Oklahoma Shelter Helps Human Trafficking Victims Heal, Move On


Wednesday, January 30th 2013, 9:55 pm
By: Tess Maune


Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes and one Oklahoma group is trying to help victims get their lives back.

In many cases, victims are recruited into sex-trafficking at ages so vulnerable that they don't know they have any other option.

We spoke with a victim who is still trying to understand why she was robbed of her childhood.

"Choice is a freedom and there's no freedom in trafficking," said Jeannetta McCrary.

Human trafficking is known as the modern day form of slavery. It's a lifestyle McCrary was introduced to in the 1980s, at a very young age.

1/30/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Police: Undercover Motel Sting Finds Women Forced Into Prostitution

"It wasn't my choice, number one. I was 11 and I was drugged, and no one asked me what I wanted to do," McCrary said. "I didn't even know what prostitution meant. I was from little, bitty Prattville"

McCrary said she was trafficked by someone she trusted, the older sibling of a childhood friend. She said that person forced her to take addicting drugs that she wound up depending on for years.

"I will forever be trying to wrap my head around it," McCrary said.

Now, married, sober and working on her Master's, McCrary is still healing. But she is ready to make a difference in the lives of others like her.

She works at Dayspring Villa, alongside Executive Director Wilma Lively.

"It's important to be here and to help these women and to know that somebody cares about them and that we don't expect anything from them," Lively said.

Dayspring is Oklahoma's only shelter for adult victims of sex-trafficking. The program has been helping sex slavery victims for nearly a year.

In that time, Lively says 15 women have been saved and loved and taught they have a future, brighter than they ever knew possible.

"We always tell them, ‘No matter what is in your past, you have the opportunity, from this day forward, to have a life of hope and peace,'" Lively said.

Oklahoma is considered a prime trade route for sexual slavery and human trafficking, with three major interstate systems crisscrossing the state.