The Junior League’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee and Wellhouse have shared the following information in the hopes of helping a local young victim (name has been changed) of human trafficking. Please read below and donate if you can.
Since April, there have been several juvenile sex trafficking cases opened in the Jefferson county area. One of the local cases involves a 14-year-old girl who was first trafficked in the Atlanta area at the age of 11. Ashley’s pimp is an adult male she was introduced to by a classmate. When Ashley’s mother discovered her daughter was being sexually exploited, she moved her family back home to the Birmingham area. A few months after the move, Ashley’s pimp showed up in Birmingham and contacted her through social media and the exploitation continued. At this time, there has been an arrest of an adult male that Ashley was found with, but the pimp has still not been identified or caught. This exploitation has taken a toll on Ashley, and she has been hospitalized several times at Children’s Hospital for depression and suicidal thoughts. Also, Ashley’s mother has had incidents of males stalking her family and she is terrified this pimp is still after Ashley.
Ashley desperately needs a residential treatment program with specialized intensive trauma services for juvenile victims. Since none are available in Alabama, Ashley’s Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) has identified the Freedom Place in Houston, Texas – an out-of-state comprehensive program for juvenile sex trafficking victims that can help Ashley. Once Ashley has been at the facility for 1 month, she can apply for Texas Medicaid assistance, which would pick up the charges for the long-term stay she desperately needs. However, Ashley requires immediate financial assistance to help with travel to the facility as well as the first month of treatment.
The JPO is partnering with the Wellhouse to raise $10,000 to help with Ashley’s treatment costs. The Wellhouse is an Alabama non-profit whose mission is to rescue and restore female victims of human trafficking that have been sexually exploited. However, the Wellhouse is only equipped to serve adult victims (age 18 or older) at this time.
Please consider making a donation to the Wellhouse on Ashley’s behalf. Even small donations ($20, $50, $100) will go a long way and increase her chances of surviving the trauma she has lived through. You can donate online directly to the WellHouse (in honor of Ashley – Freedom Place), or send a check payable to the WellHouse to P.O. Box 868, Odenville, AL 35120 (subject line Ashley – Freedom Place). Your donation is also tax-deductible.
Human trafficking is a terrible crime, and it is happening all over the state of Alabama. It’s hard to measure because it is a hidden crime, but we do know that it is the second largest criminal activity in the US, second only to drug trafficking. Data shows that human trafficking is a $150 billion per year industry and that 40% of human trafficking in the U.S. is in the Southeast. Major human trafficking corridors are: I-20, I-59, I-65, and I-95. Locations include hotels, truck stops, rest stops, strip clubs, parking lots and massage parlors. Researchers also discovered 641,000 online ads escort ads placed in prominent websites known for exploiting victims in Alabama in 2017.