LUBBOCK, Texas — Survivor Housing at Open Door is changing lives.
It’s a place for women to come after they’ve escaped sex trafficking.
We spoke to one victim who said she was trafficked when she was 17 and it was part of her life for 6 years.
But she knew she had to change her life for her children.
So she called the Human Trafficking hotline and started a new life through Survivor Housing.
“I’m a year and a half out of being trafficked and Open Door has given me the opportunity to grow,” she said.
Survivor housing is an 18 month transitional housing program for human trafficking victims and their children.
“We want to provide an in-between for people where we are living on our own and we have an apartment to take care of and responsibility is very progressive but there’s a lot of support surrounding that,” said Jaime Wheeler, Director of Survivor Housing.
“This is so critical to help survivors of trafficking,” explained Chad Wheeler, CEO of Open Door. “The federal strategic plan addressing homelessness and trafficking has identified homelessness as one of the major issues contributing to trafficking and housing. Safe housing particularly being one of the most important things to help people get out of trafficking.”
Wheeler says to make them feel safe enough to leave, they have to have a safe option, like survivor housing.
“The trauma that you experience in trafficking is so significant that you can’t just say, ‘We’ve rescued you, you’re out of trafficking and now you’re on your own and good luck.’ People have to have support,” Wheeler said.
And that support comes through therapy, counseling, and help to get these victims in the right direction for years to come.
“The long term help is really difficult because that manipulation that someone has psychologically broken you down that stays with you even if you’re not physically in that place anymore,” explained Wheeler.
The victim we spoke with says she’s very thankful for this program and it’s given her a new life and focus for the future.
“I want to work with at-risk youth and I want to do mediation because it’s all empowering for me,” she said.
“This is a part of their story not who they are and that’s what we want to see,” Wheeler explained. “We want to see people thrive and get past I’m a survivor and this is what I’m doing about it.”
If you or someone you know is being trafficked call police or Voice of Hope at (806) 763-7273.
Local dollars make this program possible in our community.
If you would like to donate click here to learn more about Survivor Housing at Open Door and how you can help.