LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- These last two weeks THV11’s Selling Girls series has talked about the fight against human trafficking. It highlights a fight going on across the country including in Arkansas.
One of the local groups on the front lines got a new way to win that fight. Partners against Human Trafficking, or PATH, runs four safe houses to help women and girls escape from that traumatic situation. Add to that a new facility where therapy can take place after the trauma subsides.
“When you're in trouble, this is the best place to come,” said Barbara, a human trafficking survivor working with PATH alongside a friend and fellow survivor, Ashley.
“We're only able to take care of the girls in a safe house that needed a place to live,” said Louise Allison, the executive director of PATH and herself an assault survivor. “We have a lot of teenagers and young adults that are living someplace else but don't have that intensive therapeutic services that they need.”
The new day center solves that problem.
“We try to cater and tailor to their needs but having classes in the evenings, afternoons, evenings and even on the weekend,” said Casonia Vinson, Clinical Program Director for PATH. “They can come in and they can bring their children because we have a children's play room.”
The undisclosed location provides safe spaces and access to professionals, including a computer room, an area for group sessions and a classroom stocked to the ceiling with art and craft supplies.
“We have an artist that comes every week and works with the girls and we have music therapy,” Allison said. “It’s all part of the healing process.”
PATH’s youngest victim in the program is age four, so playrooms also play an important role.
“And a lot of the girls if they were sexually assaulted at an early age, they grow up way too fast,” Allison said. “So we allow them to go back to the original age of assault and have fun as a kid.”
They also teach important life skills.
“Budgeting and finances and cooking a meal, those were the least of their worries,” Vinson said. “They were trying to live day to day.”
“I can come here and it's family,” survivor Ashley said.
She and Barbara are both excited for what the new center offers.
“Girls that are out there that are going through that horrible thing that's happening to them,” Barbara said. “To be able to bring them to PATH to get the help that they need, that’s exciting.”