‘The Refuge was a place of stability for me’
“Our foster kids, runaways, and homeless teens are our most vulnerable population to human trafficking,” said Marcie Rey Landreth, executive director of Set Free Refuge – a local organization that provides mental health treatment and housing to sexually exploited and human trafficked women and girls. “But it only takes one person to interrupt the cycle of human trafficking.”
“(Set Free Refuge) were really supportive in trying to make me feel like a human being when I had been treated like less than that this whole entire time,” said a resident at The Refuge.
“We want survivors to know that they are valuable and there are people who care about them,” Landreth added. “This is what we do at The Refuge, we interrupt the cycle by providing a safe place for these young women.”
Over a year ago, Set Free Refuge opened The Refuge, a transitional home for sexually exploited and human trafficked young women. They have served five young women at The Refuge and 24 clients in their mental health services this past year.
“We receive about five to six referrals for housing each month,” Landreth said.
Currently, there are only 1,600 beds available for trafficking survivors across the U.S. according to the Safe House Project. Landreth and her team believe the need for additional housing is paramount.
“The Refuge was a place of stability for me. I was able to find employment, and I picked up on a lot of adulting skills that I just really needed,” said a resident at The Refuge.
Set Free Refuge wants to create a continuum of housing for human trafficking survivors.
“The trauma experienced by these young women is so horrific that supportive housing is necessary for their long-term recovery journey,” Landreth said.
Set Free Refuge will be opening a residential treatment home to serve up to four young women at a time in the next few months.
“It was amazing and I’m grateful for every moment,” said a resident at The Refuge.
If you or someone you know needs their services, you can contact Set Free Refuge Inc. at 850-463-5191.
To make a donation, volunteer, or learn more about what they are doing, visit their website at SetFreeRefuge.org.