“On any given day there are over 1,200 young people missing in Ohio, and all of them are at risk of being trafficked,” said Becky Moreland, an Akron resident who has dedicated her life’s work to the help and healing of victims of trafficking.
She began her organization, Rahab Ministries, 12 years ago as a response to a friend’s challenge to make a difference in whatever way she could. Moreland became aware of the number of women trapped in prostitution and drugs in Akron and felt drawn to help them in whatever way possible.
She and a small group of volunteers began by building relationships with women and men who were on the streets, everything from visiting them in jail, to helping them hook up their cable, to celebrating their birthdays. Rahab attracted more and more volunteers and donors, and soon Moreland opened Rahab House in Akron, where women meet for bible study, soup luncheons, free clothing and community.
According to Moreland, few women really recover from the lifestyle, but that does not deter or disappoint her or her volunteers. They accept the women where they are in a non-judgmental way with only expectations that the women would feel loved by someone.
Most recently, concurrent with the change in Ohio law which altered the definition of human trafficking to include “coercion” and “force,” Moreland realized that she had been dealing primarily with victims of trafficking and set about to shift the focus of Rahab to the establishment of safe houses, long-term living spaces to facilitate a “holistic” recovery from the trauma and loss of trafficking.
Moreland says “any young lady” is vulnerable, rich or poor, and that being trafficked has more to do with vulnerability, whether it stems from prior abuse at home or being a run-away, homeless or struggling with mental illness to name a few.
Moreland makes a distinction about the popular understanding of trafficking, which typically refers women from other countries being kidnapped or lured to the U.S. with the promise of work. She states that most victims in the U.S. are victims of “finessed” trafficking. This is where the vulnerable young person seeking love is given what strategically looks like love from the perpetrator. What follows next for the victim is what Moreland calls “grooming,” or trauma-bonding, which is, as defined by Dr. Jeff Barrows of Abolition International, a tactic of brainwashing that involves “alternating, force, threats and affection.”
In November, Moreland will open one of the first safe houses in Ohio for adult victims of trafficking. The property is located somewhere in Northeast Ohio, and will house 15 women and a full-time house mother, as well as therapy dogs, cats and possibly goats and chickens. Moreland intends to give these women every type of comfort and help in order to restore them to, or to give them for the first time in their lives, a full and fruitful life.
A young woman who will be one of the first residents of the new safe house said, “She is the example of a beautiful heart I didn’t know could be real. Becky and Rahab have rescued me from death, broken-heartedness and the sad effects of 20 years of abuse. I’ll be forever loyal, thankful and ready to serve.”
For more information, call (330) 819-3326 or visit www.rahab-ministries.com.