A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

It all starts and ends in prayer

This photo says so much about who I am in my life today. When I first entered detox in 2007, I would get on my knees and awkwardly say, “God help me not use today. Help me to stay in treatment”.
I’m so humbled and grateful to God for saving from from a life filled with shame, self hate and remorse.

I’ve been used and abused.

I’ve done things I can’t believe I did.

I’ve been the aggressor.

I’ve been filled with hate.


But God has been so faithful to me. He has provided every step of the way. He has taught me how to see myself as clean and worthy. He has brought amazing women into my life. Women that have showed me what it means to be a godly woman, wife and mother.
Prayer, my friend, is one of the most powerful tools you can have.

Pray out loud.

Pray under your breath.

Pray with friends.

Pray anytime.

Pray always.

And in everything give thanks.

Copyright. 2019. Jasmine Grace

Photo Credit: Robert Nickelsberg

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A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

Walking alongside a Survivor of Sex Trafficking.

It was a snowy Sunday. A freezing, icy rain kind of snow day. I was in a bad mood and I refused to be comforted by God or anyone else. I was angry and I felt like my old self. I lashed out at my son’s father and at God for no good reason. I couldn’t pray. I needed to nap and I slept for 3 hours. When I woke up, the anger was gone and I was ready to start my day over again.
As I turned my phone on, the video I forgot I was waiting for was there…
The trafficking survivor that I’m mentoring was being baptized at the church she attends while in a safe home out of state.

I met “Annie” about a year ago. She came to the halfway house I was working in and she was a mess. We connected right away and we talked a lot. I gave her a copy of Jasmine’s book and a Bag of Hope. I didn’t see her for two days. Finally, she came running into my office, excited and crying at the same time. She threw the book down and said “this is my life! I need to meet this Jasmine lady”. I gave her Jasmine’s number and they talked on the phone a few times. She was beside herself with her new found knowledge. She was no longer a victim but realizing she was a survivor. Sadly, three weeks later, she left the program and went back to her trafficker.

Over the next year, I began building a relationship with her by coming alongside her as she struggled to figure it out. She was an alcoholic but her real addiction was to her trafficker and the lifestyle the commercial sex trade brings. She went in and out of detoxes and recovery homes so much that her insurance was about to cut her off. I continued to guide her as she explored the Christian faith, teaching her who Jesus is and how He can help her find out who she was created to be. Later in the year, I picked her up from a hospital after another suicide attempt and was taking her to another program. It was while driving down the highway, she accepted Christ into her heart. It was a beautiful moment. We both cried and I knew God was working in both of our hearts that day.

A month later she left that program and I was heartbroken for her. She didn’t seem to be “getting it”. I also felt like I was enabling her to continue down the wrong path. I told her she couldn’t contact me again until she had 6 months clean. She understood, but it was a hard conversation. About 2 weeks later she called and I hesitated to pick it up. She told me overdosed and almost died. She sounded so sad and desperate. At that moment, I felt the Lord speak to me and then through me. I asked her if she was ready to leave the state and seek further treatment in a safe home. Because earlier in that week, I had met a woman who runs a safe house in Alabama for trafficking survivors. Without hesitation, she said yes! Two days later she was on a plane.

Two months later, she was back in Boston because she was asked to leave the home due to an altercation with another resident. She asked me to help find her another program that was out of state. I brought her to my house and for the next two days we made calls and referrals to different safe homes across the country. She picked one in Pennsylvania and left three days later.
While she was staying with me, we talked a lot about her time in Alabama and how she felt closer to God than ever. It was there, that she finally could see that He was truly working in her life. And that she could make it.

While at the latest program, she has gone down into some valleys. Her past trauma is starting to come to the surface and the emotions she has been numbing for years are starting to come alive. She is scared. She doesn’t know how to handle the feelings and she is letting her anger get the best of her. We have spoken a few times since her baptism. I am happy and excited for the new milestone in her life. I encouraged her to keep trusting God. She is afraid to mess up and doesn’t want to let her family and God down. I told her how I screwed up shortly after my baptism and reassured her that we all make mistakes. What I’ve learned is that, it’s about progress – not perfection and God can use it all. I reminded her that the same power God used to raise Jesus from dead, is inside of her and the Holy Spirit will teach her how to use it.


