DENVER -- Cases of child prostitution are exploding in Colorado. As it stands, there are no shelters for teenage girls to seek refuge in Denver, but a non-profit group is hoping to change that.
Extended Hands of Hope will open the first emergency shelter specifically for underage girls this summer.
"There's absolutely no place for them to go," said executive director Kristen Harness. "There's no place for police to bring these girls."
Victims can stay at the shelter for up to 60 days. During their stay, the girls will have access to medical treatment and a trauma therapist.
"They could feel safer and feel loved," said Whitney, a sex-trafficking victim who asked us to conceal her identity. "Instead of being fearful or have to hide, a shelter would be some where to run to. "
Like many girls soliciting men for sex, Whitney had a troubled childhood. Her mother's ex-boyfriend molested her when she was 7-years old. When Whitney turned 15, her boyfriend at the time, introduced her to a world of sex, drugs and alcohol.
"He was grooming me to become a part of their business, a part of the prostitution ring they ran," Whitney said.
The group pimped out 12 girls. At 18-years old, Whitney ran away from the group and hid for six months.
Now, more than ever, she says a shelter is needed specifically for young victims of sex trafficking.
"Most of us come from broken homes, molestation, and abusive parents," Whitney said. "You don't want to go to the police because you're afraid of retaliation."
As a part of its fundraising campaign, Extended Hands of Hope is looking to raise $30,000 in 30 days. All donations will go toward a new safe house.
To learn more about Extended Hands of Hope and to donate to their fundraiser, click here.