Work is underway on a new center to help sex workers and victims of human trafficking.
Non-profit organization Sanctuary Night has purchased a building on Sullivant Avenue in Franklinton which they hope to turn into a drop-in center to provide resources.
“In Columbus, Sullivant Avenue is sort of one of the hotspots for sex work and so we felt like it was really important to be where the women are,” said Hannah Estabrook, Executive Director of Sanctuary Night. “We don’t want the barrier of transportation to become an issue. We want it to be accessible.”
Currently, the group offers help for two hours on one night a week but from what they’ve seen, they know they could easily do more.
“We’re not trying to force them into any kind of treatment but we’re certainly talking about those things,” said Estabrook, “When we build relationships and they come in and say ‘I’m just so sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ I can ask them, ‘Do you want to be done? Do you want to do something else?’ and a lot of the times, the answer is Yes.”
NBC4 went to Sullivant Avenue Tuesday to film the future site of the center.
While there, we were approached by a woman who said she was a sex worker and shared some of her story.
“I have many choices. I choose this because it’s an addiction and it’s right here at my fingertips. and I’m addicted to attention, first and foremost,” the woman said.
She said the center could help her make a change.
“That would be awesome. I stopped for a long, long time but I moved out of state to do that. I can’t quit here. It’s too easy,” the woman said. “There’s no way to go about this and it not be dangerous at times. I’ve met more nice people than bad people but there are crazy people out there all over the place.”
Estabrook says the center won’t be a homeless shelter or addiction treatment but rather a first step toward providing women with those services, if they need or want them.
“The two things needed for women to exit the lifestyle are they need a place to go and they need a little bit of hope and so the drop in center really serves to be that place,” said Estabrook , ”I just want there to always be an option for these women. There’s just so many hours of every day that they’re living this life where they don’t have an option and it’s not Ok.”
Estabrook says the building they’ve purchased used to be a pop-up brothel.
“That was the last place they were arrested or that was the first place they were trafficked, or they were raped in the building. So, what’s clear is this is a space that has been the place of trauma, the place of horrific things and we’re getting to redeem even that building for good,” she said.
You can find more information on Sanctuary Night at https://www.sanctuarynight.com/