MCDOWELL COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — Unfortunately, sex trafficking happens in every zip code across the nation.
But what happens to the survivors of these horrific events? Where can they go when they have nowhere to go?
That is where Zera House steps in.
Zera House is a long-term aftercare home for women aged 18 and older who have survived sex trafficking. The house is in an undisclosed location in the mountains of West Virginia, primarily in McDowell County where survivors are assisted and guided as they walk through their healing journey.
Although sex trafficking is also an issue in the Mountain State, familial trafficking is more common, so you see more children being sold by family members. But according to the Safe House Project, 80 percent of survivors end up being re-victimized if they do not have anywhere safe to go. Zera House is the first of its kind in the Mountain State, which is why it makes this hot button issue more significant.
“But sex trafficking is happening everywhere. You’re gonna see it where main highways intersect, you’re gonna see it. You know, in the cities, you’re gonna see it with addiction, you know, needing a fix, which you know, it just goes hand in hand. So trafficking is happening everywhere,” explained Ariel Wallace, the CEO and Co-founder of the Zera house organization.
Zera House has a lot to offer in helping its survivors rebuild their lives. Zera House believes in sustainable living and holistic practices. The house has gardens and other small livestock, such as chickens to help women heal and adapt to therapeutic and healthy practices.
“Zera” in Hebrew means seed. The meaning of Zera applies to the women at the house and the therapy they go through, one of which is them growing and harvesting and they can apply that to our their own lives. This is the true significance of Zera House.
“There’s such a critical lack of aftercare for survivors of sex trafficking. A lot of the times they’re not able to leave because there’s no place for them to go or to get out of trafficking. There’s no place for them to go,” added Wallace.
Zera House will also be made into a documentary, which is being filmed in their undisclosed location.
This film, Seeds of Freedom will feature State Senators, the Secretary of the State for West Virginia, and will provide a lot of information including education and resources. Although the film is coming out in the middle of December 2023, there will be a sneak peek available October 20, 2023 at 7:00 P.M. on the streaming platform called MyMoviesPlus. You can use the promo code, “Roundtable” to view the film.
“One of our big focuses this year is just continuing to shed light on the darkness, and this documentary is going to bring that, and it’s going to share with people ways to get involved and, you know, the good that is being done in this space,” concluded Wallace.
For more information on Zera House, please visit rescueamerica.ngo. Rescue America’s site has a hotline number you can call to be directed to the resources you need regarding sex trafficking, which includes Zera House as a resource.