As I struggle through this holiday season, a familial sex trafficking survivor who has been left without a family for the holidays, my therapist gave me homework: to make a list of all the things that God has provided to me in the past year. As I made the list, I was amazed at just how many things I had to be thankful for. I wanted to share part of that list with you. Keep in mind as you read through this list that these are all things that I have the joy of having and the opportunity to be grateful for because of your continued support.
The Safe House Project Team - Speaking with a few women from SHP a few nights ago, I marveled at how our relationship has grown over the past year. Being with these incredible women, this incredible team, felt much like coming home. I rarely feel that way. What should have been home for me was riddled with abuse and terror. But the Safe House Project Team has welcomed me with open arms, they have loved me just as I am, all of me, wherever and whoever I am in that moment. For that, I am thankful. For them, I am thankful.
A Job - This year I have had the honor and the privilege of working with Safe House Project as a content creator, leader in their education projects, and survivor consultant. I get to do what I love most, write, every day. It's a job that I can feel successful at, a job that is impactful. It is a job that reminds me each day that I am worth more than what my body can be used for. I earn my paycheck. I am not just a paycheck for my trafficker. For that, I am grateful.
Safety - Just when I thought I was safe, my world came crashing down around me. I was injured, terrified, and broken. I was sure that I would be pulled back into the trafficking situation that I had narrowly escaped. But the Safe House Project team sprung into action, providing me with everything that I needed to escape from my trafficker's hands and finally be free of the life that had held me captive for more than two decades. For that, I am thankful.
Freedom - After fleeing from my trafficker, I found an apartment all my own, a place that my trafficker had never set foot in. I got a bed, all to myself, that I had never been assaulted or abused in. I got to sleep peacefully knowing that my traffickers could not get to me. I got a moment to breathe after what felt like 20 years of holding my breath. For the first time in my life, I did not need to look over my shoulder. I did not have to fear every phone call or text message being a buyer at my door. I was free. And for that, I am grateful.
A Future - Thanks to the safety and stability I have thanks to my newfound freedom, I am starting college in January. I get to look toward my future instead of being overcome by my past. I get to further my education and better myself so I can use my voice to make a real change in the world for people like me. This is the next step of the rest of my life and for that, I am thankful.