In 2007, the United States Senate ratified the resolution establishing Jan. 11 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
President Barack Obama first declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010.
Since then, January has been a time to acknowledge those experiencing enslavement and those who have escaped.
During the month of January, Lake Family Resource Center will be sharing educational social media posts. Visit its Facebook page for more information.
The best action you can take to help expand awareness in our community is to learn what human trafficking is and how to spot the signs of trafficking.
Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing illegal industries in the world. It involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States.
It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender or nationality.
Traffickers use violence, manipulation or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.
Globally, human trafficking produces roughly $150 billion a year in profits for traffickers, $99 billion of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation.
An estimated 71 percent of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29 percent. The average age of recruitment into the sex trade, is 12 to 14 years old.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children, or CSEC, is a commercial transaction that involves the sexual exploitation of a child, such as the sale of children for sex acts, pornography, including live streaming sexual abuse.
Additionally, CSEC involves coercion and violence against children, economic exploitation, forced labor, and contemporary slavery.
Due to unstable living environments, foster youth and runaways are one of the most vulnerable populations for recruitment.
Human trafficking is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight. It is important to be aware of warning signs.
Some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include appearing malnourished, tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or chest, avoiding eye contact and interaction with authority figures/law enforcement, possessing large sums of cash, hotel keys or are often unaware of their location.
Commonly, victims will show signs of physical injuries and abuse, as well as having long term untreated sexually transmitted diseases.
When interacting with victims, their responses will seem scripted or rehearsed. Often, victims are not allowed to speak for themselves and have been stripped of identification documents.
Accepting this terrible crime exists, understanding what human trafficking is, knowing how to recognize the signs, and knowing who to call for assistance, is crucial in reducing the number of victims.
Lake Family Resource Center’s Human Trafficking Program offers free and confidential services including a 24/7 Community Crisis Line (1-888-485-7733) answered by trained advocates.
The Human Trafficking Program also provides individual counseling, support, safety plans, education, hospital accompaniment, law enforcement advocacy and court advocacy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our crisis line is a vitally important way for survivors and others impacted by violence to access support and safety when it is not possible to meet face-to-face.,
Lake Family Resource Center works closely with our community partners such as law enforcement and hospitals to provide the best services available.
Lake Family Resource Center provides a multitude of services to build family stability and strength.
The agency supports Lake County residents in achieving stable, self-sufficient and healthy families and communities.
Call 707-279-0563 today to find out more about what we offer and how you can help.
Kara Roberts is Lake Family Resource Center’s Human Trafficking Program coordinator.