'It's given me a purpose.' Cry Freedom Missions safe house & shops help fight human trafficking

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Monday, January 16, 2023
NC nonprofit aims to restore lives of human trafficking survivors
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January is National Human Trafficking Prevention month and ABC11 is shining the spotlight on a local nonprofit's mission to reach, rescue, and restore the lives of survivors.

"I ran. I just ran as hard as I could run to the first porch light I saw and this elderly couple came out."

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention month and ABC11 is shining the spotlight on a local nonprofit's mission to reach, rescue, and restore the lives of survivors.

Cry Freedom Missions helps survivors of sex trafficking in North Carolina which ranks ninth in the nation in cases according to the NC Department of Administration.

The nonprofit has opened two cafes and high-end boutique shops in uptown Roxboro and a two-story location on Center Street in downtown Goldsboro.

"We are passionate about ending human trafficking about ending sex trafficking," explained Cry Freedom Missions CEO Beverly Weeks. "And, so there was a gift that was included in the North Carolina State budget to allow us the opportunity to purchase this building, so that we could see more survivors coming in have jobs, have employment," Weeks added about their latest shop in Goldsboro.

Sales of home decor, gifts, as well as special jewelry and other products hand-made by survivors all help provide funding for the nonprofit.

Cry Freedom Missions rescues victims and places them in a safe house in Eastern North Carolina where they are given medical treatment, therapy, and rehabilitation.

"When they reach a certain part of the program, they can be employed at the shops. We have six survivors who are employed here," Weeks explained.

One of those employees is Crystal, whose last name is being concealed.

"I am the coffee shop manager," Crystal said. "It's given me a purpose. It has given me a reason. And, I get to minister to people. I get to share my testimony daily at work."

Crystal was rescued from human trafficking in May 2021.

"I feared for my life. I was in a really traumatic experience and I finally broke free. I ran, I just ran as hard as I could run to the first porch light I saw and this elderly couple came out at three o'clock in the morning and called help for me. They got me back to safety," Crystal explained.

Crystal was taken to the safe house where she received medical attention, therapy, rehabilitation, and renewed faith.

"I absolutely fell in love with Jesus at the safe house," Crystal said.

"I work closely with some of the survivors as they go through their vocational training and I absolutely love my job. it's given me a purpose," Crystal added.

While North Carolina ranks ninth in the nation, experts say the number is likely higher since it is a crime that hides in plain sight.

"There are various reasons," said Sherry Clayton, a Cry Freedom Missions volunteer and Jail and Hotel Outreach Coordinator about why the state ranks so high with the problem.

"We have the interstates here, as well as we have our coastal communities. It's very prominent in coastal communities. And, unfortunately, as much as we love our military bases, it happens a lot in military base communities as well," Clayton added.

Cry Freedom Missions also provides court advocacy and life skills classes along with outreach, safe housing, and employment.

Throughout January, all survivor-made jewelry is twenty percent off for human trafficking prevention month.

WATCH | NC one of the hot spots for human trafficking, report shows

Watch More Human Trafficking stories here.