Traffick Free

the secret's...not out: why the drop-in center location is undisclosed


Safe houses have been a sanctuary throughout human history. They offered protection to slaves traveling the Underground Railroad and to Europeans escaping Nazism. It was critical for the safety of these people that they not be found. In the 1970s safe houses for women and children were forged from the feminist movement and drop-in centers emerged as a way to stand in the gap. As we look forward to opening the Traffick Free 24-hour drop-in center for self-identified females who are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, our supporters are asking why the location is a secret. The answer? Because it needs to be a safe place where these women and girls can't be found.

The average age of entry into commercial sex is 13, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. These runaway, thrown away, or homeless American children are lured into the commercialized sex trade by the promise of a lucrative job, an education, or a relationship. But they are deceived by family, coerced by boyfriends, and forced into survival sex. They are manipulated into an industry devoid of choice and rampant with abuse. Exploited individuals face violence at the hands of johns and traffickers. This repeated sexual, physical, and mental abuse fosters a lifetime of fear and mistrust of others. Rebuilding that trust is the challenge we face. By engineering a place of refuge we provide an opportunity for them to escape danger and fear. Offering women and girls a confidential location is critical to their security. These women need to be safe and feel safe in order for them to trust the drop-in center as a place where they can not only find immediate tangible needs but also dignity.

Traffick Free’s 24-hour drop-in center is about giving Chicago's over 24,000 sexually exploited women and girls a choice. These are daughters and sisters who want to get out of these dangerous situations but don't know how. After living through a traumatic imbalance of power these survivors need the assurance of safety to retrieve their power to choose. Our drop-in center is a place where people should feel liberated to build self-empowerment through even the smallest choices. Whether it be choosing what clothes to wear or which story to tell - the decision is hers and we protect that by keeping the drop-in center at an undisclosed location. Confidentiality tells her she can choose.

You also have a choice. Please help women in Chicagoland and donate today! The drop-in center’s around-the-clock services like meals, showers, clean clothes, and counseling depends on your support.

by Sangeeta Sunny

Gift Under the Tree 2014

From now through the end of the year, you can give on behalf of your loved ones to Traffick Free using either the gift tags or gift certificates below. A click on the appropriate image will download a PDF file for you to print your own tags and certificates!! This is a great way to say you care about the over 24,000 women and girls who are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation in Chicago every year AND to educate your friends and family about this important mission.

Click here to donate.

Thank you for your support!

stand in the gap

As you may have noticed, or perhaps you were at our "Let's Do This!" event on February 11, 2014 when we announced, that we are moving towards opening Chicago's first 24-hour drop-in center for self-identified female persons engaged in commercial sexual exploitation. We are very careful in that wording to not include words and phrases like "victims" nor "sex-trafficking" because coming to this drop-in center has to be a choice. Many victims do not self-identify as such for years, if ever in their lives. We also do not want to limit our services to those who can be defined as a "sex-trafficking" victim or survivor by any legal sense. If a female person has been engaged in commercial sex and is looking to find a place of refuge, we are simply that - standing in the gap for her to provide immediate tangible needs and dignity. Come as you are. Tell us what name you would like us to call you by. Drop in as often as you would like.

After the years of research our volunteer Program Development Team put in to compile a Needs Assessment, we know that we want to stand in the gap 24 hours because we know that not everyone who would utilize a drop-in center will also utilize an overnight shelter. We know that clean clothes and a clean body can be a first step towards a feeling of dignity. So we want to provide showers, washers and dryers, and a bank of clean clothes to change into if she desires. We know that long hours demand rest so we want to provide quiet spaces to sit, take a nap, and for her to put her feet up. We also know that we are all human in a very social world so if you want to come in and check your social media pages, come on in.

In all honesty though, we need help. We have always been a volunteer-driven organization relying on hours devoted by working and studying adults in the Chicago area. We need more of those hours from more of you. 

We also need to increase our finances by the 100s of thousands of dollars to achieve this stand in the gap. Consider donating your best gift by clicking the "Donate" button to the right.

Also, please bear with us as we work on rolling out a new website by the end of 2014 to share with you our progress towards seeing these long-term goals come to fruition.

Find out more by simply contacting [email protected] Thank you for being a part of this journey.

Traffick Free is an initiative to end trafficking in Chicago.

We exist to elevate justice and communicate the reality of human trafficking in our world. We work to end modern-day slavery by developing awareness campaigns, educating local communities, partnering with organizations that combat trafficking and aid victims, intervening in at-risk situations, promoting enforcement of legislature, and encouraging the prosecution of traffickers.