Written by Stephanie Hower
Originally published in Billings Lifestyle
In 2016, Britney and Sammy Higgs experienced a moment of enlightenment destined to change the course of their lives forever.
“We founded the HER Campaign following a vision of starting a safe home for domestic survivors of sex trafficking,” begins Britney Higgs, founder and president. “Our hearts were broken for the issue of human trafficking and we knew once the veil was lifted, we could no longer turn a blind eye to this issue. In a dark and hurting world, we all have the opportunity and privilege to be carriers of light and support for survivors.”
That same year, their vision became reality and HER Campaign was born. Operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the HER Campaign exists to help survivors of human trafficking heal, grow, and find purpose.
“Our vision is to create a world where FREEDOM gets the final say. We help to restore women survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We do this through our 24/7 HOPE Line and long-term residential housing through our HER Refuge Housing Network, a network of family-run safe homes.”
As a young family of five, the Higgs pioneered a new kind of residential program for survivors, one where they and their three young children lived in the home with the women they were serving.
“Over the last three years, we have built a restoration program providing trauma-informed resources and therapies while integrating survivors into a family system and helping them step into a life of independence with a continued support system,” says Britney. “At the HER Campaign, we believe that God’s first design for restoration and healing is within the family structure. With the majority of adult survivors we serve coming from the foster care system, familial exploitation, and/or abusive and broken families, reintegration with their biological families is typically not viable, at least not during the healing journey.”
HER Refuge Housing Network
The HER Refuge Housing Network program is the heart of the Campaign. This Network serves as a system of support for survivors, through survivor led group discussions and family run safe homes.
“The sole purpose is to ignite the faith community to be a safe place for each survivor by one-on-one mentorship and immersion into their homes and families,” Britney continues. “Our goal is to create an ecosystem of love and healing for the mind, body, and spirit within communities nationwide by placing each survivor of human trafficking in a family unit to experience love in action and have a continued support system throughout the healing journey.”
The first family run safe home opened at the end of 2017.
“From December 2017 to July 2020, it was our honor and privilege to live with and walk the journey of healing with 10 survivors. The typical stay for those 10 women was 6 months, with up to 3 survivors living at the home at a time. As residents of the HER Refuge, it was the longest stay for 100% of the survivors stepping into the home that had previously been in other shelters and safe home programs throughout the country.” Women in the program regain a sense of safety and belonging by being immersed in a healthy, strong family structure.
Looking ahead to 2021, the HER Refuge Housing Network’s goal is to raise up to 20 host families to operate HER Refuge safe homes. This will provide refuge for 20 survivors, including those who are pregnant, have children, disabilities, or handicaps, within 2021.
“Each family will immerse one survivor into their family and home at a time and walk the journey of healing with her up to one year. HER Campaign staff and mentors come alongside host families by providing survivors’ case management and programming for therapies, healing resources, education, job training, and employment opportunities.”
The Housing Network uses a three stage process to aid survivors in their journey: the integration stage, emergence stage, and independence stage. Each stage is tailored to guide survivors along their path of healing, growth, and purpose while ultimately preparing them for a successful life of independence. The HER Refuge Housing Network Healing Towards Independence Plan costs on average $10,000 per survivor for one year with a host family and includes the following services: Case Management, Neuromodulation Technology Therapy, Body and Health Wellness Courses, Equine Therapy, Occupational Therapy, EMDR Therapy, Art Therapy, Survivor Lead Support Groups, and Job Readiness & Training.
Along with the HER Refuge Housing Network, HER Campaign’s programs include HOPE Line, Merch with a Message, and API Institute to create a trauma-informed community. They employ 10 staff members and 61 volunteers throughout the organization.
“HOPE Line is a 24/7 call line run by trained volunteers that provide hope while helping to facilitate survivors exit from the life or resource the caller,” explains Britney. “Merch with a Message is an online store and local boutique that creates clothing and apparel spreading a message of hope and proceeds go towards survivors stepping into our HER Refuge Housing Network. API Institute (Awareness, Prevention, and Intervention) is a program that provides awareness, prevention, and direct care trainings throughout the region for businesses, organizations, ministries, schools, and agencies.”
How can members of the community support HER Campaign?
If you would like to be a carrier of light and support for survivors of human trafficking, there are a number of ways to lend your help.
1. Donate at www.hercampaign.org/donate/
2. Become a HOPE Line operator – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Become a HER Campaign Ambassador
4. Shop our Merch with a Message online at hercampaign.org/shop/
5. Set up an API Training for your business, agency, or organization.
6. Run a fundraiser for HER Campaign through your small business
HER Campaign, 501(c)(3) NPO
P.O. Box 51451 Billings, MT 59105