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Laura, a victim of human trafficking was 17 years old when Fresno EOC Central Valley Against Human Trafficking first came in contact with her. She had been reported as a frequent runaway and during many of these episodes was recruited and sold by traffickers for commercial sex.

Laura and her advocate discussed her history of “running” and the many safety concerns involved. Together they created a plan so that if Laura decided to “run” she could access help and reduce her harm on the streets. Laura’s advocate was building trust, hoping that one day Laura would be ready to “leave the life” and accept help to rebuild her future. One component of the plan included accessing the Safe Place Network in Fresno, where youth can board a FAX bus, ask to be taken to a “safe place” and drivers are trained to transport the youth to Fresno EOC Sanctuary Youth Shelter.

A few weeks later, Laura ran from her foster home. Within 24 hours she was re-exploited by a man she met on the streets. She woke up the next morning realizing she had been drugged, sexually assaulted and had sustained multiple injuries.  Although Laura wanted help, she had no access to a phone and didn’t remember the hotline number. While her exploiter was in the shower, she quickly took the opportunity to escape and fled the location.  She went straight to the nearest FAX bus and was relieved to see the bright yellow sign in the window. Pointing at the sign, she told the driver “there, that, I need to go there!”  The driver recognized the red-flags and Laura was transported to Fresno EOC Sanctuary Youth Shelter where she was connected to immediate help.

Laura’s story is just one example of how the Sanctuary and Youth Services Safe Place and Central Valley Against Human Trafficking Programs are helping commercially exploited minors. If you or someone you know is in need of help, go to a Safe Place location, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 to text “Help” to BEFREE (233733)


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