In early September 2017, I received a phone call from a service provider in Panama City, FL. An adult female by the name "Trindi" presented to a shelter after-hours. Because Trindi did not originally disclose to the shelter that she was a survivor of sex-trafficking, the shelter was able to admit her into their program. Once we were made aware of the situation at large, we knew that we only had a limited amount of time before she would be asked to leave the shelter due to they not being able to accept women who are "being hunted". After completing an assessment, we discovered that she was on probation and could not leave the county or state. When asked for an explanation, Trindi stated that her traffickers framed her with charges so that she would be forced to remain in the county in which her trafficking occurred (which is a very common tactic). After meeting with an attorney, we discovered that it was going to take 72-90 days for her probation to be transferred to another county/state....IF the receiving county/state accepted her.
Time was running out and she needed to leave the shelter.
A woman from a local church offered to open her home to Trindi. Trindi was told that she could remain there for up to 30 days, but not a day more due to the landlord's rules. During her three weeks at the host home, I watched as Trindi slowly began putting the pieces of her life back together. She knew that she had approximately three months to survive until she could (hopefully) be transferred elsewhere. She was eager to begin making money again, so we were able to assist her in finding temporary employment at a small business on the other side of town. She was making a little over minimum wage, but she loved her new job. She felt a sense of independence and freedom.
The morning of September 28, 2017, Trindi was struck by a car in a hit-and-run as she was walking to the trolley stop to go to work.
We mourn the loss of Trindi, however, during her final days, I was able to witness a true-transformation take place. She was no longer a victim to her circumstances, but a survivor in spite of them.
We have worked in the community for 4 years and have found a gap in temporary housing for women escaping crisis situations such as domestic violence, sexual exploitation, prostitution, or sex-trafficking due to a lack of services and long wait lists. With the blessing of her family, The Trindi Initiative will bridge that gap by providing a dwelling place of refuge, hope, and healing for women in need of freedom as well as awareness of the issues that this population often faces.
We want to provide women with the proper help and resources that we were unable to give to our precious Trindi.
Rev. Nicole Phillips,
Executive Director of Lavished Ministries Inc