27 Dec A Journey Back Home
Shelia was living in the great state of Texas- as she claims- when she first met Luke. He was in town for business when they struck up a conversation waiting in line to place their coffee order. What started as a quick conversation to distract from the long wait, turned into hours which stretched into days. When Luke left to return to CA, Shelia was already certain this was her person. Even with the distance, their love continued to blossom, and then Luke asked her to move to CA and live with him. Nervous and excited about what the future held for her in CA, Shelia knew that this was just the start of a wonderful journey.
When she arrived in CA, Shelia was introduced to a completely different reality. Although Luke looked like the man she has been in a relationship with these past months, he was the not the man she had come to know as “her person.” As the relationship became more violent, Shelia walked on eggshells trying to not set him off, doing whatever he asked- giving up her cellphone and wallet to reassure him that she wasn’t cheating on him or going to leave him at the first chance. Weeks turned to months and Shelia soon found herself trafficked, trying to bring in the amount assigned to her for that day so she would have food, access to a bathroom, and avoid being beaten.
As time passed, Shelia knew that this nightmare was not going to end and the Luke she knew never really existed. She was ready to leave and go back to Texas where she had her family and friends. One night when she was working the street, she saw her opportunity as a police car slowed passed her. Hoping this person would believe her, she shared with the officer her story. The officer did believe her, and he immediately took her to the police station and reached out to an organization to request an advocate. When the advocate arrived at the station, Shelia shared with them her story and what they needed- housing and some time to heal until they could be reunited with their family.
The advocate called WTLC from the station and WTLC was able to help Shelia transition from the police station to our Safety Net Program that night. Shelia would now have a safe place to sleep, to rest, and to begin her healing journey. She began to work with WTLC advocates to find some solid ground so she could prepare to be with family. During her time in our program, she was able to find supportive people who were dedicated to making her goals come true.
At WTLC, we are proud to provide trauma informed care for our survivors. Trauma informed care means that the survivor’s goals are our goals. We understand that every survivor has unique experiences, and they know what is best for them. After several weeks in our shelter program, her advocate confirmed she could travel safely to be with her family. While her time at WTLC may have been short, Shelia was able to accomplish her goals, and be reunited with her family.
We have the honor in journeying with survivors during different stages of their healing process. Some survivors stay longer than others, and that is ok. Our goal is not to have survivors stay at WTLC forever. Our desire is to love every survivor well and ensure they have the tools and support to continue their healing journey. This January, WTLC will be hosting a series of events to raise awareness about human trafficking. Please consider attending our events. If you want to know more ways you can get involved or want to learn more, please call our Helpline 877-531-5527.