Human trafficking is something that you might not realize happens in the Hub City but it does.
“Victims can be anybody, male or female any age,” explained Donna Neel with Covenant Health. “I identified my first victim in 2009 and now looking back I realized I had many other victims before.”
Covenant Health along with other organizations in our community are doing what they can to get victims help and their perpetrators behind bars.
“It’s very secret and underground so it’s not easy to spot,” Neel said. “You used to see girls standing on the street corners but now it’s mostly on the internet and a lot easier to track and find.”
Neel says a lot of times victims walk right into the emergency room doors at Covenant Health.
And when that happens, the hospital has a team in place so doctors, nurses know what to look for to identify the victims and get them the help that they need.
“It’s a very big issue and I think as a forensic nurse we probably see a victim or two a week or someone who is showing the signs that they’re being recruited,” Neel said.
And Neel says it doesn’t stop in the ER, it’s a community effort.
“We need to work on to get into our school system and reach our teachers and counselors and principals,” Neel explained. “These victims are in our school system, in our churches, in our homes and we just haven’t identified them.”
If you know someone who is a victim or needs help, call The Voice of Hope at (806) 763-7273, the Children’s Advocacy Center at (806) 740-0251 or the Be Free Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.