Written by: Katie Linn | Previous Executive Director of Exploit No More
Conversations about sex trafficking – whether they be a few minutes or a few hours presentation – often leave people with a sense of hopelessness and despair. With so much information to absorb, it can be difficult to move past the darkness to see the hope and light for survivors of trafficking. Women and men who are recovered and escape from the life have a long journey of healing and restoration that will continue long into their lives. However as many walk the path to becoming healthy again, they find that their passions now lie with helping others who have been victimized and exploited. Their stories provide the hope, light, and inspiration that is needed in order to see how these incredible women are being restored.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and for this month, we will be highlighting a few of the stories of hope from survivors around the United States. These profiles are of well-known survivors who are working in the United States to support victims and survivors in their own cities and nation-wide. Please check out their organizations and ministries to learn more about how they work daily to end human trafficking.
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, or GEMS, is located in Harlem, New York and is one of the most recognized organizations working to provide services for survivors of sex trafficking, educating the public on the issue, and putting pressure on legislation.
This is mainly thanks to the organizations CEO, Rachel Lloyd, who is a survivor of sexual abuse and trafficking herself. Originally from England, Rachel left an abusive home at a young age and eventually found herself in prostitution. She moved to Germany in hopes of turning her life around, however was unable to escape the life, continuing to be trafficked for two more years.
In 1997, she moved to the United States and began her work with victimized women and girls, assisting them in their road to recovery. She has recorded her story in her book, Girls Like Us: Fighting For a World Where Girls Are Not For Sale, as well as has been featured in the documentary Very Young Girls, which tells the stories of 13 and 14 year old girls who were exploited in New York and treated as adult criminals.
Rachel Lloyd is just one of hundreds of survivor advocates working to use her own experiences in order to help others in their healing journey. Exploit No More has been blessed to have a number of survivors in the Milwaukee community who share this same desire. While the healing journey continues, our survivor advocates and volunteers have reached the point in their journey that they have a passion to help other girls and women who have been victimized and exploited. Without survivor-led mentorship and leadership in the fight to end sex trafficking, organizations are at a huge disadvantage and leave the survivors they are attempting to help at a loss. Survivors who have a passion to help others who were victimized provide a space for understanding, vulnerability in sharing stories, and healing.
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