Stand for One!
Are you familiar with Bob Goff? He is a New York Times Best Selling author, a speaker, and an attorney. His book, Love Does, is a delightful read and will have you wishing you knew Bob personally. In it, he shares story after story of what happens when you reach out and care for others, even when it costs you.
Restore One co-founder, Chris Smith with Bob Goff.
Bob has a huge heart and is always looking for great people doing great things. He didn’t have to look far to find that in Chris and Anna Smith, the founders of Restore One.
Restore One co-founder, Anna Smith.
Restore One is an anti-trafficking organization focusing on the restoration of boys, ages 12-18, who have been victims of sexual exploitation.
Sex trafficking of boys is rarely talked about or even considered, yet it happens. Some studies estimate it occurs as frequently or almost as frequently as the sexual exploitation of girls.
I will never forget speaking at a high school in Atlanta about sex trafficking and the stunned look on students’ faces when I shared boys are also victims of human trafficking. It seems unthinkable, but the sad reality is it happens every single day. The Smiths are often asked the question, Why boys? Their website speaks directly to this question,
A study by The John Jay College and the Center for Court Innovation estimated that, in 2008, as high as 50% of the commercially sexually exploited (CSE) children in the United States were boys.* In a related study done in Alberta, Canada, Dr. Susan McIntyre notes that “residential and supportive services were seen as needs by 84% of CSE men and boys.”*
While it is estimated there are approximately 100 available beds in restorative care programs devoted specifically to female victims of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), there are currently no known residential programs dedicated to the restorative care for male victims of DMST. The Smith aim to change that statistic.
This past weekend Restore One hosted their annual fundraising gala with Bob Goff as the speaker. American Idol XIII contestant, Majesty Rose, lent her voice to the cause, literally, as she provided a concert for all who attended.
Anchor House under construction.
The Smiths shared their heart and passion for bringing health and wholeness to boys, ages 12-18, who have fallen victim to the evil of sex trafficking. They aim to bring a holistic approach of healing to survivors in a safe environment.
Construction of phase one is well under way. Anchor House will house and care for four survivors in phase one of a multi-phase plan. There are plans to add at least two more phases to this site, providing recovery for a total of 12 male survivors.
I had the privilege of interviewing male survivor, Jerome Elam, previously. When I asked him why we don’t hear more about male survivors, he said,
Boys fail to self identify. It’s all about the male ego and masculinity. Men will say it was their choice to protect their ego. There’s a huge stigma that if you’re male and you were trafficked then you must be homosexual. People don’t realize that 40% of the customers male trafficking victims service are female.
I struggled with ego and masculinity myself. It’s why I went into the marines. I needed to reaffirm my masculinity.”
Jerome travels the country raising awareness of the male victim of sex trafficking. His story is powerful and helps people see what takes place right before their very eyes. If you want to learn more about Jerome, you can connect with him on Facebook here. You can follow him on Twitter at @JeromeElam. You can connect with him on Linkedin here.
Chris and Anna Smith are an amazing young couple who refused to look the other way while children are raped for pay. Their plans are to open Anchor House in late spring of 2016. They are also working on a documentary focusing on boys caught in sexual exploitation in America.
To connect with Chris and Anna Smith, you can follow Restore One on Twitter at @RestoreOne or @_ChrisSmith. You can connect with them on Facebook here. If you would like to partner with them in the funding of the Anchor House and the amazing work they’re doing, you can do so here.
What will you do now? How will you respond to this new knowledge? Will you choose to look the other way or will you commit to Be the Key and step into the fight?