In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we want to take the opportunity to dispel some of the myths people read, believe, and share about sex trafficking.
We regularly see conspiracy theory-type myths … and if you are looking at these myths rather than the facts, you might miss the real signs — which can be dangerous.
One definition for myth is “a widely held but false belief or idea.” Here at RAHAB, we are committed to Truth and Love. And we know the best way to protect children from a trafficker’s network will only come from an informed understanding of trafficking.
Truth. Not myth.
Social media feeds are filled with terrifying stories of children being snatched off the streets by traffickers … being sold online through websites posing as legitimate retail outlets … or traffickers identifying targets by leaving zip ties on potential victims’ windshield wipers.
Sometimes these stories are spread by well-meaning people. Other times, they are being spread by organizations and individuals with other agendas.
While there is no single story that describes how every victim winds up in human trafficking, there are predictable patterns of grooming. Methods traffickers use to target, lie to, and manipulate victims into trafficking situations are predictable … and preventable.
In most situations, trafficking victims — including child victims — know and trust their traffickers.
Who are these traffickers?
Perpetrators of human trafficking span all racial, ethnic, and gender demographics. They are as diverse as survivors. Some use their wealth and power as a means of control, while others experience the same socio-economic vulnerability as their victims.
How do they control? Why doesn’t she just leave?
Traffickers use a variety of control tactics — the most common include physical and emotional abuse and threats, isolation from friends and family, and economic abuse.
Traffickers identify what is missing (vulnerability), and they fill in those blanks. They make promises aimed at meeting the needs of their targets in order to impose control.
As a result, victims become trapped and fear leaving for myriad reasons: psychological trauma, shame, emotional attachment, or physical threats to themselves or their family.
Not only did we meet our end-of-year financial goal … but we exceeded the $75,900 mark thanks to the generosity and commitment of friends like you!
We’re beyond grateful that you see the need for and the importance of the work of RAHAB. Here are some of the many ways your support made a difference in December alone!…
- You helped provide:
- Christmas cookies
- Christmas decorations and stockings
- Full meals for Christmas week for the Drop-In Centers — as well as gifts for every woman there
- Breakfast items and hot casseroles for Christmas morning
- Full meals for our safe houses
- Gifts for the minor mentoring center
- Gifts and cookies for each of the women we serve through our strip club outreach
- 62 families adopted and blessed at Christmas!
The mother of one family told us, in tears: “I would not have been able to purchase any Christmas gifts for my kids this year. Thank you so much to the kind people who did, so that my kids could have smiles on Christmas morning.”
- Rebecca’s Place
- Christmas Day at Rebecca’s Place
By Emily F. Miller
Christmas Day at our minor safe house, Rebecca’s Place, was a holiday full of classic Christmas fun. On Christmas Eve, the girls and staff alike huddled in the hallway dressed in their new pajamas to listen to ’Twas the Night Before Christmas before heading to bed.
The next morning, the girls waited eagerly for day shift to arrive so they could open their gifts. Elaborate plates of food donated and hand-made by many different friends kept them full all day long as they played with new board games, video games, and made phone calls to their loved ones.
However, a highlight of Christmas Day was going outside into the winter wonderland and playing in the snow. Thanks to generous donors, we had a new set of sleds ready to take on the fresh layer of white powder on the ground. The girls zoomed down the hillside — and yells of joy and laughter filling the cold air. We were blessed to not only have one of the first White Christmases in years, but to be able to enjoy it so thoroughly with our new donations.
Not all our residents’ memories of past Christmases are good, let alone filled with joy, laughter, and full bellies. Thank you to everyone who helped us provide a truly Merry Christmas to girls who so desperately desired it. Whether you donated funds, gifts, food, or kept RAHAB in your prayers, thank you so much for making this season bright.
- When RAHAB requested $200 worth of gift cards for girls to purchase gifts for their family members … one generous church responded by sending us $1,200 worth! They also provided us with boxes for the girls to open on Christmas Eve — with jammies and more — and meals for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. An incredible blessing!
- A tray of beautiful Christmas cookies along with 150 gift bags were donated to give to women in correctional facilities — each bag contained slippers, socks, lip balm, lotion, a journal, a nice pen, and a Christmas card.
- At our Matthews Street Drop-In Center, one volunteer led Bible study and made salt dough ornaments with the ladies. Later, the women wanted to create and paint ornaments with truths that God says about them, rather than what the world says. When finished, they used these beautiful words to decorate our house Christmas tree!
- Our Summit County Jail team (a small but mighty team of three) did 18 individual visits, sent 23 cards, and spent more than 15 hours volunteering to serve women who are especially alone during December.
- Testimonial from our safe house
Your contributions really are making an impact!
“By supporting RAHAB Ministries, you are providing [me and the other women who have found refuge here] with everything from the shampoo we use to wash our hair to the chemical dependency treatment and trauma therapy on our journey to find healing — and a chance to live valuable, meaningful lives as divinely changed people.”
“RAHAB is a one-of-a-kind organization. Without it, I would not be working toward a degree in evangelism and foreign missions. This is my dream: to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to places where no one else will go. Because of your support, my dream is no longer an impossibility but a probability.”
