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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Seeking Public Relations Director for 2015

CONFERENCERestore One is seeking a PR Director who would begin January 2015. Restore One is a Greenville, faith-based nonprofit and will open the nation’s first shelter for male sex trafficking victims. It is a volunteer position. An application must be filled out in order to be considered.

Ideally, the candidate will commit to at least a year with the organization. Those from journalism/PR backgrounds with previous communication-related internships or work experiences are encouraged to apply.The PR Director will head up the use of WordPress, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Hoostsuite. Being able to engage in media relations and create social media plans is also a part of the job description.Video production experience is a plus.

Contact Persida Montanez, press@restoreonelife.org for more information about the position.To apply fill out the form on Restore One’s website: http://restoreonelife.org/~restoreo/internship.php


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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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University of Mount Olive holding day of awareness, art– and Restore One President to speak

MOUNT OLIVE – The University of Mount Olive Campus Ministry is joining the effort to educate and stop human trafficking. On March 18, the day will begin at 11 a.m. in the Teresa Pelt Grubbs Art Gallery with a meditative walk through a “Sabbatical Exhibition” by Cheryl Hooks which features among other themes, stark images of human trafficking.

At 3 p.m., RestoreOne, a non-profit group out of Greenville North Carolina, will present the documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls in Southern Bank Auditorium located at 652 R B Butler Drive on the University Campus. Restore One President, Chris Smith will speak following the showing.

“Scripture teaches us that we are to be the voice for the voiceless. Those entrapped within the human trafficking realm are without voice or power,” said UMO Campus Chaplain Carla Williamson. “The University of Mount Olive is a liberal arts university founded by the Original Free Will Baptist Church therefore, the Office of Campus Ministry understands our role as Christians as well as citizens to educate ourselves about social injustices and to speak out against them. We invite the community to join us as we learn about human trafficking and what we can do to stop this atrocity.”

“Among the wounded of the world, are the victims of human trafficking. Their weeping has reached my heart! May their weeping reach your heart as well.  Together we can work to offer them healing and hope. Please join me as I share art images and information on this travicity, as well as other social and spiritual issues,” said Cheryl Hooks whose artwork will be shown in the gallery.

Source: MOC press release


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Drinking Deeply from the Well– and what it taught me about Justice

Guest post by Zach Pomeroy, Restore One volunteer and abolitionist. Check out his blog here

“She was sold as a child.”

As those solemn words traveled down a concrete hall, I was certain that my fifteen-year-old ears had deceived me.  Each word became a reality as the story unraveled before me.

As I listened with more intent and hopes that those words were not true, the story became even more horrific. This girl had in fact been sold. Her parents were lured into a scheme of darkness to trade their daughter for a fleeting monetary value.

The people who offered a monetary exchange for this little girl’s life practiced Wicca. They wanted to perform rituals on an actual person and this girl was the victim.

For the first time in 2007, I realized the significance of that concrete building which was purposefully situated in that small mountain village of Nicaragua. It was those concrete walls that delivered that message to my ears with such clarity, but it was also those concrete walls that provided a safe refuge for children who had been sold, abandoned, forgotten, and abused.

That evening, I closed my eyes with the intent of crying out to God in frustration, “Where O God is the justice in this moment?”

Before I could let out that cry, my mind flooded with images of the scars this beautiful girl bore. On her arms and face were burn marks that were purposefully inflicted on her. I became nauseous and opened my eyes. Focused on each breath that my lungs expanded to let in, I opened my devotional.

My eyes immediately focused on the word:

“Bienaventuras los que tienen hambre y

sed de justicia, porque ellos serán saciados.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and

thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”

I cried out, “O God I am starving and parched for justice.”

But in that moment, God began to reveal a very specific truth to me as he did with the Samaritan woman in John 4. I was standing beside an empty hole in the ground looking for water. As much as those hunger pangs made me nauseous, I could not take away the injustice done to that beautiful girl. Even though my mouth was dry, I could not provide the healing water that she or I needed.

Dear brothers and sisters, if you have also reached a place where the hunger pangs are nauseating and your mouth is so dry it is cracking, I urge you, do NOT give up.

Maybe you are on the front lines fighting injustice yet you are standing beside a hole in the ground. Time after time you lower your pail into the hole expecting to get an abundance of water. Yet each time you pull it out, with disappointment, only to discover it is as empty as it was when you first lowered it.

Maybe the fight for justice has overwhelmed you so much you decided to give up. You abandoned your empty pail a while ago. You have settled for a self-satisfying life, because if we’re honest, all you ever got from fighting injustice was exhaustion.

Maybe fear has crippled you. You look inwardly and see shame, guilt and doubt. You ask yourself, “How can I bring healing to others, when all I see in my life is brokenness?” This fear has kept you at a distance from the Well of Living Water, because there is a deep lie telling you, “Jesus can’t heal you and even if He could, why would He choose you?”

Take some time to go back to the first time you discovered you were standing beside an empty hole in the ground. Do you hear the voice of Jesus saying:

“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.

