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.
A survivor of sexual, physical, and mental abuse, as well as of sex trafficking, Brenda Myers-Powell founded the Dreamcatcher Foundation, an organization working to bring education, empowerment, and active prevention to young at-risk girls in the city of Chicago.
Brenda fell victim to trafficking after running away from an abusive home at the age of 14. After 25 years in the life, Brenda now uses her experiences to mentor and relate to girls in similar situations as her own. The Dreamcatcher Foundation provides services including healing and recovery groups; physical, emotional, and psychological health services; personal development; and educational services.
Brenda was recently featured in Dreamcatcher, a documentary that focuses on prostitution and sex trafficking in Chicago and the work that The Dreamcatcher Foundation is doing to prevent exploitation and support victims.
Brenda Myers-Powell 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.