mommy of two, activist, entrepreneur, wife, information seeker!

“Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) is a condition where there are pre-cancerous cells in the skin of the vulva. The symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some have no symptoms and the area of VIN is noticed on a routine visit to the doctor. Other women complain of vulval pain or itching which can be quite severe. Others have irritation or painful sex. Some women even notice a lump or thickening of the vulval skin.

In VIN, the pre-cancer cells are located within the epidermis or the very top layer and are only a millimetre or so thick. The abnormal cells do not penetrate deep down into the dermis so as a consequence, it is easy to see on the surface of the skin with the naked eye the affected areas. We use the word pre-cancer, NOT because the cells are cancerous or you have cancer, but because the cells MAY (or MAY NOT) develop into cancer over a period of years. The exact relationship between VIN and vulval cancer remains unknown because so few studies have been carried out.

Generally VIN is divided into three stages — I, II or III — depending on how abnormal the cells are. VIN III is the commonest presentation among women and this means that the abnormal cells are present throughout the epithelium (remember it is only a millimetre thick!). In VIN I only a third of the cells in the epithelium are abnormal, whereas in VIN II, two thirds of the cells in the epithelium are abnormal.

The symptoms do vary from woman to woman. Some have no symptoms and the area of VIN is noticed on a routine visit to the doctor. Other women complain of vulval pain or itching which can be quite severe. Others have irritation or painful sex. Some women even notice a lump or thickening of the vulval skin.

Again, like the symptoms, this is variable among different women. Some women notice thickening or hardening of the skin and others have splitting or breakdown of the skin. Some women feel there is nothing wrong with the skin.

VIN is diagnosed by a vulval biopsy where usually a small pea-sized amount of skin is removed from the affected area. Sometimes two or three biopsies are required. The procedure may be carried out under local anaesthetic in the clinic or your doctor may suggest that you come into hospital to have a biopsy removed under general anaesthetic.

A biopsy is essential so that the pathologists can see down the microscope to make sure the area is VIN (and not other skin conditions) and also to see exactly what degree of abnormal cells there are.

This remains unknown. There do appear to be two age groups who get VIN: women in their 60s to 70s and women in their 30s to 40s. In women in their 30s and 40s, VIN does appear to be associated with the family of ‘wart’ viruses (human papilloma viruses) which can cause change in the appearance of the cells down the microscope causing VIN to develop. VIN is noticed to be more common among women who smoke, but whether there is a direct relationship remains unknown.” -Vulvar Pain Society

Read the Story of a young Latina mom who accidentally found out she had VIN. Her story resonates with many women struggling with VIN. Time and time again doctors misdiagnose and some women don’t get treated in time before developing full blown vulvar cancer. We hope her story helps women do monthly vulvar checks and advocate for themselves during routine check ups with their doctors.

The Vulva Check: My Story

“On May of 2018 I was diagnosed with Vulva intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). The first thought that came to my head is what the heck is that?! Turns out it’s abnormal cells growing in the surface of your vulva, that eventually can become cancer. Who would of thought your pretty flower can get cancer?! I couldn’t believe that the itching and a few dark spots would lead to that kind of diagnosis.

It all began during my third pregnancy. My labia began to itch pretty bad but it was very similar to the itch you get when you shave and your hair is growing. The itch didn’t go away, it was quite irritating I personally thought maybe it’s yeast. I did the over the counter treatment and it would ease the itching a bit but eventually come back. Then on August 2017 I had my stillborn. A month after I had my sleeping baby a small bump appeared on my labia, again it looked like a razor related issue. I thought, ok, this might be an ingrown hair because the itchiness was pretty intense. I went to my OBGYN with my husband. As my doc checked me, she said “it doesn’t look like anything to be concerned about let me swab it for herpes.” She swabbed away and stepped out the room. I took one look at my husband and said, “if that comes out positive your dead.” He looked at me with great concern and assured me he had not done anything. Poor guy, lol. The Dr. came back with results saying it was negative and that it might just be an irritation of some sort.

By December 2017 I had a few dark spots all over my vulva. I tend to look at my flower often and I’m aware how I look and those spots were never there before. Again I thought maybe this is just hormones from having a baby. February 2017 we move to Guam (Navy Wife) that’s when I went to the doctor and explained all my symptoms. She took one look at me and said, “I don’t think this is anything to worry about, but let’s take a punch biopsy of it just to make sure.”

