ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- On Saturday, Beyond Trafficking hosted the Abilene Walk for Freedom at Everman Park, in downtown Abilene. The event was designed to give a voice to the millions of human trafficking victims around the world.
“This is something that goes on here, and it makes you realize we’ve got to be more aware of our surroundings. We have to be more aware of what our children are doing. We have to be more aware of our neighbors and what’s going on, and how to recognize those signs,” said Beyond Trafficking Founder Stephanie Rocha.
Guest speaker and Senior Director of the Safe Alliance’s Cares Program Allison Franklin, shared her experience as a sex trafficking victim, and used her platform to educate.
“Oftentimes, it is the executive leadership that gets that training, but not the boots on the ground. They don’t know what they’re looking for. They don’t know what’s in our community. They’re misidentifying it as domestic violence, or something else,” said Franklin.
Franklin says human trafficking is a difficult topic to discuss, but she hopes telling the story of her complicated past helps people see more than just a victim.
“What I hope that people get from this is to humanize this issue. You see the issue, you see the movement and you see victims on television, or whatever that might be, but you don’t actually see one in front of you. I want to humanize that issue,” said Franklin.
Rocha says about 300 people attended the walk, and she says community engagement is a key part of saving lives.
“As always, it’s all about education and awareness. The more we can get it out there, the more we can tell the stories, the more people know what to do, the more we can stop this thing called human trafficking, here in our city,” said Rocha.