PEARL, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi’s Center for Violence Prevention held a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday for its new Tower renovation, which will expand its human trafficking program.

“In 2017, the Center for Violence Prevention opened the Tower as a specialized shelter and emergency response program for victims of human trafficking. Due to the increased number of identified victims, The Tower is doubling its space to accommodate up to twelve victims and their children. The Tower Program offered aid and support to 150+ victims during the past year,” stated Sandy Middleton, Executive Director.

Human trafficking is a growing problem nationwide and locally in Mississippi.

House Speaker Philip Gunn said, “There’s more work that needs to be done, and it is a sad reality that exists around this state.”

The Tower Program is modeled after nationally recognized programs that incorporate therapeutic support, life skills, behavioral health services, and other support services into a long-term approach to aid in victim recovery from complex trauma and exploitation. Currently, leaders said the Tower is the only specialized long-term recovery program for victims of human trafficking in the state and consequently serves all of Mississippi.

Sandy Middleton, executive director for Mississippi’s Center for Violence Prevention, said, “Human trafficking, sex trafficking is hugely profitable. One of the reasons is because, in order to traffic drugs and guns, you always need to have a new supply.”

Attorney General Lynn Fitch said, “We don’t always win all of them. Some of them go right back because it is such a tremendous brainwashing.”

In the road to recovery for human trafficking survivors, the Tower program in Mississippi provides shelter for up to two years.

If you believe someone to be in a trafficking situation, alert law enforcement or call the 24-hour multilingual anti-trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.