Thursday, May 7, 2015

Want to make a Difference? How about with 12-Steps!

I have been an active member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force for well over a year.  Initially I contacted them because of my desire and passion to open a safe house for survivors of human trafficking.  I am delighted to report that Sanctum House is becoming a reality.  However, on the journey to that dream, I found another one...or rather it found me!

It is not a secret that I am a woman enmeshed in recovery from addition for 27 years.  When you are approached by Jane White, Director for the MHTTF and asked to do something, well, it was not only difficult for me to say "no" was impossible!  We had had many conversations about the services made available for victims.  The question became, "What are we doing to help the victims help themselves?"  Because of my involvement and 1st hand knowledge of twelve-step programs, we discussed the possibility that a program modeled after the mother of all 12 Step programs be created (the Task Force agreed).  The successes of Alcoholics Anonymous is unprecedented all over the world and with AA's approval Human Trafficking Anonymous Step Forward has been birthed!  Our committee is creating an online support program to reach those affected by either sex or labor exploitation.

At first blush we thought it was to be a local program...the reality...this will be an international program!  When you are an internet based program, you are available to the world.  We labored over every word of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.  The 12 Promises of the program speak for themselves and breathe life into The Mission: "Step Forward seeks to help people who have been trafficked who desire to move from powerlessness and victimization to hope and strength."

12 Promises of Human Trafficking Anonymous Step Forward (HTASF)

  1. We will finally know freedom, happiness and serenity.
  2. We will remember the past at last and walk freely away from it.
  3. We will comprehend the word "safety".
  4. We will know sleep without fear.
  5. No matter how terrible the trafficking, nor how devastating its effects, we will recover and become whole again.
  6. That feeling of hopelessness and self-condemnation will disappear.
  7. We will lose our sense of toxic shame and gain self-respect.
  8. Revulsion will slip away.
  9. Our perpetrators will no longer have any power over us.
  10. We will live free of guilt, shame and fear.
  11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.
  12. We will suddenly realize that we are alive, valued, whole, and safe.
Are these extravagant promises...we think not.

TAKE ACTION:  We are building a program to help survivors help each other through their personal experience, strength and hope.  If you are or know of a survivor of sexual or labor exploitation, we need mentors.  If you have knowledge of twelve-step programs, online meetings, website design or if this project appeals to you and you want more information, please email - let's get a conversation started.

Edee Franklin is Chairperson of Human Trafficking Anonymous Step Forward Committee with the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.  She is Executive Director and Founder of Sanctum House and Associate Broker at Max Broock Realtors - Birmingham, MI.