Looking to the future: The REST Academy

Imagine finally escaping an abuser—one that forced you to sell your body to strangers day in and day out for a decade. You found a safe place to stay for now, and a supportive community at REST—but are scared about what happens next. How will you pay the rent and all your other bills? Job opportunities for survivors of the sex trade seem few and far between. 

Many sex trade survivors lack an “official” professional background—while the sex trade certainly teaches you countless skills used to survive—it’s hard to translate onto a resume. And if you find an “entry level” job opportunity—what if they run a background check? What if they ask about your criminal conviction? What if they do a credit check—and either find no credit, because your abuser controlled your finances—or bad credit, because your abuser stole your identity and ruined your credit record. 

Let’s say you find a job. Keeping it can be daunting. Starting a job with a new employer can trigger many insecurities instilled by the sex trade: the power dynamic between employees and bosses, the fear of making mistakes or being in trouble, the knowledge that this job could also be taken away.

At REST, we know through our decade of walking alongside survivors, that relapses back into the sex trade are significantly more likely for survivors who are unable to secure and maintain a reliable, living-wage job that allows them to sustain their housing and meet their own basic needs. 

That’s why, in the coming months, we’re launching The REST Academy, a program for the economic empowerment of survivors. It will provide job readiness training, paid internships, leadership development, and employment placement services. It is the next step in building skills and confidence within survivors to secure and keep employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency.

This program will become part of our Pathways Services Center—creating a unified space where survivors can receive much-needed, on-going services and care along a spectrum, no matter where they are in their journey. 

At the Pathways Service Center survivors can access:

  • Drop-In: This is where they’ll find a safe space to rest, relax, have basic needs met (e.g., clothing, hygiene items, food), develop community with other survivors, attend our Thrive Survivor Support Group, and gain access to other REST services like Community Advocates.

  • Integrated Health Clinic: For clients who enroll, they have onsite-access to a nurse practitioner, trauma therapist, and a chemical dependency counselor who all work together to provide holistic care.

  • And, soon—The REST Academy: Where survivors can come for economic and leadership empowerment so they can continue to work toward their dreams and find pathways to freedom, safety, and hope. 

Right now, we’re in the fundraising process for The REST Academy. Before we can launch, we need to raise $75,000—and we’re inviting you to be a part of this work by making a one time gift, or joining REST Pathmakers, our monthly giving program. Your gift will help us launch this valuable program for survivors—your monthly gifts will help us sustain it. 

Will you give to support The REST Academy and economic opportunity for survivors? 

As a special gift for new monthly donors, Storyville Coffee has generously offered to provide a three-month coffee subscription for anyone who makes a new monthly gift of $50 or more before June 30, 2019!