The pain of a needle poking your labia is no freaking joke! It’s painful! After the results came in I went to a oncologist OBGYN. This doctor put me under to take deeper tissue biopsies and cervical biopsies. The results came back confirming not only did I have VIN3 which is one stage away from cancer, but I had HPV. Apparently HPV is connected with VIN3. Please keep in mind I’ve never had an abnormal pap and I had a pap done right after my pregnancy. So the symptoms of this disease where already appearing before I even knew I had HPV. Check you vulva! Please it’s so taboo to talk about your vagina and there isn’t enough awareness for women.

I hope my story can encourage you to take a mirror monthly if not weekly and look at your pretty vulva making sure all looks good. Get to know her because you are your best advocate. There’s no regular check ups for doctors with this disease, it’s something you have to be aware and communicate to your doctor.”


About the Author: Marcella Restrepo Cevallos is of Colombian descent. She was born on September 5th, 1990 in Cleveland, Ohio. She was raised in New Jersey. She is currently living over seas in Guam with her husband and children. She prides herself in being a Navy wife and a former homeschooling mom. She identifies herself as a child of God who wants to make her Father known through the love and works He does in her life.

Ana Valenzuela
Ana Valenzuela, MS, LPC, NCC, LCDC-Intern

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I heard many negative connotations regarding therapy, counseling, psychiatry, and anything that had to do with seeking help for anything other than a medical condition. A common expression I constantly heard was “quien va con un psicólogo está loco/a” (seeking therapy is for crazy people), of course, hearing those things being a therapist was the last thing on my mind at that age and time.

One of the sad things of such environment is that individuals with severe mental illness were not and even now days are not receiving the proper attention or treatment. They are moving around the community displaying symptoms of severe mental illness diagnosis such as schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Displaying behaviors that could potentially be harmful to themselves and others around them. Many times I witnessed people laughing at these behaviors and treating the person as if he/she were entertainers and at times provoking aggressive behaviors by bullying, humiliating, or convincing him/her of an alter reality that exacerbated the negative actions.

Most of the time I was not sure of what was going on, but I disliked to see how others around me entertained themselves with the “out of the norm” behaviors displayed. I would hear comments about the “manicomio” (psychiatric ward) as people laugh and joke about the person being “Loco/a” (crazy). It saddened and angered me to learn what the manicomio was; I felt powerless since I saw myself so insignificant to have a voice or even be an agent of a change. I felt there was nothing I could do, however, today it is a different story, I am a strong agent of change in my community, I intend to continue voicing my concerns and extending a hand to everyone in need.
On a positive note in my experience in the Dominican Republic, from time to time, I also witness those that show compassion and solidarity by providing food, shelter and sticking out to the injustices, which gave me comfort and hopes that something positive could be done to help change the system. My interest increased, so I started inquiring more about mental health, looking for a way to be part of the solution or at the bare minimum contribute to a solution.
In 2001, my family decided to move to Houston, Texas; I had no idea what the future held for me in a new country, different language, different culture, different prospects and the perspectives of possibilities to even dream of change was far, but the eagerness to search for new opportunities was always there.
From an early age, my father thought my sister and I that education was the path to achievement, that hard work was the way of attaining success. I was determining to be successful and continue to achieve my goal of helping my community. The transition was difficult as I encounter many setbacks, at times I felt my goals were in pause, and the anxiety of not knowing what would happen next was both frustrating and challenging.

My hopes and dreams of becoming a counselor never changed, instead were strengthened as I observe how children with disabilities had an opportunity for education, interaction with others, that in this country having a disability did not impede receiving an education, something that was non-existing in my beloved Dominican Republic.
In 2004, after being in the US for several years, the need for mental health services touch close to home, someone dear to me attempted suicide, I am grateful she survived. However, it was a wake-up call to become aware of the lack of Spanish speaking therapist in my community.
After being discharged from the psychiatric hospital, the real challenged begun, finding a Spanish speaking psychiatrist and therapist was nearly impossible and having to use a translator felt very impersonal to her and her family. That was my first exposure to the mental health system in the Houston area and what strengthened my passion for providing change for my community, becoming someone that could provide support in the native language, someone that was able to understand and relate to the struggles the Latino community face in the US.
I have been in the field of mental health for almost ten years now, in recent years, there has been an increase of Spanish speaking mental health providers in the Houston area; I am proud to say I am one of the many Latina/o lending a hand to the community.
My journey has guided me to provide counseling and support to women, children, and men survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. To work with the increasing population of unaccompanied minor children crossing the US borders on their own and be able to provide comfort, safety, and hope in the midst of the chaos. To provide mental health services to the community in one of the largest mental health agencies for Harris County, as well as be able to have a private practice in which I can meet with clients in the evenings and weekends to accommodate their schedule.
It is an honor to have the opportunity to guide my community through the healing process and to provide education on mental health illness. Be able to provide education in a way my community can understand and demystify mental illness, that mental illness does not discriminate, that at some point in our life, we all need someone to talk to, someone that can relate and understand what is going on in our lives. I am privileged to be that person for a community that has been my home for so many years.

