Becoming aware of human trafficking

Kim McKinney

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Human trafficking is human slavery. People are pressured, lied to, or otherwise forced into jobs that take away their freedoms and power. Sometimes they have been enticed through romantic relationships, sometimes by concerned "friends" who offer to help them. Sometimes they have been kidnapped, sometimes threatened by immigration status.

Tonya Crawford from My Sister's House (and other locals who work with those who have been trafficked) would like to know more people are aware to the signs of human trafficking and notice the people around them. These observations can help stop trafficking.

There are many misconceptions about trafficking.

  • Human trafficking is not just something that happens in foreign countries or big cities in the United States. North Carolina was ninth in the nation for trafficking in 2020. It’s definitely an issue here and why Crawford and a local task form meet regularly to discuss issues and increase their own education.
  • Anyone can be trafficked. It's not just runaway teenaged girls or illegal immigrants, but can be someone of any age or gender. The probable commonality is vulnerability in some area of their life.
  • Human trafficking can indeed force people into prostitution as is often portrayed by the media, but it also impacts those in other industries. Some common industries where you can find it are agriculture, manufacturing, restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, and domestic service (such as housekeepers, gardeners, and child care workers.)
  • Many victims will not reach out for help or easily share whis going on with them. Not only is their self esteem usually low, but fear is a huge factor. They may feel in danger for themselves or fear violence to their family and loved ones. They may have had their personal identification documents taken. They could have complicated relationshipswith their abusers and confuse control with love.

Here are some signs trafficking may be going impacting someone's life.

  1. A person may appear malnourished.
  2. They may have injuries or show other signs of violence.
  3. They may avoid contact with others, not look you in the eye, or appear skittish if police officers are in the vicinity,
  4. They may speak in a way that seems rehearsed or scripted.
  5. They may have few personal possessions.
  6. They may not have personal documents (anything from a birth certificate to a driver's license to a passport.)

Crawford says if you suspect trafficking is going on it is critical to never confront traffickers (or their victims) by yourself. The risk of harm is high to an individual and usually not effective.

Instead know people with multiple skill sets are trained in our community to investigate, rescue victims, and prosecute offenders. Locally My Sister's House works to help people get out of this bondage. Contact them at 704-872-3403 if you suspect human trafficking. They are ready and equipped to get the gears in motion to deal with the problem.

Human trafficking is a tough problem to fight. Talking about it, being aware of its existence even in a place like Iredell County, knowing what to look for, and knowing how to get the ball rolling into investigation is critical. Your identification of potential issues, and contacting those who are equipped to help, can remove people from this bondage.

My Sister's House is a program of Fifth Street Ministries.

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I love stories of people and places and enjoy telling these stories. I live in my hometown of Statesville, NC, in the Charlotte area, and love to show how lovely life is here. More is going on than may meet the eye. I also enjoy expanding throughout North Carolina to show the places and activities and people that make me believe life is fascinating and travel as much as I can, so write about that, too. I also have a passion for justice and a special interest in accessible healthcare, including treatment for drug and alcohol dependency. I am a woman of faith, joy, laughter, adventure, and live life to the full. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kimmckinney719 or my blog KimberleyMcKinney.com or https://kimmckinney719.medium.com.

Statesville, NC
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