Please keep her in your prayers. We know that the enemy will relentlessly remind her of who she was in the past. We also know that God is in the business of redemption and often uses our past failures to bring Him glory! Walking alongside women who have been trafficked isn’t for the faint of heart. I am so grateful to have these front row seats into her transformation. It makes the work I do – worth it. I am grateful that God has set me on my own path to healing and recovery so I can show other women how to find freedom. We all walk it out differently but the enemy will use the same lies to keep us in the cycle of shame. The difference is that God uses His love and promises to comfort us and bring us out of that cycle and into His arms.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ”

Written by: Anita, Recovery Coach and Mentor for Bags of Hope

Edited by: Jasmine Grace. Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.

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A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

Why I share my story of Surviving Sex Trafficking

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Today, one of the most rewarding things in my life, is getting to share my story with others that haven’t figured out theirs yet. I have come to know that when I share in a transparent and vulnerable way – it gives others a chance to do the same. And when we finally tell someone else about the prior abuse or the trafficking we have endured, we open to the door to healing. The enemy of our souls uses shame and silence to keep us sick. Only bad things grow in the dark. It is when we shine the light down on those deep places, can we finally heal. That is why I help give women a voice. A chance to speak up. A opportunity to take the healing as it comes.

Here is one survivor’s journal entry from a group we did a while back. She gave us permission to share her powerful writing. And while she said awesome things about me, that is not why I am sharing it. I want you to focus on her feelings and her revelations.

“Today is a wonderful day. I’m at the program and this amazing woman came to share her story about recovery, sex trafficking and prostitution. She talked about her “pimp” and the grooming process. And the shame & violence. I am so amazed by her courage and strength and vulnerability to share some of the most shameful moments of her life with a room full of women. She told my story.

 She knows what I’ve been through. The feeling of being tainted or dirty. The feeling that no one would ever love me again. That I am not pretty or beautiful like I used to be before I was a prostitute or in the sex trade.

She talked about the tricks and about how we are made out to be dirty hoes but they are just being guys. And how the stigma is so sick. I feel like God has put her in my path for a reason. I feel like I can take so much from her wisdom and learn from it. I am completely impressed by her. I feel such a huge connection with her. I hope I can email and stay in touch.

She has wrote a book about her diary entries- the 5 yrs she was stuck in the trade of sex trafficking. She brought us each a copy. I can’t tell you how happy I am. I love this woman. I told her that I’m working with a trauma specialist. She told me I’m brave and courageous and I am doing good working on my trama. She has been so encouraging. I remembered this one time that my pimp left me sick because He wasn’t getting any responses to his ad on backpage so I had to turn a trick before he got me off “E” and I was pucking all over the place. And he stuck my face in the puke. I’m full of these stories. I feel so broken and when I think of these or have flashbacks he makes me feel so disgusting and gives me anxiety.”

 

And this my friends, is why we write and give women a chance to share their stories. 

 

 

 

©2018. All Rights Reserved. Jasmine Grace.

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A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

So much to be Thankful for!

bohevent18

Every year we plan our Annual Bring a Item – Fill a Bag event for people in the community to come together and “do good” for vulnerable women by bringing basic toiletries and to stuff bags filled with HOPE!
We have smaller events throughout the year when groups invite us to come speak and fill 10-50 bags at a time. This helps sustain us through the seasons. Our goal this year was to stuff 300 bags, we did 270, but the best part was – so many new people came out to join us! We didn’t know most of them, so we made new friends! We needed to get more tables and chairs a couple of times because people just kept coming in 🙂
We are beyond GRATEFUL for the support and love people showed us! Also, to Trinity Evangelical Church in North Reading for hosting us.

Here are some of the highlights! 

#1. Was when our two newest team members, Jenn and Chelsey, shared their testimonies of surviving the commercial sex trade and how they themselves received a Bag of Hope as they trudged through early drug recovery. You could feel the presence of God in the room, tears were flowing and we were all so blessed by these brave women for sharing what they have been through and how far they have come in recovery. This is what makes my heart so full… To know that God has called me to speak for so many women, year after year, as I have shared my own story in so many places. Now I get to watch other survivors rise up, mature in their faith, share their stories, and find their voices. As Chelsey beautifully states, “Bags of Hope gave me the voice I didn’t know I had”.

