Attorney General Bob Ferguson has launched a new website to help victims of sex trafficking in Washington state.
The site is among the first-of-its-kind in America — intended to help victims get out of a life they never imagined.
“When I tried to access resources, and even the education around this, the stigma was so high that I didn't even realize I was a victim for a very, very long time,” said Kyra Doubek.
Like so many other survivors, Doubek was first trafficked as a young teenager and became trapped in a life of commercial sexual exploitation for around seven years.
“When you do get stuck, and you've been given the message that you are nothing but a prostitute, you don't think there are any resources out there for you.”
But in fact, there are an array of resources in Washington state, now compiled on one website, so information is readily available when a victim needs to escape.
“We want to make sure if and when they take that step, the resources are there at a couple clicks of the mouse to be in touch with someone who can help,” said Attorney General Ferguson.
It seems like a simple step, but Ferguson says the state identified a need for one central location, with information about services ranging from housing to treatment. The state’s website links to more than 70 service providers, not including law enforcement.
“We're hoping to make a difference in people's lives and when they're at the point where they're trying to leave a really difficult situation, they can find the resources easily,” said Ferguson who notes an uptick in trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation cases.
“The numbers are showing it is increasing, which means we need to redouble our efforts,” he continued.
The rise has also coincided with increased awareness about the issue and increased support for the victims.
“I’ve been able to see an incredible shift, and this is one of the incredible shifts,” said Doubek. “Getting support from our elected officials and getting sites like these put up, so we can start breaking that stigma.”
Doubek, who now helps other survivors and co-founded the Survivor Impact Group, wants victims to know there is hope and light on the other side.
“I've found that it's incredibly possible to rebuild your life, and I've been able to heal in ways I never thought I would be able to, and do things I never thought possible,” she said.
“Don’t give up on having dreams,” she continued. “Don't give up, anything is possible. Stick to it. It's hard to stay out, but keep staying out one day at a time."