Stepping onto a college campus as a freshman, Tina Valentine was young and impressionable. Valentine quickly found herself in the party scene. When she began struggling financially, she became trapped in the sex industry, addicted to drugs and alcohol, with no one to talk to.
“I didn’t understand my power as a women. I didn’t understand my value as a women. Unfortunately, I placed a value on myself, a monetary value,” Valentine said.
Although it was just a year ago when Valentine made her way out of the sex industry, she has almost completely rebuilt her life. Today she is in recovery and back in school. She is telling her story to educate women on sexual exploitation through My Sister’s Keeper (MSK).
MSK is described as a lifestyle movement that encourages men to have unconditional respect for all women and girls. Men who join the movement promise to live by the MSK pledge, vowing to treat every women like a sister, while women in the movement choose to only date “keepers,” or men that live by the pledge.
“If a grown man would be content with his own sister being sexually exploited or victim to domestic violence, then he by no means can call himself a man,” Vice President of Amnesty International UNC Charlotte Richard “Ty” Kelly said.
Athletes and organization leaders of UNC Charlotte were some of the first to take the MSK pledge Wednesday at their global launch. Amnesty International, University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Charlotte Area Health Education Center co-hosted the event in Cone Center.
Those working with MSK believe that starting on college campuses will help directly address the problem with the younger generation.
“Had there been a program like this when I was in college, maybe I could have went to someone and talked to them about what was happening to me,” Valentine said.
MSK is holding “Rock the Pledge” conferences on college campuses, where participants will gain a greater awareness of sexual exploitation of women. UNC Charlotte’s Rock the Pledge conference will be held in February 2017.
Senior Dashaun Walters was one of the young men who took the pledge early Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s very important to get the narrative started about domestic violence and how it affects everyone,” Walters said.
Timon Dawson, a survivor of sex trafficking and sexual assault, said the young men taking the pledge almost brought her to tears.
“To see men stand up for our sister’s is a powerful thing,” Dawson said.
As part of the movement, Dawson says she envisions a world where a man could not get a first date without being a keeper.