I’m pretty sure I have never seen a girl cry so hard in my life. It was the kind of crumble to the floor sort of awful howling and all I could do was sit in silence and let it happen. It was the longest 10 minutes of helplessness I have ever endured. I had just witnessed probably the highest and lowest moment of this girl’s life as I sat in the room with her at the shelter where I was receiving training in preparation for opening our first home. *Sarah had just received a call from the investigators regarding her case, that her trafficker, a man that she was strangely bonded to and yet haunted by at the same time, had finally been arrested. She would be safe. Never to be hurt by this man again as she was assured his bail was set so high it would be impossible for him to get out.  She was stunned. Confused. Conflicted over the emotions she felt for this man. I was not prepared for what happened next.

She asked to call her father and tell him the great news. It was a short phone call. “Hello?”...Dad, it’s Sarah...“What do you want?”...Dad, they got him. They got *David...“What? Is that all you want?!”...Then he hung up. And just like that, her brief moment of elation was dismantled into the deepest of despair. Through her choking howls, as she crumbled to the floor, all she could say over and over was, I just want him to be proud of me. I just want him to be proud of me. It felt like an eternity but I think it was really more like 10 minutes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry so badly with her in that moment but I followed the lead of the trained staff I was there with. It took everything in me to refrain.

I remember feeling like such an intruder in what was probably one of the most sacred moments of this young girl’s story. Sarah was just a baby with a baby of her own. Not only did she endure being trafficked but she was also currently being used by her family to bring in welfare money for their family via her child. All she wanted was for her father to be proud of her. Of all the things that could break her, the thing that would bring her to her knees in utter brokenness was a deep yearning for her father’s love and approval.

Something in me awakened that day to a deeper understanding of the kind of restoration survivors are desperate for. It’s a mending only God’s love can accomplish. How could we not help build the healing bridge for them to find it?

*Names changed to protect identities