Giving Exploited Kids a Way Out

“Sexual Exploitation is one of the most hideous and outrageous forms of abuse that occurs every single day in the USA. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) states that roughly one out of every 5 girls and one out of every 10 boys will be sexually exploited or abused before they become of age. This crime often leaves victims vulnerable, in a state of loss, and lasting reminders of the abuse. Traffickers are often not punished due to the level of fear and intimidation that is entrenched in the minds of the child victims.”–Deepa Patel, LCSW, Human Sex Trafficking Intervention Expert


Carol was living in a runaway shelter. She’d been having problems at home, always arguing with her mom.She had been arrested six times for stealing and was barred from shopping at most of the stores in her neighborhood. By age 13, she had already started experimenting with alcohol and drugs.She had no friends and skipped school most days.After a suicide attempt (cutting her wrists), a psychiatrist gave her a diagnosis of depression, but neither she nor her mother were in favor of taking medication.Then things went from bad to worse.

James seemed like a dream come true as a boyfriend. He told her he was 18, and she found she liked older boys ever since her dad had abandoned the family. James constantly bought her little gifts and told her she was pretty, that she could be a model, and they both agreed that their relationship should be their special secret.

What Carol did not know was that James was a pimp and was recruiting Carol to become a child prostitute.By the time Carol figured that out, it was too late—she was already in deep, and she just knew that things could never be good with her and her mom.

For many young girls like Carol, the odds against getting out of the life of human sex trafficking (HST) are overwhelming. Often, they have been beaten, bullied, tricked, seduced, humiliated, had their families threatened, and have even been blackmailed. This is the point at which we get referrals to our program for teen girls (and boys) at our Grafton, Berryville Campus. Although, of course, we would rather see young people at the first signs of troublesome behavior, we are committed to helping children and young adults and their families at any point.

The Grafton Berryville staff recently engaged in an intensive HST Intervention training session. The process including four full days of training by local and national HST experts for key management staff and an additional 20 hours of training for our academic, residential, nursing, case management, and therapy teams working with this population.We are pleased to offer this service and look forward to intervening on behalf of these vulnerable youth and their families.


**Carol represents an amalgam of behavioral concerns we have seen at Berryville and is not the actual name of a client.