The Catholic Charities DIGNITY Diversion program is an intensive education-based program for women who have been arrested for prostitution. The program provides the opportunity to avoid jail time and to divert women from reoffending.

Thursday, 05 March 2015

Sex-Trafficked Survivor Goes Back to Help Others

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Choosing a healthier path in life takes courage and discipline. Every day people are making life-changing decisions to lose weight, stop drug addictions or pursue a new career. Some reach their goals and some do not—but a key factor in succeeding is being mentored by someone who achieved his or her dreams.

Volunteer Helping Others

That is what Theresa does as a volunteer at Catholic Charities’ Diversion program in speaking with sex-trafficked survivors. She is a survivor herself, and now inspires others to have the confidence to change their lives.

Eleven years ago, Theresa was involved in drug addiction and prostitution. She left her friends and family to live on the streets of Phoenix. “I knew I was probably going to die,” Theresa said. “I was powerless over my addiction.”

She ended up hospitalized for two weeks, entered a treatment center and then lived in a half-way house for a year. She’s left behind prostitution and drugs. Now, she is married and going back to school to get her master’s degree.

She decided to volunteer with the Diversion program to inspire and encourage sex-trafficked survivors to understand their value and to pursue a healthier life. She encourages them to take the hard and courageous steps she took to change her life.

She has advice for women escaping sex trafficking.

1. Use Available Resources

Many organizations provide resources to help women leave sex-trafficking, like Catholic Charities Diversion program. For Theresa, she needed sobriety as well as survivor support.

2. Remember Your Dreams

She asks survivors to identify what they would want to do if there were no obstacles or barriers—then do everything they can to reach that goal. Theresa went to school to pursue her career goals and also took odd jobs to the pay the bills. She remembers her first job after leaving prostitution, which she describes as “humbling and satisfying.”

3. Trust God

In finding herself and recovery, Theresa worked the 12-step recovery program. In this recovery plan, she learned to trust God. She learned to forgive herself, believe in her God-given value and have hope. “I know that God is with me and will lead me where I need to be,” Theresa said.

Commited to Helping Others

The shame is gone, and now Theresa is reaching new goals she never expected to reach. She’s committed to helping others change their life and succeed, too.

If you want to help others, like Theresa, please consider volunteering with Catholic Charities. If you have a heart to support sex-trafficked survivors, you can do so by becoming a monthly giver to support the Diversion program.

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