Turning Point Home offers housing for survivors of human trafficking in Ohio
The Human Trafficking Hotline in Ohio has received 11,224 signals and identified 3,102 cases of human trafficking since 2007.
The new Turning Point home can house up to eight women survivors of human trafficking. The nonprofit the Normandy Project bought the building in 2018. (Photo by Megan Henry).
A new home for human trafficking survivors is opening soon in downtown Columbus.
Turning Point Home, located on E. Broad St., can house up to eight women survivors of human trafficking at a time.
Cheryl Kirkham, executive director of the Turning Point Home, first got the idea for the house years ago when she was volunteering at a six-month women’s facility and realized that most of them don’t have a place to go once the program ends.
“I would hear over and over again they either didn’t know or that they were going back to their old boyfriend,” she said Sunday during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “The purpose for this home is for that gap.”
Women must complete a one-year recovery program and be sober for at least two years in order to be eligible to live in the house. Turning Point expects to have residents start moving in mid-September.
The three-story, 8,000-square-foot space sits across the street from the Statehouse and includes an exercise room, a kitchen, a worship room, a movie room, an office and laundry rooms. The bedrooms are fully furnished and come with decor already on the walls. A house manager will also live on-site.
Women can live at Turning Point for up to a year, but can stay longer if necessary, said Jim Baker, senior pastor at Zion Christian Fellowship.
“No one asks to be trafficked,” he said.
Barbara Freeman, a human trafficking survivor from Columbus, knows firsthand how valuable the Turning Point Home will be. She was forced into human trafficking when she was 15 and came out of trafficking in April 2009.
“I was a person in an alley,” Freeman said. “From person to person, from home to home, man to man, pimp to pimp. … I lived a life of no home, no love, nobody understanding what I was going through because I didn’t know what I was going through myself. All I knew was the life they told me to live.”
She went on to be one of the first graduates of CATCH Court (Changing Actions To Change Habits), a specialized docket in the Franklin County Municipal Court for women in the system who are victims of human trafficking.
“That paved the way for me, but there was still something missing,” she said. “I didn’t have the tools to live. … I didn’t know how to function in society and I was scared. When I stepped outside, it was a whole world that I knew nothing about because I lived in darkness from just living in the alleys and living the life of eating Little Debbie cakes everyday and trying to get a 99 cent McDonald’s sandwich.”
Women often look back to their pimps or their traffickers after completing their programs. A place like Turning Point gives them more time to learn how to be independent while getting the support they need, Freeman said.
She is the CEO of the Freeman Project, which includes the Freeman Project House — another home for human trafficking survivors in Columbus.
CATCH Court was founded in 2009 and is a two-year program.
“Housing continues to be a deficit in the resources that we have to offer to these women post-graduation,” said Gwen England, CATCH Court Program Leader. “We have the potential to house this entire place. It’s such a needed, needed resource in the city, particularly for the women that are coming out of really, really horrendous experiences and are lacking the support of housing that they need.”
Making the Turning Point Home
The Normandy Project bought the space that now houses the Turning Point home back in 2018. The building was originally built in the 1800s, so it had to go through extensive renovations including new flooring, new roofing, new windows, new electric, new HVAC, and new lighting, said Sean O’Rourke, executive Pastor at Zion Christian Fellowship.
“This acts as a bit of a prophetic picture in a way of the transformation that’s going to occur in the lives of survivors who are coming into this home,” O’Rourke said. “Moving from one place to something radically different, better than they could have thought or imagined.”
Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.