Eden House is a two-year residential program for women who have been commercially and sexually exploited. Modeled after Magdalene House in Nashville, Tennessee, Eden House provides six to eight women a safe and supportive home for two years, free of cost.
Marybeth Corazzini is Eden House’s Executive Director. She says confidentiality is a big part of life at Eden house – creating a safe place where residents can overcome their pasts and move forward into self sufficient, healthy future. So on the day I visited, no residents were around.
“One is at work, two are at intensive out patient counseling, one is in her room,” says Corazzini. “She’s been here two months, when she got here, slept all the time, didn’t look at anyone. Now she’s up in the morning, smiling, calling home. Her transformation is amazing just in a month.”
A month of living a very different life. For the first 90 days at Eden House, residents attend intensive, out-patient therapy. They have a lot to work through. According to the US Department of Justice, the average age a person enters into prostitution is 12 -14. Force and coercion are often involved, and so are sexual abuse, drug use, and multiple arrests. So change happens step by step, day by day.
“It’s not always a big ah-ha,” says Maxine Kimbrell, the staff social worker at Eden House. “Sometimes it’s as simple as deciding they’re going to follow a simple rule. You can tell that they’re angry, but they’re really coping with that and having a more appropriate response than the day before.
Kimbrell says changing your life is a process. “It’s that daily attempt to be different that I think is the most amazing.”
“Even within the first month of someone being here, you immediately start seeing changes in temperance, behavior, over all presentation of themselves. That is really beautiful to me,” says Helen Lindau, volunteer coordinator at Eden House.
“Often we have people who come straight out of prison, so that brings a different culture into this environment – a defensiveness, wanting to click with other people and to slowly see that disappear and become more of a community is really cool.”
Being a part of community is crucial to recovery at Eden House.
Kara Van de Carr, Eden House founder, wanted to offer a place of healing for those who’d been victimized. She knew that some of the best people to help these women were other survivors of human trafficking.
“The model for living in community is based on Benedictine Monk model,” explains Van de Carr, “which is that the newest member of the community is the most valued and the most treasured; and the member of the community that’s been there the longest is the one that gives back.”
Written by Eve Abrams for the Community IMPACT Series and produced by WWNO in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. To learn more about Eden House, click here.