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Awareness can identify human trafficking

MADISON — Human trafficking may seem like a big-city, urban problem, but perpetrators have used sites like Madison that have a low, annual crime rate.

A recent seminar, “Stop Trafficking Now,” at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 786 Hughes Road involved collaboration with the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force to promote awareness of the vile practice and lucrative industry of human trafficking.

During the seminar, participants learned ways to identify possible trafficked ‘slaves’:

* The person appears controlled by someone else and watched at all times.

* The perpetrator controls or monitors most or all contacts with family and friends.

* The victim is afraid to make eye contact with anyone. Most victims are young people, mainly female, who have a history as a chronic runaway or a homeless youth.

* A victim refers to the perpetrator as an “older boyfriend.” The victim likely has had sex with this older man or “boyfriend,” or sex with another older man.

* The victim shows evidence or signs of abuse, such as physical injuries, scars, cuts, bruises or burns. The victim may have significant gaps in schooling. She (or he) wears seductive behavior/clothing intended for a child.

* The victim may have tattoos of “Dad,” “$,” bar codes or a man’s name.

* The victim may show signs of drug usage. Perpetrators often force drugs on victims to make them dependent.

* A victim lives with multiple people in a very cramped space. Victims have little privacy or are rarely alone.

* The victim has untreated illnesses or infections and may be in poor health. He or she probably exhibits emotional distress, anxiety, depression or mental problems.

The task force cautions anyone who suspects that a person is a victim of human trafficking or sex slavery never attempt to rescue the victim alone. Call the police, FBI or National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or Text: HELP to BeFree (233733).

To contact North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, call 256-653-8527, email Info@STNOW.org or visit stnow.org.

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