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Men Breaking Free is a ground breaking Restorative Justice approach to working with men who have been arrested for attempting to purchase sex from another human being. It engages men in an introspective, healing, and learning process designed to break the cycle of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Men Breaking Free offers men the vision and tools necessary to live lives of integrity and respect. The workshops join together men with those who have been bought and sold; together, they can break free from this terrible, multi-billion dollar industry of pain.
Breaking Free started working with men who had been arrested for attempted solicitation in 1999 with the inception of its John School. It was designed largely through a lecture format following a similar agenda to other John Schools across the country. Although informative, it wasn’t addressing the personal adjustments required to affect real change.
In early 2018 Breaking Free entered into a partnership with Building Peaceful Community to review and update its John School approach. Through our work together, a transformation was made to the program.
· Changing the name of the program from "John School" to "Men Breaking Free." This reflects a fundamental shift in the approach taken with participating men. The program is now built on the premise that we do not believe that these men, nor any of us, are defined by the worst decisions and moments in our lives.
· The program now recognizes that sex trafficking and prostitution is deeply harmful to all parties involved, including the women being sold, the men attempting to purchase them, and all connected families. Building our program on a Restorative Justice model acknowledges this.
Authentic conversations between survivors, men, and past participants in the Men Breaking Free program provide the opportunity for men to make amends and choose healthier lives.
· Engaging men in introspective journaling with small and large group dialogue allows them to consider:
1. What may be missing within themselves that led to their trying to buy sex from another human being.
2. The impacts of their decisions on people being prostituted, themselves, their families and communities.
3. Tangible steps and changes they can make in their lives to allow for healing, change and positive growth.
Men Breaking Free Learnings, June-November 2018
Based on meeting men where they are and offering them respect and the vision and possibility of rebuilding their lives and relationships, holds promise for creating lasting change within us all and hope toward ending the tragedy of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. This change we are witnessing from within the participants of Men Breaking Free has also led Breaking Free staff and survivors their own healing, forgiveness and renewed sense of hope. This has been a genuinely stunning gift from this work.
Men’s Hotline Number 1-800-294-7116