(COLORADO) — The State of Colorado is launching a human trafficking campaign to send a critical message: Anyone can be a victim, but help is available.

For Human Trafficking Awareness month, the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) alongside other state partners, aims to spread awareness by placing campaign outreach materials in vaccine buses, rest stops, visitor centers, bars and restaurants among other locations to reach victims or witnesses of human trafficking.

CDPS says human trafficking can be difficult to recognize and that even victims do not realize what they are experiencing is human trafficking. The statewide campaign for 2023 aims to, “put into words that gut feeling that something isn’t right.”

“This experience [human trafficking] is so confusing, and the relationships embedded into it are extremely complicated,” an anonymous human trafficking survivor explained during a research interview. “However, I took one small step, telling someone that something wasn’t right, and from there, my journey and experiences started to change.”

All forms of human trafficking involve the exploitation of an individual by another for some kind of benefit – often economic, per CDPS. Human trafficking is the severe exploitation of another person through force, fraud, or coercion for some type of labor, including commercial sex, according to a definition given by CDPS.

“Victims/survivors may not understand their circumstance as trafficking or are unsure how to get help,” said Maria Trujillo, Program Manager and spokesperson for the Colorado Human Trafficking Council (the Council). “Traffickers are often in a close or intimate relationship with those they exploit, making the crime more complex.”

CDPS states that traffickers, their victims, and survivors represent people of all races, genders, and social or economic statuses. Traffickers often exploit people who appear vulnerable such as those struggling with:

  • Poverty
  • Housing insecurity
  • Any unstable living environment
  • Addiction or substance use
  • Lack of support from family and friends
  • Lack of access to services

Human trafficking is a crime in Colorado. Learn what to look for on This Is Human Trafficking’s webpage.

If you suspect human trafficking is happening to you or someone you know or have seen, leave an anonymous tip or get assistance by calling (866) 455- 5075 or texting (720) 999-9724, which is available 24/7.