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Our Story

The development of a place where child survivors of sex trafficking can find safety, and have access to the proper therapeutic services for healing from the trauma they’ve endured, has been a long-time passion of our Founder and Executive Director, Brooke Crowder.  Upon moving to Austin in 2010, she discovered many others with the same passion. With strategic relationships built in her international work with survivors and others in the movement to end trafficking, along with strong community will and leadership in Austin,  The Refuge for DMST was launched in November 2013. The primary purpose of The Refuge for DMST is to develop The Refuge Ranch, a long-term therapeutic ranch just outside the city of Austin, with on-site comprehensive services for girls, ages11-17, who are survivors of sex trafficking.  

Our Story is the story of a community reaching out to the broken-hearted, the weak and weary, and the one who feels forgotten, in order to bring HOPE for a new life free from violence and exploitation. The Story of The Refuge reflects God's story to all of us: God rescues us from darkness, restores our hearts through His healing love, and brings redemption to our lives for purpose and freedom, rather than captivity and despair.

Our Story

The development of a place where child survivors of sex trafficking can find safety, and have access to the proper therapeutic services for healing from the trauma they’ve endured, has been a long-time passion of our Founder and Executive Director, Brooke Crowder.  Upon moving to Austin in 2010, she discovered many others with the same passion. With strategic relationships built in her international work with survivors and others in the movement to end trafficking, along with strong community will and leadership in Austin,  The Refuge for DMST was launched in November 2013. The primary purpose of The Refuge for DMST is to develop The Refuge Ranch, a long-term therapeutic ranch just outside the city of Austin, with on-site comprehensive services for girls, minors through age 19, who are survivors of sex trafficking.  

Our Story is the story of a community reaching out to the broken-hearted, the weak and weary, and the one who feels forgotten, in order to bring HOPE for a new life free from violence and exploitation. The Story of The Refuge reflects God's story to all of us: God rescues us from darkness, restores our hearts through His healing love, and brings redemption to our lives for purpose and freedom, rather than captivity and despair.

UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM

There are almost 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas today, according to a groundbreaking two-year study (PDF) by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.

The harsh reality is that young girls are being sex trafficked across all socio-economic, racial, educational and family backgrounds.  The primary factor that makes a girl vulnerable to being trafficked is her age.  Sex trafficking of children is a supply and demand phenomena, with the internet being the primary way transactions are made to purchase a young child for sex.

Child sex trafficking is a hidden crime perpetrated upon children who don't often self-identify as victims for many complex reasons. It is difficult to quantify the size of this problem and much more work is needed to identify and help all the victims.

The size of this problem is just coming into focus. As of today, these statistics below provide the best, most reliable snapshot:

    •    Child sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in America.
    •    Texas has the second most reported number of child sex trafficking cases in the US.
    •    There are less than 600 beds available nationwide for child sex trafficking survivors long term recovery from trauma, but we have over 13,000 animal shelters.
    •    There are less than 24 beds available in Texas for child sex trafficking survivors.
    •    1 of 6 missing children are likely victims of sex trafficking.
    •    86% of reported child sex trafficking victims were in the care of social services or foster care when they went missing
    •    The average age a young girl is lured or forced in sex trafficking is just 13 years old.
    •    There was 846% increase in reported child sex trafficking cases from 2010 to 2015.

As the crime of sex trafficking of children is gaining wider attention, and organizations already working in the juvenile justice system are able to more efficiently identify children who are victims, the number of children needing specialized services for the trauma of sex trafficking is growing.  However, there are currently only a handful of places in the United States in which these children can receive the kind of services they need.

When open, the first Refuge Ranch will be the largest, and one of the few long-term, live-in rehabilitation facilities for child survivors of sex trafficking in the United States.