Home offers solace for sex trafficking victims in southern Colorado
Updated On: Oct 03 2013 08:20:47 PM CDT
It's a first of its kind in the state: a foster home and place of solace for girls who've been sold for sex.
Colorado's attorney general calls child sex trafficking a serious problem, and it's happening in southern Colorado. Sarah's Home, a beautiful house on the outskirts of El Paso County, is a place for girls to heal.
"Just giving them hope for the future," said Lincoln Smith, Sarah's Home executive director. "Letting them know that they're skilled and they're smart and they're beautiful, and they can have a great life."
Sarah's Home opened this summer and is funded almost entirely by Colorado churches, specifically Rocky Mountain District Assemblies of God.
"We don't force girls to participate in any religious activity, but it's an option if they want to," said Smith. "We're more concerned in just showing the girls that they're loved and that people care about them."
There are two girls there now and one has transitioned out. The Department of Human Services would place a sex trafficking victim at Sarah's Home if her home wasn't a safe option.
"We could be full right now," Smith said. "There is enough need that if I could fit 20 girls in this home, we could have 20 girls in this home. But we're really wanting to grow slowly, grow smart and just take our time and do it right."
There are two full-time foster moms in the home as well as tutors and therapists who visit. The girls participate in online school, play games, take trips, help plan meals and just get the chance to be kids.
"It's a very unique trauma that these girls face," said Aubrey Lloyd, who serves as a clinical consultant that helps with the girls treatment plans.
Lloyd knows that firsthand after her experiences in Colorado Springs when she ran away from home at 16.
"I was introduced that evening to an escort service," Lloyd said. "And I had said that I didn't want to be a part of it, but unfortunately that didn't matter. I was sexually assaulted that night and really forced into participating in an escort service."
Lloyd's sister, Corey Leigh Shipman, was recruited to the sex trade at age 15. While Lloyd was able to turn her life around, her sister struggled with drug abuse and eventually committed suicide.
"I understand from lots of different dynamics what these girls are going through," said Lloyd. "And the importance of why we have to do something because these girls can very easily become like my sister."
Lloyd said she gets questions from the girls at Sarah's Home on how she was able to overcome her darkest days.
"'How did you get away from your pimp? When did you stop being afraid that he was going to find you? When did you start going into a regular world?"' Lloyd said. "People think you get rescued and everything is fine, and to me, when you get rescued is when the hardest work starts to happen."
And that work is happening, tucked away in a peaceful place, on a quiet road.
"We're committed to the girls for the long-term," said Smith. "It's not just once you leave Sarah's Home, good luck in life. We really want to mentor them into the future."
In a statement, Attorney General John Suthers says this about Sarah' Home: "Sadly, sex trafficking is a problem throughout Colorado and I am pleased to see organizations like Sarah's House respond to the need for victim services. Sex trafficking victims need a wide range of services to begin building a better life. Sarah's House is assembling the right programs and personnel to give victims the tools, resources and counseling to overcome their abuse."
Sarah's Home is looking to expand and seeking a third foster mother. Smith said eventually the Home could be able to care for ten girls. Click here for information on how to get involved and donate.
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