The facts are shocking. It is estimated there are more than three hundred thousand victims of human trafficking right now in the U.S. alone. Fifty percent of them are under the age of 18. Approximately 10,000 women in Los Angeles are currently trafficked in underground brothels. These victims lose their identity, dignity and hope.
And only one percent are ever rescued.
That’s where Project Hope comes in! Project Hope is an outreach committed to rescuing and restoring those trapped in human trafficking in Los Angeles, California. In partnership with the Los Angeles Dream Center, Joyce Meyer Ministries provides support for their human trafficking rescue program—a rescue center that provides specialized recovery care and shelter for up to 20 victims escaping the horrors of their past. At this center, these women receive Christ-centered medical, mental health and life skills support while sheltered in a safe, stable environment.
Two young women, well on their way to recovery and restoration, share their stories:
Stacey had been trafficked on the streets since she was 17 years old. For 18 years, Stacey was trafficked and addicted to crack cocaine and other drugs, which numbed the sense of worthlessness and hopelessness she felt toward herself. She went through 16 different recovery programs, but couldn’t seem to shake the ongoing torment from her past experiences.
Drugs kept Stacey at a point where she was anesthetized and barely functioning. She got used to being told what to do, what to wear, when to sleep. She would stay up for days at a time to work for several pimps, and felt defeated because she couldn’t break that cycle in her life...until now.
Since entering the Dream Center’s rescue program, Stacey now feels alive and loved. The program has given her hope, dignity and a relationship with Jesus. Stacey is learning to set boundaries for herself, break through her anxiety, and conquer fears. She’s learned to trust people, and has accumulated special role models to help push her to be who she wants to be. She has given her worries and burdens to Jesus—the One who lifts the weight off her shoulders and brings light into the darkest areas of her life.
From here, Stacey plans to graduate the program, live independently and continue her sobriety. Getting to know Jesus has changed her life, and He is now the most important thing to her. “I rely on Jesus every single day now,” she says. “He is my source...the One I lean and rely on, and I know He is my provider. He takes care of me.”
Rebecca is a young mother of two boys. Born into an abusive family, Rebecca never learned what a healthy relationship was like. She was starved for love and affection.
After a failed marriage with an unfaithful man, Rebecca became depressed and addicted to pills. Her addiction became so severe that her children were taken from her by the state. One bad experience after another left her shaken, hopeless, and very vulnerable to bad influences. Rebecca was the perfect target for a pimp she met online...a man who promised her love and that he would lavish her with everything her heart desired.
But the lavishing came with an ugly price...payback by prostitution.
“I first started working the streets to prove to him that I was ‘in the game.’ He would be on the phone telling me what to look for, the prices, etc., while he was watching the kids. I knew it was wrong, but the more I made, the more he did for me—got my hair done, nails, clothes, stuff for my boys and more drugs. I felt like a princess.”
Yet, things would take a vicious turn after Rebecca’s whirlwind Las Vegas wedding. The pimp—now her husband—began beating her and got her hooked on drugs. “The night after our wedding, he beat me so bad I thought I was going to die. I called my mom, and she told me about The Dream Center. I called them for help but I needed a plan to get away.”
Her opportunity came quickly. One evening, as Rebecca’s husband left for a drug call, she quickly gathered her children and belongings, and fled with the help of a Dream Center rescue team.
“Now I’m alive and safe at The Dream Center, and I’m going to school in the fall.”
Project Hope was exactly what Rebecca needed to heal, grow close to God, and regain her freedom. “God is the father I always wanted, and I love Him. He’ll never hurt me, and He is always there to protect me. Now I want to help other women because I’ve been there, and I think all girls should know about the signs of abuse. God has taught me that it doesn’t matter where we came from—there’s hope. And, Project Hope saved my life.”