We all have a story; mine is a story of how I moved beyond my own disastrous background to serving those who have been trafficked. 
How did a nice young Jewish girl, from the suburbs end up in a place like this? Well to tell you the truth it was not an easy task. Feeling like a misfit who wanted to blend in with everyone, I worked very hard at being noticed and looked for love…. in all the wrong places.

Early on, I felt like I was living an out of sync life, filled with guilt, shame, and no value.  My feeling of alienation was intensified when in the mid 50’s I became one of three Jews in elementary school – once again different. From all appearances I came from a perfect family, but my father and mother were both alcoholics. I started my drinking career early. When I was six I became drunk from wine I found in the basement bar and became a serious drinker in Junior High School.  By 18, I had my first “puff” of a joint. During high school I made myself available to the boys…looking for someone to really love me.

Back then if you didn’t get married by the time you were 20, you were going to be an “old maid.”  So I married at 19, divorced by 25 with a 3-year-old son!  That’s when I found the love of my life – heroin.  It helped me to escape my unhappy marriage, the guilt and shame of my behavior, my family background, and all the pain and frustration of my life.  In reality I found a substance that was controlling and ruining my life. For 10 years I was a woman who would sell her soul for “a fix.” 

But I did find a way out!  I am living proof that women can move beyond horrific events in their lives, can learn to be whole, empowered and lead a successful life. I have been in recovery from addiction for 27 years and also have earned a Master’s Degree in Education, become an Entrepreneur and now a successful Realtor.

When you overcome a horrific start in life, it is only natural to try to look for ways that you can help other women who have found themselves in dire situations.

Through my studies, I learned about a horrific problem in Michigan, the USA and the World.  HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND SLAVERY STILL EXISTS.  I also learned that there were no safe houses in Southeastern Michigan, specifically for women over 18 years of age that are victims of sexual exploitation due to human trafficking.  In 2012, the Polaris Project estimated that only 678 beds were specified nationally for human trafficking survivors, with 2173 beds available if they are placed in non-specific shelters.
At this point, I realized I had to do something.  I decided to establish a home for women who had been trafficked. A place where women can learn to feel whole, empowered and live independent lives of their own choosing.  A place called Sanctum House.

The mission and vision of Sanctum House is to provide a sanctuary for women survivors of sex trafficking and to empower them with life skills to achieve a sustainable and independent lifestyle.

I am just one woman who had a notion, took action and it is now in motion. We hope to open by the end of this year.

Take Action:  Be aware of what is happening in your community to fight human trafficking and volunteer to help and/or donate money.  Visit Sanctum’s House website and volunteer to help.

Edee Franklin is Executive Director and Founder of Sanctum House, Associate Broker at Max Broock Realtors-Birmingham and a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.