In 2016, The National Human Trafficking Hotline received nearly 700 calls reporting sex trafficking in Georgia. There are 46 confidential family violence shelters in the state, but only three in Central Georgia. That's according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
Yvonne Thomas went to the Crisis Line and Safe House in Macon to learn more about the shortage for women and teens in need.
Advocates believe the need is great, but the resources are few. “We serve Bibb, Peach, Crawford, Twiggs, and Jones,” said Dottie Stafford with the Crisis Line and Safe House Center. “We only have 12 beds in our shelter. When those beds are full, we have to look for alternatives.”
Dottie Stafford works at one of three crisis centers in Central Georgia. “There are not enough shelters that are confidentially located and in this area that someone can go and not be scared to be found,” said Stafford.
It's an issue that's bigger than Central Georgia. The lack of shelters is statewide.
Out of 159 counties, there are 46 confidential family violence shelters and 23 sexual assault programs in Georgia. “I think resources play a key role in that,” said Stafford.
Funding, licensing, and volunteers all play a role in helping victims to recover. District Attorney David Cooke says it's a process. “Oftentimes, these victims require specialized care. This is a multifaceted issue,” said David Cooke, District Attorney. “There's so much work that's needed in this area, and we need to keep working until we address the issue from all sides,” said Stafford.
Another thing to note -- out of the three confidential family violence shelters in Central Georgia, none are tailored only for victims of sex trafficking.