The Florida Dream Center is organizing the construction of the first safehouse to help male sex trafficking victims in central Florida.
The shelter will be the first ever boy-only safe house in the country. Bill LoSasso, president of the Florida Dream Center, estimates that 10%-15% of trafficking victims are boys.
“There’s no one helping boys,” he said, according to ABC Action News. “They’re not coming out and telling. They feel worse. What happened to them is bad enough, but they don’t want what people are going to say to be even worse.”
Because there is no safe house for male trafficking victims, often law enforcement officers do not have a place to send victims to recover, and as a result victims never seek help, according to LoSasso.
The safehouse will be modeled after safehouses that currently exist for girls, with self contained school systems and one-on-one staff interaction.
“When kids are in a small environment, and you sort of have high-staff ratios, you can give them a lot of that one-on-one attention that they’ve never had before,” said said Natasha Nascimento. Nascimento runs a safehouse for female victims of sex trafficking.
The Florida dream center has raised $100,000 to purchase the land for the shelter. The house itself will cost another $100,000. Once the house is purchased, the state government will fund about 80% of the shelter’s costs.
Edie Rhea, a former trafficking victim, says she is so excited to see the shelter coming to life.
“This is long overdue. I can’t imagine a place like this when I was a child growing up,” Rhea said. “I’m praying for a great success for them.”