Atlanta non-profits offer helping hand

By XANDY GREEN

Staff Writer

 As most would assume, sex-trafficked victims experience major physical and psychological trauma during and after being enslaved.  

Unfortunately, there are a large number of young girls who are being arrested for prostitution and drugs, according to Jeff Shaw, the director of Out Of Darkness, a non-profit illegal immigrant organization that works to rescue and restore women of sexual exploitation. 

 If they manage to not get sent to jail, they face the reality of being homeless without a dollar to their name.  Most of the time, these young females are so brainwashed that it takes months, even years to realize the entire picture of what happened to them.  

The pimp convinces them that he is the master, and they are a family unit.  So when she escapes, she feels as though she is without a single friendly face to depend upon.  

Women all around the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are being sold to men for sex.  According to a report done by WSB Radio, Atlanta went from $232 million in revenue to $290 million in revenue in a five year span, all of which was a product of the illegal sex and drug trade.  

According to Street GRACE, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to end child exploitation, 500 kids each month are trafficked throughout the Atlanta area.  So who is helping these women and children escape this horrific life?  There are many non-profit organizations who are in Atlanta working to offer a helping hand.  

One organization in Atlanta for these women and young girls is Wellspring Living.  They have several houses and programs set up to help them once they have escaped and need to set some level of normality back in their lives.  

Wellspring Living has an assessment center for women ages 18 to 25.  This is a short-term housing program that provides the women with a safe haven.  Each individual is assessed based on her situation and is then counseled on her options on where she can go after.  The Wellspring Living also has a facility for girls ages 12 to 17. 

This program lasts about a year and again provides a safe place for these young girls to call a temporary home.  Here in the house each woman is counseled, educated and is able to go to therapy to cope with her trauma.  

Lastly, they have an independent living program that lasts a year-long as well.  This program is different than the others in that the survivors live on their own and are becoming independent without a pimp.  They are still offered to further their education and can be counseled as well as see a therapist.   

Haven ATL is another non-profit organization who works to house women, girls and transgendered individuals who have been exploited and trafficked.  Local shelters offer dorms and rooms available to victims each night.  

Haven ATL works religiously to help these girls get back into a routine with furthering their education, job training and lots of counseling.  This organization offers an extensive list of programs such as life-skill classes, bible studies, mentoring program and even yoga classes to focus on health and relaxation. 

They also have several different outreaches such as support groups, individual case plans, one-on-one counseling, Sunday morning church and a Friday night outreach.

These organizations are usually the only option the women can turn to, according to an interview done between ABC news and a survivor of the sex trade.  Other times, her family is out of the picture or is ashamed to claim her once she has lived such a “dirty” life.  

Some people may not believe it, but there is life after being trafficked.  Many strong women have done it.  They need to feel that sense of worth and taste the freedom to realize it though.  

Through a lot of counseling and work, their minds can be freed and their hearts cleansed.  They need someone to be able to reach out to though.  Prevention is partly getting law enforcement, nonprofits and prosecutors to all work together.