It’s still dark outside as the alarm clock sounds loudly, assaulting my dreams and shaking me into a new day. 5:30 AM and the day is starting. I jump out of bed because already, I my mind is racing through the phone calls, meetings, and work of the day. By 7:30 AM the phone begins ringing. It’s a survivor calling to say good morning. She is still trying to get her legs under her in the battle to reclaim her life and that morning phone call keeps her going.
Life wasn’t always like this. I used to be a stay-at-home mom of middle school students and served as the school sponsor of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). My mornings were busy with gathering lunches, signing PTA forms and shuttling students to school, not talking someone out of leaving their recovery program or going to court to request a restraining order.
How did a former kindergarten teacher, mother of two end up in the fight of sex trafficking in America? Simple, really. I heard about it and I was not okay with what I heard.
Early in 2010, I learned the average entry age of female entering the sex trade in this country was 12-14 years old. Later I learned the average age for boys was 11-13. Yes, boys are victims of this heinous crime too. I couldn’t let that knowledge go. I had spent four years of my life working with 11-14 year olds. I had to learn more. I had to do something about this. People needed to know. Educators need to know what to look for because this could happen to anyone’s child. After releasing the book, I realized and confirmed one of the students who came through my FCA every week was a victim of sex trafficking.
For six months, I researched sex trafficking. A detective I met became the gate keeper for me and he introduced me to survivors, parents of girls who were still in the life, law enforcement officers and front line organizations serving the victims. Later, he introduced me to a former trafficker. After digging, I came to two conclusions. This evil is epidemic and people need to know about it.
I took my research and wrote Rescuing Hope, A Story of Sex Trafficking in America. I wrote it fictional because students wouldn’t reach a non-fiction book unless a grade was assigned to it. And the traffickers of the girls I interviewed were still out there. In fact, they still are today.
When Rescuing Hope released on December 31, 2012, I thought I had done my part. I shined a light on the evil and now could move on, or so I thought. But God had a different plan.
The survivors I interviewed started calling me. “Hey, mama, I need groceries.” Or one would call collect from jail. I did what I could to assist them and the calls kept coming. My husband and I talked about it, prayed about it and realized this was becoming a reoccurring thing. I couldn’t walk away. I had to help them. William Wilberforce says, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you do not know. If not me, then who?
After six years of walking this out as an individual, serving many survivors and family, we formed the nonprofit Rescuing Hope. We aren’t about rescuing individuals, because most of those we serve are out of the life before we ever meet them. We set out to rescue the hope they’ve lost in humanity and in their ability to have a normal life.
My days are crazy and there are never two the same…. but I wouldn’t change a thing. When we see a survivor hold her baby for the first time, graduate from college, or get a promotion at a job so he can provide for himself and his family, we know what we do matters.
Founder & Executive Director of Rescuing Hope
About Susan Norris
Susan Norris is the Founder and Executive Director of Rescuing Hope and has been involved in the fight against sex trafficking in America since 2010. Her passion is to raise awareness about the issue, educate potential victims and first responders, and encourage and empower survivors to live an abundant life.
Susan partners with other front line organizations, therapists and law enforcement officers she met through writing her novel, Rescuing Hope, as well as through mentoring survivors. She also leverages resources throughout the community to provide services for survivors.
Susan is a member of the Georgia State Human Trafficking Task Force. She is P.O.S.T. certified to train law enforcement in Georgia and is a CLASS certified speaker. She holds a Master’s of Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She taught in public and private schools and served as a leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes prior to joining the fight against sex trafficking.
Susan is a wife and the mother of two adult children. She and her husband live in Atlanta, Georgia.