MinnPost: Indian woman's fight to escape prostitution
"After losing her house and kids in 1996, Denise Ellis resorted to prostitution to support her crack habit. For 12 years, Ellis worked the streets, mostly around Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood, without a reliable place to live. "I didn't have any place to go. I wanted to get high, and I couldn't think of a quicker way to do it," she said. Throughout her homeless years, Ellis had stayed with relatives and friends until losing their trust. By early 2009, she was running out of places to stay at night.

As an American Indian, Ellis is more vulnerable to prostitution than most women, according to a first-of-its-kind report addressing the commercial sexual exploitation of American Indian women and girls in Minnesota.

Until the study's recent release, the plight of Ellis and other American Indian women trapped in prostitution has been largely hidden from public view in Minnesota.

"Shattered Hearts," a study released in September by the Minneapolis-based American Indian Women's Resource Center (AIWRC), found that in 2007, American Indians made up 2.2 percent of Hennepin County residents but 25 percent of the women there on probation for prostitution-related offenses."

Get the Story:
Joey Peters: One American Indian woman's long fight to escape prostitution (MinnPost.Com 1/18)

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