BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – January is Human Trafficking awareness month. Since 2016, 31:8 Project has worked with the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force to help 514 people connect with resources. One survivor shared her story publicly for the first time.
Human trafficking can happen to anyone. Nikki Blowers walked these very streets hoping to find a better life. Now, more than 14 years later she’s hoping her story sheds light on a less talked about topic.
“She attributes their support,” said 31:8 Project founder and executive director Stacy Schaffer to a Zoom panel.
31:8 Project leaders introduce contributors at its first virtual educational seminar of the year.
“Human trafficking can be a very difficult topic to discuss,” continued Schaffer to a Zoom panel.
One of speakers, Nikki Blowers, grew up in central North Dakota.
“By looking at me, you wouldn’t guess that I was sex trafficked,” said Blowers.
At 18 years old, a drug addiction led her to Reno, Nevada where she met her trafficker.
“He fed me all these hopes and dreams. ‘I gonna help you get clean, I’m gonna help you get sober, I’m gonna help take care of you.’ Being a very impressionable, naïve young woman, I believed him,” said Blowers.
For the next two years she moved around California, Arizona and Nevada, before coming home around 2006 when little resources existed in the state at the time.
“They all tried their best to help, but there wasn’t a lot of education on the human trafficking piece,” said Blowers.
The International Labor Organization estimates more than 40 million people around the world have been affected by human trafficking and hundreds of thousands in the United States. Something Stacy Schaffer wants to eliminate.
“We still have a long way to go but the fact that this is becoming a more common topic for people to discuss, really shows us that we’re making progress,” said Schaffer.
Schaffer said trafficking awareness led to 57 arrests from 2015 to early 2020.
Blowers said she plans to write a book about her journey through life and speak publicly at schools so others don’t experience what she did.
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