Transform Lives on Giving Tuesday — And Every Day
We need your help TODAY on this GIVING TUESDAY to fund the gap in services provided to local survivors of human trafficking.
Our goal this Giving Tuesday is to raise $45,000 to help Freedom a la Cart continue to empower over 400 unduplicated survivors in central Ohio as they build a new life of freedom + self-sufficiency.
At Freedom, we believe in second, third, and fourth chances. And, we don’t turn survivors away!
When individuals come to us with needs, we do everything in our power to get them the resources they need to be empowered toward self-sufficiency. Yes, we provide workforce development, supportive housing, and an array of wraparound supportive services; but we’re also there for the more unexpected support. We help fund car repairs and medical/dental needs, purchase work uniforms for new job placements, assist with a utility bill or housing rental payment when circumstances cause temporary challenges, and provide support + referrals to recovery treatment after a relapse. We don’t simply hand out gift cards for food, we take individuals grocery shopping.
The donations we receive today are essential for providing this dedication to the transformational lives of survivors.
Our programming and life-changing impact depend on continual financial and community support.
Please join us in making a difference in the lives of survivors by donating through the button below.
What is Freedom a la Cart? A refuge from trauma, surrounded by grace and understanding, where the greatest challenge is personal transformation. A place where women who have spent a lifetime believing they are worthless can awaken to the truth that they indeed have value. That beauty is a quality that emanates from within us — not an external “look” that serves as the necessary means to attract the next client, the next high, to stay alive.
From around Ohio and sometimes beyond, survivors of human trafficking come to Freedom a la Cart in downtown Columbus to find the most beautiful people they have never known: Themselves.
The needs of human trafficking survivors are great. They have lived in a cycle of sex trafficking since the average age of 13. Recent estimates are that 29,100 people in Ohio are victims of trafficking every year.
Many survivors live with significant trauma, sometimes including traumatic brain injuries that damage logic and memory. They suffer with mental health challenges including depression, anxiety, CTE (a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated traumatic brain injuries) and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Many may lack basic education and face barriers around clear communication or carrying out what may be seen as “simple” tasks like making phone calls or performing basic computer functions. Survivors also emerge from trafficking into a society that turns them away. They face legal issues such as a history of evictions, suspension of driving privileges and criminal convictions. Many survivors in our programs are mothers who have lost custody of their children.
The cycle of trauma is often broken through an interaction with the criminal justice system. It is often at this point that the women first come into contact with Freedom a la Cart.
Through our four primary levels of service: 1) CATCH Court restorative justice support; 2) a robust Workforce Development Program, 3) our Butterfly Program for long-term stability, and 4) our Housing Program Freedom a la Cart expects to provide supportive services to approximately 400 survivors of human trafficking this year.
- DISCLAIMER: This narrative includes references to drug use, prostitution, domestic abuse, imprisonment, and human trafficking and may be triggering to some readers.
Hi, I’m Tina and this is my story.
Looking back on my life, I believe that my childhood was a large contributing factor to the hardships that came with my journey. Growing up I was the youngest of four children. We all had different dads and our mother was an addict and a prostitute. My father was an alcoholic who went to prison for murder right before I was born, and I was adopted by my grandmother at the age of three. When I was 18, my grandma passed away and I became pregnant. Being lost and confused, I moved in with my boyfriend and we got married. Neither one of us had a clue what we were doing. We were so young and trying to find ourselves. So lost in trying to be good parents and give our kids what we never had, yet never really knowing myself.
Before the substance use started, I lived a life being and doing whatever everyone else needed me to be. As my life went on, I had two other kids and was raising my sister’s two oldest girls. I got a job and finally felt a sense of freedom, which led me to get separated from my husband. With the separation, I was devastated by the disconnection with his extended family and this left me lonely and longing for my family. At that time, I started to re-establish a relationship with my mother. This newly established relationship with her led us to go to parks and get high on crack. I had money so she didn’t mind. I quickly became addicted and started to feel like I was drowning in a hole I couldn’t come out of. I ended up losing everything — my kids, my house, my car. I left with my Christmas tree still standing. In 2001 I went to live with my mom and she said to me “If you’re gonna get high you got to pay for it.”
