The Formation Project is a survivor-led non-profit organization in Charleston, SC. We work to fight human trafficking. The numbers for commercial exploitation and human trafficking are unsettling – it happens more than you would ever think. The Formation Project was created out of Kat Wehunt, Founder, experiencing first hand familial sex trafficking. Kat was sold by a relative from the ages of 14-17, when she was able to become free from trafficking. Having been victim to a system that seems insurmountable to fight against, she wanted to turn her pain into empowerment by using her experience to help other survivors break the statistics and begin building their legacies.
"We are building a community-led by survivors for survivors. Together we are creating a safe space without fear of judgment, with opportunities to make new connections with ourselves and others, learn, cultivate leadership abilities and access resources. To ensure survivors have a seat at the table, leading initiatives and making change. To hold space for someone facing big fears with even bigger courage, this is something that's valued is innumerable."
-Kat Wehunt, Founder & Executive Director
A rapidly growing population and a hot spot for tourism make Charleston an easy target for human trafficking and sexual exploitation. When collaborating with the Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force, The Formation Project saw a need to help adult survivors in the Low Country as there were no services for adult survivors of trafficking.
So now you might be asking, okay so what's with the elephants,
and why the name "The Formation Project"?
Well, it comes from a story about female elephants...
"You know, as all good stories begin...in the wild, when a mama elephant is giving birth, all the other female elephants in the herd back around her in formation. They close ranks so that the delivering mama cannot even be seen in the middle. They stomp and kick up dirt and soil to throw attackers off the scent.
They surround the mama and incoming baby in protection, sending a clear signal to predators that if they want to attack their friend while she is vulnerable, they'll have to get through 40 tons of female aggression first.
When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life, of sisterhood, of something beautiful being born in a harsh, wild world despite enemies and attackers and predators and odds.
Scientists tell us this: They normally take this formation in only two cases - under attack by predators like lions, or during the birth of a new elephant.
This is what we do, girls. When our sisters are vulnerable, when they are giving birth to new life, new ideas, new ministries, new spaces, when they are under attack, when they need their people to surround them so they can create, deliver, heal, recover...we get in formation. We close ranks and literally have each others' backs. You want to mess with our sis? Come through us first. Good luck.
And when the delivery comes, when new life makes its entrance, when healing finally begins, when the night has passed and our sister is ready to rise back up, we sound our trumpets because we saw it through together. We celebrate! We cheer! We raise our glasses and give thanks."