From Marfa Public Radio:
Reflection Ministries, a Midland-based nonprofit established in 2016, is preparing to open the region’s first long-term care facility for survivors of sex trafficking.
The group presented a lecture at Midland College Thursday night, as a part of Phi Theta Kappa student honor society’s Honors in Action initiative. Reflection Ministries President Lisa Bownds says her organization has spoken to more than 900 people around the Permian Basin since May, trying to spread awareness about an issue that often flies under the radar.
“Sex trafficking is evident in our schools, it’s in our neighborhoods, our malls, local hangouts, bowling alleys,” Bownds says.
According to the nonprofit, there isn’t yet comprehensive data showing exactly how pervasive a problem sex-trafficking is in the Permian Basin. But Bownds says West Texas has a high rate of familial trafficking, which is when family members sell their relatives into the sex trade.
Reflections Ministries helps guide sex-trafficking survivors of all ages through the process of finding medical and legal help after they’ve been picked up by the police or have served jail time. Often, it’s law enforcement that refers survivors to the group. But Bownds estimates about three to four calls a week come from people who think they’ve spotted someone caught up in sex trafficking on the street.
The group aims to be the main provider of sex-trafficking rehabilitation in the Permian Basin. It’s secured funding to open a new facility called The Village, which will be a group of homes that will shelter up to 21 survivors at a time, and will also offer therapy and educational services. Bownds says The Village project is a big deal because there are less than about 60 beds set aside in shelters for sex-trafficking survivors across the state of Texas.
Reflection Ministries plans to open The Village by late 2019.