Millions of sex trafficking victims have few options of where to go once they’re rescued from their enslavement—but The Justice Reform is making a difference, and so can you.
In June, Texas Scorecard interviewed Pastor Heather Schott of The Justice Reform, a nonprofit organization in Fort Worth focused on stopping sex trafficking. In Part 1 of this series, she discussed how widespread the horrific practice is in the Lone Star State, and how it targets men, women, and children. In Part 2, she shares the pain of the enslaved.
In Part 3, she shares the great need for victims to have someplace to escape.
No Place To Go
“This is probably one of the biggest voids in the system of rescuing and healing survivors out of trafficking,” Schott said. “Nationally, we have 529 beds [for sex trafficking victims]. Nationally, we have millions of slaves in human trafficking. The numbers don’t add up.”
The typical pattern she described of those rescued isn’t encouraging. Usually, the victims go to jail and are released.
“If you’re lucky, you’ll get into a safe house in which you only have 14 to 30 days to spend, which is no way going to heal from the psychological, the emotional, and spiritual abuse that they’ve endured for sometimes years,” Schott said. “The huge break down is the fact that we have no long-term restoration home that is going to take [victims] in and bring them the healing that they need … and then be able to set up them to be able to get their GED and to have a trade, that they can be released back into society in a healthy restored way.”
Instead, they’re thrown to the wolves.
“Now, you’re being released back into society with no job, with no home, and your trafficker is hunting you down.”
Schott also said victims are aware that if their trafficker finds them again, he will severely beat them and may kill their children.
“Are you going to try to get free … if there’s no safe place for you to go?” she asked.
Why are there so few safe places?
“The reason why we don’t have these residences all over the place is because it costs money, and it means we have to get our hands dirty,” Schott said. “We have millions of government funding that is going towards educating on trafficking. I’m not saying we don’t need education. We need education. But if all of the government funds are going towards educating, what does that say about our heart position towards the millions that are being enslaved right now?”
The Justice Reform is answering the need, working to provide these safe places through their Justice Residences. Schott described them as “long-term restoration homes for women, and in the future they will be for men, [brought] out of sex trafficking.”
To raise funds to build these residences, The Justice Reform will be holding their Justice Run Marathon on October 10, 2021, to raise funds for their Justice Residences.
“All of the proceeds that come in from this run, 100 percent of them are going towards the building of our very first Justice Residences, which will house up to 100 women,” Schott said. “It will be the first of its kind in America.”
“The really exciting thing is not only do the Justice Residences bring hope to the streets, but they bring fear to the traffickers.”
Registration is still open for the Justice Run.
If you believe someone is in immediate danger of human trafficking, the Texas Attorney General’s office recommends you contact 911, then call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Recommended action steps are also available if you are unsure but suspect trafficking is taking place.