Preble Street, a Portland agency serving homeless people, has received a $400,000 federal grant to establish services for sex trafficking victims in Maine.
“We started hearing from our clients, mostly young women and girls, about horrific events in their lives, stories of being lured and coerced into prostitution, having no choice, being forced to trade their bodies for drugs and money,” said Mark Swann ’84, founder and executive director of Preble Street.
Many people don’t think sex trafficking is happening here, according to Daniella Cameron, supervisor of Preble Street Teen Service. The victims, many of them young homeless girls coerced into prostitution by men, often don’t talk about their experiences unless they are asked the “right questions in the right way,” she said.
Preble Street will use the first $200,000 installment of the two-year Department of Justice grant partly to develop a statewide network of housing and shelter options for victims. The money will also be used to pay for legal assistance and health and mental health programs for victims, according to the paper.