#2. Shout out to our amazing coordinator, administrator, recovery coach extraoenaire… Anita for her organization of the event and brilliant idea of giving people at the event an opportunity to sign up and deliver the bags they made to one of the 30 programs we serve! So many people signed up that by the end of the night we had only ONE BAG left!! While this is fantastic, we are in need of smaller bag filling events and donation drives, so please spread the word! Pray that this ONE Bag will multiply into 100 MORE!

#3. When I speak at events, I usually have a table for my book, The Diary of Jasmine Grace. Trafficked. Recovered. Redeemed. I always offer people a chance to buy a book for themselves and then donate one to a woman in need. Because of people’s generosity, they have donated over 200 books and we have given out over 150 in the past year and a half since it’s been released. Well, one of the drug recovery programs we serve brought their women clients to the event and I was able to give 15 books to them. There had been only one book at the house and the ladies were fighting over it 🙂

I could go on about God’s faithfulness, goodness, love and mercy, but it’s too much to fit into a blog post!

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, it is my hope that you will take a minute to think of all you have to be grateful for. And to remember the women, men, girls and boys that are out there, still caught in the trap of sexual exploitation, addiction and homelessness.

With that said, I am THANKFUL to Him for this season of bountiful harvest, to those for their support of the ministry, and to you for reading this!

“Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4 

Peace, Jasmine

bohevent18onebag

 

©Copyright 2018. JasmineGrace. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

The Work has only Begun

freedom miranda

 

First trafficked by deception and fraud and then held captive by psychological manipulation, she was in and out of the Life for almost twelve years.  During those years, she would be out of the Life for a stretch of a few years, she was never free from the bondage of evil. And thus kept going back to the Life, unable to break free from the invisible chain.  

Brothels, massage parlors, karaoke bars, and escort services—the Life was her default mode of life that was always pulling her back and also tempting her to fall back to whenever she tried to be her own, whispering to her ears that it was where she really belonged.  Men always abused her and treated her as a sexual object anyway; ‘at least now I’m getting paid for it,’ she told herself, trying to convince herself that it wasn’t too bad and perhaps it was better.

But it was a life of darkness and utter hopelessness.  She thought maybe she would end it all by taking her own life.  And she tried a few times—in vain.

Meanwhile, by God’s grace she had a chance to attend a local church a few times and was even baptized at one point; though, not before long, she drifted away from the church and God and soon relapsed back to the Life.  Nevertheless, God was faithful and one day when she was contemplating a suicide again, God brought to her mind Christ in whose name she was baptized. There is a power in the name of Christ. At least she quit trying to kill herself from then on.  And slowly she began reading the Word of God, and as the seed of the Word took root in her heart, she became convinced of the evil and sinfulness of the Life and resolved to get out of the Life for good. And Christ delivered her out of the Life and redeemed her.  And she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.

Not before long, she started serving God at a local church and became involved in anti-trafficking works.  She firmly believes that the inherent dignity and inviolability of a human person lie in the fact that all women and men are created in the image of God.  She also believes that it is only through the power of Christ the bondage of evil can be broken and only by His light the darkness can be overcome. And she is a witness to the power of redemption that is in Christ.  

She is currently studying at a seminary pursuing her M. Div. degree and also helping other women exploited by the sex industry at a non-profit Christian organization.  God has blessed her with a good Christian man with whom she has been married for four years now.

Authored by: Miranda

©Copyright 2018. Jasmine Grace

 

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A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

My Journey: Seasons Of Healing (Who I am today)

Poem #2:

Sometimes, it comes back.
It’s Vivid Like Yesterday’s Sun.
But in reality – it’s DARKER,
DARKER than storm clouds on a rainy day.
It BURNS hotter than a summer sun.
It HURTS more than falling hail hitting your skin like bullets.
And at times, it is so much LOUDER than the CRACK of a tree branch, or the RUMBLE of thunder, or the BURSTING or fireworks.
IT IS MY TRUTH.
But, I can’t let it define me. I WON’T.
I survived. I am strong. I am a voice for others.
It’s been a over a decade. 13 years to be exact.
Time passes as slow as leaves falling from a tree during the fall, but as fast as lightning strikes during an unexpected storm at the same time.
2002: I was 9 or 10 years old, no timeline.
Their hands touched me like fire more than once. BURNING HOT. Unwanted.
2004: I WAS 12 YEARS OLD. I remember everything.
It was a warm spring day, but a COLD reality.
His hands touched me like fire. BURNING HOT. Unwanted. Fingers and Tongue; Inside me , all over me.
2006: Speak justice into healing. A small conviction but my voice was louder and healed me more than any conviction sentence.
Waves of healing – peaks and valleys ; but hope lingers no matter what.
Don’t let your dreams be just dreams, or gone with the wind, I didn’t.
2017: The sun shines so often now.
I cannot get lost among the clouds and storms.
So much has changed for the better and beautiful in its time – like the seasons.
The seasons of healing.
Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall.

