She was kidnapped from Onslow County. Held captive for about a month, she was exploited until she managed to escape.

Now, she's at Anna's House, a safehouse for recovering human trafficking victims at an undisclosed location in the New Bern area.

Anna's House is coming up on its first anniversary of operation and going strong, according to Sarah Tellis, founder and CEO of True Justice International, the anti-trafficking ministry and organization that runs it.

Tellis — a New Bern resident who started her international ministry in 2011 when a trip to Greece opened her eyes to the seriousness of trafficking — said the home was donated to TJI and has so far given shelter to seven young women. Currently, two reside there.

“The girls are not from New Bern,” she said, though many are from the region. “One of our most tragic cases was with a girl from Onslow County who was kidnapped from that area and held captive for about a month and exploited.”

That girl ran away from her captors and went to the Jacksonville Police, who contacted Tellis .

Women who are brought into the shelter are allowed to stay for up to a year. While there, TJI counsels them and works with them to get a new start in life. Eventually they move from the safe house to a transitional program “where they are fully integrated back into society with jobs and education under way,” Tellis said.

The women take college courses or work on their GED while in the home.

Those whose therapy and work have advanced enough move into rented apartments where “we complete the steps to healing,” Tellis said. They continue receiving therapy and financial help. Eventually, TJI aims to get them back with their children and “family members who love them.”

Tellis noted that a lot of their clients have children. Tellis works with Safe Families, a Christian foster care organization, to find homes for the children while the mothers recover, and where the mothers can have visitation time.

Anna’s House was named after Anna Leland, a TJI volunteer who died of breast cancer in 2015.

Last week, two state legislators — Lt. Gov. Dan Forrest and N.C. Sen. Norman Sanderson — saw first hand the help Anna's House provides during a visit. The two legislators were introduced to the women living there, TJI staff, and Boaz, a small dog who lives in the house with the women. After a brief prayer circle, the men were shown through the house, while Tellis talked about the lives the residents live there.

Among their work is crafts that they learn, including making bracelets that are then donated around the world to trafficking victims as a reminder of the possibility of escaping from that life. The volunteers are paid for the bracelets they make.

Tellis said that Forrest and Sanderson have been particularly supportive of her ministry.

“This is fantastic,” Forrest said. “It’s the only one I know of its kind in North Carolina.

“We all know the kind of challenge that North Carolina faces with human trafficking, it being one of the largest human trafficking states,” he added. “People don’t even know it. Most people ignore this issue because it’s so hard to deal with, so hard to stomach.”

He said that trafficking — sexual, agricultural and in businesses — is all around. Victims can be found in even the best communities.

“So to have a safe house like this in place for these young ladies to come and restart is just absolutely critical,” he said.

A member of the the N.C. Human Trafficking Commission, Tellis is active about her cause, speaking and bringing awareness to communities in America and abroad.

The commission has scheduled a symposium on human trafficking at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center on April 9 and 10. The symposium aims to increase knowledge of the complexity of human trafficking and to create a training model for dealing with the issue.

For more information on the commission, trafficking, or help to escape, contact TJI at 252-631-5111 or go online to the TJI website at www.truejustice.global.