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.
In April of 2018, the federal government seized and shut down Backpage. In a blog earlier this year, we wrote about the unintended consequences of the shutdown—and among them was a resurgence in sex trade activity on the streets.
That’s why we recently relaunched our Street Outreach Team.
Before its shutdown, Backpage was estimated to account for 80% of the sex trade in the US. In the anti-trafficking movement, there was cause for celebration that Backpage and other website providers could be held accountable for their role in facilitating sex trafficking. At the same time here at REST, however, we have seen an influx of individuals seeking help because of unintended consequences from the shutdown of these sites.
Every single person is worthy of love.
That is the belief that drives our work at REST, and that was the theme of the evening at our fifth annual A Night of REST fundraising gala on Saturday, November 11.
Danielle, a Microsoft employee, volunteered her time to Hack for Good at Microsoft’s //oneweek Hackathon for REST’s Project Reach Out and met a survivor of sex trafficking and employee of REST who privately shared her story to help inform the project participants. Danielle sent us this letter about the profound impact this survivor had on her.
At REST, it seems like we’re always up to something big: a resident finishes school and gains a degree, a survivor joins our support group and finds a meaningful community or we celebrate another survivor who has successfully escaped the sex trade for 30 days, 6 months or a year. These last few months have been no different. There is a lot to catch up on, and so much to celebrate!
Five years ago, God gave our founders dreams of building relationships with girls and young women who were trafficked for commercial sex. Our hope was to build trust, so they would feel safe enough to identify the things they needed to begin a life free from sexual exploitation.
In 2011, sex buyers tipped their hands and disclosed what they believed would dissuade them from using women involved in prostitution. In the comprehensive study, Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex Melissa Farley, PHD, Founding Director of Prostitution Research and Education, and Peter Qualliotine, co-founder of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS), interviewed over 100 sex buyers in hopes of discovering, among other things, any deterrents that would be effective.
I imagine most of you who attended REST’s Sex Trafficking & the Gospel event this past weekend are still considering the powerful teachings presented. I am, too. In fact, I’ve spent the weekend pondering the sharp, yet truthful words shared by Reverend Eugene Cho, “We love justice until there’s a cost.”