Non-Profit Organization That Helps Sex Trafficking Victims Expands
"That's when the journey begins, when a woman is rescued"
The Sturgis motorcycle rally brings thousands to the state every year.
It also exposes the reality of human trafficking in South Dakota.
A non-profit organization that provides support services to victims of human trafficking has expanded.
In the last couple of months, Call to Freedom has helped nearly 20 individuals navigate from a life of exploitation to self-efficiency.
And the expansion stems from one woman’s experience at Sturgis.
“I walked up to this young lady and I said hi my name is Becky and she said hi my name is Marissa,” says Executive Director of Call of Freedom, Becky Rasmussen.
It began with a simple conversation.
“She kept saying to me, you have no idea what kind of day I’ve had, you have no idea what kind of day I’ve had, and then Marissa was gone,” adds Rasmussen.
During an outreach event at Sturgis last year, Rasmussen met a sex trafficking victim for the first time in her life.
“Marissa had been found in October of 2014, in May 31 2015, Marissa went missing again,” says Rasmussen. “I said how do you find a girl and how do you lose her?”
That question led Rasmussen to become involved with Call o Freedom.
The nonprofit organization, which existed under a different name in the past, assists those who have been rescued from human trafficking.
“When they leave, they often leave with very little in terms of money, clothes or any kind of possessions,” says Director of Client Services, Sheryl Barnett.
Barnett helps provide the survivors with whatever they need, like mental health counseling, “almost all have also substance abuse because they frequently were lured into things with the use of drugs and used them throughout,” says Barnett.
Other needs can include housing, insurance, or dental care.
Barnett says they determine these needs through an assessment, which is something she says has been missing in this area.
“Understanding really where they have come from, what prior medical work have they had, and what do they see as their needs,” explains Barnett.
Important information to make sure those who are free from the forced labor like Marissa, don’t return to it.
“She’s never been found, Marissa has never been found,” says Rasmussen.
The non-profit organization has helped nearly 20 victims in only three months.
Call to Freedom is always in need of monetary donations to continue helping the victims, for more information on how to help visit their website.