In Texas alone, there were 79,000 young adults and minors being sex trafficked, according to a 2016 University of Texas Study. And those horrifying numbers are only increasing.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one in six children missing in 2019 were victims of sex trafficking, and that the average age a young girl is lured or forced into sex trafficking is just 15 years old.
With these estimates, we are only just beginning to understand how pervasive child sex trafficking is in the United States. The good news though is that we are also starting to understand the very specific needs of these child victims, so that they may heal and grow to become survivors.
Recovering children from pimps is only the first step of a long journey of restoration. What comes after they have been recovered from a motel room? Child survivors of sex trafficking need a place to rebuild their lives through constant therapeutic care in relationships with people they trust. They need a place of hope and healing; a place to call home.
The Refuge for DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking) and the Central Texas community responded and built The Refuge Ranch—a rehabilitation community that provides trauma-informed, holistic 24/7 care for child survivors of sex trafficking.
A young girl living at The Refuge Ranch, will not sleep in a barracks bunk bed. She will not eat from a cafeteria tray or have limited recreation time in a yard surrounded by razor wire. Instead, she has her own bedroom and bathroom in a cottage with other survivors and an around-the-clock house parent. They function as a family, making meals together, playing games, spending quiet afternoons on a porch swing—for many girls, this kind of family is a first.
The goal of The Refuge for DMST is to provide the best care available for survivors of child sex trafficking. Their hope is that in the near future, The Refuge model will be known as the Mayo Clinic of domestic minor sex trafficking. To address the complex trauma, PTSD, anxiety and depression that is unique to children who have endured the unimaginable, The Refuge developed The Refuge Circle of Care™, with wrap-around services to address each individual need of a child survivor, from immediate psychological and physical needs to future independent living skills.
With just 48 beds, The Refuge Ranch is the largest long-term, live-in rehabilitation facility for child survivors of sex trafficking in the United States. When the ranch opened in August of 2018, the number of beds available in the state of Texas for survivors of child sex trafficking tripled.
Outside of the residents, staff members and advocates directly involved in the survivors’ care, very few people have been inside the front gates since the ranch opened two years ago.
But on September 23rd, The Refuge for DMST is hosting a first-time-ever, open house tour of The Refuge Ranch. During this online tour, guided by Founder and CEO Brooke Crowder, you will see a representative child survivor’s entire journey at The Refuge Ranch, from her first day, to her transition back out into the world.
To witness The Refuge mission in action, purchase your ticket to Circle of Hope: A Special Tour of The Refuge Ranch.
Watch this trailer for a preview of the September 23rd tour
Cover photo courtesy The Refuge for DMST
This article is a sponsored collaboration with The Refuge for DMST