Safehouse to open in Madera for sex trafficking surviviors

In the Fresno/Madera area, police estimate there are anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 women who are being trafficked right now.
MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The exploitation of women continues to plague communities across the Central Valley. In the Fresno/Madera area, police estimate there are anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 women who are being trafficked right now.

"I don't care if there is COVID or what type of pandemic there is, there will always be sex trafficking," said Madera Police Lt. Dan Foss.

Foss is the founder of OLIVE, which stands for Overcoming Limitations through Intervention Values and Empowerment.

The organization helps sex trafficking victims by providing a variety of resources, including education and job support. And soon, those women will also have a place to escape the streets.

Action News got a look inside their new safe house in an undisclosed location. It was purchased with donations and is being remodeled and will have security in the future.

"I don't want it to just be a roof over their head. I want it to be a home. Something where they come to, and they feel safe, they feel secure. They feel like they can make a difference here," Foss said. "They are going to be here long term. This something they're going to be residing in for a long time. Something as we're getting them back into society."

He says additional donations are needed to operate the safe house and provide other services. It costs about $1,500 to $2,000 a month per participant to be in the program. OLIVE has helped women ages 18 to 49 from a variety of backgrounds.

"Nobody wants to be (trafficked). It's either a societal issue. It's a generational issue. Often times people don't realize when you grow up in a poor society and have a mom who has prostitute, that's where you learn it," April Molina, president of OLIVE.

The safe house is expected to be remodeled by the end of the year. Women will be starting a new chapter in their lives in a safe place in 2021.

OLIVE organizers say they have a link to the FBI hotline on their website to report trafficking cases. You can also find information about how to volunteer on their website.
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