CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Keke and Brittany are living new lives.
“I literally have become like a new woman,” Brittany said.
They were brought together through a program.
While the two have different stories of finding recovery, they’re overcoming similar situations.
“I was a heroin addict. And I was, I lived this way since I was about 14 years old through drug addiction and sex trafficking,” Brittany said.
“I have been on death’s bed plenty of time through overdoses,” Keke said.
On Thursday night, the two girls were at a dinner put on by Love’s Arm to bring awareness to sex-trafficking.
They’re currently in Love’s Arm’s cost-free, trauma-informed care, 2 year recovery program called “Rehab’s Rest.”
It’s a home for survivors of sex-trafficking and drug addiction.
“They are victims and not criminals, because of their childhood sexual abuse and all the situations that they went through in their lives and then being in addiction adds more trauma to that, Incarceration and everything else,” Love’s Arm Founding Director Mimi Nikkel said.
Nikkel said Chattanooga is second to Atlanta as the largest hub for sex-trafficking in the southeast.
“We happen to be on the hub where our interstate system splits and you can go north, south, east or west. We’re right in the middle of a lot, a lot of trafficking activity,” Nikkel said.
“We have women that are being worked at the motels through the internet. We have escort services. We have women working in street prostitution. Then there’s a lot of activity going on in the massage parlors as well, where there are women who are trapped in those salons.”
In the last 15 years, the nonprofit has touched several lives.
Brittany has been sober for 5 months.
Without the holistic program, things may have been different.
“I had so much trauma from the sex-trafficking that needs to be dealt with that led to my drug use, you see. So if I didn’t get help with the trauma, and do the counseling that they do at Love’s Arm, I wouldn’t have been able to be healed,” she said.
Keke has been in sobriety for 6 months.
They’re both in school and want other women to know there is hope.
“Let the other women out there know that are still involved in it, that are still on the streets, that are still working out of hotels, that there’s hope. You don’t have to live like that anymore. There’s places that can help you like Love’s Arm’s Rehab’s Rest, that love does heal you know and there’s a better life. The grass is greener on the other side,” Brittany said.
Love’s Arm does work to reach out to women in the streets, strip clubs, jails and motels.
For more information on the work they do or information on how to get help, visit their website: https://www.lovesarmoutreach.org/cover