RESOURCES: Eradicating human trafficking from our community

An undercover sting in Rowan County led to the rescue of a 16-year-old girl being forced to sell herself for sex. Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz went undercover with detectives as they saved the teen.

The discovery is part of a disturbing national trend that’s hitting close to home. The latest human trafficking statistics rank North Carolina as ninth in the United States for its number of reported cases.

If you’d like to help end human trafficking in your community, see the resources below:

Help for victims

  • Click here if you are a victim of human trafficking, or call the free hotline to speak with someone at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-373-7888. You can also text NHTRC at 233733 or submit a tip online.
  • For resources offered by the state of North Carolina in the Charlotte area, click here.

Know the signs

  • Present Age Ministries hosts awareness seminars to help eradicate human trafficking from the community.
  • U.S. Attorney Dena King shared signs of human trafficking to look for:
    • People who appear to be submissive or fearful
    • If someone can’t speak to you alone
    • If someone’s responses seem scripted
    • If someone is being forced into isolation and isn’t allowed to have contact with their family or friends
    • If someone isn’t getting their paycheck because it is going to someone else
    • If someone is forced to turn over their travel documents
  • King says many don’t even realize they’re victims.
    • “To be very clear, traffickers are smart. Traffickers, they prey on victims that utilize manipulation,” she said. “Oftentimes, traffickers will brainwash their victims, they will make the victims think that this way of life is normal. Oftentimes, they’ll also make the victims think that if you report this, either no one will believe you or your basic necessities won’t be met.”
    • “A lot of times ... the victims actually think that they’re in a relationship with their trafficker. And so we’re having to help them to understand that the relationship that they think is a genuine relationship truly is not a relationship,” she added.

How you can help

  • The Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center is in Rowan County. They support victims of child abuse and their caregivers, emphasizing prevention as well as the identification, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse.
  • Hope for Justice North Carolina (formerly Lily Pad Haven) is made up of investigators with years of law enforcement experience, accredited trainers, legal experts, social workers, therapists, policy specialists, and professionals. Their goal is to raise awareness and eliminate human trafficking across the country.
  • Through Pat’s Place, you can take a free, online training about recognizing and responding to child abuse. The center’s mission is to help victims and their families move forward after experiencing abuse.
  • U.S. Attorney Dena King says as human trafficking victims get younger and younger, it’s even more important that parents discuss its dangers with their kids.
    • “In particular, parents should be letting their kids know, if they’re meeting people -- especially online -- that they don’t know, and people are trying to exert a level of power, control over them, or even trying to develop a really serious relationship with them and trying to dictate who they can talk to, where they can go, those types of things -- Parents should encourage their kids to stray from those type of people, but also to report them to either a parent or older sibling, trusted guardian.”
    • “There are times where traffickers just meet a victim at a local hotel and engage in the criminal activity. But there are a lot of times where there’s some grooming that happens on the back end, to develop that trust, which is a huge part of what causes this victimization,” she added.