COLORADO SPRINGS — Tuesday, Jan. 11, is Human Trafficking Prevention Day with the entire month of January having been proclaimed Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 137 human trafficking cases were reported in Colorado in 2021.
The Exodus Road is a non-profit based in Colorado Springs, but they fight against trafficking in six different countries. They want the community to know that justice is in the hands of the ordinary and that everyone can learn the warning signs of a trafficked person.
“It’s heartbreaking that human beings could treat other human beings that way and it’s the young, it’s the vulnerable, and people come to exploit that and they make money off of that,” CEO & Co-founder of The Exodus Road Laura Parker said. “A lot of times the people that are affected are off the grid or not speaking up or don’t even realize that they are victims of a crime.”
The non-profit said in the U.S., there are estimates of 400,000 victims of human trafficking, and that the crime goes under-reported.
“I think there is this big misconception that human trafficking is something that happens far away, over there, to people we don’t know, but the reality is that it happens right here in the United States, right here in Colorado, and right here in Colorado Springs all the time,” Parker said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made The Exodus Road shift its operations.
“From on the ground investigations to more cyber investigations because COVID has really ramped up the exploitation of particularly children online,” Parker said.
The Exodus Road provides free training sessions for people to learn how to have an active role in fighting human trafficking.
“If all of a sudden they seem to be interacting with someone who is significantly older, if their social media becomes highly sexualized if all of a sudden they become withdrawn or seemingly really angry that might be an indicator that something is going on that you could look into,” Parker said.
Resources to help:
- Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1(866) 455-5075, Text 720-999-9724
- National Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1(888) 373-7888, Text 233733