The season can be a time to create warm, cherished memories with loved ones. But at The Rogers Home, our transitional housing program for victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking, it can also bring added stress and sadness.
“We want to create a sense of family, with the positive rituals of home at Christmastime,” explains Julie, the manager of our human trafficking programs. “There will be decorations and a tree. The girls will make gifts for each other.”
When Hannah first came to us, she was depressed and would not engage with others. The trauma, abuse and control she had experienced at the hands of those closest to her gave her every reason not to trust adults. She was very wary of staff and resented their attempts to connect.
“She shared that when she first arrived, she was depressed and feeling ungrateful of any support,” says Lisa, her youth worker.
The girls at The Rogers Home are among the most traumatized and vulnerable youth we serve, and the holidays can trigger memories or add pressure that can derail their progress.
As Christmas approaches, the girls and staff are preparing for the joys and unique challenges the season may bring. The girls will go on outings, like skating or the Nutcracker ballet. They will also receive a backpack filled with practical gifts, like all our kids who stay with us.
Hannah has been at The Rogers Home a few short months. And today, she has truly blossomed. Her drive to transform her life, heal from her past and build a future is inspiring. She has taken a keen interest in healthy living and takes pride in cooking and eating well. She also speaks passionately about living in the present and finding gratitude. She feels that her time with us has created positive changes throughout her life.
“Now she realizes that focusing on gratitude for little things is how to find happiness. She is so grateful to be at the Rogers Home,” Lisa shares. “I was blown away by the wisdom flowing through her.”
Some girls will stay with us this Christmas and some will go home and try to mend ties with family. Hannah has chosen to visit her parents for a short time. When she is with them, she finds it stressful and it brings back troubling memories of a chaotic childhood. Before she goes, Lisa will give her a little “pep talk” to remind her of how far she has come and what she feels is important. She is stronger today and more secure in who she is. And when she returns, she will ring in the new year with caring staff and housemates.