By Debbie Hardy
Human trafficking, for labor or sex, is more prevalent than you may think. And those caught in these traps need help to escape and return to normal life.
The term “human trafficking” includes domestic activity where little or no transportation is required. It is a modern-day form of slavery, widespread throughout the U.S. and occurs around almost every corner, even in Michigan.
This issue is more prevalent than we’d like to believe:
- In March 2015, Michigan was ranked No. 2 by the FBI for human trafficking sex trade behind only Nevada.
- Statistics show that there are 1,200 women in the metro Detroit area trapped in this life.
- Toledo has been ranked as the 4th largest city in the U.S. for human trafficking.
- Most of these women became victims between the ages of 12 and 14, and many suffered child abuse as well.
There is little chance of escaping this life. Of those who try to get out, 90% return to the street through force or survival, or are killed.
But there is hope.
Hope Against Trafficking is a 24-month residential program that provides restorative housing and comprehensive services focused on physical, mental, emotional and economic transformation.
This program in southeast Michigan is a seedling of the successful Magdalene/Thistle Farms model in Nashville. There, roughly 3/4 of the women who made it through the first six months of the program were drug-free and pursuing education and employment two years later—a percentage unrivaled by any treatment center.
In the 20 years of Magdalene/Thistle Farms’ existence, they’ve achieved a remarkable 84% success rate. They transform survivors into self-sufficient individuals with hope for their future, as well as establishing successful social enterprises that have empowered and equipped women with key skills.
This model is not a halfway house or treatment center, but a community where the best evidence-based social work is paired with a spiritual community of sisterhood for life that gives women a safe place to heal.
Hope Against Trafficking is anticipating the same results in Southeast Michigan, claiming to create a safe place for victims. The organization is built upon the premise that love transforms, and it’s love that allows human trafficking survivors to rebuild, rediscover and rewrite the stories their lives.
On September 30, Hope Against Trafficking held an open house to bring together volunteers, supporters and partners, and share with them the excitement and privilege of welcoming women home. Their first home provides a haven for the transformation of five survivors; the second home—16 survivors!
Some ways to identify a child or adult victim are listed on Hope Against Trafficking’s website at www.hopeagainsttrafficking.org/identify-a-victim/. To help or report a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center 24/7 at 1.888.373.7888.
Hope Against Trafficking is a Southeast Michigan-based campaign in support of the fight against human trafficking and is presented by Monarch Wings, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.
You can get involved in transforming lives in various ways:
- Join a Volunteer Team
- Donate professional services: IT/ networking, photography, art, marketing, graphics and design, administration, medical/nursing, counseling, etc.
- Volunteer to transport survivors to appointments
- Mentor and encourage a survivor
- Donate job and life skills development services: computers, cooking, budgeting, cleaning, gardening, GED tutor, speaking coach, resume writing, Bible studies, parenting, exercise classes, etc.
You can also help financially:
- Become a fundraiser
- Have your company become a corporate sponsor
- Host a fundraiser event
- Invite Hope Against Trafficking to speak at your next event
- Donate monthly or one time
- Sponsor a project
- And the list goes on
It’s good to know that there is hope, even in the ugliness of human trafficking.