WILMINGTON, NC (Lumina News) -
April is sexual assault awareness month, and one Wilmington organization is working to end sex crimes, one phone call at a time.
A Safe Place was founded in 2011 and focuses on prevention, advocacy and restoration to assist victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking in the southeast region of North Carolina.
Victims are broadly defined as people sold for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Most are females, many of them underage and lured by traffickers into the sex trade where they are exploited and frequently sexually abused.
To directly reach out to local victims of sex trafficking, Dawn Ferrer, direct support services coordinator with A Safe Place, has called the phone numbers listed for Wilmington and Jacksonville in online escort ads on a widely used internet classified advertising site. She and an intern, a University of North Carolina Wilmington social work major, began placing the calls in February.
“I hate for Backpage.com to continue for what it’s currently being used for,” Ferrer said, “but it is an avenue to reach out to victims.”
Ferrer said they are making a difference by letting victims know they’re here for them.