San Diego County is getting it’s first shelter that will house underage victims of sex trafficking. The girls who have been sold into prostitution are between the ages of 12 and 17.
A non-profit called GenerateHope is the organization behind the project set deep in Pauma Valley, far removed from the pimps and traffickers the girls escaped.
GenerateHope Executive Director, Susan Munsey, says the girls are sold between 10 and 15 times a night, bringing in $1,000 for their pimps.
Sex trade arrangements for children are often made online by their trafficker, then facilitated at hotels. And if the girls get caught, many times they’re taken to juvenile hall.
“They kind of fall through the cracks because they’re charged with prostitution and yet another girl same age, with a slightly different sexual encounter and it’s statutory rape. She’s protected and these girls aren’t,” said Munsey.
GenerateHope’s new shelter is set on 15 acres. It will house six girls ages 12-17. They’ll have academic studies, therapy sessions, life skills lessons and field trips to amusement parks.
The ranch-style home opened on June 5, but no one has moved in yet. Once they do, Munsey says the change in environment can be terrifying.
“You would think there’d be a big sigh of relief and joy about being in a safe place, in a peaceful place and finally being able to relax, but it actually takes a little while.”
The non-profit gets most its funding from private donors who want to make a difference.
“We want to see them take on a career, go to college so they can be successful as independent adults,” Munsey said. “Really prosper and have happy lives.”
One young woman at Munsey’s first GenerateHope shelter in Bonita is a striking example of perseverance.
Morgan Stacy, 19, is in a good place now, recovering from a lifetime of traumatic experiences that started at age 4.
She was sexually abused by her stepfather, then sold for sex to other men.
“When it happens to you as a kid, you don’t know it’s wrong. It’s like it’s normal,” Stacy said.
To learn more about underage sex trafficking in San Diego and across the nation, visit this website.