Free Indeed Home in Danger of Closing

Monica Ruiz

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For the past five years, the Free Indeed Home has provided a home and support for children who have survived sex trafficking. Now, the home is in danger of closing by the end of the month without serious financial help.

“The mission of the Free Indeed Home is to provide rescue and restoration to girls ages 12-17 who have been sexually exploited for commercial purposes within a faith-based home and program,” said Beth Salcedo, executive director of the home.

Keeping with their mission, Free Indeed provides vital resources to girls across the nation, such as medical care, skills training, and a place to stay. These resources, though, come at a price of $1,750 per-girl per-week, according to Salcedo.

“A common story with our girls is that they have been sexually abused by a family member or family friend as a young child. Most of our girls meet their traffickers while on runaway. We have, however, had approximately 20% of children that have been victims of familial trafficking. Generally, in those situations, our girls have been used to bring money into the household, or for their parents drug use.” Salcedo said.

Salcedo said often these girls are trauma bonded to their traffickers and the life they have been forced into, or they view the ordeal as survival sex. Without the services Free Indeed provides, Salcedo is afraid these girls will be placed in foster care, juvenile detention or may even be allowed back to their previous living situation without the needed help and support.

Alex Lucas, music senior at Loyola and member of the Archdiocese Human Trafficking Committee, said, “I dream of a world where sexual assault does not exist. I dream of a world where we don’t have to raise money to support ten underage girls who have survived serial rape. Unfortunately, in the era of #MeToo, Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffery Epstein, this is a reality. I refuse to let sexual assaulters get away with their actions and leave the women who survive to pay for the consequences by themselves.”

According to Lucas, Covenant House, near the French Quarter, is also an option for care for these children, however it is short term and focuses on helping a wide array of individuals. Free Indeed is unique in that they focus solely on young sex trafficking survivors.

Loyola’s Wolf Pack for Life has supported Free Indeed in the past and continues to try to help the organization avoid closing.

“Slavery of any kind is a huge affront to human dignity, and supporting trafficking survivors is consistent with our mission to uphold the value of every human life,” said Sophie Trist, English writing senior and secretary of Wolf Pack for Life. According to Trist, the organization has held several Krispie Kreme fundraisers for Free Indeed and has recently started a #SavetheSafehouse campaign on Facebook.

Through Wolf Pack for Life, Lucas and Trist have made a video of an official statement from the Free Indeed Home which has gotten over 3,000 views. Their goal is “to create a grassroots campaign to support this safe house while it finds a long-term solution to its financial difficulties,” said Trist.

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