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Answers on decriminalizing prostitution, human trafficking and legalizing sex work.

The subject of decriminalizing prostitution, human trafficking, and legalizing “sex work” is not going away. In order to offer clarity, we have asked Lisa Thompson from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to present in Concord on April 4th.

Lisa will be in NH from the 4th through the 6th, speaking and presenting at various times. She is the VP of Policy and Research for NCOSE and has extensive knowledge about prostitution laws in the US and around the world. Her team has been researching the implications and outcomes of the various legal models of prostitution for many years.


Understanding Prostitution Laws – April 4th at CenterPoint Church 20 No. State St. in Concord, NH at 6:30-8pm.

NH TraffickFree – April 5th for a Town Hall Discussion at Life Church 150 Dow St, Manchester, NH at 10am-noon.

The New England Faith and Justice SummitApril 6th at Bethany Church, 500 Breakfast Hill Rd, Greenland, NH from 9am-4pm. (click the link for tickets)

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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.

Through My Eyes

She walked through the world, seemingly alone. Sunlight reflecting sadness off of her hazel eyes, wind blowing her purple bangs into them. She walks with confidence even though she had none. Unafraid of the world, but afraid of herself and individuals… but not in the way one may think.

She is unafraid of physical danger, and she’s not afraid to die, because, what did she have to lose? No. She is afraid of the emotional danger, afraid of what one may do to her unsuspecting heart, and subsequently afraid to trust herself.

Her heart, the heart of an innocent, no matter how many times it was beaten, it continued to yearn and beg to love the same way.

“Madness,” she thought.

But secretly, even to her, she loved this about herself. But life has shown her not to be happy with herself, and so she hid this self love in the deepest part of her soul, where not even God could touch… or so she thought.

She always longed for companionship, for someone to love that deserved it. Eventually she had that, this new life growing inside of her that deserved all the love she desired to give. That little life saved hers, but it was short lived… before that life could even live, it was lost, and it was in those devastating moments that she realized that even without child, someone who deserved that love was there… herself.

So she shed herself of the people and things that were causing her greatest pain, and walked into her new life, full of love, from others, her God, and herself. And as she let these healthy people in and reopened her heart to God, everyday became easier… easier to smile, easier to be vulnerable, easier to be open, easier to be happy.

And while everyday may bring a new challenge, she also sees that everyday gives her new opportunities to be happy… to love.

And now, she walks through the world, no longer alone and the sunlight that once reflected sadness and pain in her eyes, now reflects hope.

Authored by: Iris, an Amirah Survivor

©Copyright 2018. Jasmine Grace.

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Articles

Why We don’t need to Study Decriminalizing Prostitution

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The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to study decriminalizing prostitution at the behest of pro-prostitution activists. Some of our Representatives were manipulated into believing that decriminalizing the practice of the selling people for sex would be compassionate. In reality, sex should never be called work, and compassion calls for protection.

The fact of the matter is that we should look at our state’s response to prostitution without any thought of decriminalizing the selling of human beings on an open market. And those calling for decriminalization are often the ones making money from the exploitation of others.

Representative Elizabeth Edwards was quoted in the Union Leader this week. “I am worried about those women because it is our laws that make it unsafe,” Edwards said. “They can’t call police if they’re raped or robbed and they don’t have the same access to justice as the rest of us.”

The law prohibiting prostitution does not make it unsafe. It is unsafe because it is prostitution. Commercial sex acts themselves are unsafe, from disease, damage and all sorts of deprivations and trauma. We know this because we lived it.

A young male survivor said, “Men buy girls for sex. They buy boys to abuse them.” Our experience was wrought with violence. It wasn’t because it was against the law. It was because the buyers are often cruel.

Ms. Edwards says that those prostituted individuals don’t have the same access to justice as the rest of us. Decriminalizing prostitution will not help them.

Decriminalizing prostitution will fuel sex trafficking and increase demand for sex tourism in NH. That’s what happened in Rhode Island. It hurt the state’s economy, their businesses, and their people.

Decriminalizing means no law to protect anyone. Police cannot intervene in suspected exploitation or force, because there is no probable cause. The activity isn’t against the law, so an officer has no reason to approach. As for a person calling police, please remember, we call police after assault. Police cannot protect individuals in advance. They can only respond.

Sexual exploitation happens on a continuum. From pornography and stripping to escort services and brothels, women and children are being sold for the use of sex buyers. Is that what we want for NH?

Picture your four year-old. Do you want them to live a life of being raped for profit – when they grow up?

The role of the government is to protect the people. Standards of behavior are crucial to preserving a safe place to live. We have laws against hurting people in other ways. Prohibiting prostitution is a protection we should keep in place.

We are in full agreement with the Governor on this issue.

Abolitionists, like us, call for increased penalties and hefty fines for sex buyers and traffickers. Use those fines to fund services for victims so they can start the difficult work of recovery. It’s bad enough that the people arrested for prostitution are considered criminals when more often than not, they are victims. We believe that lifting the prostitution charges can empower them to move on with their lives and become Survivors. All of this would make NH safer.

Rather than becoming an inviting place for purveyors of human flesh, our state would be a place of elevating people from the brutality of sexual exploitation.

