I've been volunteering with REST for the last three years or so, helping with practicalities like building maintenance, cleaning, and fundraising event setup/teardown. My experience with the staff has always been top notch, from their consideration towards me and extending towards educating me around the realities of the sex trade and the best way for me to have an impact on the city around me. The staff at REST are the kind of people that are willing to roll their sleeves up and dig in to tough problems that seem like they have no solution, and what's more, they are gracious and kind as they do truly difficult, sometimes thankless, work. I am always quite encouraged after volunteering with them, even though I am occasionally physically exhausted afterward as well. :)
I have been volunteering for REST for nearly a year now and absolutely love this organization! At the beginning of covid, we (myself and other volunteers) helped fix up a house for victims to live in! The wonderful people who work for this nonprofit are absolutely terrific and do everything in their power to help those in need!
These people(the staff) are toxic and very insincere. If I could describe them in one word it would be: DIMISSIVE! Not very warm or welcoming. They were not supportive and automatically disregarded my experience. I felt judged and like they didn't believe me. Which is a horrible feeling when you are trying to get help. But as long as you are on the books it helps them get/secure grant money because the higher the rate of clients thr more grant money they can qualify for/show need for grant money. So even if they don't care for you and are dimissive they value the dollar sign you represnt to them. The behavior becomes worse over time if they decide they don't like you. I would advoid this place at all cost. Just saying. I know from first hand experience. Most of them women and very "mean girl" type of behavior directed to you if they aren't fond of you. The shelter staff are similar. Also, an overweight male volunteer was rude to me more than once and I felt VERY uncomfortable around him. He flipped me off the Italian way/gesture, when I wouldn't speak to him. That type of passive agressive behavior is exact reason I wasn't talking to him in the first place. Why is he allowed to volunteer at a place where women have been abused by men? He isn't someone who should be allowed to work around this type of vulnerable population....but he fits in nicely among the staff. Who aren't professional anyways.
It was once said, you train your peasants to be thieves but then you punish them for the very crime you taught them to do. Why is that?
This could be said the same about girls in the industry. You rape us long before we have a chance to fight for our innocence, yet you judge us when we learn to make a profit from men we can not escape from. A past we cannot claim back. Innocence we cannot find.
Some chose professions such as prostitution, submission roles, and adult entertainment. But for the larger group of us ladies, we never would have dreamed of such a life. At one point we were forced into it or simply raped enough to believe that all we are good for is sex. One of the gals I worked with for a number of years had paid rent with her body for a mother who wouldn't stop doing drugs. She told me she knew nothing else and I too really didn't know much of a life either. I lose my virginity some where around five and was forced to service my father's friends for quite some time.
But I saw my self going some where. I wanted to go into the health care field and be a nurse. But basically being homeless on the streets of Seattle, Washington, I ended going back and doing pornography. Once again I had allowed my past to dictate my future and to define me. I felt like no matter what I did, I was in an endless cycle. A cycle that I couldn't break.
At nineteen, after being let out of the hospital for trying to commit suicide, I ended up at Marshill Church. There I met two people who worked for REST. These christian women showed me a different path and perhaps a brighter future.
Three years later, I know work for a church as a secretary, have stable housing, and have healthier relationships with the people around me. This spring I will be back into school to be a paramedic and am scheduled for graduation in two and a half years. Through REST I found refuge and real escape from a harsh and judgmental world and at the foot of the cross I found redemption and love from a Savior who has seen me through some of the worst years of my life. Because of REST I can reach the goals I have always wanted and through the blood of Christ my identity is child of God, beloved of the most high King.
REST claims to be in the business of rescuing girls from the sex trade. Make no mistake: this is a proselytizing organization that only intervenes with the goal of converting girls into fundamentalist christians.
The operation is slick: REST volunteers approached me last year when they found out I was a adult movie star who visited clients on the side. On the surface, their intentions seemed true: they were concerned for my well being, they wanted to give me a way out of a "bad life" and help me find my "path" and "calling."
But when I assured them that I was happy in my life, that I was not being used or coerced, their tactics swiftly changed to sIut shaming: they accused me of being a sexual deviant who was perpetuating sin and putting other girls at risk by glamorizing a dangerous lifestyle. They asked me how I could live this life and make my parents and friends ashamed of me. They hurled bible passages at me. They did everything in their power to shame me for who I am and what I choose to do. That is not acceptable.
I endured weeks of harassment and abusive tactics from REST volunteers: phone calls, visits, interruptions in my WORK LIFE, constant bible thumping, and psychological assault. Sorry, but I don't need jesus to save me. I'm doing just fine, thanks.
REST is not an organization dedicated to helping people trapped in the sex trade. It's just a gimmick. Their real interest is in religious recruitment and forcing women to fit into christian gender norms that teach us sex is bad and we will go to eternal darnation if we think about it for even a second.
REST is not interested in helping women: they don't offer to take you to Planned Parenthood so that you can tend to your personal and reproductive health. They refuse to talk about basic protection! They use half truths and outdated information about STIs to scare you. REST doesn't talk medical science. They don't talk about the impact of economics and institutionalized sexism. They quote the bible to make their point. To the volunteers of REST it is your fault that you have sex demons inside you and you are a bad person for harboring them. You are a lost soul with a sex curse that must be cast out. And, surprise surprise: they just happen to have the religion and the book that cures all that is wrong with you. How convenient! There is no distinguishable difference between REST propaganda and a bible-belt state's abstinence-only curriculum. And, as study after study has shown, abstinence-only curriculum is, by far, the least effective way to protect people from unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STIs.
Should there be organizations that rescue girls and women from the sex trade? Absolutely. There are a lot of predators who abuse and destroy lives in the name of money and the control of women. But such an organization should not be backed by a conflict of religious interest, especially when the tactics turn abusive. Religion is simply not a necessary part of the equation of a humanitarian effort. In fact, it's antithetical to the entire endeavor.
I find it tragic that misguided and ultimately hurtful organizations like REST are the ones who are trying to claim attention in battling sex trafficking. They conflate sex crimes with legal activities and the transactions of informed and consenting adults all in the name of demonizing sex. REST's mission is a self-righteous morality crusade that serves no one.
REST is a phenomenal organization that offers lasting hope to women who are at risk or are already involved with the sex industry. I have volunteered with or supported REST for almost four years now and I can honestly say that the leaders and volunteers in this organization are competent, compassionate people who know how to meet these young women where they are at. Working with marginalized populations for more than ten years has allowed me to see what characteristics of an organization are necessary to make a difference in people's lives and I have witnessed REST make steady progress towards raising awareness around and combatting the issue of sex trafficking. REST volunteers have successfully engaged hundreds of young women because they provide a safe and loving environment to build relationships in. I wholeheartedly endorse this organization.