Milwaukee, Wis. – In response to the growing epidemic of sex trafficking, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) has opened Transitions, a new residential treatment center for girls who have been victimized by sex trafficking.
Last month, Transitions began accepting girls age 10-18 who have a history of sex trafficking or are at high risk for being trafficked. The Transitions campus includes two treatment units and provides intensive, specialized therapy so girls can overcome the severe trauma they have endured.
“While many people don’t want to believe it, sex trafficking has been reported in every single county in Wisconsin,” says Heather Yaeger, executive director at LSS. “Trafficking can look different with every girl. With the Internet, sex can be purchased anywhere at any time. Predators browse the online ads, pick a girl, and call a cell phone to make the arrangements. Or a girl who is homeless is forced to engage in relations for food or a place to sleep.”
“The girls we treat have been in unimaginable situations that are just heartbreaking. Many are dealing with a host of issues that include sexual abuse, anxiety, depression, and drug and alcohol addiction,” says Yaeger. “They require trauma therapy to overcome their past, manage their emotions, and build their self-esteem and trust in others. We teach them coping skills and support career goals to assure they will never be totally dependent on anyone but themselves. We also help their families and others in their support network learn how to support them after our treatment concludes.”
The Transitions 1 unit is funded by a contract LSS has with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). Child welfare and juvenile justice agencies with placement authority in non-Milwaukee counties can refer female youth who have experienced sex trafficking to the program.
Transitions 2 is open to female youth from Wisconsin and other Midwestern states who are at risk for sex trafficking.
“The programs are essentially the same,” says Yaeger. “It’s just the funding sources that differ. The State of Wisconsin made an investment in treating girls through the establishment of Transitions 1. We knew that there were more girls in need of help, and we had the capacity to meet that need, so we essentially doubled the space in our facility for this purpose.”
Agencies, counties or individuals who would like to learn more can visit lsswis.org/transitions or call 715-855-5350.
For more than 100 years, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan has supported individuals, families and communities with services and programs designed to change the world – one grace-filled life at a time. We help people all along the lifespan with services as essential as shelter and clothing, and as life-changing as trauma-informed counseling and adoption. Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, LSS welcomes and serves people of all faiths and backgrounds. For more information, go to lsswis.org.