Human-Trafficking Shelter Needs Cosigner
Theresa Flores at 15 years old she was drugged, raped and tortured for two years. Kept in bondage, forced to pay back an impossible debt all the while living at home. Attempting to keep her family safe and attend school during the day along side of her abusers. Only to be called into “service” late each night while her unknowing family slept. Involuntarily involved in a large criminal ring. Theresa Flores endured more as a child than most adults in their entire life.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—With the start of the new year, a new law will add new penalties to the crime of human trafficking a crime that has exploded in Ohio.
Female victims can look forward to a shelter and safety—if an organization can get a cosigner.
Gracehaven is a proposed home for girls younger than 18 who were caught in the web of sex slavery.
NBC 4 introduced its viewers to human-trafficking survivor Theresa Flores.
“The fear is so huge … you can’t even imagine,“ Flores said.
Out of fear came hope.
Gracehaven Executive Director Doctor Jeff Barrows said after several community meetings and meetings within the juvenile justice system, his shelter is starting to become a reality.
The organization is ready to buy a piece of property near Bellefontaine, Ohio, which is about 50 miles northwest of Columbus.
“There are several people interested in it [the property], so we know it could be sold in the next month or so. So, we’re hopeful to be the ones to buy it,“ Barrows said.
The problem is that Barrows needs a cosigner for the almost $300,000 loan to purchase and renovate the property.
Barrows has the down payment and needs a New Year’s miracle in the form of a legal signature.
“I’m hopeful a year from now we’re open and have the girls in the home,“ Barrows said.
Experts said Ohio’s highways make it the fifth-leading state for sex slavery and forced labor.
Gracehaven would be a safe escape for as many as 10 girls.
Barrows hoped a cosigner will step forward in the next couple of weeks.
If You Suspect Trafficking or Need to Ask For Help Human traffickers are sometimes caught
based on a tip from a concerned citizen or neighbor. If you suspect a situation of human trafficking, or if you need help, call one of the following toll-free hotlines: Department of Justice: 1-888-428-7581 Department of Health and Human Services: 1-888-373-7888