A Safe Place opened its doors in 2012, as the realization of our vision to address the enormous lack of supportive services and housing for victims of human trafficking in America. We knew that human trafficking existed, but prior to 2011, we believed the “problem” was limited to areas outside the borders of the United States, in remote places like Cambodia and Thailand. Research quickly showed, however, that more than 300,000 American children are trafficked into the sex trade each year, and yet there were fewer than 100 beds across the country waiting for them upon discovery and removal from the trade.
Over the next year, we established a board of directors, began building a plan for the safe house and victim services they would provide and began fundraising in order to open the first restorative home, originally known as “The Centre of Redemption” or “COR”. In December of 2012, the FBI referred the first resident to the Centre, a young teen mother who had been trafficked for the previous three years, since the age of fourteen.
In working with the first resident, and then soon others who followed, the Board of the COR realized several things: 1) restorative work is more than a safe house and three meals a day; 2) the need for housing is greatest for young women and mothers exiting the life of sex slavery; and 3) the need for victim services and outreach in the COR’s own community was both desperate and unmet. The COR always planned to provide counseling and success strategies for the residents in the house, but it seemed that as soon as word got out what was happening at the Centre, the need began pouring out of the woodwork. As a result, the COR quickly expanded to include one on one counseling, casework, vocational consulting, and – most importantly – a drop in center for local victims, called “A Safe Place”. Because our mission has always been to provide direct services and build lasting and restorative relationships with victims, A Safe Place has become the true heart of our organization.
As A Safe Place has grown, surrounding communities also have shown interest in implementing the successful model we have created. Therefore, in the summer of 2014 we were thrilled to announce, that as we continue to not only meet the growing need in our own community, but the need across the state and beyond, we will operate exclusively as “A Safe Place”.
A Safe Place is an empowerment organization focusing on prevention, advocacy, and restoration to assist victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic minor sex trafficking that services the southeast region of North Carolina with the following programs. A toll-free, anonymous hotline has been established for victimized individuals, tipsters, and general information inquiries. A Safe Place is committed to connecting with sexually exploited girls and women in the sex industry by conducting street outreach, placing outbound calls, and making the hotline number readily accessible in high risk locations. Our transitional housing provides a choice between a life of exploitation and a life of opportunities and success for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Each resident creates a specialized success strategy, which details her personal, educational and career goals. All of our residents receive quality counseling and access to educational/vocational training. For the young women residing in the home who are pregnant and/or parenting, unique services are available to meet their needs. These services include child care, parenting classes, specialized counseling and more. Direct Support Services and our Outreach Center are available to any victim identified by A Safe Place, partner organizations or law enforcement. Complete case management is provided in a safe and inviting environment, where young women are able to engage with others in the program, have one on one time with our staff and volunteers and attend our weekly survivor-led girls group.