Hope Refuge is an anti-trafficking organization dedicated to supporting the developmental needs of youth and young adults at-risk, especially those impacted by sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Hope Refuge’s mission is to collaborate with others to abolish sex trafficking in America and provide hope for survivors.  Hope Refuge provides a retreat center for programs and services, addressing the hurt and trauma caused by commercial sexual exploitation.


Coming Soon to Santa Barbara

Friday – September 16th at 7:00 pm

First Baptist Church, 949 Veronica Springs Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105


Special Appearance by Benji Nolot

– Director, Producer and Writter



At least 100,00 to 300,000 American youth are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation annually in the U.S. (Estes and Wiener, 2001)


The overarching goal of Hope Refuge is to create a caring environment and supportive community in which trafficking survivors can heal from the trauma of abuse, abandonment and neglect. Through the programs, and in the context of caring community, they will have an opportunity to discover their passions and gifts. Our hope is to see them empowered to think forward toward a future where their dreams and unique potential can be personally realized and shared with others.




(US Department of Justice, Child Exploration and Obscenity Section)

Are you aware of the crises in America? Click to Learn More



  • The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the U.S. is 12 years old. (U.S. department of Justice, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section)
  • One in three teens will be recruited by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home and becoming homeless.
  • At least 100,00 to 300,000 American youth are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation annually in the U.S. (Estes and Wiener, 2001)
  • Once a minor who is a victim of the sex traffic trade is identified and rescued there are few appropriate safe placements and homes available for them. (National Report on Domestic Sex Trafficking)
  • Human trafficking involves the act of recruiting, transporting, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion, or other means for the purposes of exploiting them.
  • After drugs, the trafficking of humans ranks second as the most common organized crime generating billions of dollars a year. (UN)
  • The Federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as, “a commercial sex act induced by force, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such acts has not attained 18 years of age.”
  • The majority of those trafficked are women and children, with minors under the age of 18 being the most vulnerable (Congressional Research Services Report to Congress).
  • 80-90 percent of sexually exploited children have a history of child sexual abuse
  • The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway (NISMART) children estimate that 1.6 million children run away from home each year in the U.S.


The “National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” states that there are few facilities in the U.S. with programs that specifically address the complex issues that a sexually trafficked child faces. It is estimated that there are thousands of children in Los Angeles and Orange counties alone who are victims of sex trafficking. The “National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” further states that more than 100,000 minors are being trafficked for sex in many major cities across the U.S. There are limited resources available to help survivors break free from the cycle of commercial sexual exploitation. Facilities that provide safety for survivors traumatized by the abuse in the sex traffic industry are critical.




What is grooming?


Grooming is a form of sexual abuse, which is when you are touched in a sexual way that you don’t agree to.

Grooming is a process. How does a trafficker do this? It is when you are befriended and trust begins to be built with you or sometimes with your family. The trafficker will take a special interest in you to create a relationship. You will generally find this to be a relationship as a  boyfriend/girlfriend, as a mentor or as a friend.

They tend to use secrecy, blame, gifts or threats of violence to keep you from telling somebody.   They are doing this because they know if you tell someone what they are doing that they will no longer have power or control over you.

How does grooming happen?


Grooming can feel exhilarating – at first. It generally starts with a person who goes out of there way to be really nice to you, sweeps you of your feet and begins to get you gifts that fills your heart.  This can be things such as getting your hair or nails done to buying you a new phone.  Over the days, weeks or months they will gain your trust as you begin to depend on them.  On this journey they will begin to separate you from your friends and isolate you.

Once they feel that they have gained your trust the relationship will become more sexual and as they will begin to verbally abuse you and take advantage of you are being set up to be further exploited. You may or may not realize this is happening to you but will continue on because your holding on to that bond and relational dream he was fulfilling early on.

Confusion may set in and you may not realize what is happening to you as they are saying that they are your boyfriend and girlfriend and that they love you as they continue to abuse you.  Some of these threats might be to release embarrassing photos of you, to hurt you, friends or other family members as they continue to deepen shame,and fear to as a way to deepen that control over you.

Grooming can also take place on online through social networks or other sites. It is very easy for them to discis who they are as someone who may be younger, older.. They often use profile pictures of someone else to hide their true identity.  Many times they will begin there grooming by sending you to a pronographic website, and want to discuss graphic sexual experiences requesting pictures or asking you show them private parts through the webcam.

Do not release personal information with people you do not know. if you ae concerned that you may be getting groomed or realize that you have been groomed find someone your trust and share with them what is happening. This is not your fault and transparency is the beginning of your healing.

