In my work with LifeWay’s safe houses, I have witnessed the incredible resilience and strength of survivors of trafficking. These survivors have faced countless closed doors, but when provided with genuine and thoughtful care, they can experience transformative moments and discover their inner strengths. These moments serve as a reminder of the profound healing and transformative potential of empathy.
LifeWay’s safe houses are dedicated to providing safety and support for survivors of trafficking. Oftentimes survivors enter the program unaware of pregnancy due to the barriers they face in accessing quality health services, financial resources and social support. Additionally, the traumas they have endured may have clouded their ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
When a survivor becomes aware of her pregnancy, the immediate concern is often centered around housing. Many survivors lack stable housing options beyond the safe house, making this question exceptionally difficult to answer. Even for those who may have some social support in the community, the fear of homelessness looms large.
According to a study by Polaris, 64% of survivors cited a lack of affordable and safe housing options as a barrier to escape and recovery. Victims of sex trafficking face an increased risk of pregnancy due to the exploitation they endure. Sadly, they also suffer from delayed or nonexistent access to medical care. The horrors of commercial sex highlight the urgent need for organizations such as LifeWay to provide crucial support and resources to survivors.
One such survivor, whose name has been changed for privacy, recently experienced a life-changing event within the safe house. Belinda, a mother of small children, had lost custody of her kids due to the exploitation and trauma she endured. Despite her struggles, Belinda remained determined to succeed, although her intellectual challenges made it difficult for her to hold a job.
Belinda’s world was turned upside down when she discovered she was 26 weeks pregnant. Overwhelmed by the fear of housing instability, she contemplated terminating the pregnancy. However, the compassionate and nurturing relationship between Belinda, the house manager and the coordinator shone through.
The team at LifeWay Network sprang into action, assuring Belinda that her well-being and quality of care were the top priorities. They empathized with her fears and concerns, going above and beyond to connect her with the necessary resources. Their unwavering support reaffirmed that her condition was more important than housing concerns.
Ultimately, thanks to the barrier-free support system at LifeWay Network, Belinda will soon move from the safe house to a specially designed home that will provide her with the necessary support she needs. Her story serves as a testament to the dedication and commitment of the network in ensuring that survivors feel empowered and valued throughout their journey.
The strength and resilience survivors possess are awe-inspiring, and it is through organizations such as LifeWay Network that survivors can truly thrive and reclaim their lives. By providing safe housing and support for survivors of trafficking, we can help break down barriers and create opportunities for healing and growth.
To make a difference and provide support to survivors, please consider donating to LifeWay at www.lifewaynetwork.org/donate. Your contribution will help create a safe and nurturing environment where survivors can find solace and build a brighter future. Thank you for your kindness and generosity!
By Marion Kendall
1 United Way. (2022). The Intersection Between Housing Instabiity and Human Trafficking. https://www.unitedway.org/blog/the-intersection-between-housing-instability-and-human-trafficking
2 Polaris. (2018). A Roadmap for Systems and Industries to Prevent and Disrupt Human Trafficking. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/A-Roadmap-for-Systems-and-Industries-to-Prevent-and-Disrupt-Human-Trafficking-Housing-and-Homelessness-Systems.pdf
3 Anjali Garg, Preeti Panda, Mandy Neudecker, Sara Lee. Barriers to the access and utilization of healthcare for trafficked youth: A systematic review, Child Abuse & Neglect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014521341930314X