'All those years of abuse, I finally get to do something about it'
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The idea was only a dream for Corvallis resident Jennifer Unangst: open a safe house for victims of sex trafficking - like the one that helped save her from the streets.
"I just can't sit back and do nothing," she said in 2012. "I know there are other people out there like me.
"I ended up homeless, on the streets, using street drugs, which led to more abuse."
A shelter for victims put her on a path to recovery. Recovery put her on a path to helping others.
That vision in 2012 - housing for victims of sex trafficking - is now a reality. The House of Engedi's location is secret, but it's a first for Oregon: a residential shelter to house up to 6 women escaping from sex trafficking. A second location in the Portland area is in the works.
"What moves us and motivates us is that there are women out there right now who are being trafficked in our communities and they have no place to go," said Josh Armentano, the executive director.
Statistics on sex trafficking are hard to come by.
Stories about teens being trafficked for sex aren't so difficult to find, unfortunately.
"For us this is critical; there's a sense of urgency, because there's a great need," Armentano said.
Unangst said Engedi is Hebrew for oasis in the desert.
The program will provide the women with a safe place, with programs to give them the skills to move on.
"Part of our program is to restore those years," Armentano said. "We'll offer life skills classes. We'll offer co-dependency classes that will be taught by licensed counselors."
KVAL News couldn't film the safe house in order to keep the location secret. House of Engedi provided photographs that show the interior of the home.
"I'm estatic," said Unangst. "It's like all those years of abuse that I endured, I finally get to do something about it."