 

About the Author 

Ana Valenzuela has a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University. Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor-Intern to practice professional counseling in the state of Texas under license #74356. She believes that the healing process goes hand by hand with a positive therapeutic relationship, it is an honor for me to be able to walk the road to healing with my clients to achieve the personal and emotional goals.

Her experience includes working with clients of various ages and issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, parenting, sexual abuse, domestic violence, trauma, school issues, anger issues, and family issues, working with families in the reunification process for separation due to various life circumstances, including separation due to immigration proceedings.

She has  worked with adults, young children, teens, youths, and juveniles in crisis or who are dealing with various personal decisions for their lives. In working with individuals (adult and children), I attempt to be caring, supportive and bring an understanding of non-judgmental honesty, to help guide them through life stressors.

Ana Valenzuela, MS., LPC, NCC, LCDC-Intern
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certify Counselor
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor-Intern
(English/Spanish)
Clearhope Counseling and Wellness Center
6021 Fairmont Parkway Suite 200
Pasadena, Tx 77504
281-769-2238 ext. 515
Clear Hope Wellness
Learn more about Ana

Eat healthy foods. Drink more water. Move your body daily. Blah..blah..blah

You’ve heard it all before and it’s usually in one ear and out the other. While those are all important components there’s something often overlooked to a holistic health approach.

S – E – X
Ok, now that I have your attention…

Sex is natural and when addressed in a healthy way can be pleasurable and just what the doctor ordered.

A Few Benefits of SEX

Stress reliever – Ever wonder why that annoying morning person at the office has a smile on her face?
Sleep – Relaxes you so you can catch up on some much needed shut eye

Energizer – More sleep leads to more energy throughout the day so it’s a win, win!
Vaginal Rejuvenation – Promotes healthy estrogen levels to keep vaginal tissues supple
Relaxation – boosting endorphin levels and flushing cortisol (an inflammatory hormone released by the adrenal glands) out of the body.
Skin Glow – I’ve been told by more than one friend that I had a glow about me. My secret: I’d had an orgasm before I met them for lunch.
Natural boost to oxytocin and DHEA hormone – Before popping a pill try hopping in bed
Confidence booster – Carry that confidence from bedroom to the boardroom and rock that presentation or new goal you’ve set.

So WHY aren’t more people having sex? What’s the Problem?

SO many of us have an unhealthy experience with our bodies, sex, relationships, or expectations! Abuse and trauma are sadly prevalent, especially in the Latina community, and result in a screwed up view of sex.

Many aren’t willing to openly talk about sex out of fear of experiencing even more shame or being judged. So now you have a marriage or long-term relationship where partners aren’t communicating about what they do or don’t want in the bedroom.

Result: Sharing homes, children, bank accounts, and more with someone but not deepest desires or how to fully please each other with what is natural.

Sex isn’t usually talked about enough growing up so adults are left to jump into it with bits and pieces of information (usually NOT from a positive resource) and piece meal together something that makes up a huge part of their health and identity.

It’s like being expected to hang with the pros as a golf player with only knowledge of the basics: involves a club, ball, tee and that it’s played on a course. Other than that, you’re just whacking your balls and figuring out the score as you go. Chances of winning are slim to none.

So what the heck do you do about it?

1. Start by getting to know and LOVE your own body. Too many women suffer from vulvaphobia. Don’t be afraid to look at your vulva and learn to appreciate it. Chances are it’s been through a LOT in life and can use some kindness!

I’ll never forget the time my boyfriend asked me to watch porn in college. I saw a vulva that did NOT look anything remotely like mine! I hadn’t seen vulvas growing up and didn’t really acknowledge or look at my own. I immediately began comparing mine to the blonde actress and became self-conscious. One of the reasons porn can be unhealthy. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes and it’s not reality.

Vulvas come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. Yours is unique just like you.

