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'The Story of the Refuge': One year report shows how new Central Texas facility rehabs sex trafficked children

The Refuge for DMST (domestic minor sex trafficking) built a long-term residential treatment facility for sex trafficked children, aged 11 to 19 years old.

AUSTIN, Texas — To see what’s inside The Refuge Ranch, you’ll have to view through the numbers.

The Ranch is the nation’s largest long-term residential treatment facility for domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST).

The Refuge for DMST is the non-profit behind the facility.

“You don’t want to further exploit the kids to raise money or show the results we had,” said Steven Phenix, PR & communication director for The Refuge for DMST. “We can’t physically show what we’re doing there. This impact report shows the numbers of what we’re doing throughout the year.”

The ranch served 17 survivors since it opened in August 2018.

Statics in the report show:

  • 27% of the girls were referred by other child advocacy groups
  • 88% of the girls were in the care of social services or foster care when they went missing
  • 10% are from another state
  • Most of the girls are funded by scholarships.

“Of the 23% of the girls placed by the state, state funding only covers 65% of their care,” the report shows.

“I knew they were trafficked as young as 11. It’s another thing to see it,” said Phenix.

We told you how sex traffickers in Austin often get away with the crime because jurors can look at the victim and cast blame.

RELATED: Why Austin’s child sex traffickers aren’t getting jail time

However, these numbers also show hope.

Three girls received a high school diploma and are attending college.

The Refuge expects to have all beds filled by Christmas 2020.

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