Girl, Hero|Note from the Executive Director

July 27, 2016 Dragonfly

Whit Warrior on grass LOGO

Heroes often come into our lives in unexpected ways. Lucy was that kind of hero for me.

 

Intelligent and scrappy, compassionate and thoughtful, Lucy had all the characteristics of a young woman ready to chase and seize her dreams…but those weren’t the cards she was dealt. I worked with Lucy during my time as a director and advocate for a state certified human trafficking victim services program.

 

By the time we met, she had been sold in sex trafficking for nearly a decade.

 

A small town Oklahoma girl, Lucy should have grown up in the safe, loving embrace of her family. But like so many survivors of sex trafficking, Lucy suffered years of sexual abuse and neglect as a child. Eventually, as a pre-teen, she was sold for sex. All Lucy wanted was to be loved – by her parents, by her family, by anyone. Blaming herself for being “unlovable,” and therefore deserving of the abuse inflicted upon her, Lucy believed she had nothing to offer the world.

 

Then she met him.

 

A handsome young man promised her the world and sold her the dream of a better life. Finally, someone offered her what she, like every single one of us, desperately needed – love.  Lucy accepted his offer of love without hesitation.

 

Instead of receiving love, however, Lucy received an introduction to her new life: sleeping with dozens of men a day so that this young man – the so-called love of her life – could make money off of her body. Lucy tried to refuse, but realized resistance was futile when he beat her within an inch of her life. For the next few years, being sold for sex on a daily basis, would engulf her existence.

 

So much to happen in such a young life. Yet Lucy showed such resilience. She was a true survivor – a hero.

 

Getting to know Lucy changed my life and perspective forever. For the last several years, it has been my life mission to help as many people like her as I can by providing aftercare for those affected by the crime of human trafficking. Now I’m providing aftercare for victim/survivors of trafficking in a new capacity. It is a great honor to introduce myself as Executive Director of The Dragonfly Home.

 

At The Dragonfly Home, we promote inspiration, empowerment, and hope for a future of freedom for human trafficking victim/survivors through providing trauma informed, victim-centered, culturally sensitive services. Put simply, we meet the victim right where he or she is – without judgment – and facilitate resources so that every individual has the opportunity to achieve goals that lead to restoration.

 

Our staff has served hundreds human trafficking victims/ survivors with unique stories and backgrounds. They have faced the worst possible abuse, exploitation, and trauma. They inform and inspire our beliefs, policies, and principles

 

Lucy, and so many others like her who have survived the horrors of human trafficking, are our experts. These individuals who have raised their voices and shared their stories have served and will continue to serve as our inspiration, not only for how we deliver services and shape our programs, but also why we do what we do.

 

As I worked as an advocate for Lucy, I had the joy of seeing her blossom when she was finally surrounded with people who supported her, regardless of any circumstance and without strings attached. She learned how to keep herself safer and how to reach out to trustworthy people when she needed help. Acceptance, support, love – those things we all need – finally made their way to her.

 

Lucy began to dream again.

DESTINY CROWN OF BEAUTY BANNER

As I prayed for vision and guidance for The Dragonfly Home’s first event, I thought of Lucy’s story and took inspiration from the memory of all her victories, all the things she overcame. I felt directed to Isaiah 61, appropriately titled “The Year of the Lord’s Favor.” After freedom is proclaimed for captives, those who have suffered are given a crown of beauty for ashes. To me, this crown of beauty represents the possibility of restoration and hope after abuse and exploitation. It signifies victory over horrific circumstances.  Lucy, and others like her, deserve victory over their past.

 

In that spirit, I am excited to announce and invite you to The Dragonfly Home’s first annual Crown of Beauty Gala.

 

Our first major fundraising event, The Crown of Beauty Gala is shaping up to be a beautiful evening on the Rooftop at Plenty Mercantile in downtown Oklahoma City on Thursday, October 13. The doors open at 6:00, and the event will be in full swing from 6:30-8:30. We have an amazing menu featuring Picasso Café’s Chef Ryan Parrott with his take on some favorite foods of women we’ve served. We’ll have live music by Justin Joslin. With the purchase of a special ticket, you’ll get the opportunity to build your own floral crown led by Jen of The Plant Shoppe.

 

In honor of Lucy and others like her, we are eager to reach out and help more victims of human trafficking. After years of trauma, the needs of human trafficking victims are massive, including everything from safety, food, and clothing to employment, education, and therapy. Through The Crown of Beauty Gala, you will join in the support of fellow Oklahomans and those across the nation who desire a future of freedom for all victims of human trafficking.

 

Please see www.thedragonflyhome.org/gala for more information on our upcoming event. I hope to see you there!

 

Blessings,

 

Whitney Anderson