Gracehaven actually began in 2004 with a phone call.
Dr. Jeff Barrows, an OB-GYN in Bellefontaine, Ohio, learned about the dire plight of young girls in Asia who were victims child sex-trafficking and wanted to help. But during a phone conversation with Adam Freer of the Salvation Army he learned that there were girls in Ohio – as many as 1,000-2,000 — who also were victimized for sex. And very few people were doing anything about it.
“What do they need?” Dr. Barrows asked. The answer surprised him — a residential home where these girls can live and take time to heal and receive therapy for their trauma.
“At that moment God called me to start a home here in Ohio for girls under 18 who were victims of sex trafficking…and He wanted the home called ‘Gracehaven.’”
Looking back, we can clearly see how God has empowered Gracehaven to serve these young victims of sex trafficking in both residential care and in the community.
Our case managers work with youth who have been victimized but who still live in the community (foster care, group home, detention). These social workers come alongside and help with whatever the girls need whether food, clothing, prepping for job interviews, etc. And during their time together they help the girls process their trauma and work toward healing.
We also have a robust prevention education outreach to schools, churches, community groups – anyone who wants to learn how to spot the red flags of trafficking and what they can do to prevent it.
And in August of 2015 we officially opened the Gracehaven residential home. A committed team of resident assistants, social workers, therapists, staff and volunteers provide intensive trauma-informed care. These girls are traumatized beyond imagination, some as young as 12 or 13. They need consistent, loving care. They spend anywhere from a few weeks to nine months at our campus, and many experience healing to the point they can take the next step in their recovery.
Gracehaven’s long-term goal is clear — to serve every teenager in Central Ohio who is a victim of child sex-trafficking.
“When Jesus talked about ‘widows and orphans,’ He meant the vulnerable and powerless of society, people who don’t have a voice for themselves,” says Executive Director Scott Arnold. “I believe today’s ‘widows and orphans’ include these young girls who have been victimized by the child sex trafficking trade. And Gracehaven is committed to doing everything within our means to help them escape the life and heal from their trauma.”
We invite anyone who like to know more about Gracehaven to contact Vicky Thompson at email@example.com.