It happens in your community. Would you be able to recognize the crime? January marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.
Human trafficking happens all day, every day and every hour across the globe. Human traffickers do not discriminate. If you think it cannot happen to you or yours, you are wrong. New York state alone, between 2017-2019 according to New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, had nearly 1,500 known cases. Human traffickers are preying on the vulnerable. Human traffickers also look towards huge events like the Superbowl for targets.
Some signs that someone is being trafficked include: having an unstable living situation; having experiences forms of violence or sexual abuse; having previously run away or are involved in the juvenile justice or child welfare system; are facing poverty; or are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
I know of two teens that actually were my friends who were trafficked, and my own daughter was trafficked in NYC. The scenario they go through in their time of not being able to escape is horrific. Some never make it out alive and for those who do, they suffer from a lifetime of trauma of PTSD. Some even go back to their traffickers in fear they will be found anyway.
This is the reason I fight hard and continue to be a voice for the voiceless. On January 11, 2023, which was Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I decided that I would once again take this to the streets and share my knowledge. Queens Defenders and the NYPD answered the call to stand up for those who didn’t have a place to turn. I can say, if I can help even one family with outreach, my mission will be accomplished. I can tell you that day was successful.
So I want to give you some tips on how you can be a part of education and prevention by the things I did. Here is a website where you can order materials to learn and share in the community. https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/request-materials . You can also be involved in the blue campaign, led by Homeland Security. Thank you all for wearing blue that day and sharing that you care about what’s going on right in front of our eyes. Among some locals who participated are the NY Dippers Club, Patti Blue, NYPD, Queens Defenders, Marissa Bernowitz, Mindi Dovberg and Juli Daulton Abraham who was trafficked as a teenager and was saved by Children of the Night.
A friend of mine said, “An educated community is a safe community.” Please feel free to contact me if you like to become a community activist and be involved with some of our upcoming events. www.xtrememeasure.org.
If you or someone you know may be the victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at: 1-888-373-7888.