COPING MECHANISMS

COPING MECHANISMS

Written By Ellen Falltrick (NFS Supporter)

“What kind of painting do you do?”

That is equally the most daunting and exciting question I am frequently asked as an artist. How can I quickly and impactfully explain that my large paintings depicting nudity, death, pain, self-harm and sorrow are not some kind of odd kink, but pay homage to the people that survive such tragedies. 

How do I make easily digestible the complex, painful and inspiring stories that inspire my artwork? How could I possibly illuminate the emotional turmoil, perseverance and recovery necessary to make these paintings beautiful?

Because, they are. These horrible paintings are beautiful.

My hope is that by donating funds from the sale of the Coping Mechanisms paintings, I can help to provide peace and emotional release to those that need it most.

Ellen Falltrick

In truth, I cannot easily elaborate on the inspiration behind my work which is why I fear such a question. However, to the right audience – for the attentive listener – it is the most valuable question to reach my ears. Asking me to explain my painting may be difficult to answer, but it allows me to share my vision for creating art that empowers survivors of extreme adversity. 

Painting has always been more than a hobby for me; it is the way that I express the feelings that are not easily spoken. What started as an outlet for my own feelings, challenges and triumphs quickly became a method of sharing the stories of others that were brave enough to confide their adverse experiences in me. 

I was approached by women in abusive relationships with their partners or employers, men who had been raped, people who had felt trapped, lost or hurt in a myriad of ways. As honored as I felt to receive their grief, I also felt the need to release the weight of their stories through art. Incorporating their experiences into my paintings not only allowed me release but – more importantly – honored their strength, recovery and survival. Although I do not label my paintings with the names of the people that inspired them, they know who they are; they know the depths of their own strength, courage and perseverance and, should they ever forget, they need only look at one of my paintings. 

These many stories culminated in my latest series, Coping Mechanisms. Upon completion of this set of paintings, I felt extreme peace. In fact, the emotional release was so strong that I felt guilty for keeping the healing to myself. Therefore, I pledged to donate 40% of the proceeds of the Coping Mechanisms show debut to people with stories similar to those that inspired me. Not For Sale seemed like an obvious choice to receive these funds, considering they serve those that have experienced one of the most severe adversities: sex and labor trafficking. 

Not For Sale’s mission to rescue survivors of trafficking and prevent future exploitations aligns well with my passion for empowering those that have survived exploitations of all kinds. My hope is that by donating funds from the sale of the Coping Mechanisms paintings, I can help to provide peace and emotional release to those that need it most. 

Coping Mechanisms is on display in Chico, CA at Tin Roof Bakery through January 31st. However, a virtual viewing option will be available at www.ellenfalltrick.com through February 28th. Online purchases are encouraged through the site, at which point, the painting will be shipped to the buyer’s location and 40% of the purchase price will be donated to Not For Sale.

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COPING MECHANISMS

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The story of a 7 year old girl from Northern Thailand

The story of a 7 year old girl from Northern Thailand

Written by Not For Sale

Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving and unity in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  I wanted to share with you an incredible story of freedom, made possible only by the support and donations you continue to provide. 

Today I send you my heartfelt thanks, and hope you share this story with others and encourage them to support our cause, as you have. 

The best pathway to a future, and potentially citizenship, was education.

David Batstone – co-founder Not For Sale

When I first met Krunam in 2006 on a visit to the border of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand (The Golden Triangle), I was struck by her grit.  She was a mother bear, who would fight for every last one of her cubs. At that time she had rescued 27 kids from the karaoke bars and mafia beggar rings that exploited children.

My first promise to her was that I would provide shelter for those 27 kids. Once secure in a safe home, the next step was to provide an education. Almost all of these kids were “stateless” – ethnic tribal groups that no country would claim as citizens.

The best pathway to a future, and potentially citizenship, was education.

We have sent hundreds of stateless and trafficked kids to schools over the past thirteen years.  Last year alone (2019) Not For Sale Thailand sent 39 children from our village to some of the best boarding high schools in the country, and three went to university.

