Compliance Does NOT Equal Consent

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The following contains information on an ugly subject and has a mature theme, with trigger points. The survivor’s identity is changed for her protection. Read with caution. Please share with your loved ones the important information contained in this section.

Imagine yourself as someone who works hard and lives on their own. You hear a knock on your door. You answer it to find a man who is hurt, crying, and needs help. Thinking he is a neighbor, you allow him inside for some water. You are a kind person, but your world takes a nasty plunge into a realm you thought only existed, periodically, in the news. The Sun Times News has the privilege of writing a story for Sanctum House, a sanctuary for survivors of Human Trafficking, and one of its recipients of loving care. This is Claire’s story:

“I was living a pretty normal life, in a spotty neighborhood. It was a university town, with a gang problem. One day, a gentleman showed up on my doorstep, in a sling and crying. I invited him in for a drink of water. That is when things changed. I was held captive, where I live, for several days I think. They call it trauma brain, because the timing isn’t really clear for me. But, during this time there was sexual assault and brainwashing. They tell you, ‘you no longer exist, I exist’, ‘You cook for me, you serve the crew, you do all of these things’. All of this happens really, really, really fast. One of the first things they tried to do was get me to use drugs. I think that is why there is such a huge addiction problem. I declined. And, if you decline, there is more sexual assault. They tried to get me to go with strange men. Again, if you decline, there is more sexual assault. After several days, however long it was, he was getting nervous for money. I convinced him that if he came with me to where I work, where I knew people, that I could get him money. I promised him that I would go with him to his house in Detroit, and then that is where we would stay. And, that is how I got him to come with me to where I work, under the guise of those promises. I went up to my boss and said, ‘something is going on. I am really unsafe.’ So, they got rid of him and called the hospital. I went to the hospital. I told them everything that had happened. Eventually, a psychiatrist and a social worker [because of the work and awareness that Sanctum House had done, and they had already been in touch] came up to me and said ‘listen, you are in fact a victim of gang-related human trafficking’. That’s where this journey began. They recommended that I go to Sanctum House. I said, No! I don’t have 2 years. I want to get back to my life. I can handle this. This is fine. But, of course, because I had taken that gentleman to where I work… the gang, the crew, the group…. it’s all run like a corporation…they knew where I was. They knew where I went to Mass, where my favorite coffee shop was. They were coming up and threatening to kill me, should I talk. At that point I realized, ‘No, I can’t just spend my life popping Ativans and trying to avoid these guys.’ So, I called Sanctum House and I can’t tell you how important they are. When I came here I was just quiet and I sat here and I was in shock and I didn’t trust anybody or anything. What Sanctum House did for me was get me into individualized trauma therapy, twice a week, right away. And then I have groups on healthy relationships, grief and loss, and survivor empowerment. Sanctum House takes a total wellness view. It’s the only way to get through it! And, it’s like I’m starting to be who I was before all of this happened. I guess you could take pills and try to deal with it that way… it’s what the hospital was recommending. But, what really heals is the staff, the women, Edee, and Karen, and Shannon and Erica, they come in here every day and they are patient, and you can trust them, and that builds over time. I think there is no other way to heal. I think Sanctum House is the gold standard and is the model for what needs to happen all over the country. There are lives being saved here literally every single day.” Currently, Claire is working towards her Masters Degree in Theology.

Sanctum House is located in metro Detroit and provides sanctuary for 12 survivors of human trafficking, to heal and rebuild their lives. Sanctum House has launched a $3 million, three-phase capital campaign for vital programming needs and facility updates. They took in their first survivor on February 12, 2017. Edee Franklin, the Founder of Sanctum House, elaborates with, “Tragically, the pervasive opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for human trafficking. Vulnerable women, right here in our community and nationwide, are being preyed upon and forced into human trafficking. The tremendous demand for our services far exceeds our current physical and financial capabilities. These women need a bed. More than a bed, actually. I always say we peddle love, hope, and purpose. More than anything: There is life after being trafficked. It doesn’t have to be forever. We are really looking forward to creating our healing campus.”

Sanctum House is having a fundraiser on January 19, from 10am-11am. It is called Voices of Hope Ending Human Trafficking. This virtual event comes with an exciting panel of experts and is only $30. For more information and/or to sign up for this event, please visit: sanctumhouse.org.

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