“Every human has four endowments - self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom...The power to choose, to respond, to change.” That quote by Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, perfectly identifies why creative blocks are a crucial part of our program, and a part of the healing of our survivor residents.
What are creative segments
Creative segments are blocks of time where we encourage artistic expression among our survivor residents. These are not cookie-cutter programs, but instead guided opportunities for residents to explore their generally untapped creative potential. During these blocks of time, our program coordinators will offer recommendations and examples for survivors to spark their imaginations. But the goal is to encourage residents to identify their passions, skills, and gifts, and to develop them in a safe, non-judgmental space.
Why creativity is a vital part of our program
Sex trafficking victims, when they are under the exploitation of a pimp or trafficker, do not have time to do anything other than survive. They adapt to their environment sometimes through psychological displacement. They can also develop multiple personality disorder. These coping mechanisms, while they allow victims to survive in dangerous situations, also severely inhibit their growth as individuals.
To learn more, check out our blog on the psychological impact of sex trafficking, how victims adapt to survive.
Creative blocks could be considered the inverse of the former exploitation of survivors. During creative blocks, survivors are equipped with time, resources, and guidance to understand their unique potential and interests. It can be tough for survivors to get used to this process but it is an essential growth component as they learn to be comfortable with themselves and make decisions not influenced by oppressors.
Examples of creative blocks
Many of our survivor residents enter the program without basic cooking knowledge. Many sex trafficking victims are trafficked from very early ages, between 8 and 12, and did not develop the experience of cooking before they were recruited.
As part of our program, we teach cooking safety and general cooking skills, but we also equip residents to explore food types and recipes of interest. They might bake or make savory entrees. The kind of food is much less significant compared to supporting residents as they learn to identify food types they enjoy, understand how healthy diets contribute to their overall health, and grasp how cooking and eating together is a form of community and love.
Throughout our program, we aim to educate our residents on holistic healthy living. When exploited through sex trafficking, victims are not able to manage their physical and mental well-being. Yoga is a tool for developing a healthy body and mind. Within our faith-based environment, we can also guide residents on forms of meditation and prayer.
Thankfully, we have amazing volunteers who undergo background checks before committing to guide yoga sessions for our residents regularly. Some residents choose to participate, some do not, but they are all exposed to the opportunity and have the freedom to choose to sit it out. Again, the ability to decide to join in or not is a privilege they did not have when they were trafficked for sex.
Art therapy is increasingly used to help people with emotional and psychological trauma. According to Psychology Today, “Art therapy involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art.” It’s used to help “children, adolescents, and adults explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with a physical illness or disability.”
Our amazing volunteers, again, are a vital resource for utilizing this healing technique for our survivors. And donations of art supplies enable our participants to express themselves with art, moving further on their healing journey.
Having space and time to rest, without fear of abuse, is something victims of trafficking do not have. Sleep deprivation is a common tactic of oppression used by pimps and traffickers. Sex trafficking victims generally have to work throughout the night to generate a dollar amount for their pimps. Therefore, their bodies are accustomed to being awake at night and many have insomnia.
When women first enter our program, they might sleep a lot. Or struggle to sleep, and rest, and relax at appropriate times, adjusting to day and night hours. So we encourage our residents to sleep, or rest, as much as they can. Being well-rested is critical for undertaking the rigorous mental and emotional recovery they are on when they choose to participate in our program.
Help us support more survivors through our residential program. Consider becoming a Guardian, our monthly giving program. Donations of $25 a month helps provide supplies for our creative blocks reducing our overhead burden. Click here to learn more.