Redefining human trafficking: educating others to help the victims
AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Staggering numbers from a University of Texas study estimates there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in the Lonestar State.
To lower this number, Texas officials have named Kim Grabert as the state's first director of Human Trafficking Prevention.
The Amarillo chapter of No Boundaries International and Family Support Services, who heads the anti-trafficking coalition Freedom in the 806, are working to redefine what trafficking is and make sure the community is educated on how to best help them.
"We have 37 trafficking victims right now that we are actively working with," said director of No Boundaries International: Amarillo Traci Rogers. "That doesn't count the ones that we're encountering. Those are the ones that are coming in for services of some sort."
"Freedom has been taken from them," said Director of Education at Family Support Services Brandi Reed. "When we work with trafficking victims and they share their story with us, they began the life when they are 13 and 14 years old."
The youngest victim No Boundaries has helped was only three years old.
Teenagers with internet access, which is almost all youth, are easy prey.
"She was a 15-year-old that thought 'I'm ready to fall in love' and her parents weren't ready to date yet, but she started an online conversation with someone through Facebook," said Reed.
After sharing her life with this predator, the victim met up with him and realized he was not who he was pretending to be.
"If she didn't do exactly what he told her to do, he was going to send those pictures to her pastor at church or send them to her parents," said Reed.
For those whose lives have been shattered, believing someone can give them something without wanting anything in return is part of the challenge.
"As she's standing there talking to me with tears in our eyes, she said 'do you remember the first time I met y'all was when you decorated the motels?'" said Rogers. "'You just don't realize I stood in my window and just cried because you brought Christmas back to me.' Sometimes we forget that it's the small things that provide that hope and can be the light in the midst of the darkness."
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, contact law enforcement immediately.
You can find more information on No Boundaries International: Amarillo here.
You can find more information on Family Support Services here.
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