Bailey is 24-years old and has been living full-time at the Awaken House since March. The home is a refuge for survivors of the commercial sex industry to heal themselves and work toward a life free from trafficking. It’s not her first time getting help from Awaken though. In 2018, a police officer introduced her to the organization after she was beaten so badly by her trafficker that she ended up in a coma for over two months.
“I had to have a tracheotomy because I couldn’t breathe. I went to the drop-in center and was introduced to Awaken, but then I got back very deep into my addiction. It’s hard to stay clean. My addiction kept getting the best of me.”
Bailey’s substance use started when she was 12 and a family member injected her with heroin in order to sexually abuse her. She said this experience started a cycle of abuse for her that includes a heavy drug and alcohol addiction for much of her young life.
“I have never known anything other than being beaten and hurt by people. I’ve been suffering abuse pretty much since I was a baby. I was sexually assaulted at age 4, and then beat by family members and my husband. I was once beaten so badly that I ended up with broken ribs and a ruptured spleen.”
While most of Bailey’s physical abusers have been men, she says her first introduction to trafficking was when a female friend sold her in order to make the next month’s rent.
“She said ‘we gotta do what we gotta do.’ I was afraid to be homeless and have to sleep outside in the freezing cold. I’ve been trafficked by three women. At first, I thought they were my friends and that they would take care of me. But the female pimps I have had have been way more aggressive than the men.”
Bailey said she knew she wanted to escape from the sex industry for good when she was held at gunpoint in a Reno hotel and forced to detox from drugs while being raped and abused. At the Awaken House, Bailey says she feels safe for the first time in her adult life. She is now working on healing from her past traumas and finding ways to deal with negative emotions in healthy ways. She wants to get stable and be able to support herself and eventually regain visiting rights with her 6-year-old daughter.
“I want to be able to hug my daughter again. Since I’ve been here, I have gotten an ID and set up medical and dental appointments to take care of my physical health. I want to get my GED and eventually go to college. In therapy we are chipping away at recent trauma and soon we are going to deal with the harder stuff. I have to set daily goals.”
Bailey said Awaken has been a non-judgmental and safe place that has changed the course of her life for the better. Recently, Bailey wrote her future self a letter to help her keep going if times ahead are difficult. She said she wrote words of encouragement that she has been taught to believe and trust.
“I wrote, ‘Keep your head up and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Keep pushing forward. Look at how much you have gone through already. You’re an incredibly strong woman. You’ve got this.’”
Since Awaken was founded in 2011, it has reached more than 700 women and children in the Northern Nevada community. Awaken’s mission is to increase awareness and education surrounding the issue of commercial sexual exploitation and to provide housing and restoration for its victims.
Thank you to all of the Awaken donors and supporters who have helped us reach this important milestone of ten years!