Rescue America was set in motion with the discovery that millions of women, children, and men are sexually enslaved in the world today, with thousands located right here in the U.S. After seventeen months of extensive research on the complex issue of sex trafficking, it was confirmed there was a gaping hole in the anti-sex trafficking landscape in America. Simply stated, there was a need to separate victims from victimizers and set them safely on a path of healing and restoration. Currently operating in Houston and Denver, Rescue America's mission is to empower survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation to exit the life via its 24/7 local hotline network and an emergency assessment program.
We had the honor to do a written interview with Tiffany Pardue, Vice President of Rescue America, and asked her to share a little bit about their hard work to combat human trafficking :
Q: Rescue America was started in Houston in 2014. Could you tell us what sparked the birth of this organization?
A: In 2014, the foundation for Rescue America began to form, beginning with a 24/7 hotline. After first encountering sex trafficking in India, Founder and President Allison Meier Madrigal was led to examine the state of her own home in Houston. Through her research, she became aware of the gap between local outreach efforts to survivors and the safe Homes that support long-term healing. Meanwhile, Allison was connected with Atlanta-based Out of Darkness who provided her with the protocols to begin a Houston hotline — minus the community to do the work! Back in Houston, the community got equipped to serve as Hotline Advocates and Exit Team drivers, and we partnered with Elijah Rising to begin distributing the hotline during weekly outreach.
Q: Could you share with us what are the ways in which Rescue America is combatting human trafficking?
A: Our 24/7 hotlines (currently in Houston and Denver) provide the strategy and transportation required to exit a sexually exploitative circumstance, as well as placement in safe shelter and connection with a trauma-informed program. The 24/7 hotline is our lifeline to survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
No matter how many times an individual may leave and return to the life, it is our commitment to answer the hotline and help each one continue her or his healing journey.
To better support the healing journeys of survivors, Rescue America launched and is continuing to refine a highly therapeutic, 60-day emergency assessment program that one survivor said was like a “rehab from the life”. Our holistic program empowers survivors to continue healing and navigate critical life choices during, and maintain them beyond the eight-week program. The RAEA (Rescue America Emergency Assessment) Program reduces survivor relapse by providing the immediate assessment and stabilization support essentials to facilitate the most appropriate placement for each survivor’s long-term care.
Q: From your experience thus far, what would you say is the toughest challenge for Rescue America in helping trafficking survivors?
A: The toughest challenge has been building and implementing the infrastructure required to sustain and support the expansion of our 24/7 hotline and emergency assessment program! Because we are receiving calls from all over the nation, an ongoing initiative is to increase partnerships with trauma-informed shelters and programs across the country — emergency/transitional shelters and programs, as well as long-term referral partners.
Q: Could you share with us a favorite story of victory Rescue America has witnessed?
A: Absolutely! Victory is measured in moments and looks so different for each survivor. Here are three amazing stories you can read:
Strength to Rise: A Survivor’s Story
She was introduced her first pimp when she was 21 years old. Living in Austin, Texas, estranged from her family, Tasha was vulnerable and alone. She recalls, “I didn’t know he was a pimp. I just thought he was a regular dude who was trying to help me get on my feet.” That’s how it began.
For the next six years, Tasha found herself a victim of sex trafficking. She tried three times to leave the life but didn’t have the support to stay out. It wasn’t until she was badly burned with a flat iron by her pimp that she finally broke free. “My arm was a wake up. Bad stuff happens in that life. It could have been worse.” // Click to read her story
While hosting a Rescue Houston booth at Methodist Hospital, I received a call alerting me that a victim of trafficking, Sonja, had been assaulted and needed medical attention. Immediately my colleague and I left Methodist to extract her and bring her to Ben Taub.
During her exit and the hospital in-take process, Sonja’s phone continuously lit up; several Johns (buyers of sex) and her pimp were trying to solicit her. The phone is a trafficking victims’ tether to her traffickers. Her phone emotionally and physically attaches her to everyone who uses her. I tried to gently persuade her to give us her phone so she could rest, yet she refused, frantic and anxious to hold on to her phone. // Click to read her story
This Is Worth It, She Is Worth It
Her pimp reached out to her and talked her into seeing him one last time. When I dropped her off at the new shelter she seemed a little bothered. After dropping her off I went to dinner with a good friend of mine. During dinner, I got the most disturbing phone call ever; it was her crying and she sounded out of breath. “I need you Taylor I’m on the side of the road.”
I ran out of the restaurant and went to her as fast as I could. We ended up at LBJ hospital for 7 hours. She could have died that night but I truly believe God was with her. She told me his eyes were evil. He wasn’t the same. I told her she was different and no longer sees him the way she used to. // Click to read her story
Q: What are the current needs of Rescue America? How can we, the every day person, support you in fighting human trafficking?
A: Rescue America is able to reach out to thousands of victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation each year because of our passionate and dedicated volunteers.
Our why is simple — love. Untwisted, pure love for those trapped in sexual bondage is what motivates every policy, program, and service we provide.
If compassion for the enslaved has ignited a fire in your spirit, take our hand to bring hope and freedom to those trapped in the darkness. Volunteer opportunities include distributing our hotline at a Phone Bank, serving as a Hotline Advocate, Exit Team member, Restoration Driver, and Mentor.
Another way to get involved is by joining our Community Board. Members contribute their influence, intellectual capital, and investment to strategically impact the fight against sex trafficking through supporting fundraising initiatives, expanding the organization’s network, and providing intellect to strategic initiatives.
You can also support Rescue America by purchasing 139MADE's shirts and products, while sharing about the wonderful work this organization is doing in the fight against human trafficking. 10% of all our sales until MARCH 11 will be donated to Rescue America. CLICK HERE TO SHOP