If you are being trafficked or you think someone you know might be, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or text INFO to 233733.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The ribbon was cut Sunday on a new Downtown apartment building, but the tenants who live there are part of a select group of survivors.

Called Turning Point, the apartments are designed to give a fresh start to women who have escaped human trafficking.

The furniture is new, the space newly remodeled and open and waiting for women who need a new beginning; the kind of women Chery Kirkham met when she volunteered for a six-month step-down program, and watched those women graduate.

  • Turning Point
  • Turning Point apartments opening

“I’d always asked, like, ‘So are you going to go? What’s your next step,’ that kind of thing,” Kirkham said. “And a majority of the women would say they either didn’t know, they were going to go back to their family and living situations that they were in before. They were going back to their boyfriends.”

And that sometimes meant going back to prostitution.

“I’m like, ‘This is a reality. We have a problem,’” she said. “There was a real problem that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of, or they might look at it like, ‘Well, they got themselves into that situation,’ or, you know, they don’t understand that. They’ve been trafficked.”

Working through her church, Zion Christian Fellowship, Kirkham and the minister’s wife spend years raising money to remodel a Downtown Columbus office building into an eight-unit house aptly called Turning Point.

For some, it will be the first safe space in their adult lives.

“They start getting trafficked as young as 12 or 13 years old,” Kirkham said. “It’s not like they work up one morning and said, ‘Hey, I want to be a prostitute when I grow up.’ It’s like they have been, they’ve been abused, and they’ve been trafficked, and then they’re trying to get on the other side of that. But then you have the whole drug thing in there as well, so it’s a process. So what people need to understand is that they just didn’t grow up thinking this is a choice I want to make. People don’t do that.”

Turning Point is taking applications for the women who will live there for at least a year – in a sober house built on faith and filled with hope.

“I think the main thing is that they will be able… This is life after rehabilitation, but that they will be, they’ll be on the right track, that they’re going to feel safe, they’re going to feel protected, they’re going to feel loved and encouraged,” Kirkham said. “And they’re going to have the internal and external tools to actually go to leave and be successful. And yeah, live independently. Without fear.”

Any woman wanting to apply to live at Turning Point can begin the process by emailing Kirkham by clicking here and including basic information about the journey they’ve taken.