According to Kristi Wells of the Safe House Project, 80% of trafficking victims return to being trafficked after they’re rescued.
Why? Given that being trafficked is about as horrendous an experience as can happen to a human being, and given that a trafficked person is likely to die of an overdose, suicide, disease, or organ-harvesting within seven years, why would anyone go back to it?
Peace Promise, an Anti-Trafficking organization in Pennsylvania knows why. According to Susan Vigliano, “Most of these people who are in prostitution have vulnerabilities and very few have the life skills they need to function in society and be self-supporting.”
Peace Promise helps fill the gap between escaping from being trafficked to having the life skills needed to manage in everyday life. Here are some examples from Peace Promise of where lack of life skills could have landed an individual back into being re-trafficked.
- A women in recovery got a job working in a warehouse, but she was using up $20 a day in Uber bills to pay for transportation to her job. She could have afforded a secondhand car, but she couldn’t get her license. And why couldn’t she get her license? Because she couldn’t pass the eye test. Why didn’t she get glasses? She didn’t know she could get glasses! The Church Ladies of Peace Promise took her for an eye examination, got her glasses, and then accompanied her to take her driving test.
- Another woman in recovery was working for a culinary degree from a local college, but she needed her low-level job in a restaurant to pay for her degree. Unfortunately, she got fired. Why was she fired? Her college schedule changed, and she had no idea how to negotiate with her boss for a change in hours. She didn’t understand that she could have talked the situation over, as opposed to just not showing up.
To escape successfully from the sex industry, the one thing that needs to happen is for the individual to be gainfully employed. Unfortunately, if the person’s life experience has been limited to doing the will of others with no personal freedom that individual will need time to learn how to function in modern society. They’re going to make mistakes along the way.
Peace Promise is there to help them learn the skills needed to become truly self-sufficient. Peace Promise has as a along term goal, buying a beauty salon and also a coffee shop. Ideally, the salon and the coffee shop would be a training ground so that people escaping “the life” (i.e., escaping from being sex-trafficked), can earn a living while gradually learning the life skills to get work outside of the sheltered environment Peace Promise would provide.
To learn more about Peace Promise, go to: https://www.peacepromise.org/
Mitzi Perdue is the founder of WinThisFight.org and author of 52 Tips to Combat Human Trafficking. Contact her at www.MitziPerdue.com