– Driving through the front gates of The Shelter, Sandy, a human trafficking victim, looked back through the window of the squad car and watched the gates close. When they closed and no one followed, relief blanketed the fear she constantly felt.

At the age of 18, Sandy had already seen and been forced to do things no one should ever experience. Upon arrival at The Shelter, she was slow to unlatch her own emotional gates and trust her advocate. When she did, she spoke for a long time about the extreme sexual and physical abuse that several people had inflicted upon her. At the end of the conversation, Sandy’s flood gates opened, releasing a wave of relief and gratitude. In that moment, she asked her advocate, “May I hug you?”

Gates open and close. They can keep us safe and they can keep us confined. Sandy is learning to make her own choices and she is choosing to fight for her life.