January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. In fact, it is estimated that human trafficking generates billions of dollars of profit each year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
Minnesota is not exempt from this heinous crime. In fact, according to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, Minneapolis is one of the top locations in the U.S. for child sex trafficking. But sex trafficking is not just a Twin Cities/metro area problem. Trafficking affects people from all parts of Minnesota – reaching out to even the most rural of areas.
Victims of human trafficking are of all genders, ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses. While human trafficking can happen anywhere to anyone, traffickers look for people who are most susceptible:
- Homeless persons
- Emotionally or psychologically vulnerable individuals
- Those who have been impacted by a natural disaster or economic hardship
- Individuals who have a lack family, friends, or support systems
Traffickers typically use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. As such, human trafficking is considered a “hidden” crime because victims rarely come forward to seek help due to fear of the traffickers.
Someplace Safe Provides Specialized Services for Trafficked and Sexually Exploited Youth. These services, which are funded by Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Program, are free and confidential and available throughout the agency’s 9-county service area to youth who have been trafficked or who are at risk of becoming trafficked. The victim-centered services are specifically designed to directly support at-risk, sexually exploited, and trafficked youth. These services are many times intensive, due to the nature and danger of the crime.Someplace Safe assisted 70 local individuals in the past year who include juvenile survivors of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, as well as their friends, family, and support systems.
Someplace Safe also houses a Safe Harbor Regional Navigator. The role of the Regional Navigator is to coordinate current and emerging services available to youth, develop responses for county and state systems, as well as identify and assist at-risk, sexually exploited, and trafficked youth age 24 and under. Someplace Safe’s Regional Navigator position covers a 19-county region in west central Minnesota, including: Big Stone, Becker, Chippewa, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, McLeod, Meeker, Otter Tail, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin, and Yellow Medicine Counties.
There are many ways in which you can get involved in ending human trafficking. For example, an awareness of potential signs of sex trafficking, including ways you can help, can make a difference and even save lives. Business owners, healthcare officials, hotel employees, and community members can look out for these potential sings of trafficking:
- Submissive, fearful demeanor
- Presence of older or controlling boyfriend/girlfriend/adult
- Paying in cash for services
- Not able to speak for themselves
- Signs of physical or psychological trauma
- Injuries in various stages of healing
- Avoids eye contact
- No access to ID, personal possessions, or money
- Anxiously watching their cell phone
- Evasive on where they live
- Inappropriately dressed for age or weather
- Reluctant to explain nature of injuries
If you notice these signs are present, or you suspect someone is in immediate danger, call law enforcement right away. You may also contact Someplace Safe at 1.800.974.3359 for advice/assistance.
Someplace Safe is joining the “End It” Movement, a national effort to shine a light on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The “End It” movement is comprised of a coalition of leading organizations around the world who are fighting for freedom, while bring awareness, prevention, rescue, and restoration to communities across the nation.
Someplace Safe invites you to join in the “End It” Movement, in support of local and international victims and survivors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.There are many ways that you may involve yourself in the movement:
No matter how you involve yourself in the movement, YOU are doing your part in bringing the issues of human trafficking and modern-day slavery to the forefront of your community. To learn more about the Safe Harbor program of Someplace Safe, and how our agency is participating in the End It Movement, visit:
Remember to Reach Out if You or Others Need Help.If you or someone you know is experiencing human trafficking, modern-day slavery, crime, or abuse, please contact your local Someplace Safe office or call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-974-3359.Services are free and confidential. Accessible services are available, including: interpreters, live-chat, and text options.
For more information on the “End It” movement, visit: https://enditmovement.com/.
For more information and resources on human trafficking, visit:https://traffickingresourcecenter.org/ or https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Publications/SexTrafficking.asp
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