In high school I learned about human trafficking (particularly sex trafficking) after hearing the founder of the A21 Campaign, Christine Caine explain how modern day slavery exists in the form of the trafficking of persons: two forms are labor and sex trafficking. Within those two forms the Polaris Project believes there are 25 manifestations. I read books and did quite a bit of research (there is so much to learn) over a couple of years, prayed and thought about how I could be a part of the anti-trafficking movement. A majority of the U.S. citizens believe it happens solely in third world countries, however it happens all over the world, including the United States. It broke my heart to know every 30 seconds a person becomes a victim of sex trafficking!
In college I had an internship at residential program (safe home) for domestic adolescent survivors of sex trafficking. After graduating from college I moved about three hours away to intern at another similar residential program (safe home). I later joined their staff team as their volunteer coordinator and set up a volunteer program.
What you can do to help!
Whether this is the first time or thirteenth time you've heard about human trafficking please don't feel defeated. You can help end human trafficking! Here are the best two first steps you can take.
1. Awareness is key- it's not a cop out or a free pass to getting a rusty dusty, aka pass for your bum to dissolve into the couch. Do you know how to spot a potential trafficking victim or one who is in the process of being trafficked? Read, be humble, and read some more. Unfortunately, as technologies advance and the trillion dollar industry continues traffickers/pimps' practices advance. It is VERY important to be able to recognize a victim of trafficking. Why!? In order to report it!
2. Report ANY suspicious activity to the authorities and the POLARIS Project- anti-human trafficking hotline. I don't know who coined the phrase, "go with your gut," but they were right! If you feel like something isn't right- it probably isn't!
Here is an example I shared on Instagram recently. Outside of a shopping center, I saw a man in his late 50's or early 60's with a woman under 25 who was dressed very conservatively ( I mean this with no disrespect- not fashion forward- long jean skirt, frumpy top, and very long hair ) and she walked ahead of the much older gentleman. There was no affection exchanged, they didn't talk or even look at one another...and she was toting a small Victoria's Secret bag. I stayed safe, noted what they were wearing, called 911, and later the Polaris Project's hotline.
Tips can be made anonymously to both. When calling 911, if you believe the victim (male or female) is under 18 years of age you can request a welfare check. Polaris Project's advocates will have a list of questions they will ask you regarding: day/ time/ what you saw/ description of person/clothing/ situation/ surroundings/ ongoings, etc. Polaris Project is capturing as much data as possible to make a case record and use linking software to connect cases and providing this information to the authorities. You can call and make a case record (which they can provide to you) and if you have more to share you can call back referencing the call). Here is the director of the Polaris Project explaining how you and I can make a difference in fighting trafficking by using the hotline.
Together, we can make a difference!
Save the number in your phone!