When “Allison” came to Wayne Pregnancy Center, she was homeless, living on the streets, in hotels and in crack houses. She didn’t know how far she was in her pregnancy. It turned out that she was over eight months pregnant.
Beverly Weeks, executive director of the Wayne Pregnancy Center, later found Allison in a hotel room during their weekly hotel visit. Allison’s ID card and wallet had been stolen. Weeks gave her food, toiletries, and her phone number, which Allison stuffed into her bra. Through multiple encounters, Allison began to trust and open up to Weeks.
Weeks later, Allison called Weeks asking for help with delivering her baby and decided on adoption for her child. In one of their conversations, Allison revealed that she had been trafficked to eastern North Carolina.
“When I heard that Allison was being trafficked, I cried for her,” Weeks said. “Most victims of sex trafficking do not hand over their captors out of fear. I mourn all the clients who have been hurt by sex trafficking, who carry this deep inner pain and trauma with no one to get away with. My first reaction came as no shock – sex trafficking is much more common in North Carolina than people realize. “
Allison was arrested and sent to jail for prostitution. However, she did participate in the life skills program offered by Cry Freedom Missions, an initiative of the Wayne Pregnancy Center, and gave his life to Christ. Weeks and his team met with the legal team and the judge to get Allison released from prison. Upon her release, the Wayne Pregnancy Center referred her to a Christian rehabilitation center and then placed her in a safe house. At the shelter, Allison is in sexual trauma therapy, working on a postabortion healing program, pursuing her GED, and learning life skills, job skills, and community reintegration skills.
The birth of the freedom to cry
What began as a jewelry line to benefit victims of sex trafficking, today Cry Freedom Missions is a branch of the Wayne Pregnancy Center, helping Allison and many other women and men who have been victims of abuse and trafficking. sexual.
“When people are sexually trafficked, they have a lot of fear and shame and don’t trust anyone,” Weeks said. “They tend to protect their traffickers. “
While working at the pregnancy center, Weeks and her team began to notice that some of their clients were different from other clients. They wore the same clothes date after date again, had addictions and did not carry any identification.
One day, Weeks felt compelled to drive home a client who had no transportation, and the client took her to a hotel known for its drug addiction and prostitution.
“These men and women cry out for drug addiction, sexual abuse, post-abortion and physical abuse,” Weeks said.
Tweet this: “These men and women cry out for drug addiction, sexual abuse, post-abortion and physical abuse.” #anti-abortion
Weeks and his team started to meet and discuss ways to make a difference. After much prayer and advice, they decided to create the Cry Freedom Missions program.
Today, Weeks and her team are visiting hotels and areas known for sex trafficking and drugs to provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, food, toiletries and other materials.
“We see women and men every day who aspire to have real conversations about their needs and how they can change,” Weeks said. “They desperately want people to love them without judgment and meet them where they are.”
Many of their clients have been arrested on charges ranging from theft to prostitution.
“Many of them have been sexually assaulted, raped and assaulted,” Weeks said. “Many of them have used drugs to numb their pain.”
Cry Freedom Missions has teamed up with the local Sheriff’s Department to visit county jails and assess, identify and serve many of the same people they’ve established relationships with in hotels. In prisons, Cry Freedom Missions offers courses that provide life skills, parenting skills, curriculum vitae, and job skills. This is how Cry Freedom Missions reconnected with Allison during her time in prison.
Through intake forms, Cry Freedom Missions found that 90 percent of incarcerated women had had abortions in the past, so the organization began offering postabortion support to them.
The link between sex trafficking and abortion has sparked the interest of the pregnancy assistance community for this very reason. Because pregnancy centers like Weeks often serve as first responders in an unexpected pregnancy for a victim of human trafficking, they are uniquely placed to help preserve the dignity and freedom of women and their babies who cross. their doors.
Last summer, Heartbeat International, a global network of more than 2,600 pregnancy support organizations, spear the very first Online course for pregnancy assistance centers which aim to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.
Cry Freedom Missions provides an example of what this assistance can look like.
