This month is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. While I am all for more people being exposed to this horror, and learning what they can practically do to become a part of the anti-trafficking movement, we thought we would take a different approach to this year at Amirah.
Over the course of this month, we would like to bring you thoughts on "Why a Home Matters." You will hear from staff and survivors on this topic. Today, yours truly is up to bat.
When I think about a home, I have some pretty large swings on the pendulum of emotions. My childhood home was filled with chaos and traumatic events. I spent more time retreating and running from that physical place than attempting to be present in that space. I do have some good memories of that place, but mostly, when I think about that home, I think about a place that I never wanted to return to once I left as a young adult.
This can be the challenge for those of us who experience trauma - how does a home become a place of refuge when all we wanted to do was run away from it?
I think of the women that are in our safe home and the absolute horrors that have happened to them in homes.
Doors opening and closing on them half hour after half hour.
A new stranger each time.
The utter terror and darkness that can take a hold of life.
How does one redeem a home when this is what is experienced? How can one sleep again in a bedroom? What happens each time a door is opened?
I take huge pride and value in the space that I now call a home with my husband. We have had so many different guests come and stay with us, and the one thing that each of them has said is that the home we have truly is a place of peace. This has been intentional on my part, as peace was the last word that I would have used to describe my childhood home. My deepest desire to heal from this wound was to create a space where peace could be found.
Creating a space of healing for those who were traumatized by sexual exploitation starts first with the home. I am a strong believer in the power of a physical space being a healing space. I recently toured a place that was a possibility for Amirah's second safe home, but knew as soon as I walked in the space that it would never work. The walls were all white, like sterile white. The place screamed of "institution." I felt that I needed a sticker on me that said, "SANE," just so I would be able to walk out of the space when we were done with the tour.
In order for healing to happen, particularly healing that comes from the trauma of what happens in rooms, a home must be created. A home where peace exists, where the walls are painted beautifully, where the floors are anything but linoleum, where the beds are soft and the pillows are plush. A place where trauma can be felt and dealt with because the trauma is not reflected in the space around the person who is doing this hard work.
This is a home. This is why a home matters. As you are learning more about human trafficking this month, I hope that you will think of a place of peace and pray with us for the next woman to come into this space to heal.