I used to live across the street from a brothel…
In 2012 my roommates and I noticed the glow of neon in a formerly vacant storefront. I was curious to see what was moving onto our block. But night after night of noticing the open sign, the heavily draped windows, the incoherent signage, and the men that'd ring the doorbell and wait to be let in - all red flags were up.
I was a student at the time, studying sociology and fine art. My research focused on the correlation between modern day slavery and the consumer market. I was aware of the signs of human trafficking, I knew the statistics, knew the numbers to call and the authorities to contact - but at the end of the day, I was powerless to stop what was happening literally 20 steps outside my door.
Human trafficking is incredibly complex. There are many factors that generate it, more that perpetuate it, and even more that make it hard to break. In the summer of 2014, the Warmer Massage on the corner of 8th and Anza in San Francisco was finally shut down. Two and a half years. Despite my neighbors rallying and reporting against it, it still took us two and a half years.
It's impossible to look at this and not see that something is broken. The justice system, the lives of those involved, the publics' ability to turn a blind eye. It's impossible to see this without acknowledging that something needs to be done.
Dear Survivor is my attempt to right the wrongs I've seen. It's the combination of all my skills, passions, and resources. Since day one of being in business, I've donated a portion of every dollar to GenerateHope, a 501(c)(3) in San Diego dedicated to helping survivors of human trafficking. I've chosen to partner with them because of their establishment, reputation, and proven methods of rehabilitation.
There's power in the consumer market - let's use it for good.