What if that was me?

By Murphy, Sex Trafficking Advocate

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

We love being part of such a warm and welcoming community. But sometimes, for some people, the very moment they need support is when they discover how alone they are. This year the 4th of July brought a local family and their daughter and grand-daughter much despair and less faith in their community.

We live by the simple, golden rule: What if that was me? How would I like for others to treat me at a restaurant? A hospital? Or even as that straggler on the streets?

While most of us were celebrating with barbecues and fireworks, a local father fought for his daughter who had been trafficked and over-dosed. The one call she was able to make before passing out was to her dad. Her family broke down barriers to find her the help and services she needed. But multiple times in the same evening, they were dismissed because she was ‘just a junkie’ or a ‘prostitute.’

They brought her to the hospital and – praise God! – her life was spared.

The father reached out to some agencies, who, in turn, reached out to Mirror Ministries. I was able to meet the family: the dad, the mom, the victim, and her daughter. The experience reinforced the truth that it absolutely does not matter what degrees a person may hold, it does not matter who the individual may know, or even what social class they may be from… what does matter is the time and the compassion one has in their heart. That compassion can prompt someone to step away from their own family and friends in order to bring comfort and reassurance to another family who are afraid they just may lose their child.

A few days after the 4th, I had this message from the victim’s mother: “She would love to see you again. She remembers you being the only compassionate and loving person through this entire ordeal.”

This is what Mirror Ministries is all about. Reflecting the grace of God to victims and survivors of sex trafficking. God put that compassion in our hearts, and He works in us to live by the golden rule. We see ourselves reflected in the face of every victim, survivor, and family member. We see God’s image. And we ask, what if that was me?

From fairytale to nightmare to hope

By Murphy, Human Trafficking Advocate

Tori Michelle* is a resilient lady, who once had everything she could possibly want: a great job, a loving family and good kids. One day it all came to an end. She was served with divorce papers from her husband. She felt like her life was over.

After the divorce, the kids were able to live with her and she continued working at her great job, but Tori Michele was sure she would never meet anyone as wonderful as her ex-husband. A year or so later, she met a man who swept her off her feet. She was in love all over again! He did everything just right. You would have thought her life was a fairytale.

But her dream come true quickly turned into a nightmare. Shortly after sweeping her off her feet, the boyfriend introduced Tori to the world of Meth. The drugs quickly sucked her into an addiction. She was fired from her wonderful job. With money tight, her boyfriend encouraged her that things will work out and they would be okay. But bills started piling up. Electricity, utilities, and rent were all due. Not to worry, Tori Michelle’s wonderful boyfriend had a plan. He asked her to perform some sexual acts for some of his friends. The bills would be no problem.

Tori Michelle immediately refused. Her boyfriend gave her some more meth, and she was soon in a more agreeable state. Tori Michelle was sexually exploited as a victim of human trafficking by this “boyfriend” for many years. At 51 years old, she has been in “the Life” off and on, she has fallen victim to the world of drugs in order to numb the pain from all the trauma.

After all this, Tori Michelle has the strength to hope for a new life. She has taken many countless steps before and in the past 8 months to get a grasp on life without drugs. Through many ups and downs, this resilient lady has finally gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired! She is ready to start her life again.

At Mirror Ministries, we have helped Tori Michelle plan and move to an excellent long-term facility. Not only will they be able to work on the top layer of issues such as drug addiction, but they will also be able to work on the hidden trauma that has been within her for many years!

We ask for continued support and prayers as Tori Michelle battles the storms that will come her way as she wages the decisive battle against drug addiction and fights for her own healing over the next few months. It has taken remarkable strength to endure the reverses life has thrown her and to keep coming back with hope.

*Name and photo have been changed to protect our clients

You never gave up on me

By Sharaya, Human Trafficking Advocate

Patience and endurance are important strengths to acquire when working with sex trafficking victims. It often takes time to build a healthy relationship with them and it takes patience to help them get back up when they stumble time and time again.

Lux* is a client I have worked with for several years, watching her stumble repeatedly in her young life. Tri-Cities was not a healthy or safe place for her to live anymore, so we ended up moving her to a safe restoration home in a larger city where she could obtain more housing services. She had been addicted to drugs for a very long time and needed to be in a different city.

After Lux was moved and in a safe spot, she would ask me to come and visit because I was her only support. Every visit I have with her, she thanks me for pulling her off the street and not giving up on her when everyone else did. She calls to ask for advice in everything and will tell all her friends, “Sharaya saved my life.”

It has not been an easy few years, but God is good! Lux ended up being baptized and loves God with all her heart. She said just the other day that she wished she would have listened to my advice years ago because it would have saved her from a lot of heartache. But she thanks God that He put me in her life and that I never gave up on her.

*Name and photo have been changed to protect our clients

Mirror Ministries crowd funding campaign with WeRaise

Join Mirror Ministries in raising $10,000 to help local victims of sex trafficking

Mirror Ministries recently launched a crowd funding campaign on WeRaise to raise at least $10,000 that will go toward supporting a second advocate and our survivor services programs where we directly help local victims of sex trafficking in Tri-Cities, Washington.

Help us help even more victims of sex trafficking by donating to our campaign at https://weraise.wheatridge.org/en/projects/37489-Reflecting-God-s-grace-to–Victims-and-Survivors-of-Sex-Trafficking. Our deadline for raising funds is Aug. 31, 2017.

