KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The young woman who escaped from an Excelsior Springs house last week spent her 22nd birthday as a captive in the basement.
And, how many other young women like her are out there?
KSHB 41 News talked with two advocacy groups who work with vulnerable people, who say community involvement is critical to keeping each other safe.
"My initial reaction is, what she has gone through? And my heart goes out to her and to her immediate family members who must have been terrified in those days she was missing," Lucy Bloom, director of community relations for Serenity Life Resource Center, said.
The groups want the young woman to know the community supports her.
KSHB talked to Bloom and Bishop Tony Caldwell with the Justice and Dignity Center. Both groups help vulnerable people who have been exploited or trafficked.
"Sometimes you don't know you're vulnerable unless someone lets you know," Caldwell said.
The woman told neighbors and police that Haslett held her against her will for a month - tied up, handcuffed, with a metal collar padlocked around her neck. She says Haslett picked her up off of Prospect Avenue, a street in Kansas City, in early September.
He's now charged with kidnapping, rape, and assault.
"I think that's an important piece, is an individual with intent like that would go to that part of town thinking, 'I'm going to pick up somebody that people wont believe, somebody that nobody will miss, and i'll be able to get away with this, at least for a little while,'" Bloom said.
Right now, it's unclear when or if family and friends reported this young woman missing. Bloom and Caldwell stress how important it is to keep community ties strong to advocate for one another.
"Sometimes a situation is not seen as imminent, we don't have proof of imminent danger, we don't have a missing persons case here," Bloom said. "That's where it's so critical that we have those daily touch-points of contact where we can point out, 'No, this pattern is very different.'"
They have a message for this young woman and families of missing people -
"We have to do a better way of letting people know we care, that they mean something, that we're here for them," Caldwell said.
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