Restore NYC’s mission is to end sex trafficking in New York and restore the well-being and independence of foreign national survivors.
Many know us from our work in our ground-breaking safehome, where women can heal and receive care for up to a year. But we serve more women through our partnerships with The Human Trafficking Intervention Courts. We could share about the nature of the program and our results but the truth is one of the best ways to learn about us is to learn about our heroes.. the survivors.
Restore NYC first met Min* through the Human Trafficking Intervention Court in New York City. Leaving her two-year-old son and her abusive husband back in China, Min came to the United States in search of a better paying job—needing to earn enough to support both herself and her young child. She grew hopeful when she finally found a position at a massage parlor, where housing would be provide, she could keep the tips, and language was not an issue.
Min showed up for her first day of work, and her manager was a young man who spoke in short, rude commands. Min was simply told: “Wait here. Work here. We provide clients.” Within the hour, she was forced to see three men. Adding to her fear, the manager had taken away her passport and snapped pictures of her with the customers to use as blackmail. It became normal for her to “work” from 9am to 11pm each day.
One night when Min was at work, the police raided the massage parlor, arresting Min and her manager. As Min waited for her turn before the judge at the Queen’s Human Trafficking Intervention Court, a Restore NYC counselor approached Min to explain that she was there to help.
The NYS Human Trafficking Intervention Courts—a pioneer anti-trafficking state initiative—recognizes that the women arrested for prostitution are often victims, rather than criminals. They are therefore given the choice to participate in counseling sessions to learn about their legal rights and to access essential community resources. At the completion of the sessions, their criminal charges are dismissed and sealed.
Min chose to participate in Restore NYC’s group counseling program, where she and other women were able to process their experiences in a safe and understanding environment. As a result she was able to access medical care, get connected to ESL language classes, and receive immigration assistance.
Through court and law enforcement referrals, Restore NYC has worked with over 600 women many of whom have similar stories to Min’s. Restore focuses on serving foreign national women – some of the most vulnerable in the city – many who don’t speak the language, are undocumented, desperate to financially support their child/ family overseas, disconnected from mainstream help. Desperate for a job and alone in a new city, these women are easy targets for traffickers and pimps advertising high-paying jobs and comfortable work conditions. After being misled, the women find themselves trapped both psychologically and financially as traffickers have threatened with force, taunted them that they don’t belong in this country and they’re too ‘dumb’ to find better work.
With time, Min was able to find a new job at a beauty salon. Though she misses her son daily, she is proud to able to support him safely from afar She also knows that she can contact Restore NYC for help. Secure in this, she now envisions a better life for herself and her son.
*Name changed to protect identity and ensure privacy
About Restore NYC