March is Love True’s birthday month, and we are so excited to celebrate it by launching the Love True Blog! We are so thankful for those who have joined and supported us on the journey in the last four years and wanted to share a bit of our history as we are believing the best for our future!
Rebekah, the founder of Love True, was just 19 years old when she heard about the horror of domestic sex trafficking and how very present it is in the world around her. She began to see her part in ending domestic sex trafficking through prevention education and restoration, as well as the restoration of victims.
In March 2012, ready to end this injustice, Rebekah and a woman named Heather joined hands and began the process of starting Love True. Emily, Rebekah’s best friend, came on board with them in May 2012.
For our inaugural Love True Blog post, we asked the three ladies some questions about the past, present and future of Love True!
Q: What connects each of you personally to the issue of sex trafficking?
Rebekah: The fact that even one little girl may be enslaved connects me. As my thought process around sex trafficking has evolved, so has my personal connection to it. I realize my true connection is to the individuals; the fact that every life has value, every life matters, and all are created equal in the image of God.
Heather: For too long, I did not know that protecting one’s innocence is not always a choice... In 2009, a dear friend of mine was raped and another shared with me that she had been sexually abused as a child. I saw my friends’ need for hope and restoration and determined to learn more so that I could better help them and others. I waited 18 months for God to say “Go” and amazingly, He had told Rebekah to go at the same time. The way God aligned our prayers and meeting and working together was perfect.
Emily: My heart and my humanity are what tie me to the broken and lost. I so deeply relate to the quote by William Wilberforce, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.” Once my eyes were opened to this atrocity, my heart was opened to its victims and perpetrators. I could choose to look the other way, but I have chosen to look into the eyes of the issue and fight for those who have fallen victim to it.
"I am going to compare sex trafficking to a polluted water source: If you simply clean the water, you will have to continue cleaning it. But if you look for the source of the pollution and fix it, eventually all the water will be clean. We have found that if there is no prevention, there will be no end to the issue." - Emily
Q: What was the hardest thing about starting this local non-profit?
Rebekah: Not rushing. So often as a founder you want the thing your heart dreams for to happen yesterday, and if not yesterday, then today. And if not today, certainly no later than tomorrow. But there is a process to everything. We have to ensure we are laying a solid foundation so we can make permanent change. Now, I spend way less time being frustrated and way more time helping empower, educate, and equip.
Heather: Administrative duties. Many nonprofits founders are visionaries, not i-dotting t-crossers. And so it was with me. I’m not very analytical. Compassionate- got it. Creative- yep. Prayerful- uh huh. Zealous- absolutely. But forms were not my strong suit and there were a lot of forms.
Emily: The hardest thing about starting Love True was that, at the time, it wasn’t common knowledge. Domestic sex trafficking wasn’t given much attention in the news or by the state. This complicated everything, from getting prevention into schools to funding for our operations and restoration home. I honestly feel like if we wanted to open a dog shelter we would have gotten more attention and funding would have come quicker. This is not at all a bash on the community. If citizens do not know how can they react?!
Q: Why does Love True put such a high value on prevention programs?
Rebekah: There is a cycle of supply and demand that continues to drive sex trafficking. Love True’s Prevention Education is designed to not only educate and prevent trafficking, but to restore common thought processes and life choices that continue the demand and supply chain of this illegal business.
Heather: Restoring broken hearts is ever so important. But how much better is keeping hearts from being broken to begin with? There are many aspects of prevention: Teaching at-risk youth how to avoid being trafficked and proving to them that they are worthy of a delightful nurturing love is prevention.
Emily: I am going to compare sex trafficking to a polluted water source: If you simply clean the water, you will have to continue cleaning it. But if you look for the source of the pollution and fix it, eventually all the water will be clean. We have found that if there is no prevention, there will be no end to the issue. There needs to be a holistic approach to be successful in ending it.
"So often as a founder you want the thing your heart dreams for to happen yesterday... But there is a process to everything." -Rebekah
Q: So it’s Love True’s birthday! What has the past year been like? The ups, the downs, the highlights?
Rebekah: 2015/16 has been a foundational year for us. There has been so much work put into the development of our programs and making a platform for further growth and reach. There was one survivor who spoke to me about how Love True greatly impacted her life and restoration process. Her gratitude truly was a highlight and a personal moment that I will always look back to for many years to come.
Heather: I am not on staff at Love True anymore, but I see that Rebekah and Emily are now paid staff! Nonprofit founders have a beautiful quirky willingness to work hard on something important without wages. Even so, working side jobs in addition to their full time duties at Love True was surely trying! I am so thankful that they can now focus on Love True and earn a living doing it!
Emily: This past year was different than all the others. Rebekah and I spent most of our time creating new curriculums, piloting them, hosting trainings, and beginning crucial relationships and partnerships. It was a major preparations year and I am starting to feel all the hard work pay off as we move into our 5th year!
Q: What does restoration truly mean to Love True?
Rebekah: It is a daily, on-going transformation to what was once intended for each individual. We know that restoration requires support and community during the process. We at Love True exist to help individuals journey along that process, whether it be in our prevention programs or our the restoration home.
Heather: While we care a lot about justice and accountability, we felt driven to facilitate the restoration of hearts. We wanted girls to know how beautiful and valuable and worthy of love they truly are. We wanted them to experience renewal and freedom.
Emily: When you feel safe in your own skin and you know who you are aside from your story and past.
Restoring broken hearts is ever so important. But how much better is keeping hearts from being broken to begin with? -Heather
Q: What will the restoration home be like?
Rebekah:. It will be a place to learn, grow and be restored. It will be a place where the girl’s voices are heard and survivor leadership exists. Young girls will be allowed the time and space to discover what it is like to not only survive but to thrive.
Collectively, this is the vision that was cast and written in the Love True biography:
"Love True plans to make the home a place of refuge and healing. It will be a place to learn, grow, and be restored. In taking a victim centered approach, not only will physical needs be met, but a specialized care plan will be made for each individual who enters the home. It will be a place where the girl’s voices are heard and survivor leadership exists.
In Love True’s individual case management plan there is no predetermined length of stay, rather a timeline dictated by the survivor and her healing process. Young girls can be with Love True as short three months or as long as three years; allowing them the time and space to discover what it is like to not only survive but to thrive."
We want to thank Rebekah, Heather, and Emily for their time in answering these questions and for all the work and heart they have put into making Love True what it is. We also want to thank you for taking the time to read this and share in the journey with us.
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