 

Reflecting God’s Grace to Victims and Survivors of Sex Trafficking from Mirror Ministries on Vimeo.

The number of human trafficking survivors we continue to help has risen dramatically in the past year, which made hiring a second advocate crucial this year. On average, we help an average of 25 clients per week and have an extended list of more than 80 clients that we reach out to who may not be quite ready for our services.

We are incredibly grateful for the generous community members who have continued to support us from our early beginnings to now, and we kindly thank our generous contributors who have donated to our campaign so far. Please help us help even more victims right here in the Tri-Cities!

God bless!

Tri-City Ninja Warrior

Have you ever wanted to try out for American Ninja Warrior? Or maybe just see how well you’d hold up in a similar obstacle course? Now you have a chance to try it out right here in your hometown!

Team Integrity Training is hosting a series of Ninja Challenges all summer long, with proceeds from entrance fees benefiting Mirror Ministries! It’s like American Ninja Warrior, Tri-City-style!

Compete solo or in teams of 5, as many times as you want over the summer (entrance fee required for each challenge). Fastest solo competitor will receive a $250 grand prize, while the overall team champions will receive $2000 plus gear from Team Integrity’s sponsors! The group winner at each event will also receive gear as prizes.

Low element events will include: 

ROPE LADDER CRAWL- Testing core strength and balance. 

LOW COURSE RELAY- Testing Balance, Teamwork, Coordination. 

THE WALL- Testing Strength and teamwork.

OBSTACLE RELAY- Testing Strength and endurance.

High Element events will include:

VERTICAL JUNKYARD- Will test coordination, balance, strength and teamwork 

CATWALK- Will test nerve and balance

BURMA BRIDGE- Will test Balance 

ROPE CLIMB- Will test strength (1 will compete)

First Race day is June 10th from 9 to 6 pm. Learn more and register at Team Integrity Training Ninja Challenge and invite your friends with the Facebook event page!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

We live in a culture that justifies sexual violence against women and children by blaming the choices they have made, whether or not those choices are perceived as related to the exploitation or abuse. It is in this culture that a commercially sexually exploited child can be viewed as a “teen prostitute” who actively chose to be in “the life.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it’s important to remember that sexual exploitation is a form of sexual assault. It’s on us to provide better options for vulnerable women and youth. It’s on us to change perceptions. It’s on us to prevent sexual assault in all its forms and to support survivors. Spread the word.

New Therapy Programs!

Survivors of human trafficking have enormous hurdles to overcome. We work hard to ease those hurdles as each survivor walks her path to freedom.

Mirror Ministries’ Survivor Services utilizes Specialized Human Trafficking Advocates as an essential piece in the fight against human trafficking here in the Tri-Cities. Our advocates build relationships with vulnerable youth and adults to identify victims of human trafficking and to support survivors on the long road toward freedom.

In 2016, we served thirty-eight youth survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, commonly known as sex trafficking. With expanded employee and volunteer capacity, we are poised to serve even more survivors in 2017.

We are implementing new therapy programs to support survivors on their journey to freedom, and we need your help to make these programs and other services available to all survivors in the Tri-Cities who are signing up. A donation of $10 or more would be a greatly appreciated contribution to these therapy programs. Learn more about these programs below. We are also seeking donations of guitars for our music therapy classes.

Music Therapy Music has been used as a therapeutic tool for centuries and has been shown to affect many areas of the brain, including the regions involved in emotion, cognition, sensation, and movement. This impact, combined with the engaging nature of music and the diversity of music forms, makes music uniquely effective in the treatment of a wide array of physical and mental problems, including depression, anxiety, and hypertension.

Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and is effective with children, adolescents, adults, families and groups. The creative process involved in expressing oneself artistically can help people resolve issues as well as process and manage their feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

Equine Therapy Working with horses allows the client to develop a relationship by learning and practicing skills that are crucial to healthy interactions while experiencing the unconditional acceptance from the horse. Equine therapy has shown to have many positive benefits when correctly taught by certified therapists. These benefits include: Confidence, Self-Efficacy, Self-Concept, Communication, Trust, Perspective, Decreased Isolation, Self-Acceptance, Impulse Control, Social Skills, Boundaries, and Spiritual Connection.

These new therapy programs will help ease the hurdles for survivors of human trafficking as they press on toward freedom. Please consider making a donation of $10 or more toward Mirror Ministries’ Survivor Services or contact us to donate your guitar.

In addition to your donation, support Mirror Ministries while you shop by choosing us as your charity to support at smile.amazon.com and through the Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program at fredmeyer.com/communityrewards.

Community Awareness Walks

Mirror Ministries is starting Community Awareness Walks at 6p on the 3rd Friday of each month.
Community Awareness Walks guide groups of up to 12 in how to identify potential human trafficking victims in a public setting and what steps to take when signs are identified.

 

Agenda:
Pre-walk talk – Group safety,  signs of human trafficking including behavior, actions to take depending on circumstances
Walk – In pairs, walk around the area, watching for signs of human trafficking
Post-walk debrief – Discuss what we saw, what stood out, conversations engaged in

 

These crucial identification and intervention tools are imparted to a new group of people every month, providing our community with caring people who are aware, watching, and able to intervene. To sign up for the next Community Awareness Walk, email murphy@mirror-ministries.org.