
During her first year in college, Helen was brought into a fuller awareness of God's calling. While listening to a prayer meeting streamed online, she heard Benjamin Nolot (who later went on to found Exodus Cry) share about trafficking in Cambodia. Her heart broke over what she heard and she felt the Father's grief over the exploitation of His children. As she wept on her dorm room floor, God set a fire in her soul for those that they were praying for. Back in 2007 the issue of women and children trafficked into thr sex trade was not a publicly known issue like it is now, and she was unsure of how to get connected. She told God if He opened a door, this was something she would give her life to.
A few months later, Helen's mother found out that a family friend would soon be moving to Cambodia to work with trafficked women. Feeling that this connection was providential, Helen reached out to the organization and was able to spend her summer volunteering there and assisting where needed.
This short trip was life changing for Helen and she knew she wanted to return to Cambodia after graduating. She completed her degree and then took a diploma course in Art Therapy in London and moved back to Cambodia for six months, working with women in a restoration program who had formerly been trafficked, most while they underage. The program trained them in various job skills in their chosen business track and provided holistic care. During Helen's final week in Cambodia, the documentary that Benjamin Nolot (from Exodus Cry) made Nefarious was screened and Helen found her worlds colliding once again.
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is documentary film about modern day sex- trafficking. Nefarious covers human trafficking in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, alternating interviews with re-enactments. Victims of trafficking talk about the grooming process and having been the objects of unthinkable abuse and attempted murder. They also share powerful stories of healing and restoration.
Later at their film premier in London Helen was approached by a staff member at Exodus Cry and she shared with them about her experiences in Cambodia. One thing led to another and Helen decided to move to the states a few months later to be a full-time volunteer with Exodus Cry, on what she assumed would be a temporary 1-year visa. But God had other plans and six years later she was granted a green card. Nothing was going to stop her from fighting this fight.
“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Victor Hugo, the celebrated French author, best known for Les Misérables.
Helen now serves as the Director of Outreach and Intervention at Exodus Cry. Wherever the sex industry exists, Helen goes with a message of love, value and support, taking gift bags, roses and resources to those on the streets, in strip clubs, brothels, jails, and to those sold for sex over the internet. Love is their agenda.
Helen has done this work in ten countries now and has taken teams to red-light districts around the world, as well as regularly here in the US. She trains groups and organizations using an outreach manual she created on how to start and sustain outreach to women who are being exploited in the sex industry and how to come alongside them in love, assisting and empowering them in their journey to freedom.
Helen is joined by a fearless team of abolitionists at Exodus Cry that fight this issue on the micro and macro level. They ask the hard questions of how can we shift the way we think about the root causes of trafficking in our culture - exploitation, pornography, and the demand that fuels sex-trafficking.
Everyone has a certain capacity to give to fight this cause, and it can be challenging if you have a demanding job or family. It is about what you want to invest your treasure in, but there is nothing too small and a seed planted is always worth it. It all matters.
Exodus Cry doesn't get government funding for their work, and they rely on donations from individuals who are passionate to see the culture shift and an end to the evil injustice of trafficking. In an effort to raise funding an awareness Rachel Pheffer of Urbantique is donating a portion of every Arise Bird tee sold on www.nuancestylehouse.com to Exodus Cry.
To read up more about the work that Exodus Cry does: