Yoga for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Photo Credit: Alana Becker

Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition (CORRC)

“The women loved having you here! This has been such a colorful add-on to The Well and your expertise in this area has been so appreciated. It is a real pleasure to have someone come in who's skilled in working with this population AND who's able to lead something they really enjoy doing.” -Ryan Strayer, Salvation Army

The Well is a Salvation Army drop-in center for women who have been sexually exploited or trafficking in Columbus. It is designed to enhance sense of positive self and dignity by meeting the complex needs of women who have been involved in the commercial sex industry. Part of their offering in 2014 include monthly on-site trauma sensitive yoga classes taught by Michele Vinbury.

DOMA

Part of DOMA's mission is to empower women and to “restore survivors of human trafficking”. In the autumn of 2012, Marcia Miller and Michele Vinbury teamed up to offer an 8-week series of therapeutic yoga to the women of DOMA’s Catch Court.

“Central Ohio women and children for sale–walking the streets stalked by pimps and dope boys, beaten, bruised and addicted to drugs, or on photos on the Internet, bound, gagged, naked and raped. And when they are found by police officers, the best thing the police can do is arrest them on criminal charges of solicitation of prostitution, and put them in jail or juvenile prisons. While it can be easy for people to say, “Why doesn’t she just go home, or get a job?” the fact is that these women have come from full-blown lifetimes, from generations of trauma, physical, sexual and drug abuse, from warlike lacks of education and nutrition, and know no other ways of life...Who are the women of Catch Court? In 2010, 977 women were arrested for prostitution in Franklin County, OH. Defendants share childhood stories of physical & sexual abuse, emotional & developmental neglect, parents selling them to support a drug habit, parents sharing “dope” with their pre-pubescent children. Childhoods are stolen–replaced by adult stories of drug abuse to cope with trauma & addiction, street walking, stalked by Johns, pimps, dope boys–beaten, bruised, and dehumanized, on photos on the Internet, bound, gagged, naked & raped. Police have had no recourse to help defendants, they are arrested on criminal charges of loitering, solicitation or prostitution, and put in jail. Some see these women as pariahs and “whores.” In reality, they are victims and survivors. The cost to Ohio and society are tremendous: Typically, $79 per day for incarceration. However, all suffer co-morbid issues of addiction, withdrawal, pregnancy, & STD’s. Medical care increases jail costs from $79 to $300/day. Additional costs are incalculable: children abandoned, attachment disorder, abuse & neglect; the cycle continues.”

Through DOMA we learned of Freedom a la Cart, one of their programs to restore the women to financial independence, and used Freedom to cater our daylong Moving on From Cancer Retreat.