It is not compassionate to be subjugated to a life as an object for someone else’s sexual pleasure. Compassion is taking the time to listen to her story and see that the choice was made for her long before she got trapped in the cycle of abuse that exploitation inevitably brings. Prostitution research says that 80-90 percent of women in the commercial sex trade were sexually abused as children. So think about how the dial has already been turned. What was so freely taken from them, is now going to be paid for, and this seems like an upgrade. This gives the illusion of choice, a better life. But real compassion understands that no little girl dreams of becoming a prostitute.

Life is hard. The core violation of sexual abuse makes it much harder. Let’s never normalize prostitution. Let’s always remember that sex should never be called work. Prostitution denies the innate human dignity due each human being. People should never become commodities to be traded, used and abused. Let’s never normalize that.

Darlene Pawlik
Jasmine Grace

©2018. All Rights Reserved.

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Lifting Our Voices

“A Day Out of the life – Looking Back & Moving Forward, Together”

PTSD is short for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and this an illness that people suffer from. As for me, I struggle with this everyday. There was something traumatic that happened in the lives of those impacted by this when they were younger or even older that was so impactful that it changed their lives. It affects your dreams, and the sounds that are around you. Anything that is out of the ordinary makes you jumpy. As for me, if you enter a room from an angle that I cannot see you in my peripheral vision, that affects me as well. That will cause me anxiety and that is something that I also have to deal with everyday. I have lived at Amirah for over a year now and the doorbell still makes me jump and scream when it goes off as a result of my PTSD.
When it comes to sex trafficking, people really look at it from a movie’s point of view because really that’s the only thing they have to base it off of. The movie Pretty Woman
is the best example I could provide. I wish I could tell you it’s like that, but it is not like that at all. There is no fun involved whatsoever, and once you are doing it regularly your pimp will provide you with some kind of drug. That drug will benefit him because he can control you more, and as for you….it will help you to block the pain. This is not something that you can do and be happy with day after day. You would need something to take your mind to another world while you still had no choice but to continue to do what you’re made to do; to make money for someone else! When you have a pimp, you have no choice but to work and to constantly make money. It never stops and the pain never goes away.
Recovery for me will be a lifelong process because it does not just go away, and sobriety and inner strength are things that you cannot lose sight of. Recovery is hard because you have to think of how long you used and numbed everything that you did not want to feel. Now you get to feel them and look back at those years with a clear mind and see how bad your situation was.                                                                                                I write this having no idea how or why I am alive to be telling people this! When you are lost and trapped in this tunnel, you have no clue how to get out, and you really don’t care so much about yourself or how important you are. I can say that I have been clean and sober for over a year, and it is possible that I survived because I was that girl that did not want to live like that and was looking for that way out. Now I look back at the old me while being in this program and I’m in awe of how far I’ve come. I care a lot about my recovery, but I know that it takes a lot of work and it is not always easy. To me, it is all about putting up a fight and being willing to change your life for the better. Life is like a rollercoaster; you will have your highs and your lows. Even when you fall, it’s about how you pick yourself back up. Life in recovery does not just happen overnight; it might take a year or longer. You need medical insurance, a doctor, a counselor, and you will probably have some medications that you will have to take. Getting back into normal life can be scary and it was for me, but I did it. Now I ride my Ferrari, so to speak, everyday to work.
My goal for 2017 would be to get my life back on track. I want to get a car, and have my own place that I can call home. I want to help as many victims just like me, and let them know that they are not alone, and there are people that do care and want to help. I would love to go on a mission through my church and to help spread the word of God! I pray that this is my year to come where I know what I’m suppose to do with my life. I’m a survivor myself and I’m just getting my toes wet…..I may have been knocked down but I got back up, and I always will. I am grateful for the help I have received, and I’m proud of myself for accepting it.

Authored by: Love

©2018. Jasmine Grace. All Rights Reserved.

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Lifting Our Voices

“A Day Out of the life – Looking Back & Moving Forward Together”

When I began this website, I was blogging my past journal entries from the times I was being trafficked and then addicted to drugs, along with a present day reflections to show how far I have come in my journey. It took me two years to get it all done. I then self published it into a book titled, The Diary of Jasmine Grace. Trafficked. Recovered. Redeemed. 

Soon after I started this blog,  “A Day in the life. Looking Back and Moving Forward”.  Women from all over started to email me and tell me that my story was changing their lives. Some were able to self-identify as a Survivors of trafficking and begin the healing process. 

I have learned that there is tremendous power, when we share our stories in a transparent and authentic manner. So I am partnering with women that I have met along the way, to share their written works of surviving lives of trafficking, prostitution, trauma, addiction and homelessness. It will be called, “A Day Out of the life. Looking Back & Moving Forward Together” I have titled it this because, I have also learned that self reflection is a big part of inner healing. If I wasn’t willing to look back – into my painful past, then I wouldn’t have been able to move forward with victory and influence. I would have most likely continued to repeat the same destructive patterns and make poor choices. 

Many women are still out there on the streets, couch surfing or staying in an unsafe place because they don’t have a choice. Most of them are living day to day – in the struggle. Other women might be living a decent life but on the inside – they are broken and they know it. They feel alone, helpless and hopeless.

The shame and stigma that come with prostitution and addiction is to big to face alone.

What I know from 10 years in recovery, is that we recover best when we are willing to do the hard stuff. Yes, inner healing sucks. But we will do it together in a safe and supportive community. 

I want to end the stigma and shame by spreading HOPE through sharing the stories of our past.

We will share our stories.

We will Lift our Voices. 

What we have been through – Does not define us.

And Together, we will let them know – #WeDoRecover.

` Peace & Love,

Jasmine

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