Drop-in center for survivors of sex trafficking opens in Louisville

Updated: Jan. 11, 2018 at 8:09 PM EST
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Amy Leenerts, founder and director of Free2Hope. (SOURCE: WAVE 3 News)
Amy Leenerts, founder and director of Free2Hope. (SOURCE: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Free2Hope, a new center to support survivors of violence, sex and labor trafficking, opened Thursday on Barret Avenue.

The center chose Thursday for the opening to coincide with January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Free2Hope is the first local agency in Louisville to provide drop-in professional services to survivors of violence, sex and labor trafficking.

The center, at 962 Barrett Ave., offers case management, substance abuse resources, life skill sessions and basic food and shelter needs.

The Free2Hope Center is open on Wednesdays for drop-in visits.

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A federal grant of $1.5 million was awarded to Beshear and Catholic Charities of Louisville in 2016 to "support new solutions in the fight against human trafficking."

A statement from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office said while there is no single indicator of trafficking, common signs include:

  • Identical tattoos or branding.
  • Appears malnourished and has physical injuries.
  • Avoids eye contact and seems to adhere to limited, scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction.
  • Lacks official identification documents and personal possessions.
  • Unable to identify what town or state they are in or where they are staying.

Kentucky law requires that anyone who suspects a child is being trafficked must report it. There is no liability for reporting a suspicion and you can remain anonymous. If human trafficking is suspected, do not approach the victim or trafficker and:

  • Call 911 or law enforcement for an emergency.
  • Report any nonemergency suspicious activity to the Kentucky Child Protection hotline, 877-597-2331; the Office of the Attorney General, 502-696-5300; or the National Human Trafficking hotline, 888-373-7888.

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