I’ve worked with incredibly vulnerable populations in my life.  I’ve looked in the eyes of dying people in hospice, and held their loved ones hands as they passed.  I’ve been in houses and witnessed children getting abused, drugs being used, and saw poverty at it’s worst.  I’ve lived in a mud hut in Africa where without access to healthcare, kids in my village died of “headaches”.  I’ve experienced the worst of humanity, and the most beautiful other side because of that darkness.
But nothing prepared me for looking into the eyes of women in the red light district, seeing the emptiness life offered them.  And although my clinical skills helped me to respond in appropriate, therapeutic ways, nothing hurts your heart more than women telling you they were raped by their brother, pimped out for sex by a “friend”, or trafficked from across countries with false promises of a better life.  To have a woman say to you “I was human trafficked, my passport was taken, I was told I was a different name, and I had no escape” is hard for any person to hear, much less live it.  And by the way, that happened very close to where I currently live – practically in my back yard.
This was my meeting with our first candidates for Empower Her Network.  This is the “why” when people ask why Empower Her Network exists.  How could we not?  Maya Angelou said it best, “When we know better, we do better.”  It is a privilege to hear the stories of our survivors, and an honor to be able to open a new path toward independence for so many more stories in the future.