At first glance, the large house on a hill north of Sacramento suggests nothing out of the ordinary, sitting quietly amid dusty rolling foothills.
Inside, six girls seek refuge from a world that had forced them into childhoods working as prostitutes. On this 52-acre parcel, they enjoy anonymity and safety, from pimps, former customers, even their own parents.
On a recent blistering hot day in September, one of the girls, with her dark hair shaped into a ponytail, hopped on a Razor scooter, then rode to a nearby barn to tend to one of seven horses inside. She is 14 years old and had been forced into prostitution for two years in Bakersfield before coming to Courage House.
“All of the girls have (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms,” said Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage House and Courage Worldwide, the nonprofit group that runs the center. “The trauma they’ve experienced – thousands of rapes – requires a great deal of time and intentional therapy for healing.”Read More