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Spots available in York Region retreat for sexually exploited women

Women's Support Network is accepting referrals for the Oct. 6 to 11 free program
Human Trafficking
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There are four spots left in a free, one-week healing retreat program for sexually exploited women that runs from Oct. 6 to 11.

The Safe Passages program was developed by the Women’s Support Network of York Region (WSN), which is York Region’s only sexual violence crisis centre based in Newmarket that has been supporting survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation for more than a decade.

Funded by the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports Fund, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), the program offers a holistic model of support, addressing the specific needs of trafficked survivors. 

It is grounded on Indigenous healing approaches, women-centred principles of counselling and trauma-informed practices.

Referrals to Safe Passages are now being accepted. If you know a trafficked survivor who could benefit from this therapeutic intervention or have questions, contact Karen or Ashley at 905-895-3646, or email

What is the Safe Passages Program?

Safe Passages is a healing retreat program for women who have experienced sexual exploitation. It allows survivors a consistent, safe environment to begin the process of healing from the layers of traumatic incidents they have been exposed to through sexual exploitation.

There are three components to the program (survivors will participate in all three):

  • A four-week pre-retreat group. In preparation for participating in the Safe Passages retreat, women will participate in a four-week pre-group (one two-hour group session each week, for four weeks). In this group, women will meet other program members, meet program staff and prepare for the retreat experience.
  • A one-week healing retreat from Oct. 6 to 11. The Safe Passages healing retreat, where women remain on-site at the retreat for a week, will provide survivors with a structured and safe program that allows women to understand the impacts of sexual exploitation, and provides intensive therapeutic strategies for long term healing and wellness.
  • A two-week post-retreat group. Upon completion of the healing retreat, the women will participate in a two-week post-group to help them integrate their learnings from the retreat into their day to day lives.

How does the Safe Passages healing retreat work?

The retreat is a one-week component of the overall program. During the Safe Passages retreat, women stay on-site at the retreat location for one week and participate in healing and self-care activities. 

During this time, the program provides survivors with a structured and safe program that supports them to understand the impacts of sexual exploitation, and provides intensive therapeutic strategies for long-term healing and wellness.

Daily activities include group and individual support, body work, breath work, trauma recovery work, art, bundle and mask making, solitude and ceremonial fires. Women will have access to various relaxation treatments, a pool, a sauna and a variety of self-care and land and water fitness activity options.

Each woman stays in her own bedroom with a three-piece bathroom. A trauma counsellor will be on site, including all overnights, to offer support to participants, as needed. All meals are included for the week.

Travel to and from the retreat can be provided.

Additional retreats will be scheduled over the course of 2020.

Safe Passages welcomes any woman aged 18 and up who have experienced trafficking and sexual exploitation to participate. Safe Passages may not be a good fit for survivors who are in crisis, have exited a trafficking situation very recently, those who have not yet developed basic emotional coping skills, and those who do not have basic practical necessities (i.e. safe housing, access to food) in their day to day lives.

For more information on the Women’s Support Network, visit here.