MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- This month we’re highlighting remarkable women in our community. First, we’re shining a spotlight on Lisa Bownds, the founder of Reflection Ministries in Midland.
The center offers emergency assessment for sex trafficking victims.
“She is so remarkable to students, to myself. She’s changing the world and she’s made an imprint on my heart forever.” said Lisa’s friend, Kreesha Gizzard.
Lisa, a sex trafficking survivor, moved to West Texas in January of 1989. After she escaped her situation, she made it her mission to save others from what she went through. Its not something that’s easy to talk about, but she shares her story to help others avoid becoming a victim.
“I ended up being trafficked within my first few weeks of being on the campus at Texas Women’s University when I was a freshman. I met a guy I, I think what was really hard is people think, ‘oh, I must have been doing the wrong thing. I must have been wearing the wrong thing in a bar, doing or just really acting inappropriately.’ I was leaving class the first couple of weeks, and I met a couple of guys that were out in the parking lot,” said Bownds.
She said one of these guys asked her out and it changed her life forever.
“And it was within the first couple of dates that he started drugging me. And then one thing led to another, and he was selling me in Dallas, in the Fort Worth area, in Arlington and in Denton.,” said Bownds.
She says it continued but she couldn’t escape for a while. Her family was even threatened if she tried to leave. But as time passed, she eventually moved to West Texas and she says that saved her life. She didn’t get into the details about how she got away but she talked about what happened after.
“I lived with the guilt and shame for a long time until 2016, when I finally told my husband what had what had happened to me, I remade myself. I got involved in a community. I got busy. I met people really trying to just cover up who I was and deal with the trauma that had happened. It took a lot. I’ve been seeing a therapist probably six years now, six or seven years,” said Bownds.
February 1st of 2020 Bownds opened the Village at Reflection Ministries. It provides housing, educational opportunities, food, medical care, life skills as well- to make survivors self-sufficient, and restorative care for these trafficking victims, including equine therapy.
“I wish that there had been those services. My life probably would have looked really different. I’m very thankful for every experience that I’ve had because I know it’s made me who I am, but what I love for someone else not to have to go through those experiences, or at least have someone that would walk through life with and help guide them.” said Bownds.
Kresha Gizzard, and Caitlynn Cornwell volunteer with Reflection Ministries as well and say their relationship with Lisa has changed their lives completely. They nominated her to be the next remarkable woman because they want everyone to know about her.
“And just hearing like the atrocities, hearing the unimaginable things that she’s been through, like I still look at her and think, I don’t know how you love Jesus. I don’t know how you love people. And it’s just a miracle of God. And because he knew that the world needed Lisa Bownds, these survivors needed her,” said Gizzard.
“I really like every time I just am around you or see you or hear you talk or anything. I just want to be like, I want to be just like her and I want to help her change the world because she is more than remarkable. She is amazing in every single way possible. And I’m so glad that God, God had put her in my life to show me what a true woman of God looks like,” said Cornwell.
“We all have stuff. I am humbled that I get to be the person on the other side of this that gets to watch lives unfold and change,” said Bownds.
Reflection Ministries serves around 20 survivors daily and victims are able to live at the village for up to four years.
And although Caitlynn and Kresha believe Lisa has saved the lives of many young men and women….Lisa says the survivors she’s met have changed her life too.