What We Do

GEMS was founded 20 years ago by Rachel Lloyd when she observed that girls and young women who were at risk for—or were experiencing—commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and domestic trafficking, had needs that were not being met by other traditional social service agencies. From a one-woman kitchen table project, we have grown into an internationally acclaimed organization and one of the largest providers of services to CSE youth in the United States. GEMS' mission, is to empower girls and young women, ages 12-24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.

As a leader in the movement against CSE and domestic trafficking, we are committed to ending the exploitation of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth. Our survivor-led and survivor-engaged programming prepares members to become leaders in their own lives, families and communities.

Survivor leadership and transformational relationships are at the core of our work. Survivor leadership, which we promote by hiring survivors to mentor and empower new members, amplifies survivors’ voices in the fight to end CSE and beyond, while transformational relationships (ROCA TM) represent the critical bonds that develop between members and staff. The successful development of these relationships requires that all our staff possess the skills necessary to provide trauma-informed, specialized services to girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. 

Our theory of change states that with the right opportunities, girls and young women can move from victims to survivors to leaders. Having impacted hundreds of young women over the past two decades, GEMS’ innovative “Victim, Survivor, Leader” (VSL™) model incorporates guiding principles and values that are based on existing approaches to the work in:

  • Domestic violence

  • Positive youth development

  • Gender-specific programming

  • Addiction

In addition, we utilize and have adapted Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change model to best meet the needs of our members. 

VSL’s core values are: 

  • Gender-responsive

  • Trauma-informed

  • Developmentally-grounded

  • Strengths-based

  • Social justice-oriented

  • Culturally-competent

This model aims to ensure that girls and young women become free from commercial sexual exploitation, make improvements in trauma recovery, increase their healthy social support, achieve educational and vocational gains, and become self-sufficient, as well as becoming empowered advocates for themselves and their peers. 


“You may not be able to choose your family or origin, but you can choose your family of creation.”

– Rachel Lloyd


“If we’re going to address trafficking in our country, we have to address poverty, racism, and gender- based violence.”

– Rachel Lloyd


We also offer Direct Intervention including crisis care and holistic case management, as well as the following: 

  • Educational Initiative (EI): Supports members to engage or re-engage in the educational process, obtain their high school diploma or GED, and succeed in post-secondary education or vocational training through our educational support services.

  • Youth Development: Addresses young women’s developmental, social and emotional needs through daily strengths-based recreational, educational and therapeutic groups and programming.  

  • Transitional and Supportive Housing: Including the Transitional Independent Living (TIL) program, provides housing with 24-hour support through to young women ages 16-24 and Imani House provides an independent living program for young women ages 18-24. Housing Referral Information and Form

  • Survivor Leadership Program (SLP): Supports the development of critical thinking, leadership and community organizing skills, and deepens members’ understanding of the social conditions that keep commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking in place. 

  • Court Advocacy: Including Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) through the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts and Family Court Advocacy (FCA). 


For additional information on any of our services, please contact Jessica Trudeau at Jessica@gems-girls.org.

Housing & Services Referral Forms

To refer your client to GEMS, please fill out and submit the Services Referral Form. To refer your client for GEMS Housing, please fill out and submit the Housing Referral Form, along with all required documents.

Before submitting a referral, please make client aware of the referral and the specific services that GEMS provides.