In addition to post-abortion support, Cry Freedom Missions has a peer support specialist working in Wayne County Jail to meet individual needs. Ultimately, their goal is to keep clients away from pimps and place them in shelters and rehabilitation centers.
It costs about $ 500 to $ 800 per month to keep a single client in a rehab facility. To help offset this cost, the pregnancy center has partnered with Tara Lancaster, the founder and original designer of the Cry Freedom jewelry line, which includes necklaces, bracelets, earrings, salt scrubs. , bath scrubs and leather products. Customers create each item and receive a salary, with the rest of the money going to meet the needs of the customer.
As of July 1, 2018, Cry Freedom Missions has sold the jewelry line for $ 65,000.
(Left) Tara Lancaster, Founder of Cry Freedom Missions, with (Right) Beverly Weeks, Executive Director of the Wayne Pregnancy Center | Photo courtesy: Wayne Pregnancy Center
Jewelry made by Cry Freedom Missions | Photo courtesy: Wayne Pregnancy Center
“Creating jewelry builds clients’ self-confidence,” Weeks said. “It also gives them a sense of independence and gives them the professional skills to help them re-engage in the community by becoming active members. “
Last year, the Wayne Pregnancy Center saw more than 1,200 clients, performed more than 400 pregnancy tests, and saved more than 60 babies from abortions. Through Cry Freedom Missions Prison Outreach, they serve approximately 420 female clients and 600 male clients each year. In 2018 alone, Cry Freedom Missions identified 25 victims of sex trafficking for placement in rehabilitation centers, shelters and trauma counseling services.
Tweet this: Here’s how #prolife pregnancy centers can address the dual issue of human trafficking and abortion.
Wayne Pregnancy Center is currently constructing a Cry Freedom Missions wing in addition to his building to provide clients with classes in life skills, cooking, sewing, parenting skills, resume building skills, esteem classes. of self and worth, as well as courses on managing sexual trauma. The wing will even have a space for customers exiting the street to take a shower or enjoy a hot meal.
The 1,700 square foot wing is built entirely by volunteer contractors and all furniture has been donated. The estimated construction costs are over $ 200,000. To rally donors to the project, Weeks and Deputy Director Jonathan Chavous spoke at conferences and posted on social media.
“When you share stories, people want to be part of and be stakeholders,” Weeks said. “The support from the community has been enormous. It made me realize that there are many people in the community with good hearts who want to reach out to help others in crisis situations. The truth is, we’re all just one bad decision to change the rest of our lives. Even though they can’t be called into the trenches, crack houses, prisons, they still want to love, serve and empower our team. “
Ministry of Sex Trafficking Reality
Many victims of sex trafficking are runaways or LGBTQ people who have been kicked out of their homes. Sixty-six percent of victims of trafficking said drug abuse led to sexual abuse, and 84 percent used drugs during trafficking, according to the WADA Ethics Journal.
“We have to look further into how to help,” Weeks said. “If your family kicks you out of their home, you are in despair and need food or shelter. Many times the traffickers will offer food, shelter or drugs in exchange for prostitution. “
Sex trafficking is a $ 150 billion industry.
“You can sell a bag of drugs once, but you can sell humans multiple times,” Weeks said. “A pimp is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be caught for sex trafficking. “
Cry Freedom Missions has trained law enforcement, hoteliers, schools and churches on how to spot and assist victims of sex trafficking by referring them to outside agencies. Additionally, they taught schools about the dangers of predators on social media and even popular online video games like Fortnite.
“Pregnancy resource centers need to be at the forefront of education, providing resources and helping victims of sex trafficking,” Weeks said. “People don’t realize that pregnancy centers aren’t just about teaching abstinence in middle and high school. We want sexual health for everyone, adults as well as sexually trafficked and abused men and women. “
Along with the Department of Prisons and Hotel Outreach, Cry Freedom Missions has security measures and an emergency response team to protect against threats.
“We are using wisdom while working in partnership with local authorities,” Weeks said. “The Bible reminds us ‘No weapon formed against you will prosper.’ If God calls you and your organization to a ministry, He will guide you, protect you, and provide you with resources.
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