Equine Therapy for Survivors


This summer, the Grace House residents took a roadtrip to the Medicine Horse Ranch where they camped together and were introduced to equine therapy. It was a healing experience for them to interact with gentle giants and support each other in their own personal journey. Our team is committed to offering a variety of support services to our survivor sisters in order to equip them with well-rounded healing. We were honored to have the ranch share this experience with them.

Equine therapy, or the caring of, tending to, and interacting with horses for the purpose of personal healing, is known to be an extremely effective form of therapy for those suffering from many of the trauma symptoms that survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation endure during recovery. Since horses are animals of prey, they rely on their keen senses for their survival, reflecting the way survivors may have survived abuse and life-threatening situations. They are known to mirror human reactions, meeting positive emotions with their own positive reactions, and give the participants their own version of unsaid feedback.

Often in equine therapy, horses may not be ridden or tethered to a barrier and are allowed to roam freely within the arena. Because of the significant difference in size from humans to horses, participants must act calmly and use nonverbal communication to safely and effectively tend to the horse. Activities start very small and simply, with first learning only how to approach the horse, and can escalate into walking the horse, grooming the horse, or even riding the horse.

Equine therapy has been proven to improve confidence and the overall mental health of its participants. Even if a participant is initially fearful of horses, they are guided on how to safely interact with them until they are doing so all by themselves.  Hopelessness that one can experience after trauma can turn into a certainty that they are, in fact, a very capable human being, simply by caring for the horse. The energy that used to be focused on ruminating depression or aggression towards the unfamiliar is instead focused toward caring, nurturing activities with their new animal friend.

We are so grateful that the women we serve were able to participate in this innovative and healing therapy for a whole weekend. We are passionate about many forms of healing, so we hope this unique step in their journey will have a lasting impact on their mental health and wellbeing.


Survivor Support Group


One of the biggest emotional challenges that new survivors face is a sense of isolation. After years of abuse under the control of their trafficker and after being seen so often by most laypeople as a perpetrator of a crime instead of a victim, a survivor may feel like they are the only one who’s going through trauma from exploitation. Our team at Alabaster Jar Project believes that uniting survivor sisters and giving them a safe space to share their story and support others is a necessary and invaluable element in their healing, so once a week, we offer a survivor-led support group that welcomes all women who are coming out of a life of any form of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation in the San Diego area.

Our weekly survivor support group is led by Jaimee Johnson and Marjorie Saylor, who are both survivors of exploitation employed by AJP. “It’s a place for healing,” Jaimee Johnson shares, explaining that the purpose of support group is “to give women a place to feel safe, create sisterhood, support each other, know they aren’t alone, find answers, seek wisdom, be open and honest and find their way through their journeys.” With an emphasis on community building, new survivors and survivor mentors alike can work on their restoration.

The group facilitators choose curriculums to study with group participants through an extensive process of researching what has been effective by other survivor leaders across the country. “We try to use trauma-informed curriculums created by the survivor for the survivor,” Marjorie Saylor explains. “Peer support through a support group’s own environment is scientifically proven to be helpful and we also get it in the materials we use.” 

Not only are the support group curriculum topics essential in healing our community; we also offer dinner at every group, often donated by our organization’s volunteers, and participants are welcome to “shop” at our second hand clothing boutique and gather other free essential items. This group effort to prepare for the class and dinner is another way to bring our survivor sisters together and create a purpose for them in the group. “When a support group grows in size it is better to have more helping hands,” Marjorie states, “but as the group grows you will find that the attendees, as they find a home in the group, will fill in with helping in the areas needed, such as set up before group, clean-up afterwards, (and) set up of organizational structure.”

How have the support group facilitators seen the weekly meeting impact the group participants? “Completely,” says Jaimee. “I have seen the light in some women’s eyes sparkle as they realize solutions to things they have been struggling with. I have seen people open up and offer great support and love. I have seen it impact and help the facilitators. I have seen sisterhood and life long bonds be created. I have seen healing happen right before my eyes.” 

“The group provides a sense of purpose after trauma,” Marjorie shares. “It provides shelter from a world that  does not understand what they have been through, and friendship with the bond of survivor sisterhood that encourages true growth. I have seen weakness turn to strength, fear turn to courage, and lack of trust turn to eagerness to love and give again. I see so much triumph over trauma with movement from victim to survivor to thriver, as survival turns to revival in the lives of the women who commit to keep coming to the group.”

If you are a survivor of exploitation and would like to join our support group, please send a private message to our facebook page at facebook.com/alabasterjarprojector email us at info@alabasterjarproject.org

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A Unique Trauma Therapy


One of the benefits of our program at Alabaster Jar Project is that we provide many forms of therapy to aid in our clients' rehabilitation. Psychotherapy is offered through case management outsourced to a partnering social services provider. We also have a support group that meets once a week where North SD County survivors discuss rehabilitation techniques and tools and can enjoy a community of sister survivors and thrivers. 

But for someone who is fresh out of the life of sexual exploitation, an extra step may be required. Survivors often suffer from nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks, and other trauma symptoms that are debilitating to completing their daily tasks. Imagine being trapped in a life where you have no guaranteed safe space to rest your head, no independence, and are subjected to violence and the constant threat of danger for years at a time. Then, throw yourself back into the world and workforce, where you are expected to complete daily tasks as if this has been the norm for the last several years. Sound like a challenge? It’s definitely not easy.

One form of trauma therapy that’s worth exploration is EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This trauma therapy offers a solution to survivors suffering from severe trauma and disturbing memories that have negative effects on their daily life and abilities to function. With a certified clinical therapist, patients are guided through disturbing internal memories while simultaneously focusing on an external source. The source may be a visual stimulant (a moving object) or a physical stimulant (vibrations moving from the left palm to the right palm) that engages both the left and right side of the brain at different times, as if rewiring the memories as they’re being recalled by the patient. Because of the external stimulant, the memories recalled are ideally not internalized and are less painful to remember. EMDR has a high success rate for those suffering from PTSD and usually takes about twelve one-hour sessions to complete.

“EMDR changed my life,” Sabrina*, a graduate of Alabaster Jar Project, states. “When (my therapist) guided me through my memories, it was like I was reading my past as if it was a storybook. I didn’t feel like I was reliving my trauma, which I used to feel like.” EMDR may not make traumatic memories disappear altogether, but can help deintensify the nature of the memories so that the survivor can cope with trauma and function with more ease in daily tasks, without being interrupted by disturbing flashbacks.

In addition to providing a residential housing program and emergency services,  Alabaster Jar Project believes that long term success in survivors lives is achieved by making an array of support services available to all clients. This involves incorporating alternative therapies into their healing and partnering with social service providers to ensure that their emotional and mental needs are met. This way we can fulfill our mission to restore, rehabilitate, and empower all of our survivor sisters.


Source: https://alabasterjarprojectblog.wordpress....

Love Saves - Grace Gives

Welcome!  Our intention with this blog is to keep you informed and to share insights and perspectives.  We have four new guests currently at Grace House.  Each guest is battling depression, battling anxiety, battling substance abuse and battling habits of impulsivity.  Grace House is a place where they find rest, access to grace, and access to peace.  Isn’t this what God does? Matthew 11:28 says that when we come to Him, He gives us rest.  What an amazing promise! Your support of Grace House is an extension of His grace and love, providing rest and peace.  


In gratitude