Bob Williams, CEO of Ranch Hands Rescue Counseling Center and Animal Sanctuary near Argyle, announced this week his plans to open the first long-term safe house in the country exclusively catering to male victims of sex trafficking 18-24 years old.
Williams will modify the existing headquarters with renovations starting immediately once permitting and funding is finalized, with plans to open the safe house by January.
Sex trafficking is on the rise in the U.S., according to a news release from the nonprofit. The U.S. Department of State reports 300,000 American children are lured into the global sex trade each year. Previous estimates believed boys to make up only 10% of these victims, however, new data suggests that it is closer to 50%. But of the 64 trauma care beds in Texas, none of them are for young men who have been sex trafficked.
“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. “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.”
Ranch Hands Rescue works to build refuges for victims who have survived “the worst of the worst” circumstances. Its two animal sanctuaries house over 50 farm animals, most reclaimed from law enforcement, that were found in neglectful or abusive situations pushing them to the verge of euthanasia, and all with severe medical issues. The counseling center focuses on the 1-8% of trauma victims that don’t respond well in traditional counseling, including veterans with PTSD, sexually abused children and adults and sex trafficking victims. As part of the counseling, clients spend time with the animals in a mutually beneficial rehabilitative environment.
“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 Counseling approach 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.”
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