Social media was one of the ways Megan coped with her isolation while she was being trafficked. While her account was strictly monitored by her traffickers, she was permitted to interact with other women who were also in “The Game.” Not only did this help normalize Megan’s experiences, but it also benefited her trafficker in that it further reinforced social norms common in pimp-controlled trafficking. When Megan escaped her trafficker in 2012, she left her social media page open to stay in contact with the women she had met across the country during her time of exploitation.
As Megan began to share her journey to freedom through her social media page, her followers grew from 50 in 2012 to 300 in 2015. It was at that point that Megan realized she had an incredible position in this social media network to continue sharing her story and building trust with the women she interacted with there. Free Our Girls formally “adopted” this social media profile in 2015 following an informal observational survey of these social media profiles to better understand the women Megan was connected with. Since 2015, this network is now approaching 1,600 actively trafficked women across the US and Canada. Megan continues to share her experiences with this network, but the network has also become Free Our Girls’ main point of initial contact for outreach and intervention.
In 2016, Free Our Girls began sending out Outreach Care Packages on a first-come, first-serve basis each month. Over the course of the year, the organization delivered nearly 120 packages to 45 different women using this social media network. Based on the feedback from the women who received these packages in 2016, we found that the women we have had the opportunity to build relationships with through this program are more likely to reach out for help when they are able to than women who did not receive packages. Beginning in 2018, the Outreach Care Package Program has taken the model of the “subscription box” programs so popular in mainstream culture right now – the woman signs up one time, and she receives a care package each month for the rest of the year.
In 2018, we were able to deliver over 600 packages to 54 unique women across North America. Each care package is assembled with self-care items and a brochure for Free Our Girls’ services. The Outreach Care Package Program is our largest program funding-wise, with two main pieces: the gifts that go in each package, and the postage to cover the cost of delivery. In 2019, our goal is to deliver 1200 packages to 100 women, and transition completely to supplying Fair Trade and locally sourced products.
Be a Part of our unique national Care Package Outreach Program
To purchase items in large increments to go in our care packages, please refer to our Supply List for ideas and suggestions on how to be part of the Care Package Outreach Program. ~ Shipping costs are around $4 per package. You can sponsor the shipping for a single package, cover a recipient’s packages for the year, or sponsor one month of packages. ~ Make a secure donation at PayPal.
According to The Fight Against Domestic Sex Trafficking: GAP ANALYSIS released in 2017, intervention work is at that time primarily conducted by law enforcement agencies and individuals prepared to perform highly technical extractions. However, based on Megan Lundstrom’s cultic theory on pimp-controlled trafficking, much of the initial intervention needed to assist this specific population in their journey to freedom is psychological and relational. Additionally, the GAP ANALYSIS revealed that “among non-profits, the smallest percentage report intervention efforts,” with most of these efforts being focused on assisting law enforcement on extractions and recoveries, not psychological or relational intervention.
Getting Out The Game
In addition to the Care Package Outreach Program as a point of initial intervention, Free Our Girls seeks to connect women in “The Game” with our sister site, Getting Out The Game, which shares information around cultic theory as well as tangible steps for safety and exit. The website contains pieces of survivors’ stories to personalize the information and give examples of real life experiences that illustrate the thought reform and mind control used by pimp-traffickers. This website is accessible to commercially sexually exploited and trafficked women across North America, and they are able to access this information as they are able to.
Ending The Game Peer Support Groups will be offered early in 2020.
A Trailblazing, Survivor-Written Curriculum
Free Our Girls has two trained co-facilitators of the psycho-educational intervention program, Ending the Game (ETG). Designed by a leading expert in cultic intervention, and survivors of “The Game,” ETG is a coercion resiliency program that can be delivered one-on-one, or in support group 1- or 2-hour sessions over the course of 10 weeks. Ending the Game can help women in “The Game” recognize the patterns of abuse and psychological tactics their pimp-traffickers use to coerce them into a world of exploitation.
If you know someone at risk, please contact us. See more details and shareable resources here.
For more information, and ETG intervention services for a client or at your facility, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As in all other areas, Free Our Girls seeks to stand in the direct service gap for survivors in most communities across the US. Free Our Girls’ direct services are focused on economic empowerment through entrepreneurship, and breaking the cycle of poverty as a means to eliminate numerous vulnerabilities and risk factors for re-trafficking and re-exploitation.
