35 Focused on What Matters “Sarah”is barely 20 and has a bright smile. When she was about 14, she became a victim of child sex trafficking, and was exploited for years until she was beaten with a pipe and left for dead. Sarah survived but still has three pimps’names“branded”on her body.The last pimp who bought and sold her tattooed his name in big letters on her face. A tattoo lets other pimps know who “owns”a girl and tells potential johns she’s for sale. After she was beaten, Sarah went to a recovery house for victims of sex trafficking and met Ronda McEwen, founder of Change in Action, a Del Mar, California–based nonprofit that provides tattoo and scar removal and other medical and dental services to survivors. Ronda hopes that with Change in Action’s help, Sarah will soon be able to look in the mirror without recalling bad memories. Ronda founded Change in Action in July 2012 after attending a seminar on human trafficking at the San Diego Family Justice Center.“When I heard that human trafficking was happening in my backyard, I found my true calling,”she says. Victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sex crimes who can’t afford cosmetic procedures must often carry visible reminders of their abuse. Through her job running a medical spa, Ronda has connections with doctors, nurses, and medical facilities and can get the cosmetic services survivors need. “The kind of qualities you see in a successful CEO, you see in Ronda,” says Melanie Ruthrauff, an attorney in our San Diego office. “If she sees something that needs to be done, she’ll take the initiative, and she uses that determined attitude when advocating for human trafficking survivors.” Melanie worked on Change in Action’s articles of incorporation and filed the organization’s application to receive 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. That application has now been approved. With the 501(c)(3) IRS designation, Change in Action can raise money through tax-exempt donations. Change in Action holds tattoo- and scar-removal clinics every six weeks. So far, law enforcement and government agencies and nongovernmental organizations have referred 70 survivors. Most are female victims of sex trafficking, though Change in Action also assists men and victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. “We are removing the daily reminder of victimization and exploitation,” says Ronda, “so the victim doesn’t have to explain to a new boyfriend or anyone else why she has that tattoo or that scar.” I always thought human trafficking happened in other countries. People say, “Well, it’s because San Diego is on the border,” but that’s not it. These are American girls. Ronda McEwen Founder Change in Action A Fresh Start Erasing Reminders of a Painful Past