New safe home in Lee County for sex trafficking victims

“Never the same since meeting the one.” That’s a woman’s motto since meeting a human trafficking survivor four years ago. Since then, she’s raised money and worked tirelessly to build a safe place for other victims.

Ana Stevenson is founder of trauma advocacy nonprofit Path2Freedom in Naples. She built Magnolia Home, a six-bed house in Lee County for women trying to escape human trafficking.

“I feel like this is a sacred place, a designated place to heal,” said Toney-Butler, a survivor mentor with Path2Freedom. “I am a trauma survivor.”

Toney Butler was not trafficked but experienced years of abuse. That is something a woman, who WINK News is calling Roxana Perez, understands personally.

“I was abused every day by 30 through 58 men,” Perez said.

Through a translator, Perez shared her very personal and painful past. In 2006, she came to live in the U.S. to live with her cousin in Orlando.

“That was the very first day of hell,” Perez said.

The 20-year-old had her identity altered and her age was changed to show she was a 16-year-old.

“They changed my nationality,” Perez said. “And at 6 p.m. in the afternoon they were selling me on the street.”

Three years later, her traffickers were caught. But with no family, Perez ended up on the streets.

Path2Freedom Founder Ana Stevenson heard Perez’s story 4 years ago and took action.

“Most of these girls have no place to go,” Stevenson said. “Most of them come from the foster care system.”

Many also head to juvenile detention or end up homeless.

Magnolia Home provides safety, shelter and a sense of community.

“The hope is that these children that we save and that we help can have a moment of peace,” Toney-Butler said.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
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