2. Learn what feels good to YOU. Sex is more than penetration and orgasm. The more I learn about sex the more I realize the pressure and “sex”pectations put on women AND men to perform a certain way. It’s ok to not like something sexually and speak up.

3. Care for your body. Feed it MORE real foods and LESS crap (Carbonated drinks, Refined Sugars, Artificial sweeteners, and Processed Foods, speak kindly to it AS IS, fit in fitness somewhere in your day, and soak up spirituality. Listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs.

3. Make Sex a priority. Often as women we push our needs down after taking care of husbands, children, work, home, and others. If you don’t make time in your day it may NOT happen. There’s always another person or to do list. As a wife, homeschool mom, and entrepreneur I’m busy. For years I lost myself in motherhood and decided to take my life an health back when I turned 40.

With young children are days and chores never seemed to end and our heads hit the pillow late at night and the LAST thing on my mind was sex. I finally woke up and decided I missed that connection and release of an orgasm. So began our morning wake up calls! Nothing like sex before breakfast to get me in a good mood to face the day. Find what works for your schedule but be sure to include it!

4. Speak up! As women and Latinas we need to share our voices and speak up about what we want and need without apologizing. Communicate with your partner in an open and honest manner. You’re sharing your body with this person and should be able to talk about anything. How else will they know? We owe it to ourselves and our daughters to care for our sexual health and approach it without shame.

Sex can be fun and a great way to unwind at the end of a crazy day or connect with your partner.

ALL areas of your life are connect and affect the other. Eventually when one area is unhealthy it bleeds over into another area whether it’s your physical body, productivity at work, or mental/emotional health.

Be intentional about addressing all areas of your life this year and be unapologetically authentic with you are and what you need to experience true holistic health.

 

About the Author

UnProcessed Jess

Jessica Brassington is a Texas wife, homeschool mom, and woman trying her best to stay fit, semi-sane, and live life less processed. When she isn’t running errands, spending time with family, or working on her business, you can find her fitting in fitness or connecting with others in her community. After losing herself in motherhood, Jess decided to take back her health and life when she turned 40. She believes in true holistic health.  ALL areas of life are connected and impact the other. True whole health is more than eating greens and looking hot naked, although she admits those are a bonus! A hot cup of tea, fair trade, Non-GMO chocolate and sharing her voice to help others make
her heart skip a beat.
She shares her passion on her blog, www.unprocessedJESS.com, and candid convos about sex, sleep, and the pursuit of healthiness on her podcast, Naked Talk with unprocessedJESS.

 

The Holiday season is a beautiful time in the year where bold reds and dark greens spin in sparkling twirls of lights.  The warm smells of vanilla and chocolate rise through the air of the crisp urban city.  Bells and chimes lifts our spirits and brews heart-felt goodwill.

We travel through the streets of our city to work, dine, shop, and give this holiday season.  At times we may forget the urban reality we live in.  We live in a sprawling city with an intense growing population.  The city is growing so fast high rises are not only for business. 

We can pretend that we will never become victims of a crime, but the reality is where there are humans there will be crime.  There is a difference between a property crime and a crime against a person.  Nevertheless, the effects are some of the same for both:  fear, worry, paranoia, and pain. 

Here are a few tips for you this holiday season.

1.      Stay Alert.  No matter what area you live in.  Crime occurs in all areas.  Put your phone down, lower down your radio, and look around before you exit your vehicle.  In case someone approaches you quickly you must be able to close your door and lock yourself in or drive away. Again, look around before you exit your vehicle.

2.      When shopping alone don’t carry your purse. Carry essentials only.  Credit card or cash.  This means you might have to think about your wardrobe before you go shopping.  Wear something comfortable with multiple pockets. Don’t leave your purse in the car.  Place it in the trunk, however be aware of who is watching.  This is why you might not want to take your purse at all. 

3.      Leave the kids at home.  Plan your shopping day when you will be able to shop without children.  If this isn’t a possibility find another adult that will shop with you.  Safety is definitely in numbers. 

4.      Day and night might not discourage crime during the holiday season. However, night time is perfect for crime for obvious reasons.

5.      Make several shopping trips. Holiday shopping is physically and emotionally tiring.  When you are less tired you are more alert. 

6.      Always make sure you know where you are in case you do have to call 911.  Practice going to a location and ask yourself what intersections are close by, main streets, and major shopping centers.  Memory is the first thing to go when you are scared or involved in a traumatic situation. 

7.      Don’t carry cash. If you have to carry cash make sure you don’t display it out in public.  Same thing goes for jewelry.

