What human trafficking looks like locally

 

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It’s happening in our community, and many people don’t even realize it.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is dealing with 217 cases from 2017. The amount of reports in Kentucky have been on the rise over the years. They believe it’s because more people know what to look for.

Here’s what you should look out for:

— Someone who doesn’t know what city they are in.
— A homeless child with expensive gift.
— A person who is being controlled by someone.
— If there is a lack of eye contact.
— Branding.
— Injuries.

Those are signs of human trafficking, but ultimately you will feel when something is wrong. If you think it can’t be happening in my home town, think again.

This home in McCracken County is a hidden haven.

“These young women come to us locally, around the U.S., and it is free of charge counseling restoration for survivors,” Carol Smith said. She’s a co-founder of Victory Through Grace ministries.

“Survivors have come from the hands of an older sister selling them in exchange for money or drugs,” she said. Their home is where survivors can come for help.

It’s a restoration home. The people who stay there share their stories, sometimes through art. One woman used a timeline to talk about how she was abused and sold by a pimp. Some of what was done to her happened in her preteens.

It’s not just a big city problem. Spotting human trafficking can be as easy as going on your phone. The attorney general’s office found tens of thousands of ads online for child for sale. Nearly 300 of those in western Kentucky.

“People always think it’s this force-able snatching, a bad guy jumping out of the bushes and throwing a child or adult into sex trafficking,” Allyson Taylor said. “It’s far scarier because it is a much more manipulative process. A trafficker could be someone you know.”

Allyson Taylor is with the attorney general’s office. She is in charge of prosecuting and preventing human trafficking and child abuse. She’s talking to Murray’s Human Rights Commission about what to look for.

A big portion of being able to prevent this from happening is being educated and trafficking comes in many forms.

“Fifty percent of our survivors come from being trafficked by a loved one, a family member,” Smith said. “Trafficking isn’t something you just see in the movies. It is something that can happen at home.”

The more you know, the more you can help stop it.

If you see something suspcious, call 911 or reach out to a human trafficking hotline. In Kentucky, the number is 1-877-KYSAFE1. The national hotline is 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

For more on this story and others, check out Leah Shields on Facebook and Twitter.

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