New Friends New Life

Clearing a path for trafficking survivors. 

New Friends New Life (NFNL) emerged in 1997 when an exotic dancer walked into a local Dallas church seeking a way out of her lifestyle.

The church’s women’s group helped her find conventional employment and provided the ongoing support she needed to make a fresh start. Soon she began bringing more of her friends, and the women’s group helped them leave a life of sexual exploitation and trafficking. That one woman’s courage to seek a better life led to the creation of an agency that has served thousands of women and girls throughout the past 25 years — including 312 women and girls in 2021, alone.

New Friends New Life’s mission is to restore and empower trafficked and sexually exploited teen girls, women, and their children, and to drive awareness of the issue and its prevalence. The agency’s vision is to create a community where women and girls can soar above the limits of their past and achieve their dreams.

Human trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world. Contrary to common belief, it is a fast-growing evil in the United States. Texas ranks second nationally for trafficking prevalence, with more than 300,000 human trafficking victims. In Dallas, the illegal sex trade generates $99 million annually. Some of the most devastating costs of the trafficking industry are the trauma and significant barriers to independence faced by its survivors.

The average age a girl is trafficked in the United States is just 15 years old. Sadly, by the time this girl is trafficked, this is typically not the first trauma she has endured in her young life. Many trafficking victims have experienced or witnessed domestic violence, have been sexually abused, have run away from home multiple times, or have been involved in the foster care system or the juvenile justice system. Most adult victims are living well below the poverty line. Without a clear path to restoration and self-sufficiency, victims can be lured back into sex trafficking.

When a woman arrives at NFNL, she may feel like she is out of options and with little hope. She may have multiple children, a criminal record as a direct result of being trafficked and is usually suffering from complex emotional trauma. NFNL steps in to ensure that survivors have the support and tools necessary to leave the sex trade for good.

NFNL offers a three-pronged approach: Services for women, services for teen girls, and an outreach program for men and boys. The programs include:

  • A four-phase, trauma-informed Women’s Program providing counseling, case management, and economic empowerment tools to help women heal and become independent.
  • A drop-in Youth Resource Center (YRC), wherein female youth ages 12-22 receive support to help fortify them against the lure of traffickers who seek to manipulate their basic needs of safety and shelter or to feel loved and accepted.

 

The third prong is unique to anti-trafficking agencies. It is NFNL’s intentional and dedicated plan to reach men and boys. Because we know most traffickers are male and the average buyer is also male, if we are ever going to interrupt the trafficking industry, we must bring men to the table.

The Men’s Advocacy Group (MAG) mobilizes local men to promote awareness and act against the sex trafficking and exploitation of women and girls through education, advocacy, and volunteerism. Through MAG funding, NFNL hosts sex trafficking awareness excursions to educate the community.

MAG also leads the manKINDness Project, an interactive learning experience tailored to boys and men from middle school through college. The workshop creates age-appropriate dialogue around respecting women and girls by connecting the dots to harmful behaviors that fuel the industry, like pornography and sexually oriented businesses.

New Friends New Life is a light and a ray of hope for survivors. With help from the Dallas community, NFNL continues its fight against sex trafficking right here in our own backyard.

Learn more about New Friends New Life and support its vision.

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