8.      Lock your doors when pumping gas.  A car can easily park next to you and take your purse while you are pumping gas.

9.      Do not use public restrooms for you or your children if you don’t have to.  Always have a potty break prior to shopping.  If you do have to use a public restroom make sure it is well lit, with moderate traffic, and located close to a common public area. 

10.   Check your credit and debit transactions daily.  Credit card fraud is always high, but holidays bring about more opportunity. 

 Happy Holidays! Stay Safe!

Pollito-TamaleJudgement is the masa in a pork tamale. Without the masa, the tamale would have no shape, form or portability. Similarly, without judgment self-hatred is shapeless, formless and static. A person’s first encounter with judgment leaves an indelible mark and the ability to recall with lucid details the pain from the past. Because it is ubiquitous and has origins that are hard to trace, we hope scientists will soon isolate the judgment gene so it can be spliced in utero forever freeing future generations of its sting.

However, it is not inherited, at least not in the traditional genetic way. In my 20 years of working with many women, I find similar stories of carefully sequenced events that create the perfect framework for mastery of self-hatred. Our brains are remarkable and wired to learn; learning is the purpose of the brain. Unfortunately, in its zealous enthusiasm to learn, the brain fails to discern between learning tools for psychological self-preservation vs learning tools for self-destruction.
Let’s discuss the simplicity of learning. Behavior that is repeated forges neural pathways that change the architecture of our brain. These pathways become superhighways that enable speedy execution of the behaviors that forged it. For example, the first time I have a thought, a brain cell fires and leaves a faint trace. The second time I have the thought, the trace is boldened. By the time I have the thought ten times, the faint initial trace is like a knee-jerk reflex seemingly automated with little control on my part. This behavior (eg., thinking “I’m not enough”) becomes easier to recall because of the availability heuristic (whatever is recalled often, represents our reality).

However, repeated statements don’t make them universal truths. Now if these patterns are rewarded, they will get even stronger. Say a child hears “you are not enough” and when they repeat this to themselves, they feel an awkward sense of peace because agreement brings absence of conflict, jaded acceptance and common ground. This peace is a payoff that increases that likelihood of having that thought again. The individual says to himself “Although it’s a negative statement about myself, at least we both agree I am not enough, and agreement feels good.” Repeated studies on conformity indicate people will agree with clearly wrong or even dangerous decisions to avoid rejection. And the more significant the other person, the stronger the motivation to conform.

 
Instead of judgement, I advocate for discernment. Discernment is listening carefully for helpful and hurtful thoughts. Next time you hear your inner voice, press slow motion so you can manage it. Decide if it deserves to enter your consciousness. You have the right to deny it access. You are capable beyond measure. The reality is that you are beautiful in this moment and the next. Not because of anything you’ve done or failed to do. You are beautiful because you are willing to see beauty in others which helps you recognize it more quickly, even in yourself. Every time I say something about another, I give voice to my inner thoughts about myself. For the next 30 days, I challenge you to actively seek the beauty in everyone you see. You will find what you seek, and it will magnify with reflected rays that overflow your soul.

 

Dr. Esmeralda López

Dr. Lopez has worked in mental health for twenty years. She has presented on mental health topics in over 40 states. She currently teaches graduate students in the assessment program at UTRGV, supervises interns and works independently as a school psychologist for districts in the Houston area. She uses portrait and glamour photography to promote self-esteem in minority teens. She enjoys salsa dancing, bike riding, and travelling.
She spends most weekends outdoors watching her son play soccer.

What are the signs you are ready to leave your job?  Here are a few warning signs that are sure signs it is time to go.  Don’t wait until you crash and burn.  If you are experiencing some of these signs make sure you get mental health support and start looking for another job.  Stress can be attributed to work environment, organizational culture, and lack of support systems built into the organization you  work for.  It may not be you.  It may be them.

  1. Can’t sleep because you are spending time going over your day thinking how awful your job is.
  2. You start having headaches, stomach aches, develop rashes, or unexplained symptoms.
  3.  You have mood swings and  feel extremely sad or angry at various times of the day.
  4. You don’t like any of your co-workers.
  5.  You start taking more time off than usual and are always tired.

 

It might be time to say, “Take this job and shove it.”

