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Call Me By My Name Part One: Gainesville Nonprofit Confronts Sex Trafficking by Empowering Women through Christ

“Created Gainesville” is looking to end sex trafficking in North Central Florida by reaching and restoring women’s lives
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 6:27 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - “We want to empower women to know that they can do things for themselves,” said Brigit Shedd, Created Gainesville Administrative Director. “We lay the groundwork, and we walk with them through it, and we fight alongside them, but we are not taking a step ahead of them to fight for them.”

Since opening their doors in 2012 “Created Gainesville” has helped more than 2,500 victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“Anywhere from 17, so we have helped minors as they age out of the foster care system,” mentioned Shedd. “We work with women from 18 up, until however old they are when they want to be served. So we have served women who are 70.″

According to the Human Trafficking Hot Line Florida ranks the third highest in the country for sex trafficking cases.

“In 2020 we reached 270, and so far in 2021 we have reached 256 women,” said Shedd. “Really anybody can be at risk for trafficking. A lot of those risks come from youth, runaways, unstable families.”

And the pandemic has worsened the statistics, especially online. Many feel safer staying at home, spending time on their devices, but according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there has been a nearly 99% increase in online enticement in 2020, when compared to 2019.

When someone reaches out, Created Gainesville uses a four phase system. The first three phases are stabilization, rehabilitation, and development.

“Judges, lawyers and different people in the legal system will call us and say ‘hey we have this woman and this is what we think is going on. Would you come in and talk to her and get her to a place that is safe for her?’” explained Shedd. “We go into the jail every week, we go onto the street once to twice a month, and we go into the strip club once a month.” Shedd continued, saying “we help them set goals and reach those goals, whether its going back to school, getting their license, getting their record expunged.”

The fourth phase is empowerment.

“They have all these skills that are unbelievable,” said Shedd. “And they are very beautiful, to watch them develop and learn how to use the skills to fight for themselves, and to advocate for themselves with us alongside them.”

Over a 12 to 24 month period the nonprofit helps restore the lives of women, and remind them Christ is for everyone, no matter your situation.

“Our hope is to know that Jesus is for everybody,” mentioned Shedd. “No matter where you are Jesus is willing to meet you there and change your life there.”

Shedd went on to explain the success stories of women who took part in Created Gainesville’s programs. She said, “We have women who work in the medial industry. We have quite a few that work in the medical industry. We’ve seen women go back to school, who have started families, and just worked in different jobs that they feel the Lord has called them too, and it is so wonderful to get them basically to spread their wings and fly.”

Created Gainesville is opening a residential building soon. For more about the nonprofit and how to help their efforts, visit website createdgainesville.com

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