Indeed, the water that I give them will become a

spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

What I found that evening in Nicaragua was a promise, “If you drink deeply from the waters that I give, you will never grow thirsty. In fact, the water that you drink from will become a deep well of water that springs up to eternal life.” I found a Well of Living Water who understood the anger and tears of injustice and invited me to join Him on the mission of His heart. Just like the Samaritan woman, I found purpose to pray for that beautiful girl and to share the love of Jesus with her. “Then the woman left her water jar went into town, and told the men, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?’ They left the town and made their way to Him.”

Maybe it is time for you to abandon that empty hole and drink deeply from the Well of Living Water.

Below are just a few practical steps:

Do not forsake the Well of Living Water. He longs to sustain and fill you continually. If you walk away, remember that His grace-filled arms long for you to come back.

You are not created to do this alone. Get involved with a local organization working on the front lines of injustice. Ask your community to support and pray for you. Encourage your community to get involved with you.

Stay informed. Do not underestimate the power of knowledge in this fight against darkness. Study the words of Jesus so they are ingrained in your heart and flow off your tongue. Read blogs, articles and books written by other Freedom Fighters.

Get involved. You have a unique role in the Kingdom of God. Do not believe for a minute that you are insignificant and cannot make an impact. If you are unsure about your role, ask the Well, you’re community and local organizations how you can get involved.

An excerpt from the Franciscan Prayer of Discomfort:

“May God bless you with holy anger at injustice,

oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may

work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those

who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort

them and to turn their pain into joy.”


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Caught: Sex Trafficked Boys & the Violent Cycle of Powerlessness

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Sexual violence against men and boys is a topic that is seldom discussed. Often we hear victims are women and children, and we assume that the children are girls and that males are the primary perpetrator. At Restore One, we seek to serve a population that is often unspoken for, sex trafficked and sexually exploited boys. The phrase, sex trafficked children, does not specify an exact gender or ethnic population. However, folks are always very surprised to hear that boys are sex trafficked and sexually exploited just like girls. You may ask, how are boys sold and where and who buys them?

The sexual exploitation of boys remains hidden. I’d go as far as to say it is an even more hushed crime than female sex trafficking. It is an immense moneymaker for those governing the trade. The buying and selling of boys for the purposes of sex are found throughout the United States both in the ritziest neighborhoods and poorest districts of the city. The research study The Commercial Exploitation of Children in New York City in 2008 estimates that as much as 50% of commercial sexually exploited children are males.

Regardless of the location or by which means the deed is done, one link remains true to every story I’ve witnessed or heard, the sexual violence against boys is directly linked to powerfully exploiting the powerless. While money is the blatant fuel behind the sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of boys, the cycle of powerlessness is what leaves boys vulnerable to violence. To explain the cycle of powerlessness in relationship to the sex trafficking and exploitation of boys, I created the story of Paul. Paul was inspired by my countless interactions with male survivors and the honor it’s been for me to hear their many stories. Thus, The story of Paul.

Paul is a teenage boy with a jaded history of sexual abuse, foster care, low self-esteem and parent maltreatment. He had no part in the choices that his parents, the state and others have made on his behalf that have caused him much harm and heartache at a young age of 15. Life has left him vulnerable and powerless. In the mist of his despair, he is sought out by a pimp and recruited into the life.

The men he is forced to service are men in power, patrol cops, wealthy business owners, a college football coach, politicians and even pastors. His pimp is part of a large criminal ring, and they traffick boys and girls in every state. If Paul were to run, he’d never really get out because they would find him and welcome him with a beating. His pimp tells him that since he’s had sex with men, he’s not good for nothing but turning tricks.

One night during a large undercover rescue operation, Paul was found along with other children who’ve been sex trafficked. When the agents see Paul they are stunned. When he was first interviewed, they were testing him to see if he was a trafficker but after some probing they saw that he was a victim. Determining this though was not much help because there were no services specifically for boys who’ve been sex trafficked. Law enforcement did their best and referred him to the Department of Social Services, and he was then placed in a foster care home. Within a few weeks Paul is groped by one of the older kids in the home and he immediately remembered the words of his pimp, “You ain’t good for nothing but turning tricks.”

In a state of frustration, Paul believed the haunting words of his pimp, ran away and went back into the life.

Unfortunately Paul is the story of many boys.  Boys find when seeking services or wanting out of the life that their power is rendered and immobilized when service care providers refuse to provide proper services due to gender. With no services specific to meet their fragile needs, there is little hope for boys to exit the life. A victim of violence again is left powerless and the cycle continues.

I’ve had countless conversations with community members advising me to focus on women and girls and that the community is not ready to deal with sex trafficked boys. When it comes to the topic of male victimization, our culture demands we look the other way. Direct services for victims of sexual violence are harshly female centered with few gateways for males.  The Department of State claims that the often hidden crime of sex trafficking boys remains under wraps largely due to the cultural climate and taboos around the practice. I’ve found that the majority of Americans want to believe two things about the sex trafficking of men and boys: 1) Men and boys always have the power to get out, therefore they are not considered victims; 2) Men and boys are not in need of the same victim services that are offered to women and girls. However, I believe with an able body and willing heart, the story of Paul can change and so can these taboos around the trafficking of males. Males, who are victims of sexual violence such as sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, need you to advocate on their behalf by being a voice. I charge you to speak up and to do your part to begin addressing the gap in victim services for males within your own community. Remember, the cycle of powerlessness can end with just your voice.

This blog is dedicated to the work of IJM and the Locust Effect. Thank you IJM for reaching out to us and including us in this initiative.

locust-ee


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5 Ways to Turn Interest into Action in the Fight Against Sex Trafficking

Introducing guest blogger and abolitionist, Rebecca Potzner. Visit her website here and follow her on Twitter. 

Over the years, awareness for sex trafficking has increased and still continues to along with our interest to help. While it’s important for us to be aware of the issues that surround us, it is even more important to act on them.  To turn our interest into action, here are five ways to join the fight against sex trafficking.

1. Educate yourself          

To make a difference, it’s important to truly understand what we’re up against.  You can start by researching online through sites such as the Polaris Project, the U.S. Department of State, and of course blogs like Restore One. There are also many documentaries that cover the issue, as well.

2. Take to Social Media

We’re always busy posting and sharing content on our social media accounts. So, why not share content that brings light to the issue? While you’re researching, share an article, photo, or video that caught your attention. There are even petitions you can ask your friends and followers to sign. It’s a simple action to slip into your everyday routine.

3. Write to your local and state government representatives

Different areas have laws and programs that can be changed to help eliminate sex trafficking in the states. Send a letter to your local and state representatives asking how they’re working towards a solution.  Taking it a step further, make it personal and express your interest for change

4. Spend a little money

There are many organizations working to help victims and end sex trafficking that you can donate. Organizations such as Transitions Global, give people the opportunity to sponsor survivors. By sponsoring, you are personally impacting a life. In Transition Global’s case, the money you donate goes towards a girl’s care and education.

5. Join an organization

 Join forces with others by getting involved with an organization. Whether it’s student run or nationally led, they can lead you towards countless options to stay engaged in the fight including awareness events, fundraisers, and even engagement trips.


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In NYC: the gift of freedom

Introducing guest blogger and abolitionist, Raleigh Sadler:

When you think of NYC, Santa is probably last on your list, even if you check it twice. However, Santa Claus – as we know him- was born in Manhattan. Jeremy Seal, a New York Times contributing author, quotes a Cincinnati Newspaper from 1844 stating that “the sterling old Dutchman, Santa Claus, has just arrived from the renowned region of Manhattan, “with his usual budget of knickknacks for the Christmas times.”  Manhattan is where the commercialized Santa Claus originated. The eyes of every child in America were on NYC each year as they eagerly awaited the gifts that Santa had packed onto his sleigh. However as we all know, Santa did not stay in NYC.

The reason that Santa left Manhattan for a more spacious address up north is simple. In the late 19th century, the city was steadily becoming urbanized. With the massive influx of the “tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (as Emma Lazarus so eloquently stated in her poem, A New Colossus), Santa was forced to make a decision. Rather than trying to explain to their children that Santa Lived in a tenement house on the lower east side, parents began explaining that the Claus family lived in the North Pole.

To this day, New York is a place where people from every nation find refuge. Currently, there are approximately 800 languages spoken in the greater metro area. As a Christian, I see New York City as a place where one person can actually fulfill the Great Commission. But with this rampant immigration and urbanization comes a sinister side. Not everyone who lives here is here by choice. The vulnerable populations, “the tired, the poor, and the huddle masses” are the very people that are being exploited for the commercial gain of others. The global nature of the urban context invites the scourge of human trafficking.

The Department of Justice reports that JFK airport is one of the top five airports where victims enter the country. One may find a potential victim in any one of the city’s illegal Asian Massage Parlors, or residential brothels. The person that sells you fish in china town or the child that sells you fruit snacks on the subway could be being exploited as well. According to the National Institute of Justice, there are nearly 4,000 children being trafficked at any given time in New York City.

There is not one community in the city that has not been touched by this evil in some way. But there is hope. In every neighborhood where there is suffering, there is a church. My passion is to see the local church rise to the occasion and care for the weak and vulnerable in their midst. The church is a sleeping giant in the fight against exploitation. I believe that God’s  plan to end injustice on a global scale in the church and God doesn’t have a plan B.

Yet, before we care for the hurting, we must open our eyes. In other words, we will never be the hands and feet of Christ, unless we are his eyes and ears. We will never attempt to love anyone if we don’t know that they exist.

So that is where I come in. I work with local churches and Christian organizations all over the city to help them develop a strategic plan for caring for the weak and vulnerable. Whether it is through panel discussions, large events, or one on one meetings, I seek to inform, inspire, and equip other Christians to live out their faith in a boldly compassionate way. To learn more about my ministry, please check out my website, www.raleighsadler.com. It’s time that we turn our eyes back to NYC.

Raleigh Sadler is a recognized speaker and human trafficking awareness advocate. As a speaker, his work has taken him to universities and churches across the country speaking on issues of the Gospel and social justice. Having been featured both nationally and internationally, he is seen as an authority in the field of human trafficking abolition. Follow Raleigh on Twitter and visit his website.