 

 

 

Mija, you and I somos Reina, and I will adjust your corona without judgment, with empathy, and unconditional regard. I will hold space for you, in this space mi Reina ajustaré tu corona and tell no one. Yo abriré mi corazón and let go of control to support your own growth

There’s a quote I’ve seen floating around for some time about “fixing another queen’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.” The author is unknown with different written versions, but same concept. It immediately brought to mind a therapeutic concept “holding space” a practice many of us engage with others without knowing it’s an actual thing.

Hermanas, who has held space for you and adjusted your crown without telling the world? Be inspired to do the same for others especially para aquellos en nuestras vidas.

Tu Amiga Tpot James,

🧡Latinas Rising

“I was really happy to get this far. For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today.” – Serena

Dear Serena,

You are what we call, Chingona(bad-ass)! Ten-months after having a baby, major surgery, and near-death experience, you showed -up and tried at the Wimbledon 2018 Tournament. You, my fellow-chingona demonstrated grace, poise, and an indescribable toughness that many mommies demonstrate daily. I’ve watched and re-watched your Wimbledon 2018 post-interview and each time I cry. Why? Well, I think of myself and all the other mommies that show up daily trying to balance mommy-hood and work life. Your openness about the difficulties and vulnerabilities of showing up validates the realness of “mommy guilt.” I too have missed the first steps, been the late mommy, and/or had to apologized for not being available for a school trip. However, your transparency validates me and every other mom that struggles with “mommy guilt” with burgeoning exhaustion from showing up. Pero(but), you’re chingona and the G.O.A.T! We’re all chingonas, because winning half the battle is just that showing-up and trying. Ah, but you were “too tired today” or any other day, no worries, hermanas(sisters). Remember, and if you need a reminder of what self-compassion looks like, watch Serena’s post-game interview. The biggest take-away is just that, you’re doing the best you can, show-up when you can, and try, but with a little self-compassion consider yourself winning!

Sincerely Tu Amiga,

Tpot James

Latinas Rising Co-Founder

According to The Polaris Project, sex trafficking is “a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally. Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.” (polarisproject.org)

Texas has been identified as a hub for sex trafficking. According to a 2014 Texas DPS report, “about a quarter of all sex trafficking happens in Texas.” (Texas Department of Public Service, “Assessing the Threat of Human Trafficking in Texas.” 2014).

  • Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90. (Do Something )
  • Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography. (dosomething.org)
  • According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation. (dosomething.org)
  • There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
    According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.  (dosomething.org)

Free the Captives is an  anti-human trafficking, faith based,  non-profit that fights the exploitation and trafficking of Houston’s youth. With a mission to engage and mobilize the community, Free the Captives partners with other non-profits, law enforcement, and government agencies to fight against modern day slavery. In addition to working with the community and other groups, Free the Captives empowers victims of human trafficking through direct services including education and employment.

Free the Captives’ Mission is simple:

  • RESCUE trafficked teenagers by working closely with law enforcement,
  • RESTORE victims by providing direct services such as mentoring, tutoring, shelter, & material assistance,
  • EMPLOY victims in  job programs and provide much needed income and life skills
  • PREVENT trafficking through programming for at-risk teenaged girls and providing education in schools,
  • DETER and reduce the demand by focusing on the buyers/Johns through a “Buy Sex? Bye, bye Freedom!” billboard, radio and TV campaign,
  • CONDUCT RESEARCH to provide much needed data and to shape public policy, and
    EDUCATE thousands of people each year through an annual conference and trainings.

Free the Captives rescued teens are guided in the creation of beautiful candles.  These candles are sold to the public to help continue job programs and life skill classes for the teens.  A job is vital for these girls because it helps stop them from returning to the “life” because they are able to earn a viable income and essential job skills. Upon receiving her first paycheck, one of their girls shared, “I am so proud of this paycheck! This is the first time I’ve earned money where no one has used my body for it.”

buy a candle save a life white

How Can You Help?

Join Free the Captives on March 2nd for their Restoration Runway Fashion Show to help these young teens.   Funds raised during this event will go towards purchasing a permanent space to house their job program and support group for teen trafficking survivors. It will help provide a safe place for these girls where they can learn, grow, and heal. All proceeds benefit Free the Captives and the teenage trafficking survivors they serve. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit: Free The Captives Fashion Show.

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Purchase a candle made by a teen rescued from sex trafficking.  Not only will you be purchasing a hand made candle, but you will be restoring faith and pride in the life of a teen.  Help a teen to heal and support this beautiful cause by purchasing a hand made candle and a ticket to The 2nd Annual Restoration Fashion Show.

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All Photos courtesy of Free The Captives Organization.