Where I am
Free by the ocean, living by my favorite place (the beach)
Working in my DREAM JOB at 26, as a full time advocate for survivors
Living on my own
Thriving
Reaching for the stars
Limitless
FEARLESS
A voice for others
Present in my body
Caring for myself
Close, Great, Healed relationships with both my parents
Healing and Healed in so many ways beyond what I could have imagined

Who I Am
A Successful 26 year old Woman
Bags of Hope Volunteer
College Graduate
Athlete
Advocate
Activist
Speaker
Poet
Capable
Worth Something
Working on being an author 😉 Book in process
Survivor, Thriver, Victor
Woman of God
Child of the King
HIS Daughter
Comfortable in my own skin
JOYFULL
FaithFULL
Loving and desire to BE loved
Empowered to step into my body confidently as a woman & treating it as the temple that it is
Happy

Authored by: Mel Sachs ©Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved.

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A Day Out of the life. Looking back & Moving Forward - Lifting our Voices.

My Journey: Surviving Child Sexual Abuse/Sexual Assault and The Family Disease of Alcoholism (Who I was)

Poem #1

T h e  J o u r n e y

As I look back on my journey,
Of who I have become
The paths that I have crossed
The days I came undone.
This is a reflection of truth
My life, My strength, My pain
A journey through my eyes
What I lost and what I gained.
It started when I was young,
A girl at five or six
Dealing with unexpected outcomes
A Father who was sick
The disease that took him over
But never took him away
A long fight with alcoholism
A young girl begging him to stay.
Some days I used to wonder,
When it was going to end
Lies, Fear and Manipulation
So young, I couldn‘t comprehend.
A few years later
I was never alone
A program full of people
A love that was always shown.
Peace, Love and Serenity
What I was looking for
A second family forever
A smile and a hug for sure.
Finally able to share
What I never wanted to surrender
Finally felt the relief
My heart will always remember.
One year when I was twelve,
I was faced with another fight
Something I was ashamed of
My heart was filled with fright.

A young girl taken advantage of
An acquaintance gone too far
A child held down and violated
The beginning of her scars.
Nightmares and flashbacks haunt her
an everyday struggle
Trying to deal with the pain
Fighting to pick up the puzzle.
Taking it out on herself
Was the only goal
Self-Injury, Restricting
Trying to gain back control.
An interview and a trial
She had to make a choice
She wanted to get her life back
She no longer tolerated a forever silenced voice.
There was a small conviction
Following a long two years
An outcome good and bad
After days and nights of tears.
Another step in her journey
A chapter in her life
That young girl has grown up
And her goal this time is to strive.
A lifetime full of dreams
Have begun to show through
From high school through college and beyond,
[[She‘ll say she‘s gonna show you]]
Her compassion for others
Who have traveled down the same road
A career to bring justice
A voice that says, you are not alone.
A mission to happiness
A beautiful life ahead
I will not back down
I‘ll show my strength instead.

Where I was

  • On a path to self-destruction
  • In a world of self-sabotage
  • Going through the motions, not enjoying life. There was no JOY. I was miserable.
  • Felt like I was too far gone
  • In DEEP emotional pain
  • Full of FEAR
  • HATING my body because of what was done to it
  • Disconnected from my body completely
  • Stuck in a past of child sexual abuse and sexual assault and the aftermath (Court, PTSD, Self-Injury, Restricted Eating, Flashbacks, Anxiety, Memories)

Who I believed I was

  • A Broken child and adolescent
  • Daughter of an alcoholic, worried nothing would get better
  • My Abusers Victim, and a victim in general
  • Defined
  • Forgotten
  • Ashamed
  • Faithless
  • Hopeless
  • Terrified to love and be loved
  • Dirty, Damaged Goods
  • Failure
  • Stuck
  • Guilty
  • Worthless

Authored by: Mel Sachs  ©Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

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