It’s important to think carefully about who you talk to, and especially about what personal details you share. Being groomed affects many young people who often ask ‘why is this happening to me?’, so it’s also important to remember that this is not your fault, and to know that you can get help.


Questions to ask to find out if I am being groomed?

Am I being groomed?  That can be a difficult question. Here are some questions that can help you.  The sooner you break the soul tie that the abuser is trying to create the easier it will be to recover from this abuse.

Ask yourself:

  • Has your girl or boy friend ever said, “If you loved me you’d do it?”
  • Has your girl or boy friend ever said “Everyone else is doing it?”
  • Have you ever felt put down for your values or find your values being challenged?
  • Do you feel more isolated now that you are having this relationship?
  • Do they send or give you gifts or do things for you that may seem excessive?
  • Do they provide you with alcohol or drugs?
  • Do they have a permanent address?
  • Are their other women living at their house?
  • Do they encourage you to met with them by yourself or in secret?
  • Have you meet their family and friends?
  • Do they have a regular job that they discuss with you and that they go to?
  • Do you find yourself being pressured into saying or doing things that make you feel uncomfortable?
  • Have they created any secrecy around your relationship?
  • Have they ever asked about your sexual experiences, or any fantasies you have or about how you might feel about doing certain sexual things?
  • Do they ask you to video or webcam so they can see private parts?
  • Have they somehow gained access to things that you have not shared with them?
  • Do they say they can help get you a job


Know your values and boundaries and stick to them when you feel pressure.  Think through each question and know how to respond will prepare you for healthy boundaries and wonderful relationships.

For instance:

 “If you loved me you’d do it.”

If you loved me you, (a) wouldn’t have just said that, and (b) would respect my decision.

“Everyone else is doing it.”

I’m not everyone else

“You’re frigid.”

No. I’m just comfortable with who I am and what I want.

Remember being groomed is generally under the disguise of your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you say yes to any of these question find a person who is safe (best if an adult) and be transparent with them about your relationship. If you feel or have the slightest uneasiness about the relationship reach out to that safe person for help, you a probably right.

What are some Indicators for human trafficking?

Human Trafficking Indicators:

  • Living with employer
  • Poor living conditions
  • multiple people in cramped space
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Signs or physical abuse
  • Submissive of fearful
  • They have a tattoo- i.e. “Daddy”, $ sign, a crown, money bag, or a bar code
  • Under 18 and in prostitution


Hope Refuge Inc is a 501c3 nonprofit organization  established in 2013 in response to the growing awareness of the crisis in America involving children and young adults who are being trafficked in the commercial sex industry.  There are thousands of American born children and youth who are being sold for sex in many cities across America. There are few resources that address the trauma experienced by those who are victims of commercial sexual  exploitation.  




Hope Refuge offers the following projects and programs:

  • Day Wellness Retreats
  • Weekend Respite Retreats
  • Week-long Residential Camps

In collaboration with state and local agencies and anti-trafficking organizations, Hope Refuge hosts retreats and camps for trafficking survivors.  The goal is to provide an opportunity for those affected by the abuse of trafficking to retreat to a beautiful natural setting that is safe, peaceful, and nurturing.  These events will incorporate opportunities to relax, recreate, learn, and to participate in times of focused therapy to address the unique issues associated with their restoration journey.  The camps are hosted at a beautiful retreat center located on 214 acres of oak woodlands and rolling hills with stunning views of the ocean.  It is a perfect natural environment to find healing, rest and to begin dreaming and preparing for a hope-filled future.


I wanted to thank you for having us up to the camp this past weekend. You truly made it an extraordinary trip. Our girls had so much fun and are so excited for the upcoming adventures that are only possible through this experience. You are all amazing in the work that you do and we couldn’t be happier to have been a part of this journey with you. [The girls] shared their interests in going back and helping make this camp/program a success for all survivors and victims who attend. My partner … and I are amazed at how much can be utilized and how much there is to offer our clients. We hope to be able to partner with you again to help make your vision into a reality…. Thank you.”



1 in 3*

*One in three teens will be recruited by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home and becoming homeless.




You can sponsor a survivor to join our programs.

Many survivors rarely have the opportunity to get away and experience a peace and restorative environment, such as the beautiful natural setting that Hope Refuge offers.  You can support a survivor on their journey to restoration.


Please let us know if you would like to schedule a personal or group tour of our facility.  We are excited to show your around.  Please feel free to contact us using the online “Get in Touch” form below.



Let us know if you would like to get involved with a new or an existing project.

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PO Box 80325, Goleta, CA 93118

(805) 699-6097

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