Employment and Entrepreneurship Program Based in Greeley, CO, this program provides immediate employment for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, while teaching entrepreneurship by involving program participants in all areas of program operations. Designed with the utmost flexibility, the program can meet each participant where they are, and works to address and process triggers common for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation when they re-enter the workforce at-large.
Survivor Art Collaborative Available for survivors across North America, artists can submit their work to be exhibited in Colorado galleries, art shows and events as well as to have a digital file added to our Society6 storefront. Customers can purchase prints and items with the artwork of their choice through Society6, with 100% of the proceeds going back to the survivor artists.
Survivor Book of the Month Beginning in 2018, Free Our Girls features a survivor-author and their work on our Facebook page. Like our page and come back regularly for links to the authors’ other works and live interviews with the authors.
Financial Literacy for Survivors First piloted in 2017 to 200 survivors across the US, this program was available in late 2018 in multiple formats. Following completion of the Financial Literacy for Survivors program, survivors are eligible to be partnered with a trained financial advisor at an institution in their community for ongoing financial mentorship.
Want to Enroll in Our Direct Services? If you are a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking and would like to learn more and get connected with our support programs, contact us at email@example.com. Our intake process is easy! We will schedule a time and location to meet that work best for you, and spend some time getting to know you and share more information about our programs and which might be a good fit for you. We look forward to hearing from you!
For more ideas on how to support Free Our Girls, visit our Donate page.
Colorado professionals: The Colorado Human Trafficking Council (COHTC) released their standardized curriculum, An Introduction to Human Trafficking in Colorado. For individuals residing in Weld County, Larimer County, Jefferson County, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or the Western Slope regions, please contact COHTC to be connected with a facilitator near you. Presentations can be given in 1, 2, or 2.5-hour training in order to meet the time restrictions and content requirements needed by your organization or group. The COHTC’s An Introduction to Human Trafficking in Colorado is free for attendees.
Professionals outside Colorado: While Free Our Girls is honored and available to present a “101” training to your business or community group, we also recognize that travel and training expenses can make this difficult. It is for this reason that we are happy to connect you with a Survivor Leader near you who would be able to deliver an introductory-level training to not only ensure your group is receiving quality, informative content, but also to ensure your training budget is used most efficiently. To be connected with a Survivor Leader who offers these trainings in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“201” … and Beyond
From Problem to Solution (45 minutes) Utilizing economic models for supply and demand, this session explains how ending the demand for commercial sex is the only viable way to end sex trafficking.
Life After “The Life” (1 hour) Holistic healing from the perspective of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the common obstacles for survivors as they attempt to reintegrate.
Colorado Case Studies in CSEC (2 hours) Using a series of case studies of high-risk for CSEC in Colorado, service providers will identify information silos and service gaps.
CSEC Crime Terminology (1 hour) 5 main forms of CSEC, the federal statutes regarding each, and lines of discussion for intake interviews of at-risk youth
Intro to Cultic Theory (1 hour) Pimp-controlled sex trafficking as a cultic group and mind control that victims experience
Exploited Social Rules (30 minutes) 5 forms of social interactions observed in our society, and how traffickers exploit these for their benefit.
Pimp-Control: Tattoos and Branding (30 minutes) Common pimp-control tattoos and discussion on common language and rules within the culture.
For rates and availability for a 201 training, please contact us at email@example.com.
For additional training topics available in Larimer County, please visit the Larimer County Anti-Trafficking site.
Free Our Girls is proud to license iEmpathize‘s The Empower Youth Program. Designed for youth in grades 7-12, there are a variety of ways the material can be delivered, from an individual class period to a series of five sessions, to a school-wide assembly, EYP dives into the issues of empathy and exploitation, helping pre-teens and teens better understand the push and pull factors in their own lives, and how to recognize the various roles predators might play. The EYP is delivered by trained Free Our Girls’ volunteers free of charge in Northern Colorado. To request a youth prevention training at your school or community-based youth group, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Our Girls is a trained facilitator in the prevention and intervention support group program, My Life My Choice. A research-based and survivor-informed curriculum, MLMC is designed to be co-facilitated with a survivor and a mental health professional over the course of 10 weeks to girls between the ages of 13 and 18 who have been identified as at-risk for commercial sexual exploitation. For more information on how to refer an at-risk teen girl to a local support group, or to contract Free Our Girls to deliver the content at your organization, please contact us at email@example.com.