restoration

Survivor Snapshots

 

Here is a sampling of survivor updates this month:

Tara – Tara is doing well in school, however she is having a few struggles in her home life. She is looking forward to finish high school this year and moving to Nashville next year for college and to be closer to her ESTN family. While visiting with her this month we helped set goals for graduation and college preparation.

Adele – Adele started meeting with a volunteer to work on holistic nutrition plans. While Adele is very stable with a job and living conditions, ESTN is continuing to provide transportation and basic needs resources and helping her develop a case plan.

Maranda – Maranda is doing very well. She recently received approval for home passes with ESTN and her family and is excited to be able to be home for holidays as well as spend time with us outside the housing facility. She also has a mentor at the facility who is allowing Maranda to help in staff trainings and work towards her goals of motivational speaking. Maranda is still studying for her ACTs and is looking forward to college next year.

Jenny – Jenny has been doing very well in college and with her internship. She is truly beginning to find her voice and feeling empowered with the gifts and skills she has to offer others.

Isabell – Isabell is very excited to finally have a car, but is currently looking for a stable place to live. She enjoys spending time with the staff at ESTN and is also focusing on herself and her relationships with her children.

Leah – Leah relapse last month, but after three days she called Lizedny and Christine asking for help. They went to get her right away and brought her back home. Since then she has been working hard on her recovery. She knows that ESTN is here for her and is beginning to understand that we love her and will nver give up on her.  She got a good job and has been working to support herself. Unfortunately, Leah is also currently struggling with her health so we have been working to get her medical appointments and services.

Candice – Candice is a new young prevention case we are working with.  She is a sweet little country girl with a bubbly personality. She is working on finding her way in this big new city and enjoys having fun and spending time with staff. Candice will begin IOP next week and is focusing on recovery and making good choices.  She is becoming more transparent about her struggles and knows we love her and are here for her no matter what.

Survivor Snapshots

 Adele – Adele is a survivor we met this month. She is creative, resourceful, a talented musician, enjoys making documentaries and travelling and loves animals. We had a very special treat at the office one day while Adele was visiting. She told us she was a cello player and it just so happens that we have a cello at the office, so she ended up playing two impromptu pieces for us. It was amazing how her peace and calmness of mind was able to flow through the music and fill the staff with a wonderful tranquility.

Miranda – Miranda is a new survivor we introduced last month. She is making a lot of progress  even while having to deal with some bullying issues. She's doing a lot of reading and writing, including poetry, and recently took her ACT but wants to take it again later this year. She enjoys visits from our staff and her family.

Isabel – Isabel started a new job this month and is super excited about this opportunity. She recently moved into a new recovery house that is more structured and a better fit for her. She is doing very well and enjoying building relationships with the ESTN staff.

Tara – Tara is one of our teen survivors who is experiencing some struggles lately. While visiting with her this month, she met another of our teen survivors. It was beautiful to see them share and connect with one another and to see the comfort one girl who has been with us longer had to offer the newer girl.

Cori – as a new seventeen year old mom, Cori is struggling with day to day decisions. We're working together to live intentionally, making hour by hour choices that will lead to recovery and the meeting of her goals for herself and her child

Jesse – Recently, Jesse attended a cookery program that works with individuals in transition and teaches skills in the culinary arts.  He's very excited about this opportunity and feels like it will be helpful to be in a group with other men and develop a healthy support system.

Katie – Katie received two exciting pieces of information this month. She received more documentation as a result of her T-visa and is excited about the continuing promise of opportunities for her and her family. She also had a doctor’s visit earlier this month and found out that her baby is a girl.

Brenda – Brenda is back on track and got a new job closer to home.  She is working to become more self-sufficient and is saving up for a car. Brenda also wants to start back in her GED classes. Currently, we are working with her on budgeting and setting up a savings account.

Survivor Snapshots

 

Here are some updates of our newest referrals and events of this month!

Miranda - Miranda is our youngest new survivor. She is 18 years old and is currently living in a facility for youth and young adults. Our team  visits her regulalry and supplied her with materials for both her spiritual and physical recovery process. We are also working with a local business to provide tattoo removal for her so she can get rid of the branding that is a constant reminder of her exploitation. We're also working  to get her approved for a home pass that will allow her to leave the facility with Christine, Shelia, or Lizendy and and have a much needed outing.  Miranda hopes to go to a local college in the spring and study communications so she can become a motivational speaker.  Her dream is to help inspire others.  To that end, Miranda is currently studying for her college entrance exams. She's a smart girl and we know she can accomplish this dream!

Isabel - Isabel came to use through a personal referral.  She is in her thirties and has been working on her recovery for the past three weeks. She's very excited about the progress she has made thus far.  Isabel came to us with nothing but has proven to be a very self-sufficient and determined woman. She is  actively seeking employment  and eventually wants to get into  real estate or accounting. She's  making  good progress in decision making and the people she is allowing in her life.  We are currently working with her to build up her resume and help find her services for her dental and physical health issues.

