Refuge Ranch: Hope for Victims of Domestic Minor Sexual Trafficking

AUSTIN, TX – In January 2018, we introduced our readers to The Refuge Ranch, which was being constructed in Bastrop County, Texas. The purpose of The Refuge was, and is, to “provide long-term, holistic care in a pastoral and peaceful setting for girls, through age 19, who have been rescued out of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Each girl in our care will have her own plan of restoration…unique to her age, situation, and needs.”

The Refuge Ranch is the largest, long-term rehabilitation facility for child survivors of sex trafficking in the United States.

The Refuge opened the doors to its 50-acre property in August 2018. One year later, Founder and CEO, Brooke Crowder, has published the ranch’s First Annual Impact Report. Now that the journey is underway, the vision of succeeding in Austin and expanding to other cities across the state and the nation has begun.

The Core Belief at The Refuge is that:

“Each girl in our care is created by God for a special purpose in this world. We acknowledge that part of her life story is that she is a survivor of sex trafficking. We also believe every girl has the ability to create a new life for herself as she is encircled with the support and love necessary to begin the healing process. We believe that every survivor of sex trafficking has the potential to be a change agent in this world, and to become a leader in her generation and a champion in the fight to eradicate the insidious crime of sexual exploitation of children.”

The Ranch currently includes 21 buildings with 48 beds available for girls rescued from sex trafficking in Texas. Brooke Crowder explains in a video contained in the online Impact Report that “The Refuge is the largest, long-term rehabilitation facility for child survivors of sex trafficking in the United States.” The 48 beds at the ranch are not in bunk rooms. Each girl has the dignity of having her own private bedroom and bathroom to which she can retire at the end of a day of physical, spiritual, and emotional refreshing and rebuilding. A University of Texas charter school operates on-premise.

When girls in the program obtain their high school diploma (three have already), Austin Community College offers online classes while the restoration process continues.

The Refuge is also truly a ranch, providing horses for equine rehabilitation along with the facility’s multiple other programs.

The Challenge Is Monumental

Although minor sex trafficking is the fastest-growing crime in the world, it is also one of the most under-reported. The University of Texas estimates that there are 79,000 young adults and minors trafficked for sex in the state of Texas alone.

Forty-eight beds may not seem like a significant impact, but that is twice as many as there were in Texas before The Refuge opened. Currently, there are fewer than 600 beds available for DMST victims across the entire United States. Compare this to more than 13,000 animal shelters.

The National Centers for Missing & Exploited Children estimates that one of every seven missing children are victims of sex trafficking and that 88 percent of victims were abducted while in the care of social services or in foster care.

The Contribution of The Refuge

Programs committed to long-term, high-level care have a recidivism rate of 5-7 percent. Compare this to short-term, low-level programs where 34 percent of the girls in treatment are likely to be re-victimized.

The staff and volunteers at The Refuge “share a common faith as followers of Christ. Spiritual guidance with the girls is based on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Learn more about The Refuge directly from Brooke Crowder in this video that is also included in the Impact Report.

To read more news on Modern Slavery on Missions Box, go here.

To read our Special Report on 21st Century Slavery & Human Trafficking, go here.


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