Ranch & Coast Magazine

September 2022

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Page 59 of 115

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF JENNI SUMMER STUDIOS Restoring the Future GenerateHope empowers trafficking survivors to dream again A LOT OF WORK HAS BEEN done to increase public awareness of the severity of the sex trafficking trade in San Diego. What was until very recently too taboo to discuss has become an issue far too dangerous to ignore. San Diego is among the top eight cities in the U.S. for sex trafficking, and statistics show victims number in the thousands here annually, leading to a lot of survivors who need assistance as they escape and move forward from "the life." Launched in 2009, GenerateHope is a long-term residential restorative care program designed to meet the needs of women as they transition out of this traumatic past and into a safe, healthy future. A boutique operation, it guides six survivors in a live-in, safe home through a multi-phase recovery strategy to first help the women identify as a victim — many feel shame for falling into the trade without the realization that they have been targeted by a sophisticated scheme that predators use to lure their victims — address trauma, and engage in talk therapy as well as EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy. "It helps their brain to not have as many instances of PTSD or flashbacks, and helps them complete that final healing phase where they're able to take the sting out of the trauma and then be ready to fully participate in their career and education plan," says GenerateHope Executive Director Annie Rodriguez, who adds that studies have shown survivors of sex trafficking have the same levels of PTSD as Vietnam veterans. e women stay in the home, on average, about 16 months to complete the initial part of their recovery, but it doesn't end there. An additional residence to serve these survivors was donated to GenerateHope to provide the next phase of support as the women embark upon reentry into society, including legal representation and career counseling. Education is a critical element of the GenerateHope objective, both in terms of vocational and career preparedness for survivors as well as informing the broader community of the threats of the sex trafficking trade. "Although our mission is to help survivors recover from trauma and become healthy and independent women, we also believe so strongly in sharing what we know and what we've learned as well as education, advocacy, and prevention, so our team often provides 50 different education forums or speaking engagements throughout the year because we're so committed to those pieces," says Rodriguez. "I just think that you can't have one without the other," agrees Gemma Rickolt, a longtime supporter and GenerateHope volunteer, who adds, "We're dealing with epidemics in sex trafficking right now. GenerateHope alone is turning away up to 30 women per month, we have a pressing need for more beds, but we have to take the preventive [measures], as well." Rickolt is an ardent advocate for parental engagement and technology management to protect children from predators online, and recommends the C.R.A.M. guide to internet safety offered by the Child Rescue Coalition as a resource for parents. "We really need to escalate that conversation, and fast, so that we can protect children from going into this cyclical trauma," she says. On September 22, Rickolt will chair "A Story of Freedom" at Birch Aquarium, featuring a live performance by Lauren Monroe with husband and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Rick Allen, plus a keynote presentation by District Attorney Summer Stephan, dinner, and silent and live auctions. All proceeds support GenerateHope's work to support and rehabilitate survivors on their journey to freedom. generatehope.org DEANNA MURPHY Focus philanthropy 60 SEPTEMBER 2022 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE Annie Rodriguez (sixth from right) and the GenerateHope team

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