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.
Guest post by intern Genevieve Parshely
It is this kind of purposeful action in people in my generation that gives me courage and a hope that we will address and act on the things the Lord has placed on our hearts for our good and His glory. I am SO beyond excited to unofficially officially start my internship with Restore One! I am so thankful for how the Lord has brought me here and am already so inspired and grateful for the work my brothers and sisters have done through Christ as they work towards the goal of seeing sexual exploitation and trafficking eradicated!
I will admit, I am still nervous! Working for an organization like RO has been a dream of mine for quite some time now and I really don’t want to disappoint anyone. I am fearful that I won’t be good at or have the gifts for this thing that I profess to want to do with my entire life. What if I fail? What if I can’t think creatively enough, work hard enough, do enough, be…well, better?
And then I think, well, Genny, that’s not the kind of questions God created you to ask. In fact, I would wager He wants you to not ask any questions like that but to say with confidence that through Him all things are possible.
I am a daughter of a King! We are all children of a great kingdom. WHAT? I’M SORRY! To live in freedom is our birth right. To live without fear, abuse, slavery, hurt, or doubt is in our spiritual DNA. I have to believe this – I need to believe it. And the more I utter these truths to my self, I know that my soul with grow stronger and I can walk with more certainty and fearlessness will echo in every stride.
With this in mind, I will do everything I can, with all the gifts God has given me, to do His will on this earth and work towards a world no one has to fear for the safety of body, mind and soul – a world of complete freedom. My desire to pursue this isn’t because it’s a “cool thing to do.” It is not because it is a hot topic right now. This is NOT about me or any single person. I will run this race set before me because it is the Lord’s heart and because of that, it is mine too. Ours.
Will you join in the fight? Come on y’all – let’s do it.
This years Master of Ceremonies for the Stand for One Gala will Rebecca Bender founder of Rebecca Bender Ministries. Bender was lured out of a small town in Oregon at the vulnerable age of 18. Forced into a life of sex trafficking, Bender was sold around the country for nearly six years. It was in a local church that Bender found healing and restoration. She is an award winning, internationally recognized speaker, author and Survivor Leader in the movement to eradicate modern day slavery. Last year, Rebecca and her husband founded Rebecca Bender Ministries, which brings a message of hope to the masses with a radical and fresh perspective on what it means to live in alignment with God’s will in a modern culture like today. Bender’s remarkable story of overcoming a life of sex trafficking has led her to dedicate her life to positively impacting the world. They live in the Pacific Northwest with their four lively daughters.