She took me down to the corner of West Broad Street and got me my first “date” and waited for me to come back. This went on for a while until I ran into others and got involved with a man who considered himself Send City. He led me to believe he cared about me and told me I was looking for love and family in all the wrong places and faces. He was my trafficker for a long time — 10 years to be exact. That’s when I first got into CATCH Court, but I wasn’t ready yet.
I then started using heroin with the girls I was hanging with and didn’t have a clue what this drug would do to me. I just saw how calm and relaxed everyone seemed on it…I wanted to be like them. I didn’t have a sense of myself. And living that lifestyle came with many jail stays. 58 charges. One time I got a paraphernalia charge which alerted CATCH Court and the program coordinator, Ms Hannah Estabrook, came to see me. This changed my perception of things. It showed me there are people who do care and don’t just give up on you. I knew I needed CATCH Court and all the beautiful girls in the program to support me.
I was in the program a whole year but my journey wasn’t over. I knew I wasn’t being honest with myself. I thought I could save my family. I was holding onto lots of secrets. My daughter was using and her husband was selling drugs. My mother had stopped using but was doing other things and would send me on “dates” while I was home on weekend passes.
I was going through the 12 Steps Program trying to work through my issues which led me to Step 8 – making amends. I called my father who was now out of prison. He took me to a hotel and tried to do a “date” with me — his own daughter! This took me to my breaking point, and I relapsed.
Shortly after I left, my youngest daughter came looking for me. She said, “Mom, I’m pregnant. I need you in my life, but you can’t be around your grandson while you’re on drugs living this life. Mom, we will be okay. Go get help and work on yourself.” That look in my little girl’s eyes was something I had never seen before, and knew then that I needed to work on myself. I entered CATCH Court for the third time. They took me to a treatment center out of town and that’s where I took an honest look at myself. I put things in their places and learned who Tina was, and what I wanted for myself.
Unfortunately, my mother became terminally ill. I opted out of CATCH Court and went home to be my mother’s caregiver, eventually laying her to rest with peace, forgiveness, and understanding. I also realized then I had to let go of the relationship I had with my daughter, who was using at the time, and prayed God would help her find her way to recovery.
After four years in a relationship, I got married and took my grandson in, but I got sick with Carcinoma cancer and lost my house and my car again. But this time I didn’t run from it! I had lost everything… everything except for my sobriety. This time, I relied on the healthy support from my family and friends — my daughter, my husband, my ex-husband, Freedom, The Butterflies. I was able to get the tumor removed and am now cancer-free! I have one court date left until I can adopt my grandson. I now have five grandkids who light my world up.
I am six years sober, and celebrate my “coming home” every year on my first grandson’s birthday, October 27, 2017. I now am rebuilding our lives through the help of Freedom a la Cart and their Housing Program and Housing Resource Manager, Dorie. She has gone above and beyond to help me. Freedom a la Cart’s housing program helped me escape a living situation where drug use was a norm and had me living in a constant place of isolation, feeling on edge, and unsafe. Living in my new apartment has led me to a place of safety and has helped me build a stronger connection with the Butterfly community.
I’m not running from anything anymore. I’m facing life head-on and not taking a single day for granted. I still have so much to do like completing my GED, taking vacations with my husband to the Smoky Mountains, and figuring out what self-care looks like for myself – with all of that being said, at the end of the day, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Grateful. Blessed. And free.
We need your support
We are a place of understanding, curiosity, and chances – not judgment.
Within our walls, women begin to explore their new lives of freedom, work toward future goals, and discover what brings them alive. They learn how to live in their strengths – rather than their challenges.
For perhaps the first time ever, they begin to write their own life stories.
Our programming and impact for survivors could not exist without continual financial and community support. This Giving Tuesday, give a fresh start to women in your community through a financial gift of impact. Donate through the button below and make a difference in the life of a survivor.