Second Life Chattanooga is one of four organizations working to help human trafficking victims under the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance. (Photo: Contributed)

During a news conference Wednesday, state officials announced the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance, a collaboration between nongovernment agencies in each of the state’s four regions.

The announcement was made on National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Day. The purpose of the collaboration is to ensure quality protective services are provided to local human trafficking victims in the most effective and efficient way possible.

The four nonprofit organizations, Second Life, Restore Corps, End Slavery Tennessee and Grow Free TN, manage all human trafficking referrals in their designated region while providing support for victims and their families.

Second Life—the organization covering lower East Tennessee—is based in Chattanooga.

"It’s extremely important that the state of Tennessee is unified in the response to and prevention of human trafficking in all forms," Second Life Chattanooga CEO Jerry Redman said in a prepared statement. "We’re proud to be part of this effort here in the Greater Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee region and will continue to build awareness and support victims of human trafficking with the help of our partners through the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance."

The organizations also assist law enforcement agencies in sting operations, ensuring victims receive medical and mental health support, safe housing, substance abuse recovery, legal services, job training and more.

"We work closely with Second Life and fully support the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance to help bring greater awareness to the victims of human trafficking across the state," Valerie Radu, executive director of the Family Justice Center, said. "Each case of human trafficking is different, and our mission is to serve the victims by getting them the mental and medical support they need to heal."

This effort is in coordination with Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Human Trafficking Services Coordination and Service Delivery Plan, which was created in 2013 to deliver more services to victims of human trafficking in Tennessee. 

Minors are trafficked daily in the state of Tennessee. Nearly every county in the state has reported cases of human trafficking, and an average of 94 children are trafficked in Tennessee every month. The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 13.

"Second Life works directly with law enforcement in regards to finding and helping human trafficking victims effectively and efficiently," Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said. "On behalf of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, we support the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance and are committed to continuing efforts to end human trafficking."

If you need help or suspect a case of human trafficking, call the Tennessee human trafficking hotline at 1-855-558-6484.