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.

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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TogetherRising #sHERo Award

If I want to see change in this world, then I must be the change myself. If I want to empower and inspire women then I must be transparent and authentic in my own life. – I need to walk my talk. Right?! The best part of working in the anti-trafficking movement is being a part of something bigger than myself. To realize that my pain is being used for someone else’s healing is pretty amazing to me. I love to see the transformation in women’s lives after I have worked with them or after they have read my blog. I love to bring hope and healing to women on the streets, in programs and in my own community. I have been sharing my story of survival for a few years now and most of the time after I share, women in the audience will come up to talk and they let me know the ways I have impacted them. A lot of them self-identify and say that they share very similar stories or can identify with most of it. Others are taken back by my bravery and courage to speak my truth. At first, It wasn’t easy to get up and share the details of my trauma in public. But with some encouragement, prayer and guts, I did it. I have never felt so free in all my life. To witness the instant impact on women’s lives was deeply moving for me. Early on in my speaking, I had some training on story telling and this helped me shape my story in a way that made sense for people. Because trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum and for me it wasn’t a one time event, I wanted to share it in a way that highlighted my vulnerabilities, the grooming process traffickers use and the reasons why women “stay so long”. I have never once just stood up on a stage and shared the horrific details of my life. Rather, I have raised awareness, educated and delivered hope and healing to many. Best of all, my story points to the One who has saved and redeemed me! Praise Jesus!
Because of all this, I was recently nominated by 4 amazing friends for an award through Together Rising which is a non-profit that was created through the blog, momastery.com. I knew about the nomination but had forgotten about it. My friends and I made plans to meet at a local restaurant on the last Tuesday in July because my outreach ministry, Bags of Hope, was the restaurant’s “Cause” for the month with 15% of each bill getting donated to the ministry. Whenever my friends walked up to me with a big sign that read, “Love wins!!” and big smiles, I knew something was up. They excitedly announced that I was the winner of the award and presented me with two checks! One check would go directly to the ministry and the other one could be used for whatever I wished. They said.. “Take your kids to Disney.. Put a down payment for a new car!! Whatever you’d like. It’s for YOU.” I was overcome with emotion, gave them huge hugs and yes, I cried! I am still basking in the blessing. I feel even more loved and supported on this journey. I’m still not sure what I will use the money for! In the past, I made many impulsive and unwise decisions. This time around I want to be deliberate and prayerful with such a big blessing. The real reward came while I was putting my 4 year old daughter to bed that night. We were saying our prayers and she said, “Mom, you are so strong and brave. Like a Superhero!!” I smiled and kissed her on the cheek and prayed that she would go out into the world and do the same –  Inspire, Encourage and Build up Others. ToGetHerRising!
togetHerrising
© Copyright 2015. JasmineGrace. All rights reserved.
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