Restore One

Combating human trafficking and human exploitation by means of public awareness, practical prevention, restorative care and building domestic and international partnerships.


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Q&A with intern Sha Smith

Photo on 12-25-12 at 5.14 PM

How did you get involved with RO?

I have always enjoyed using my free time to give back to the community. When I moved to Greenville, as a missionary for a ministry called Dirty Vagabond Ministries, I knew that I wanted to find a way to help other organizations in town that were trying to make a difference. Restore One was one of the very first ministries I heard of when I got here. I was talking with a good friend of mine, and he explained to me that not only was Restore One a ministry that focused on human trafficking, but that their focus was on helping young boys are victims of DMST. As soon as he said that they helped male victims of sexual exploitation, I knew immediately that I had to do whatever I could to support them. I have a passion for helping people who have been sexual exploited, especially men. I did my senior thesis on Male Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, because I feel like they are often ignored or diminished when it comes to this kind of victimization.  It’s not often that you meet people who have a passion for that, so I knew that I had to get involved.

What got you involved in the fight against trafficking?

When I was working as an intern at the Sexual Assault Help Center in Steubenville, OH, my boss would speak with me about the larger issues that would come up at conferences she attended. One day, I saw her hanging up a poster she had received at a conference that had information about human trafficking on it. When I asked her about the poster, she told me that, at that time, Ohio was ranked as one of the top 5 states where human trafficking was a major issue,. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I knew human trafficking existed overseas, but I had no idea that such a horrific crime was rampant in the US, let alone in the state that I lived in.  At that moment, the reality of Domestic Human trafficking became real to me, and from then on I joined the fight to help end human trafficking.

 What is your background?

I am from a small coastal town in Mississippi named Gulfport.  My passions include, but are not limited to, painting, knitting and crocheting, psychological research, my faith, watching interesting independent films and documentaries, well-made food, ministry, learning about everything that interests me, theatre, the sky, beautiful flowers, and volunteering. I attended a small Catholic university in Steubenville, OH called Franciscan University of Steubenville.  While I was there I earned a Bachelors of Psychology (with honors) and Master’s of Arts in Counseling. I have been trained in acting and counseling. I would say that some of my skills are of an administrative nature (emailing, making spreadsheets, etc), I’m also good at public speaking, working with large groups, listening, problem solving, being understanding, being supportive, and cracking many hilarious jokes.

What will you be doing with RO this Summer?

I will be at RO as intern this summer, and I will be helping them with the Stand for One gala. I will also be helping them to develop a survey.

Have any goals?

I would say that my main goal is just to help them to accomplish what they need to as a ministry. I’m cool to help with whatever I can help with. I would say that my secondary goal would be to complete the survey!

What are you most excited about?

I am most excited about getting to know the staff at Restore One, and doing whatever ever I can to help combat human trafficking J

Fun  Facts

I have studied abroad in Europe, Austria to be exact.  I have never eaten a Twinkie…I don’t trust them. I can do splits well.  I love to dance. One of my best friends is related to William Wallace. When I was younger, I owned a pair of earrings made from some of the ash of Mt. Saint Helen’s.

 


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What about the boys?

By Nelli Agbulos, guest blogger.

(Photo caption: Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed, from Grace Brown’s Project Unbreakable)

(Photo caption: Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed, from Grace Brown’s Project Unbreakable)

While the above photo does not pertain to male trafficking, the reaction a male trafficking victim would get would be the same if someone knew a man had been raped. Males are typically perceived to be the “bad guy” “predator” “pimp” and “perpetrator” in the crime-scene world, and they are rarely recognized as victims. This has much to do with the gender construction in society.

According to the Polaris Project, the average age of entry into prostitution for boys is 11 to 13 years old. That age range has them considered as children, and about 50% of child sex trafficking victims are boys. They go from a path of poverty to prostitution to human trafficking. Lack of publicity and advocacy makes male sex trafficking attractive to criminal networks, to fill the demand and pages of pornography magazines.

Male victims of human trafficking are typically runaways or those who were thrown out of their homes. Many experience high rates of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse from family members, and that makes boys more vulnerable and susceptible to drugs and alcohol. In turn, drugs and alcohol becomes those boys’ coping mechanisms, which incidentally become one of the reasons they get sexually exploited so that they can fund their alcohol and drug supply. Seeking love is another reason runaway/homeless boys turn to sexual exploitation, to fill the longing and care not mutually given in previous experiences. Boys are often recruited by friends and peers, though some are known to have pimps (who keep most of their earnings).

Boys are not considered a “high risk group” to be included in research, outreach, and rehabilitation services for human trafficking. Male trafficking victims only get attention if the news breaks out as a local or national scandal – and again, this rarely happens. There is gender construction in being a victim, and that is attributed to the ideals of masculinity held by the general public. Since boys aren’t perceived to be victims, they aren’t encouraged to speak out when something happens; they are shunned because of the belief they are “stronger”, more self-efficient, and are capable of taking better care of themselves. These qualities of masculinity have become normalized to the point that they pressure men with unrealistic expectations. Men become afraid to speak up because of the shame and embarrassment associated with what happened to them. Even law enforcement officials have been known to doubt male victims. An ECPAT study revealed that boys are reluctant to declare themselves as victims or report incidents of exploitation to avoid the potential stigma associated with being viewed as gay. Undeniably, men are put under the cloak of invisibility regarding topics on male sexual exploitation (such as male rape, domestic violence, and human trafficking) that has them as victims.

I’m not saying female human trafficking should be held in any less regard to male trafficking. There is still so much to be done to combat female trafficking and its equally nuanced layers. However, an alarming statistic produced by the United States State Department reports that between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of adult trafficking male victims jumped from 6% to 45%. If that 39% increase isn’t a cause for concern, then maybe this issue is being blown out of proportion. Human trafficking is as an issue that happens to both genders. Men are just as affected by human trafficking and require the same attention as females.


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Remembering Independence

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Guest post by Abbi Tenaglia, Founder/Director of Transforming Hope Ministries.

Independence Day. What a fun day. There are cookouts, fireworks, time with family and friends, hanging out at the beach. I have lots a good memories from many past Independence Day celebrations.

The freedom that this day represents has two meanings for me: the first is my freedom as an American. Thank God for all the men and women that gave up their lives so that I can have more freedom in this country. But even with these sacrifices, freedom in American isn’t truly free. It still comes at a cost to all who live here.

The second meaning is the most important though….the freedom I have in Christ. This freedom doesn’t cost me anything. Jesus gave up his life on a cross thousands of years ago whether I chose to acknowledge His gift or not. I am His first and only priority even when I make Him second or third in my life. He pursues me when I feel completely unworthy of pursuit. He protects me when I’m too scared or tired to protect myself. He loved me when I couldn’t love Him back and He still loves me when I’m finding it hard to love Him, myself, or anyone else some days.

I don’t live with rules and boundaries because those are my ticket into heaven. I live by Jesus’ guidelines because He first lived them out and said “I love you regardless” when He took my place on the cross.

This is truly freedom at its best. This is what motivates me to get up and keep moving, to fight for those who don’t have the ability to appreciate their freedom in any sense because they are slaves to the greed and immorality of others.

This Independence Day, take five minutes to thank God for those who have sacrificed, thank Him for His sacrifice, and beg Him to set the current captives free from the grip of satan!