NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Advocates of human trafficking victims are concerned a social media post could misrepresent what many victims go through.
The post claims a Nashville woman was drugged by a stranger and taken to a warehouse to be exploited before being found by police.
Metro Police said they have no record of the incident.
“They’re thinking the only way that could happen to me is if I was drugged and kidnapped,” said Margie Quin, CEO of End Slavery Tennessee.
While the post of a possible drugging and kidnapping situation is still very serious, the origin of the post is unknown, making matters more difficult for authorities. Advocates said human trafficking in Middle Tennessee often looks like prostitution, the victim manipulated by someone they’re close with.
“Typically you’ll see either familial trafficking which means you’re brought in very young,” said Quin. “Anytime commercial sex involves force, fraud or coercion then that’s trafficking.”
She said posts like this are good for awareness but hopes people will search for more information.
“I think it does a disservice to victims who are trafficked at young ages by family or are coerced, manipulated or romanced unsuspectingly by a trafficker,” said Quin.
She said End Slavery Tennessee saw more than 300 referrals of possible trafficking in Middle Tennessee in 2019.
The TBI said the state’s human trafficking hotline in 2019 received 722 tips about possible trafficking incidents. So far, year to date 2020, the state has received 566.
Quin said she worries the pandemic will make finding victims difficult.
“We don’t think trafficking has decreased,” she said. “Victims are finding it difficult to find services.”
The TBI said it actively investigates all tips received.
Anyone who suspects someone who may be a victim of human trafficking is encouraged to call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH.