Writer’s identity has been withheld for privacy.
Last November our family was taken by complete surprise to find out that our son who had just begun his sophomore year at a college that one year earlier awarded him an almost full scholarship to a private college had become addicted to drugs and was being controlled by drug traffickers. His activities included illicit sex, pornographic pictures / videos, vile parties and delivery of illegal drugs. We didn’t know these things initially but became gradually aware over the next 8 months. During this time we experienced the most horrific events we ever imagined. It brought our family to an abrupt halt.
I received a phone call just previous to Thanksgiving from our son who told me he had some kind of breakdown or panic attack. He said the resident advisor was helping him get through it and he was feeling better. He also told me he thought he should see the campus medical/psychological facility to help him as well.
Thanksgiving arrived and all of us gathered together at his sisters’ apartment to celebrate located in the same city where the college was. It was obvious there was something wrong. Our son seemed to be a different person. He mumbled things, at times he had a hard time staying awake, his personal hygiene was noticeably bad, he shook at times and more. We left that day agreeing to keep in check with each other and make sure he was getting proper medical and psychological care.
He came home for Christmas. The condition had worsened. We asked what was wrong and how could we help. No answers from him. He would sleep for days, not coming out of his room. He returned to school and after 2-3 weeks and had to drop out. We still were confused about what was wrong. There were so many affects. We didn’t know what we should do. Then one night at the dinner table he had a complete psychological / physical breakdown and we rushed him to the ER.
The circumstances that followed that night at the hospital were unexplainable. My wife and I watched our son disintegrate for more than 3 hours straight. We were unable to do anything about what was happening before our eyes. I’ve seen some situations in my day but this was hell and we couldn’t escape.
It started to become a little clearer about what was wrong over the next few months as we were able to get him into a state funded outpatient treatment center for mental health, alcohol and drug addiction. This failed to work for him and he was quickly back to the destructive life of drug addiction and suffering from the effects that human trafficking left him with. We had no idea how to get our arms around the human trafficking part of his life. This was so far beyond our imagination and his diagnosis was still unclear. Was schizophrenia a part of this? There was just too much even for the doctors to accurately process everything. The prognosis was unknown as well.
I continued to search for help. I couldn’t find any medical, psychological or mental health care facility that helped men who fell victims to trafficking. There were hundreds that helped young girls and women but nothing for men. On top of it all the cost for resident programs was so far out of range. The cost for residential programs ranged from 20 – 120 thousand for one month of treatment. I was able to get my son into a state resident program dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. This really helped. He was able to dry out and start thinking clearly again. Now that he was beginning to heal and wasn’t under the influence of drugs the PTSD started surfacing from the trafficking experiences/trauma.
I continued to search for someone who knew something about finding help for men involved in human trafficking. I found Restore One director Anna Smith’s project on the internet so I called and left a message. Anna called me back and was able to direct me to an organization that had experience in helping men. She listened to me for a long time. I really needed that. I was at the end, out of gas, ready to throw the towel in and she gave me one last ray of hope. It sounded like a total long shot but I took her up on the person she told me to call.
After a month of communicating with this person, by a miracle my son was accepted into their program at no cost. He has been there for 4 months now and is doing well. My wife and I were afraid that he would get there and it wouldn’t be a good fit. To our absolute joy the next day after he arrived we received the first call from him. I almost didn’t want to answer. His voice was filled with the son I thought we lost. Weeks earlier it was like he died and now I hear the son I’ve know all these years. He was back. It’s hard believe the process God worked all of this out considering the complex problems and limited resources that were before us, but he has and we’re thankful for all who have been a part.
There is one last piece to this puzzle. It was something that came up unexpected one night when my wife and I were trying to put together the pieces of how and where this all began. We sat down with our son (this was during the time when he was still using and living at home for the previous 3 weeks) I asked him the question “When did this all begin”? He took us back to a kids Bible camp we took him to 15 years earlier. He told us of the horrors of being molested by a young man and how confused he was about all that took place. May the boys and young men who walk through these doors find healing from the trauma they’ve experienced, from the injustices of abuse, human trafficking and the exploitation of those who are vulnerable.
GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA—Over 500 local and national abolitionists will gather for the “Stand for One Gala” on Sep. 26 to raise $70,000 for the first shelter for trafficked males in the U.S. that will be spearheaded by local nonprofit, Restore One.
“The Stand for One gala is our biggest fundraiser of the year. Every dollar donated is a step closer to our goal to open doors to sex trafficked boys through The Anchor House,” said PR Director Persida Montanez.
The gala will begin at 7 p.m. and will be located at the Rock Spring Center in Greenville. It is the second gala that Restore One hosts. The first, which was held on Oct. 2014, was attended by over 400 guests. The gala will include dinner, live music, guest speakers and a silent auction.
Michael Cusick, they keynote speaker, is the Founder and President of Restoring the Soul Ministries, who serves as an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and is the author of Surfing for God. Cusick’s personal testimony and heart for healing from sexual baggage and brokenness parallels with Restore One’s mission to restore sex trafficked boys and men.
Rebecca Bender, a former sex trafficking victim and founder of Rebecca Bender Ministries, will be the master of ceremonies. Bender is also an award winning, internationally recognized speaker, author and survivor leader in the movement to eradicate modern day slavery.
“Attendees and donors are as much a part of The Anchor House as the staff and the foundation upon which The Anchor House will be built. Those that will be in attendance are Restore One,” said Montanez.
Tickets are on-sale online.
For more information about the event visit the Restore One website: restoreonelife.org
Watch a video recap of last year’s gala.
Restore 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, email@example.com for more information about the position.To apply fill out the form on Restore One’s website: http://restoreonelife.org/~restoreo/internship.php
For many, high school is the time of trying to fit in with the cool kids or planning for college, for me it meant finding my calling in life. In Johnston County, in order to graduate high school, students must complete a graduation project on a topic of their choosing. While my classmates were building a life size Barbie, or teaching kids to make healthy snacks, I wanted to end human trafficking. Crazy idea for a sixteen year old to think, right? When my parents and my teachers asked me how I thought I was going to do this, I answered, “I have no idea, but God does!” That was the beginning of Operation Restoration was born and the first steps in shaping the rest of my life.
The main goal of Operation Restoration is to bring awareness of the issue of human trafficking as a whole, while focusing on the issue in North Carolina, as well as partnering with the safe homes in North Carolina for survivors and overcomers of human trafficking. Since the creation of Operation Restoration in late 2011, we have done a number of presentations to church groups, local news and government, and various community groups throughout the state. I had no idea that this one assignment would take me where it has.
Earlier this year, in March I was approached by Ressie Toland, the wife of Whitman Toland, the pastor of C3 Greensboro, to discuss some things that God has put on her heart. I have known the Toland’s for fourteen years, due to growing up in the church when it was first founded, but since moving away from Greensboro our communications had not be consistent. Ressie called me one Saturday afternoon and shared that God was putting the issue of human trafficking on her heart and she knew that this was not a burden that she was meant to carry alone. She then presented a partnership between C3 Greensboro and Operation Restoration in order to sponsor the safe homes in North Carolina for a year. I sat in my car in tears, explaining to her that this is something we at Operation Restoration have been praying for, someone to come forth with a reach much greater than our own and back us up in sponsoring these homes in order to make a difference in the lives of survivors that they serve.
Throughout the next few months, the planning of the partnership, that was now called the Freedom Initiative, went about and June 22nd was decided as the date for the first “Freedom Sunday” When deciding which of the four houses in North Carolina would be the first home to be sponsored in the Freedom Initiative I felt that draw to Chris and Anna at Restore One and in discussing with Pastor Ressie, we agreed that the Anchor House would be the first to be sponsored.
The morning of the 22nd came and I continued to pray that the Lord would speak through me and begin to stir in the hearts of the congregation. After the service we were overwhelmed with the response of concerned church members asking how this could be happening and what they could do to stop it. My heart was humbled as I saw mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers all concerned for these sons, daughters, siblings, that were being trafficked everyday and having a desire to end this tragic injustice. As we were packing up the Operation Restoration booth that afternoon, Pastor Whit came to me and said that the offering taken up for the Anchor House was $7,000. I cannot say thank you enough to all of the church members for their open hearts and minds as we feed into this amazing ministry and join in the fight against human trafficking together.
I never imagined that four years ago any of this would have happened because of a crazy dream I had at sixteen years old. Human trafficking is still happening all around us everyday, but if we continue to work together and be a voice for those without a one, we will see it come to an end. I want to commend Chris and Anna Smith for their diligence and obedience to the things that God has placed on their hearts and am believing for breakthrough and provision in their next steps in opening the Anchor House.