NEW CASTLE, Ind. – There's nothing else like it in the state, and now, a new facility in Henry County will be a home for young victims of human trafficking.
In 2016, there were 178 teen human trafficking victims in the state. Nearly all of them were girls. Last year alone, Restored Inc., an organization that connects victims with services, helped more than 80 teenagers.
"Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry. There are a lot of men out there that want to purchase sex from kids," said Restored Inc. CEO and Founder, Tracey McDaniel. She added, "These kids have a ton of complex trauma. They have a history of abuse, sexual abuse. Trafficking usually isn't the worst thing that's happened to them."
Tru Harbor is expanding their services and creating the first stand-alone residential treatment program for teen girls who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The program will serve teen girls as old as 18 and as young as 11.
According to statistics from the 2016 Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking, 30% of trafficked youth in Indiana are 15 years old or younger.
"With the social media craze and what's been going on with Instagram and Snapchat, and Facebook, we really need to be targeting middle school girls," said Tru Harbor Program Director, Katrina Mallory, Psy. D. HSPP. She added, "It happens very quickly. Traffickers are very sophisticated and very savvy with their recruitment methods."
The facility contains brightly colored rooms with trendy decor to make teens feel more comfortable. They receive schooling, counseling, and activities. The facility is designed to be secluded and far away from where they were potentially trafficked.
"A lot of time they'll come with the clothes on their back and a backpack and nothing else," Mallory said.
The program has a ribbon cutting on Friday, April 20. They expect to start accepting victims as early as May.
Donations are still needed and can be sent to:
Youth Opportunity Center
Attn: Polly Craig
3700 W. Kilgore Ave.
Muncie, IN 47304