At Sustainable Rescue, we focus on the “3P Paradigm” methodology of Prevent, Prosecute and Protect. Sometimes we forget the most important “P” of all: People. Most professionals agree that men struggle to express emotional vulnerability and to seek help, especially male victims of sex trafficking. Ranch Hands Rescue has created a dynamic healing equation by acknowledging that every abused victim matters, whether they are two or four-legged. This is a story about a Texas organization who has developed an ingenious treatment method of pairing traumatized victims with traumatized animals.
Sexually Exploited Male Survivors
The physical and psychological abuse human trafficking victims experience leads to serious mental or emotional health consequences: feelings of severe guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Providing culturally appropriate and trauma-informed mental health treatment can be very challenging.
“Men suffer more silently because they’ve been trained to do that, and they are not used to showing their injuries – especially injuries that are not visible. As a man it can be very humiliating that mentally you don’t ‘have it together’ and are not able to make a living.” – Head of Counter-Trafficking, Helen Bamber Foundation
Animal Cruelty Survivors
Ranch Hands Rescue Animal Sanctuary rescues the worst-of-the-worst farm animal abuse and neglect cases. Their livestock includes horses, cows, llamas, alpacas, pigs, goats, sheep, and donkeys. The animal recovery process begins with sanctuary, science and medicine, but ends with human interaction and renewal of trust. Once animals are rehabilitated, they become part of the Equine and Animal-Assisted Counselling program.
Ranch Hand Rescue
The animals in the Equine and Animal-Assisted Counselling program have their own trauma to bear, which further strengthens the relationship bond with humans. Ranch Hands Rescue expanded this program to male victims of sex trafficking between the ages of 17 to 24. Animals help with depression, anxiety, and stress. They provide companionship and ease loneliness. Animals don’t ask difficult questions, push for testimony or make judgments. Coupled with a serene, soothing landscape, the ranch promotes a unique brand of healing.
Founder Bob Williams was recently quoted in the Dallas Morning News, “There is a tremendous amount of data about the power of animals in mental health therapy; but what no one figured out was the power of abused and neglected animals with abused and neglected people.”
The rescued animals are not available for adoption. At this forever home, they are a respected, valuable and integral part of the human treatment and recovery journey provided by Ranch Hands Rescue.
Human victims face a very different challenge in recovery, social integration and shelter. To address this issue, Bob’s House of Hope is now in the planning stages. This will be a long-term shelter for boys and men who have escaped from sex trafficking. Although the doors aren’t yet open, there is a clear message from Bob Williams: We can’t erase traumatic memories, but we can bring what is hiding into the light, and we can build more opportunities for people to receive the help and care that they deserve.