Center Opens In Miami To Help Human Trafficking Victims

Life of Freedom Center is the first of its kind in Miami

View Comments ()



    Mentor Lisa Dugan talks about her experiences as finishing touches are put on the Life of Freedom Center on Coral Way in Miami. (Published Friday, June 29, 2012)

    More than 100 pimps were arrested and 79 children were recovered this week as part of the FBI's Innocence Lost national initiative.

    Sherrie Minkin talked to a woman in West Palm Beach who had been abducted and forced into prostitution.

    Minkin said the woman told her, 'They just picked my pimp up for kidnapping me, and she said 'I have nowhere to go.'"

    In Miami-Dade, law enforcement has worked with the Department of Children and Families to arrest four men who allegedly ran a prostitution ring involving teens in foster care.

    DCF Investigator Had Sex With Girl: Warrant

    At the same time, the finishing touches are put on the Life of Freedom Center on Coral Way in Miami. This is the first place in Miami offering walk-in support to victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

    "That could be in prostitution in forced domestic servitude," said the center's founder Jorge Veitia. "When they're referred to us they've completed the phases of recovering from the trauma and are ready now to start taking steps into the real world."

    The life skills training program is called Fields of Hope.

    Victims will get support from mentors who've survived the same circumstances. like Lisa Dugan.

    "I didnt even realize I was a victim until I came to work for this ministry. I knew I had been a prostitute. I knew I had been under the hands of a pimp. I knew he separated me from my family. I knew he beat me, told me I could not leave, threatened me, and I still didn't see myself as a victim," Dugan said.

    The lure of easy money, a manipulative relationship mistaken for love, these are some of the difficulties facing these young women.

    "I went through program and when I got out of the program I fell back into that lifestyle after several months of trying to find a job, and I didnt have the right things in place for me and that's kind of what Fields of Hope is doing. It's providing the bridge between girls coming into the shelters and transitioning to real life," Dugan said.