Survivors of commercial sexual exploitation are ill-prepared to deal with the many barriers to a healthy recovery when they break free of their situation. These adult women survivors, both domestic and international, have complex physical and emotional needs that require specialized trauma-informed treatment. They often need legal assistance, addiction or mental health counseling, housing and job training. Sisters from several Philadelphia religious communities became aware of the needs of these women.
“Human trafficking exists today because there are those who continue to regard women/children/men as a commodity, without worth and dignity.” — Sr. Kathleen Coll
The Sisters’ Response
In 2004, a coalition of members from these Catholic religious communities sponsored a conference in Philadelphia on human trafficking. Over 200 representatives from local social service and criminal justice agencies were present.
As a result of this conference the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition was formed by Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Coalition recognized the need for a residential program where women could have long-term healing and rehabilitative services that were specifically related to having been exploited for commercial sex work.
Three sisters from different congregations and two attorneys came together to found Dawn’s Place in Philadelphia in 2007, as a non-profit organization and residential program. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd donated a house for the program.
Funds Needed: $42,000
How funds will be used:
To hire a part-time social worker to help the women transition from Dawn’s Place to independent living those who have been commercially sexually exploited.
The central task of Dawn’s House is to help women heal from trauma and re-enter society. In 10 years, Dawn’s Place has helped 100 women survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, of which 18 have been international survivors.
Dawn’s Place -Bringing Shelter and Life Skills to Survivors of Human Trafficking