****Content Warning: This story may be disturbing to some. Viewer discretion is advised.****
LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – While January is National Sex Trafficking Awareness month, 6 News continues to be here for you to highlight the important work of the House of Promise, a local nonprofit that works to help victims of human trafficking.
It can happen to anyone. No matter their age. It’s estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 people become victims of sex trafficking each year in the United States.
The House of Promise was founded by Shari Montgomery, former owner of the Pollack Glass Company in Michigan.
Montgomery and The House of Promise have dedicated themselves to establishing community outreach, engagement, education, and awareness of human trafficking, as well as aid to human trafficking victims.
The House of Promise’s main mission is to provide women survivors of sex trafficking a place to heal and recover. The nonprofit also offers residential living for victims for up to two years rent-free, as well as 24/7 support staff. They also offer mental health, physical health, and education services to victims in need. Victims can also receive aid from case managers, and receive help in landing a job.
In this four-part Digital Exclusive, 6 News will feature testimonies from real survivors that were helped by the House of Promise.
To protect the identity of survivors they each will be referred to by different names. Our first story features “Ann”, who was a victim of sex trafficking for years.
Ann grew up a happy child. She had a typical childhood and graduated college with a degree in social work.
In 2014 two men appeared at her door. They claimed she owed back taxes. She let them in, believing their story. This first meeting was uneventful, but the men returned.
“The next time they came back they didn’t want to talk anymore. They abused me that first time right in my apartment. That’s when it started.”
Ann moved away, hoping these men wouldn’t find her, but they did.
They followed her through 4 years and 5 different residences and across state lines. When she moved to Michigan she found out how.
Michigan State Police had discovered that the traffickers had put a tracker on her car.
Due to this abuse, many innocuous things would trigger her, such as the sound of the doorbell or a hug from a loved one. House of Promise helped her get through this.
“I’m alive now,” she said.
You can watch Ann’s full story in the video above.
If you or someone you know needs help, or want to learn more about human trafficking, you can find more resources here.