In 2015 we were proud that two of our “Not For Sale” children, a boy and a girl, became the first two stateless children to graduate from a Thai university in the history of the country.

That opened the door for others to follow.

In this short video I share the story of Bupa, a young girl who came to live with Krunam when she was 7 years old. Her story is beyond inspirational.

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Rebbl With A Cause

Rebbl With A Cause

Written by Not For Sale

Several thousand people are estimated to be subjected to trafficking within Peru, including forced labor in mining, logging, and agriculture. Many of these people come from impoverished regions of the Amazon.  

Working to help these survivors, Not For Sale collaborated with notable abolitionists to support a shelter for survivors and at-risk youth in Peru.

After a few years, Not For Sale co-founders, Dave Batstone and Mark Wexler, knew they could build thousands of shelters and still not address the roots of the problem.

So, they teamed up with business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and change-makers to create a solution to the problem. Thus was born REBBL — a beverage company that would source its ingredients in an ethical way, making change for the communities that grew the roots, berries, bark, and leaves that go into every drink.

Watch now for the story of how REBBL was created, the change its made with Not For Sale in the Amazon rainforest, and how business can be a force for good.

There’s a monumental role that business can play as a force for good.

Co-Founder of Not For Sale – David Batstone

A short film on Rebbl’s origin story.  Narrated by Ruby Rose.

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We Thought We Were Forgotten

That was a line that was said to me by a man named Simon, who won the past year’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, an event created by Spence Diamonds and Not For Sale to invest in refugee-started enterprises. This man had nothing but an idea, and he went with it. He worked hard, created his own business and won the Entrepreneurship Challenge — which helped his business increase production, thereby increasing profit.

When he said that line to me, “we thought we were forgotten”, it not only shattered my heart but it also made me realize … We haven’t forgot about them, we forgot how to be human enough to do something about it.

When I was chosen to go on this experience, I was scared because I have been sheltered my whole life and I have never seen THIS kind of struggle and didn’t know how it would affect me. My trip to Uganda for the 2019 Entrepreneurship Challenge was only three days after my wedding, and my son and husband would have to stay behind. This was hard, and I missed them, but I needed this. How could I truly teach my son about the world if I hadn’t seen it?

The time I spent in Uganda with the Not For Sale team and Spence Diamonds team taught me a lot. The people I met in Uganda, the children at the schools and the contestants in the challenge made such an impact on my life.


There are over 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. These people are faced with trauma, and struggle on a daily basis. Their most basic needs are almost impossible to meet due to lack of supply or funds. There were so many people walking miles with water jugs just for water.


The contestants at the Entrepreneurship Challenge all had such amazing stories of how they changed their lives, how they worked hard to better the lives of their family, and how they learned a skill to better themselves. They had such incredible and heart-breaking stories of their pasts, things that have happened to them that I could never imagine. They saw an idea, or they learned a skill which allowed them to start a business. They tried so hard to make anything work to make money — and they had success. These stories are real-life, real heartache stories, that make you realize how strong people truly are. The faces on the winners of this year’s challenge will forever be imbedded in my heart. They hugged us and shared their joy, and this was a beautiful moment. This was the face of Hope and Opportunity.

When we met the children at the schools that Not For Sale and Spence Diamonds support, and the children sang to us, I cried — each time. These children were welcoming and loving. They were so excited to show us their school and learn about us, who we are and where we came from.


The children wrote a poem about how grateful they are for the water well we built, and it broke us all into tears. Before the well, they had to walk for 3 hours just to get water to drink and wash with. Three hours … little children, and teachers. It’s upsetting. It’s heartbreaking but it’s real. When I saw their faces and how Spence Diamonds and Not for Sale is actually helping, I wanted to share this story.

Spence Diamonds is donating a portion of the revenue from every artisan-created diamond to Not For Sale to help these children. I saw this, and this is real.
I have never been more proud to represent a company and foundation that not only gives back but empowers others to succeed on their own.

The world has not forgotten about Uganda’s refugees, and I will share their story.

~ Stephanie Varone