“It was in that moment, that everything changed for me.” said Dianna.
If you watch enough of the news, you can see that it is no secret that human trafficking in Colorado is on the rise. For marginalized communities including those experiencing homelessness, there is an exponentially higher risk of facing a trafficking situation, according to the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking. *
41-year-old Dianna was couch hopping after she lost a stable income during the COVID pandemic. This meant that a lot of her time was spent figuring out where to lay her head next. It was during one of those days of seeking, when her life would change drastically. She was waiting at a bus stop in March of this year with an acquaintance when a black SUV came pulling up and the drivers offered a ride to their next destination. Dianna was in the first weeks of her pregnancy and her maternal instincts were in high alert. After a few minutes of driving with the strangers in the car, she sensed something was wrong. The drivers spoke in Spanish, thinking that Dianna would be unable to understand them. Their plans were to kidnap and traffic her were clear. By the grace of God, the single mother to be, miraculously kicked her way out of the car, fled from her kidnappers and called the authorities. She was able to accurately determine their license plate and the description of the strangers. Upon further investigation into the crime, suspects were later charged with trafficking and attempted kidnapping.
Later that night, she arrived at St. Francis Center, a resource hub in downtown Denver for people experiencing homelessness, pleading for a place that would keep her safe. With her high-risk vulnerability at stake, they made a call to Marisol Homes, a longer-term shelter of Catholic Charities of Denver for mothers and expectant mothers, and an intake was scheduled.
The next day, Dianna moved into room “Love,” and she set up an appointment with Roxy, the in-house wellness consultant at Marisol Homes to work collaboratively on healing from the traumatic experiences she faced. They have been working on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a psychotherapy treatment that is designed to alleviate traumatic stressors. Dianna shared that she still feels anxious every time she sees a black SUV but now has ways to cope with it.
“My therapist and I have been working on a lot, and I am so grateful to have this place for protection and healing. For the first time in a long time, I feel safe, and I feel like I am stepping up to protect my baby,” said Dianna. A few years ago, Dianna lost her baby during her third trimester. She gazes down at her 30-week pregnant belly, and reflects on her “rainbow baby”, a name coined for a baby born after a miscarriage.
With the help of St. Francis Center and Marisol Homes caseworkers, Dianna will be receiving a housing voucher later this month. Prior to her move-out, Marisol Homes will celebrate with a baby shower, fully equipped with diapers, clothing, wipes and more. They will continue to support the single mother after her move out as she transitions to the Marisol Homes alumni program. She is scheduled to give birth to baby Landon in January.
For more information on Human Trafficking, visit *https://combathumantrafficking.org/