by Shelby Mitchell, Sex Trafficking Victim Advocate, Family Services, Sexual Assault Center
Each day in Wisconsin, millions of us go about our daily routines of dropping children off at school, driving to work, grocery shopping or one of hundreds of other mundane tasks. We often move through the days in a rush to finish one task just to move on to the next one. We are all guilty of it.
But what would happen if we took a moment to look around. To pay attention to the person crossing the street or getting their morning coffee. Maybe we could help save a life.
All around us each day there are victims of human trafficking that go unnoticed. By now, nearly everyone has heard the term human trafficking but many have no idea what it is or what to look for.
Let’s start with what it is: Wisconsin statute 940.302 defines human trafficking as “Whoever knowingly recruits, entices, provides, obtains, or harbors, or knowingly attempts to do any of the same for the purpose of commercial sex act, or labor or services.”
There are not only state statutes but also federal laws that help to define human trafficking and most importantly protect victims of this crime and prosecute the offenders.
Human trafficking by the numbers:
• All 72 counties in Wisconsin have reported human trafficking
• 80 percent of all trafficking in Wisconsin is sex trafficking
• Globally, human trafficking is a $150+ billion a year industry
Addressing such a large issue takes a team approach and Door County is fortunate to have an amazing team in the Door County District Attorney’s Office, Door County Sheriff’s Department, Sturgeon Bay Police Department, Door County Department of Human Services and many other local community partners. Door County also has access to assistance of the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Bureau.
However, this type of crime also takes a community to be vigilant. Here are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for:
• Brags about making or having lots of money
• Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
• Less appropriately dressed than before
• New tattoos
• Frequent travel out of town
• Multiple cellphones
• Signs of physical abuse such as burns, marks, bruises or cuts
• Unexplained absences from class/work
• Withdrawn, depressed or distracted
These are additional resources for more information about human trafficking: National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888.373.7888, Polarisproject.org; Sexual Assault Center, 920.746.8996, FamilyServicesNEW.org or contact 211; or download the TraffickCam app on your smartphone.
This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.