Restoring Survivors of Human Trafficking
United States (Columbus, Ohio)
Anyone who goes out at night on the Hilltop, East Broad, East Main, Cleveland Avenue, or gets on Craig’s List or Back Page can find thousands of
Central Ohio women and children for sale–walking the streets stalked by pimps and dope boys, beaten, bruised and addicted to drugs, or on photos on the Internet, bound, gagged, naked and raped. And when they are found by police officers, the best thing the police can do is arrest them on criminal charges of solicitation of prostitution, and put them in jail or juvenile prisons. While it can be easy for people to say, “Why doesn’t she just go home, or get a job?” the fact is that these women have come from full-blown lifetimes, from generations of trauma, physical, sexual and drug abuse, from warlike lacks of education and nutrition, and know no other ways of life.
In jail, their problems become all of ours, as we pay for their jail time, their extensive medical needs and for the incalculable cost of keeping their children in welfare, foster care, and ward of the state programs–only to have their children grow up in the same way, and the cycle to continue.
And the casino is on its way to Columbus–being built right on the Hilltop. While we understood that this would create an increase in pimp/forced-prostitution levels, we are very alarmed to learn that pimps do their recruiting at playgrounds of schools near casinos.
Clearly, we need to act now and well.
THE doma SOLUTIONS:
Doma is fighting trafficking here on the homefront in many ways!
Through our Bloom! Program we journey with the CATCH ladies as they move from victim to survivor through mentorship, life skills, and workforce development via our social enterprise (FREEDOM A LA CART- a yummy food cart that employs the ladies).
Doma continues to educate and empower Columbus communities to resist sex trafficking through ABOLITIONIST U, our thirty-two hour course that educates aspiring abolitionists and fully equips them to make an immediate impact! Doma is also a leader in educating youth on the subject of human trafficking; we have designed a curriculum that will be taught in nearly 100 schools in Ohio next year! We believe that education is one of the most critical steps in the modern abolitionist movement, and we will continue to lead the way in making comprehensive education available to all.
WHO ARE THE CATCH LADIES?
In 2010, 977 women were arrested for prostitution in Franklin County, OH. Defendants share childhood stories of physical & sexual abuse, emotional & developmental neglect, parents selling them to support a drug habit, parents sharing “dope” with their pre-pubescent children. Childhoods are stolen–replaced by adult stories of drug abuse to cope with trauma & addiction, street walking, stalked by Johns, pimps, dope boys–beaten, bruised, and dehumanized, on photos on the Internet, bound, gagged, naked & raped. Police have had no recourse to help defendants, they are arrested on criminal charges of loitering, solicitation or prostitution, and put in jail. Some see these women as pariahs and “whores.” In reality, they are victims and survivors. The cost to Ohio and society are tremendous: Typically, $79 per day for incarceration. However, all suffer co-morbid issues of addiction, withdrawal, pregnancy, & STD’s. Medical care increases jail costs from $79 to $300/day. Additional costs are incalculable: children abandoned, attachment disorder, abuse & neglect; the cycle continues.
Judge Paul Herbert of Franklin County Municipal Court responded to this cry after years of meeting women in court who were caught up in Human Trafficking. CATCH is an innovative, voluntary, two-year program to help ladies trapped in the sex trade. It utilizes a restorative-justice approach to helping ladies through support, encouragement, and accountability. It truly meets the needs of ladies in recovery, and fosters a healthy environment for wholeness and restoration.
Franklin County Municipal Court created a specialty docket court–Changing Actions to Change Habits, (“CATCH”), to address multi-systemic needs of women charged with prostitution. 125 women were screened, 96 assessed, 60 accepted and 40 committed to treatment for a 30 day minimum. They are over 18, charged with misdemeanor crimes of solicitation, and/or prostitution, and request entrance into the 2 year program. All serve convictions for non-violent crimes; all have suffered violent crimes done unto them: 77% have traumatic brain injuries; all were raped an average of 6 times; 90% were orphaned or abandoned by their moms; 90% have PTSD. They have 13 arrests (on average) in a 2 yr period; 100% are chemically dependent; 73% were juvenile runaways, the average age is 34, grade level-10th.)
Please consider sponsoring these women at 30/50/ or 184/month– so that we can ensure their full and complete restoration. PLEASE consider supporting doma Bloom! programs with a “Housewarming Gift”- a donation to continue supporting these ladies in recovery.
Please continue to pray for doma and for these ladies! Every day brings new challenges, as well as victories.
If you’re in town, consider VOLUNTEERING. If you’re out of town, Julie has been known to fly around the world to consult faith communities on NEXT STEPS and WHAT TO DO about this issue locally?