As we prepare for the launch of The Gathering Place, we are working on new partnerships and developments to maintain our commitment to offering the very best program to survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. I recently met with JUST, an organization that works within DuPage County Jail. I toured their facilities and learned about the services they offer to women serving their sentences. They estimate that the majority of women will qualify for The Gathering Place because so many have suffered from sexual exploitation and trafficking. I was so struck by the contrast between what the jail offers women who have been exploited, versus what Naomi’s House has to offer. It was the difference between dehumanizing people versus offering dignity and hope for the future. I’m grateful for JUST and their team, thankful for the good work they’re doing for women who are suffering, but they told me (and I have heard this before) that when women are done with their time, they most often go straight back to their former life. And for a woman who has been trafficked, this means going back to a life of abuse, control, and violence, and that her trafficker will further manipulate and coerce her to sell her body. She will continue to suffer from physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.
I left this meeting stunned. We haven’t been ready to expand Naomi’s House services until now…and just in time to launch The Gathering Place, our Day Program, we’ve been introduced to the very team who works with the most densely populated group of exploited women, and who can directly refer survivors to our program. Once again, God has gone ahead of us so that we can reach more and more women with the gospel of Jesus and the hope we find in healing. You just can’t make this up!
Harmony Grillo, a Survivor Leader and Executive Director of Treasures, speaks about the push of many people to decriminalize prostitution in this 15 minute Tedx video. I recommend watching the whole video to better understand why legalizing prostitution would be so incredibly harmful. She also speaks to her own experience as a trafficking victim. The stats that she shares align with what we see in the women we serve at Naomi’s House:
- 84% of women in prostitution are under third party control; they are selling their bodies without complete agency.
- 89% of women who are being controlled by a pimp want to escape. What women need most in order to feel safe to leave is a place to go for freedom and recovery.
- 70% of female victims are trafficked into the sex industry, which includes stripping, porn, and legal brothels. Trafficking is more than just street prostitution.
- The average life expectancy for women in commercial exploitation is just 34 years (because of rape and violence). Right now at Naomi’s House, all of our women are 35 years and older. It’s a miracle we have the opportunity to serve them and offer them resources to heal. They are also all moms – so they are fighting for their families and a different life for generations to come.
A resident at NH recently said, “I’ve never had the chance to start over at a place like this.” Wow. We are so honored to serve the women in our program, which provides a comprehensive program that couples the gospel with essentially unlimited resources, allowing them to start over. We remain the only residential program for adult women who have suffered from commercial sexual exploitation in DuPage and surrounding counties. Our work has never been more important. Thank you for being a part of the solution and offering hope to these most precious women.