Leah - Leah is another young survivor of 24 who came to us through her friend who knew about our organization.  She was struggling with addition but has now completed her treatment program and is  in a transitional program facility.  Leah has a young son she is trying to build her relationship with.  We are working with her on increasing visitation and communication with her child, as well as helping her with legal services. Leah is chatty, easy to talk to, and describes herself as a hippie! Leah has some college education and wants to eventually return to school so she can be a trauma counselor.

Brenda and Katie are among our longer-term survivors, but they both have had great experiences this past month!

Brenda returned home and is living with her family again! We were all so happy to see her back and know she is safe.  Since her return she has been very actively looking for a job.  She was very determined and motivated, visiting several job fairs, staffing agencies, and interviews accompanyed by our team.  And her hard work paid off - Brenda got a job last week and she is so excited about the opportunity!  

Katie had even more exciting news: She was approved for her T-visa! She came into the office to celebrate with staff.  There was laughter, hugs, tears of happiness and cake! Katie knows that this  opened a wonderful world of opportunities for her and her family and protects her from further exploitation.  She talked of going to school, getting a good job, and her dream of owning her own business or restaurant!

Survivor Snapshots

 

Here is a sampling of our survivor updates:

Cori – Cori , age 17, delivered a healthy beautiful baby boy on July 9th.   She asked Shelia to be the godmother! Shelia was there to comfort Cori in the delivery room. Christine, Allie and Kamrie were also present in the hospital for support. Cori is adjusting to her life as a mother with the help of her own mother. ESTN staff have been supporting Cori and her mother get the assistance their family needs with housing, food , baby items , medical care and transportation to appointments. Earlier in the month we delivered a mattress set and air conditioners to make the home comfortable for baby, mother, and grandmother. 

Jesse – Jesse is a new client.  He was initially nervous to recall his trafficking experience but came to trust us. We learned that he and his wife were expecting their first child later that month and that he was concerned because if a shortage of work ESTN gladly helped Jesse’s family with rent to ease some of the stress while preparing for their baby’s arrival. Jesse’s wife delivered their beautiful baby girl on July 23rd! Lizedny and Kamrie enjoyed holding the baby when they visited the family in the hospital. 

Tara – Tara is a new teen survivor, at the age of 16 when Shelia and Christine first met her. She has a fun and feisty personality and is looking forward to her senior year of high school. Shelia and Christine talked to her about her dreams and goals over lunch one day  and she said she would like to work in forensics. We celebrated her 17th  birthday this month. Christine, Kamrie and Shelia took her shopping, and to lunch, thanks to generous birthday sponsors, Tara had a great time shopping at Rue 21 and lunch at her favorite place, Chili’s!

Jenny – Between two summer courses, work, and numerous dental appointments Jenny's had a busy summer! ESTN staff have with her during her dental visits which are scary for her.  She’s getting ready for her fall semester at school which will include an internship. Jenny also got a chance to talk with another survivor find peer support  during a vulnerable time. 

Katie – Katie is being tutored by an ESTN volunteer for English and reading/writing skills.  During the first meeting she made a list of short term and long term goals, including her desire to be better equipped to help her children with their school work. Katie is going through some ups and downs emotionally, as is expected with trauma victims. She is currently pregnant and expecting her baby early next year and our staff is working to help her find resources and the self-care she needs to heal. 

Lauren –  Lauren was referred to ESTN by law enforcement in a sting that took place this past month.  The sting uncovered a trafficking ring of which Lauren was a part.  Later in the month Lauren courageously testified in court against her traffickers. Lizedny was in court with her that day and it was a comfort for her to not only have someone from our organization present, but to know that an entire city rallies behind her. Because of the support she found through us she can have closure, safety, and hope for a future.

Why I Volunteer - Ashley

by Ashley Hargest   

When I would hear about human trafficking, I always thought it was something that only went on in other countries. I never thought of it happening in my own backyard. When I first became aware of how much trafficking is currently going on in my own city, I couldn't believe it.

The first time I really started comprehending what human trafficking is, I was in shock, then I became angry, then my heart completely hurt for these people who aren't even treated as human beings. When I read that the average age girl who is trafficked is the same age as my little sister, something started stirring inside me even more. I can’t even imagine.

I was recently watching some videos and hearing the stories of some of the survivors in the area and I was sitting there, tears rolling down my face, feeling completely sick to my stomach. There was no way I could continue to sit on the side and not take action. As I sit here in the comfort of my own home, many victims all around me are fighting for their lives. I want to be a part of something that strives to put an end to this gut wrenching “business”. I want to be a part of something that seeks to show these victims their worth and value and to know that they are loved. This is why I’m so blessed to get to be a part of what End Slavery Tennessee is doing!

