“Our Wounds Can Transform into our Greatest Strengths”… Saving Innocence

The Women Like Us Foundation visited Chatsworth’s Saving Innocence home every other Saturday morning and began assisting in their efforts to empower and inspire the victims of sexual exploitation. Women Like Us mentored an average of 10 girls ages 14-18; topics included everything from nutrition, self-esteem and careers. The mentors were engaged with the victims on a personal level and were fully aware of each victim’s situation in and outside the home.  Women Like Us continues to assist and acknowledge women who are impacting world change like Kim Biddle. We provide support, create awareness and raise funds to help these women grow their impact and sustain their initiatives. To learn more about Kim Biddle and Saving Innocence, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org.

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Kim Biddle is not only the Founder and Executive Director of Saving Innocence, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that rescues and restores child victims of sex trafficking, she was once a victim of sexual exploitation herself. Saving Innocence is an organization that originated as a result of Kim’s own life story, and her own experience dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse. In her childhood, Kim was raised with a father who was primarily absent from her life; when her father was involved, he was emotionally abusive. In high school, Kim turned to athletics as an escape from her tumultuous family life at home. She was mentored, coached and emotionally supported by a male teacher whom she trusted as a role model and father figure, a teacher who sexually abused Kim at a vulnerable time and a young age. In her emotional recovery, Kim found her strength in reaching out to others who had also endured circumstances of sexual abuse. Kim believes, “By overcoming the part of our story that was intended to destroy us, our wounds transform into our greatest strengths – the very tools used to set others free.” Kim believes that when victimized children are fully empowered and loved, they too can become the leaders of our communities.

In her healing, Kim began her mission… a mission to empower her self and others! Kim earned her degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and went on to receive her Master’s in Global Health Certification from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. She has earned special certifications to work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She is a founding member of the Saddleback Justice Task Force and a member of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force Against Human Trafficking and the ICAN Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Committee. A lead expert and sought after speaker, Kim has trained hundreds of social workers, law enforcement, educators and community leaders on identifying human trafficking victims and implementing intervention and aftercare strategies. Kim has advised state officials in the creation of public policy to ensure proper recovery treatment for victims, leading a national movement to restore the cultural value of innocence and human worth. Kim explains, “This work is incredibly inspiring and life giving, with a daily privilege to shine light in the darkest of places in this world. But the journey to this point hasn’t been an easy one. And yet, I value the difficulties I have faced because that pain has provided me with the empathy and skills needed to help others in their journey to freedom. Sometimes it takes pain to give us eyes to see the pain of others and know how to help.”

Saving Innocence is the first non-profit organization contracted by Los Angeles County, Superior Court and Probation Department to respond 24-hours a day, 7-days a week (alongside law enforcement) to provide rescue, restoration, and empowerment services for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) in the United States. Working closely with the Los Angeles Supreme Court and Los Angeles Probation, Kim designs protocols and systems to ensure the proper identification, rescue, and treatment of child victims, as well as the appropriate criminal charges brought against the traffickers. She oversees a team who provide crisis response, advocacy and case management services to minors who are rescued from sex trafficking in Los Angeles County. To date, Saving Innocence has provided a continuum of care to hundreds of American children, trained thousands of police officers and other frontline responders in identification and aftercare of human trafficking victims, and assisted with multiple state and federal cases bringing more than 40 traffickers to justice, creating a safer community for us all.  Kim states, “We live in a time of great injustice. Some of those who have experienced the greatest injustice, are the most overlooked, the most misjudged, and most grievously abused are victims of human trafficking. These victims have their freedom stolen and their voices silenced. Experts estimate that there are up to 300,000 American children who fall victim to sex trafficking every single year in the United States. This affects every community, every state, and every level of income. These are truly modern day slaves hidden in plain sight.”

Saving Innocence’s Efforts Include the following:

  • Provide 24-hr emergency crisis response to survivors in Los Angeles County, alongside law enforcement and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • Provide long-term intensive case management and advocacy for survivors of sex trafficking ages 11-24
  • One-on-one visitation and life-enrichment workshops for high-risk youth in juvenile halls
  • Lead “My Life My Choice” groups – human trafficking prevention-intervention curriculum for high-risk youth living throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties
  • Human trafficking awareness presentations in schools and high-risk communities
  • Victim specialists for survivors involved in court system – both juvenile court and during testimony against their traffickers
  • Provide emergency support and resources for families of survivors
  • Train and equip all front-line professionals on how to identify and assist victims: law enforcement, social workers, therapists, schoolteachers, judges, district attorneys, etc.
  • Program development for a first-of-it’s-kind program implemented in Los Angeles Superior Court and Probation for child survivors
  • Advocate for the change of local and nationwide policy to expand resources for survivors and increase the prosecution of traffickers

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Kim advocates, “This world may never be completely free of injustice, but this earth is the only place we have the opportunity to shine the light of hope and love while the darkness exists. Our pain and our suffering is not the end of the story. Those who have navigated the darkest corridors of life can give hope to those who have yet to find their way out.”

To learn more, visit www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Written By: Sommer Bannan

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