“I’m speaking for all of us here at the adult safe house when I tell you that your generosity is changing our lives in beautiful and awesome ways. So, those who felt led to give of your time and your finances, we thank you with all of our hearts.”
RAHAB’s own Kelli Cary, Vice President of Programming, oversees outreach, community-based services, and safe housing for survivors of sex trafficking and those vulnerable to being trafficked.
Kelli was interviewed recently by the Governor’s Office — and we’d love to share her insights here with you!
As far as the breadth of RAHAB’s services, we offer a wide range through a continuum of care:
- Outreaches in strip clubs, jails, correctional facilities, and others.
- Community-based services, including our Akron Drop-In Center and two Stark County Drop-In Centers.
- Our minor mentoring program connects youth with mentors in RESTORE Court (a specialized court docket) through the Summit County Juvenile Court and referrals from other agencies in the community.
- Safe housing — both for adults and minors — as well as our new transitional housing program.
- Our new victim advocacy program through the Summit County Human Trafficking Task Force will provide on-scene victim advocacy during task force operations.
Beyond Summit and Stark Counties, RAHAB will also be offering our mentoring services to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court … and we accept referrals from across the state for both of our safe houses.
If you’ve ever wondered about cost: Our services are completely, and intentionally, free at both homes. We really want to be able to offer services to individuals who may have fallen through the cracks due to financial barriers.
- For example, one of the parents of a juvenile in our safe house recently shared that she had tried everything for her daughter, but she didn’t have the money or resources to place her child in a residential program, which was exactly the level of treatment this child needed. The parent said that if she hadn’t been told about RAHAB, she wouldn’t have had any other options.
- Today, this child is flourishing … and her parent is truly excited to welcome her back home because she was able to receive the level of care and support she needed.
In light of increased computer use as a result of COVID-19 — the pandemic caused increased isolation for teenagers and children, which led to an increase in online activity, particularly without parental supervision — RAHAB Ministries created a new resource: our Online Child Exploitation Toolkit.
- We developed this tool to help parents, caregivers, and communities know how to respond if a trafficker were targeting their child online.
- Our CEO, Suzanne Lewis-Johnson, was an FBI agent for 10 years before joining RAHAB’s staff. She was often asked by parents, “Where are the hotspots for human trafficking in my community?” Suzanne’s answer: “Anywhere your child has a device that connects to the internet.”
- If a child has access to a tablet, cell phone, or computer, it’s a hotspot for human trafficking, so we felt the creation of this Toolkit was timely, especially given children’s increased time online during the pandemic.
In addition to this helpful resource, RAHAB offers training on human trafficking, as well as training for specific disciplines — such as health care, law enforcement, educators, and others. We are offering training in person and virtually throughout Ohio. Anyone who wants education can make a request on our website.
We are thankful for staff members like Kelli — who bring expertise to the fight against sex trafficking and a passion for restoring survivors.
You’re invited to do something truly special and new in this brand-new year! When you take a step forward to give monthly as a Multiply Hope Partner with RAHAB Ministries, you’ll not only have the joy of knowing you’re part of something bigger and more meaningful in light of eternity …
You will also maximize your impact year-round to:
- See survivors set free from physical, emotional, and spiritual captivity.
- Continue building relationships with women and girls on the streets, in strip clubs, and in correctional facilities — to show them their worth.
- Welcome women and children into our Drop-In Centers and safe houses — where we minister tangibly to needs by feeding them, clothing them, and more.
- Provide one-on-one mentoring — making sure survivors are shown unconditional love and given hope for tomorrow.
On behalf of RAHAB Ministries, please Multiply Hope for the women and children we serve. You’ll let them know they’re NOT invisible — and that you’re dedicated to helping them become all they were created to be.
As you join us today, please let us send you a special gift of thanks:
A Call to Courage — a beautiful collection of inspirational stories and highlights about the work RAHAB accomplished in 2020 in our efforts to eradicate sex trafficking.
Thank you for considering a brave new step forward for the vulnerable, the voiceless among us. We know you’ll share in the blessing as well!
RAHAB is committed to:
- Eradicating sex trafficking.
- Sharing Truth and Love and rising above hopeless and brokenness for women and children who have been victims of sex trafficking.
- Not only providing hope and healing from past trauma, but also preventing sex trafficking altogether.
In order to keep doing this effectively, we believe God has called us to expand our reach into Northeast Ohio.
We will continue the crucial work in Summit, Stark, and Cuyahoga Counties — of course. But one key way to increase our impact is to position ourselves with the ability to train others and duplicate our efforts — and having the space to do so.
We will keep some space in Summit County with our existing address — for in-kind donations — and our continued work at our Drop-In Center and safe houses, our minor mentoring outreach, and more.
We will also maintain space in Stark County and will move our main office there. Starting February 5th, our new Stark address will be:
One Center for Leadership
901 Tuscarawas St. E.
Canton, OH 44707
We are filled with hope and excitement for 2021 and for all that God has in store for the work of RAHAB. Thanks for standing with us!
Thank you again for partnering with RAHAB.
It’s the support of caring, compassionate people like you that allows us to make a difference!