To learn more about what's happening in YOUR backyard and what End Slavery Tennessee is doing about it, watch this five-minute video.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/61593231]

Survivor Stories - Adela

End Slavery TN - Survivor Stories*

Adela

 

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My mother will never receive an award for her parenting. I was always a commodity to her. Something to sell for drugs and booze as a six year old. Another hand to help her make crack in the kitchen. I have never been her child, her pride and joy. She never held me in her arms and whispered her love in my ear.

I was just Adela. The commodity. The nothing.

For awhile it felt like a blessing that she kicked me out of our apartment at sixteen. I went to live with some girlfriends and thought I’d be living the high life in the big city. Boy was I wrong about that! When the girls told me I had to earn my keep, they introduced me to a pimp. First time I saw him I thought he was fly. A real smooth talker. I felt flattered by his sexy talk and his coy smiles. But now I know, that was all just to butter me up. Get me to be his whore who’d turn tricks down at the track. Those flirty words were quickly replaced with hostile threats. If I didn’t make a thousand bucks a day, he would beat me. Or worse. One of them even cut up my face with a potato peeler just to mark me as his. It was still nothing compared to my best girl. She was killed in cold blood by her pimp, just as an example to the rest of us. "Stay in line and shut up" is what her body said.

I got sold so many times from pervert to pervert and pimp to pimp, I could hardly keep up with whose I was anymore. I was a dollar bill, folded up and passed from pocket to pocket.

I’m still not sure what snapped in me. Maybe it was having to ID my one friend down at the morgue. Maybe it was just that I was tired of being everybody’s nobody. Mostly, I think, it was that I got pregnant and I didn’t want my baby to grow up in the world I was living in. Whatever it was, I got out. I fled.

And when I was safe, I wanted to bring down every last one of them. So I talked to the feds, and I testified in court. They said I had been caught up in a major trafficking ring and that I’d still be in danger even though we got a bunch of them locked up. I didn’t care. I wanted to talk. Talk to anyone who would listen. Raise awareness about how trafficking isn’t just some foreign problem. It’s happening right under everyone’s noses in Good Ole America. This one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. Well, now that I got my liberty, I’m fighting for all those little girls like me that others can’t even see.

When I first got in contact with End Slavery Tennessee, I was a real mess. A hard life led to some real hard living for awhile. But advocacy groups like ESTN stuck with me through thick and thin. And now I’m about to graduate from college. College! Who could’ve dreamed such a thing just a few years ago?!

I was a sex slave in a slum city, but now I’m a blessed warrior with a golden ticket.

It’s like that verse in Genesis says – what they did to harm me, God used to bless me, so that many would be saved. I’m living proof that God uses the most unlikely of people to bring His own liberty and justice to those who need His deliverance

*These stories are written in the first person, even though they are not written by the survivors themselves. However, apart from the omission of names and identifying information, all aspects of the stories have really happened, right here in Tennessee.

Hannah

Survivor story: Hannah      

A true story, put into words by Pax Wiemers

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It’s always struck me as ironic that my family came to this country as African refugees in search of a better life – the American dream. None of us could have imagined the American horror story about to unfold. As a young teenager in search of acceptance, I would become the sex toy for a gang of fellow refugees. Our visions didn’t include me being prostituted for nearly eight years by my countrymen. No, my life was anything but a dream.

Trust me, little girls don’t want to grow up wanting to become prostitutes. I sure didn’t. But, I was betrayed. Coerced. Forced. Made to be that way. However you want to define it, I didn’t have a choice. That’s why I ran away. And that’s why I testified in a big trial of many of those gang members. I may not be able to undo the past, but at least I can choose my future.

During the trial I came to know several people with End Slavery Tennessee. I was very apprehensive at first because I felt like everyone was just out to use me. I was just a commodity. But they didn’t treat me that way, even though I was an absolute mess. Since I felt so alone, I had been abusing drugs and alcohol pretty hard and had racked up a not-so-little criminal record too. End Slavery never judged me though. They’ve gotten me the help I have needed in all phases of my life, even when I’ve doubted them.

Recently, a member of the gang was released, so End Slavery pulled a bunch of strings to get me moved quickly to a safe place. Not only was I at risk in this situation, but my baby boy was too. We’ve found refuge in this safe haven, but they’ve given me so much more as well. I’ve been going through their recovery program, stayed clean from drugs and booze, and have been seeing a counselor. We’ve been here several months now, and I’ve undergone a complete transformation. I feel I’ve become a new person – the one I was always intended to be. I love my boy and am so thankful he won’t grow up in an environment that turns boys into gang members who victimize girls like I was.

I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all roses though. There’s still a lot to be undone. End Slavery has been working to get my criminal record expunged, due to my status as a trafficking survivor. My record is threatening my U.S. visa as well, which also makes it hard to find me a job when I get out of this shelter. There are definitely many challenges ahead, not to mention the constant danger of being labeled a traitor or a snitch by my own people.

But one thing keeps me going. I’m not alone anymore. God gave me a beautiful son. I have friends who love me for who I am. And I have the most elusive of dreams now.

I have Hope.