A local nonprofit that aids abused people and animals announced this week that it plans to open one of the first safe houses in the country exclusively catering to male victims of sex trafficking, according to a news release.
A news release was sent Wednesday night on behalf of Robert Williams, CEO and founder of Ranch Hands Rescue Counseling Center and Animal Sanctuary to announce the plans.
Boys and men may represent nearly half of total sex trafficking victims, the news release said, citing the U.S. Department of State, but agencies find particular difficulty identifying male victims and catering to their unique needs. In addition, only about 16 percent of shelters for commercially sexually exploited children serve boys, according to the news release, citing JJIE.org.
“If we don’t provide shelter for victims of sex trafficking, their abusers are extremely likely to find them and bring them back into the trade,” Williams said in a prepared statement. “No person should be subjected to such a monstrous situation, but trafficked boys in particular are being overlooked; we’re going to change that now.”
Plans are in their initial stages, with benefactors currently deciding on an undisclosed location for the home, according to the news release.
Ranch Hands Rescue provides free services for young victims of physical and sexual abuse and veterans with PTSD. It also rescues animals and puts them together with its human patients to mutually benefit each other’s healing. It aims to build refuges for victims who have survived “the worst of the worst” circumstances, the news release said. Its two locations are in Argyle and far south Denton.
The organization’s two animal sanctuaries house more than 50 farm animals, most of them reclaimed from law enforcement and were found in neglectful or abusive situations with severe medical issues, pushing them to the verge of euthanasia, the news release said.
The organization’s counseling center focuses on the 3-8 percent of trauma victims who don’t respond well in traditional counseling. That includes veterans with PTSD, sexually abused children and adults and sex trafficking victims. LPC-certified counselors take clients out to the animal sanctuary for time with horses, llamas, goats, sheep, and a mélange of other farm residents, where they can connect with a quiet companion who knows the depth of their pain.
“Once a person stops responding to traditional counseling, he or she is susceptible to developing self-destructive behaviors, such as eating disorders, physical mutilation, drug and alcohol addiction, or suicidal tendencies, just to name a few,” Williams said. “Our Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy gives emotionally tortured people the chance to reach the roots of trauma with the help of a rehabilitated animal by their side. This safe house will give hope to even more people who have been living through highly destructive cycles of abuse and slavery.”
With an unaccounted number of sex traffickers taking advantage of the un-tolled I-10 and I-35 corridors of Texas and the Mexican border, safe houses for victims are severely needed across the U.S., the news release said.
“This will be the first safe house for boys and men of any age in Texas, and one of the first we can find in the country,” Williams said. “Since we have a deficit of male care nationwide, we want to open our doors to those in need across the country. We’re ready to join with anyone who wants to fight this fight with us.”