Magdalene Omaha is a community for women in who have survived lives of prostitution, violence, and addiction. The residential program provides long-term secure housing as a haven from the social, psychological and economic factors that drive women to desperate means for survival. The Magdalene community model provides two years of housing, support, and education at no cost. Once opened, we will invite women coming out of correctional facilities or off the streets into a compassionate and disciplined community where they can recover and rebuild their lives. Magdalene Omaha is a seedling of the successful Magdalene/Thistle Farms model developed in Nashville – you can find out more about Thistle Farms by visiting their website: http://thistlefarms.org
According to the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of the Magdalene model, women who enter the community likely will have first experienced sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 11, started using drugs by age 12 and 13, and have been on the streets since age 14.
Roughly 75 percent of the women who made it through the first six months of the founding Magdalene program were drug-free and pursuing education and employment two years later—a percentage unrivaled by any treatment center. That’s because Magdalene is not a halfway house or treatment center, but a community where the best evidence-based social work is paired with a spiritual community of sisterhood for life that gives women a safe place to heal.
To provide sanctuary along with an array of support services and educational opportunities for women who experienced significant violence, prostitution, and addiction.
For women to grow individually and collectively while living in community. We seek to empower women by:
- Providing intensive case management and linking to community resources and advocates;
- Providing a safe, pleasant, trauma-free home environment;
- Helping residents to live honest, sober, and self-sufficient lives;
- Providing educational and vocational opportunities;
- Fostering self-understanding through personal and spiritual growth;
- Providing life-skill building and tools for on-going maintenance;
- Providing financial literacy training through Individual Development Accounts; and
- Supporting growth towards economic independence in a Social Enterprise or alternative employment.
Magdalene Omaha is an equal opportunity agency. The selection of women for the program, as well as the employment, assignment, and promotion of staff will be based on an individual’s qualifications as they meet agency guidelines without regard to race, ethnicity, color, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or religion.
The Magdalene model began with the belief that there should be a sanctuary for women on the streets who are ready to live a life of sobriety and health. It is based on the ideal of communal living. It is named after Mary Magdalene, who embodies the hope that grace can be transformative. Led by the Rev. Becca Stevens, a group of volunteers from St. Augustine’s Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee began the first Magdalene recovery home in August 1997.
Magdalene Omaha, founded in 2016, follows the same spirit of the Nashville home to serve these women as they begin a journey of recovery and transformation.
Though it’s difficult to estimate the number of trafficked women in Nebraska, a 2015 survey reported that at least 47 school girls in Nebraska are trafficked a year, and the survey’s authors estimate that the true number is at least double this amount (Hampton & Ball). The Human Trafficking Initiative (HTI) found that an average of 45 women in Nebraska were advertised on an online commercial sex site in the summer of 2015 (Women’s Fund). Because of Omaha’s location on I-80 and I-29, the city is also part of regional and national trafficking networks.
Survivors of sex trafficking have a variety of service needs. A 2014 study of former trafficking victims found that:
- 99% reported at least one physical health problem;
- 97% reported psychological health problems (80% reported depression, 61.5% reported PTSD);
- 95% had experienced some form of violence or abuse while being trafficked;
- 81.6% reported forced sex
- 84.3% of survivors also reported substance abuse while being trafficked.
This array of needs makes it challenging both for providers to coordinate care and for survivors to access the range of services that they need. An HTI survey of Nebraska service providers found that few providers can currently meet these needs; for instance, only 14% of providers who work with trafficked individuals provide long-term housing.
Moreover, according to the First Interim Report of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, from January of 2010, through 2015, the FBI-led Omaha Child Exploitation Task Force has dealt with an estimated 200-250 primary and secondary victims of sex trafficking. Of note:
- Almost all victims have been female and domestic to the United States;
- Primary victims range in age from 12 to 40 years of age; and
- The estimated average age of primary victims is 16-22 years of age.