New Long-Term Human Trafficking Center Now Open
S.D.- It’s a $150 billion dollar industry, but one organization is hoping to decrease this dollar amount by giving refuge to women in the sex trafficking industry.
“For them to feel safe, secure, and loved,” says Pathfinder Center Executive Director, Lisa Heth.
That’s how Pathfinder Center organizers hope sex trafficking victims and survivors feel when they walk through their doors. The idea to open the center began in 2015 after executive director Lisa Heth found an absence of long term shelters in South Dakota. Heth says most of the shelters in the state offer 30-day- short term stays, which she feels isn’t enough.
“I mean that creates a lot of anxiety and stress on the women’s life. There’s just no way you can get your life together in 30 days,” says Heth.
The Pathfinder center used to be a motel, but now, the 13 rooms are open to women and their children. Each room was decorated and sponsored by different organizations, churches, and individuals. The women have the chance to pick what room they want.
“Offering those options to women and giving them back control. Empowering them because for so long for many of them, they have not had control of their own choices or their own body for that matter,” says Heth.
Along with housing, the center will provide other resources and programs to help the women get back on their feet.
“What we want is to be able to help women be self-sufficient when they leave here and be able to be confident in themselves,” says Heth.
Heth says with the sex trafficking industry continuing to grow, she hopes everyone will rally together to bring a stop to the industry.
“Because not one agency, not one program, not one organization can do this all by itself. We all have to work together to end human trafficking,” says Heth.
The exact location of the center will not be available to the public to protect the victims but individuals can contact local shelters in the area for referrals to the center. The center is also looking for volunteers and interns, background checks will be done, if you would like more information visit: http://www.pathfindercenter.org/