Meet Ana Stevenson
Brittany stood at the front of the room with tears streaming down her cheeks. Her head slowly dropped facing the ground in shame. There was a profound look of fear and pain on her face, yet she spoke with remarkable courage in recounting her story. Deceived by an extended family member, she was enslaved in a sex trafficking ring for two and half years. Brittany was drugged and forced to have sex daily, and in one instance, with over 50 men in one night. Simply unimaginable is it not? A few months into her nightmare, she was impregnated by her trafficker and still forced to have sex through her first 6 months of pregnancy. Days after the birth of her child, Brittany was forced back into the commercial sex trade. She begged God to end her life. The pain and suffering became no longer bearable.
On Friday, January 30, 2015, I was one of a handful of people invited to a meeting to hear from Brittany, a sex traffic victim survivor, as she shared her story for the first time. It was shocking, to say the least. That encounter radically changed the course of my life. Her story moved me deeply across a spectrum of emotions, from sadness to disbelief, then outrage, and ultimately to a driving sense that I must do something!
Imagine for a moment this victim being your daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, or a family member of a dear friend. How can this be real? Who is there to help these poor souls escape? Who will have the courage to pave a path to freedom for these desperate victims?
Of all the shelters in Collier County today, none of them specialize in long-term housing and rehabilitation care for human trafficking victims. Path2Freedom’s mission is different. Our campus will provide transitional and restorative services, coupled with long-term safe housing for rescued victims of human trafficking. Our program focuses on empowering survivors to become independent and self-sufficient through a wide range of services, including counseling, medical care, educational and re-employment assistance, social re-entry, and spiritual reconciliation.
Most find it difficult to believe this pervasive problem is happening right here in our local communities. Florida has one of the highest occurrences of human sex trafficking in the United States. Just this year, Lee County has served 50 cases of human trafficking. Collier County Special Human Trafficking Task Force reports that in 2014, there were 27 open active cases. Of those cases, 19 victims were rescued, 11 of whom were juveniles and all which were females born in the United States. Every rescued victim like Brittany deserves the opportunity freedom brings, and a future filled with promise.
Our plans are ambitious and realizing them will only be possible through generous contributions.
Will you help us make the difference?