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Human trafficking victims will soon have shelter in Virginia

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HENRICO, Va. -- Advocates and victims will soon have access to a local human trafficking shelter.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state.

Sex trafficking is what most frequently occurs in Virginia, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which reported 825 cases in the state since 2007, along with 3,594 calls for help.

On Tuesday, organizers at Saint Mary's Hospital  provided some details about the shelter and its purpose for the community. The shelter’s location will not be released to the public, to protect the victims.


Organizers said the sex trade industry is a billion dollar business, and many victims are afraid to come forward.

“It’s another piece of abuse that we don’t talk about and it’s something absolutely that’s needed,” said Sonja Holt.

Holt will go through training to help traumatized victims heal; often times these victims have no place to go.

As Founder of S.C.A.R.S, also known as, Second Chance at Renewing Self, Holt is aware of what it means to be a victim.

She survived domestic violence abuse and started her own organization to help others. She calls it a labor of love.

“It really is. We can connect to other people,” said Holt. “We go through things and really understand that we’ve overcome these things."

Holt will also assist with education and prevention.

"There's fear that they're stigmatized and there's blame and there's shame,” Holt said. “But to have a place that can be a safe haven, a place where they can start to heal and understand what it is that they've been through that process to be able to rebuild their lives it's absolutely phenomenal."

Organizers plan to release more details on the human trafficking shelter at a news conference next week.

The shelter could open as early as January.

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