Sexually abused as a young child, Amy Leenerts was told that she was to blame for what happened to her. “That set off something in my mind,” she says. “I felt that whenever something negative happened to me, it was my fault.”
Abuse followed her throughout childhood including a traumatic rape at 19 years old. , Leenerts often felt “marked,” as though something inherently evil in her allowed abusers to find her. It was years before she gave up her rights to being a victim and began to live a healthy, restored life.
Her perspective widened, and she began to notice others who suffered the effects of sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking. Now Leenerts devotes much of her energy
to finding new approaches to prevent human trafficking and other sex crimes against women and children throughout our state, and ultimately to help victims begin their journey toward health and wholeness.
She founded Free2Hope Inc., a non-profit devoted to prevention programs and training the public on human trafficking. Her long term goals are mentoring survivors, job programs, a drop in center, and to establish a safe house for abused women and children in Kentucky. On the way to that dream, she has garnered a number of awards, including:
2015- Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association Kentucky Division
2015- The Liberator Award from Kentucky Rescue and Restore
2016- The Voices for Victims Award from the Indiana Attorney General
2017- Innovative Program Award from Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs
2017- Nominated to the Survivor Council of Kentucky