U.S. Survivor Heals And Celebrates Her Birthday For The First Time

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U.S. Survivor Heals And Celebrates Her Birthday For The First Time

In the United States, a young woman is free from sex trafficking, taking art therapy classes, and recently celebrated her 20th birthday party in freedom.

Jada’s mother passed away when she was 3, and her father left. She never had the experience of a loving family or a safe home. At the age of 16, she began to talk with a man online who offered her the love and care that she was missing. Soon he became her boyfriend, but little did she know his plan was to gain her trust, then manipulate and coerce her into sex trafficking.

As a teenager, Jada was trafficked and arrested several times for trafficking-related crimes. The court had been trained by our Local Partner on how to identify trafficking victims. When they saw Jada’s case, they realized she was a trafficking victim. For Jada, this was a crucial step towards freedom. The court gave her the option of our Local Partner’s Aftercare Program over jail time.

Jada chose to live in our safe house, protecting her from her trafficker’s retaliation. Depressed, scared, and exhausted, Jada rarely made eye contact with anyone when she started. She was matched with a Care Coordinator who slowly built trust, showing Jada all she had to live for. Jada eventually shared that she didn’t even know her actual birth date. Her family never celebrated it and her trafficker gave her a false identity. Jada never had an official ID card, meaning she never had access to opportunities that require identification–things like healthcare, education, and employment. Our Local Partner tracked down her birth certificate and helped her get her first official ID card. Jada now had access to a host of healing services, and we found out that she had just turned 20.

We threw Jada her first-ever birthday party, complete with a cake and presents. As staff and survivors sang happy birthday, you could see a flicker of life coming back to her eyes. Knowing her birthday and being celebrated for just being alive was new and extremely healing. It finally gave her a sense of identity and the strength to dig into her recovery process.    

Jada is now working toward her GED and uses art as a healthy coping mechanism to overcome the symptoms of her trauma. Every day she is a little more confident, taking steps forward, making decisions, choosing to live. Our Local Partner plans to be a lifelong community of consistent, safe support, celebrating with her at every birthday and milestone along the way. 

Be the reason survivors like Jada can heal and thrive in freedom by joining Team Freedom.

*Name and some identifying details changed to protect confidentiality.  

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