Women Like Us Foundation continues to acknowledge and commend women who are impacting world change like Jessica Thorne in her efforts in educating, equipping, and empowering women! We create awareness and raise funds to help these women grow their impact and sustain their initiatives.
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Jessica Thorne graduated from IWU with her degree in Elementary Education, and in 2003 began a career as a teacher in a school in Indianapolis. She had a heart for working with young people, most especially children from backgrounds of poverty, hunger and abuse. While working as a teacher in Pike Township, Jessica never imagined that she would soon become a leading activist in her community in the efforts against sexual exploitation, and become the founder of an anti-human trafficking organization.
Jessica joined her church in 2007 on a mission trip to Nepal, a trip that dramatically changed the path and course of Jessica’s life. While in Nepal with her ministry, Jessica met several girls who had been victims of sex slavery. “What impacted my heart the most was that these girls were real, they were beautiful, and they weren’t just a character in a story or a movie. Their life path had taken them into extreme circumstances where they had become vulnerable and had become victims. I thought to myself, ‘this could be me. This could be any one of us.’”
Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar-a-year industry worldwide; the U.S. demand for global sex trading is one of the highest. It is the second largest and fastest-growing criminal industry. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that the average age of entry into this form of prostitution for a child victim is 13-14 years old. Victims often come from backgrounds of foster care, poverty, addiction, and family history of violence and abuse. Recruiters and the consumers use their victims as modern day slaves in areas of sexual exploitation and prostitution. The Polaris Project states that the victim of human trafficking may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day.
Jessica decided to leave her teaching job in 2011 to launch her nonprofit organization called Purchased; she felt it was God’s calling that she raise community awareness and provide relief for the suffering victims. Purchased is on a mission to educate, equip, and empower communities against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Their hope is to stir the hearts of others to join the abolition movement.
Purchased uses two types of curriculum in their relief efforts: “Empowering Youth” and “My Life, My Choice.” “Empowering Youth” is a preventative program that educates and provides information on how to be a part of the solution. It is used with the youth throughout the community within schools and church groups. It is a tool to educate in the areas of healthy and unhealthy relationships, drug addictions, sexual health, and self-esteem. “My Life, My Choice” is an intensive, ten-week program that helps rehabilitate girls who have been victims in sex trafficking. While most of Purchased’s efforts are focused on education and prevention, they also work closely with a recovery organization called Restored, the Indianapolis Police Department, and the Juvenile Detention Facility.
Purchased continues to grow as an organization! This fall Jessica will be initiating another program with Purchased called “Allies.” “Allies” will help support in the recovery of victims by providing support and one-on-one mentorship for the girls after the rehabilitation with “My Life, My Choice.”
LISTEN TO OUR PBS INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA THORNE
Written By: Sommer Bannan