Local organizations work to bring awareness to human trafficking

24 minutes ago

Posted: January 10, 2023 6:29 PM

Updated: January 10, 2023 6:41 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. — The problem is not always easy to see, but advocates say people are being trafficked in the Spokane community. Local organizations are working to combat this issue and prevent it from happening to someone else.

Lutheran Community Services says Spokane is a hot spot for human trafficking because I-90 runs through the city.

LCS says data from a map shows a red area on the highway because there are more calls into the human trafficking hotline on the specific stretch of highway.

Advocates also say the picture most people have in their heads isn’t always an accurate depiction of what human trafficking is.

“We have like this picture in our mind that people are being snatched off the street, and held against their will, and unfortunately, that’s not what it looks like. It can look like that, but often times it’s more done by maybe a family member or someone who has gotten close to someone with some vulnerabilities, and then exploited them. So, it’s not super obvious sometimes,” Lutheran Community Services crime victim advocate Abigail Dougherty said.

Dougherty says some signs people can be on the lookout for is a drastic change in behavior.

“They may be isolating themselves or just acting differently in general, just like sleep deprivation, more jumpy, more emotional,” she said.

Another red flag can be they’re more secretive about their actions. If someone has new items outside of their personal means, such as a fancy purse or they always have their nails done, but don’t have a job.

HRC Ministries is another organization tackling human trafficking, which has been in operation for seven years, but recently went all in on its anti-trafficking work.

The organization says it receives a phone call or a walk-in once a week from a local person who needs help, which wasn’t the case when it first opened.

“It wasn’t until we ended up running into somebody that was really dear to our family and she started sharing her story that she had been trafficked in Spokane from the age of 6 that we really started looking into it,” Caleb Altmeyer, Founder & Executive Director of HRC Ministries said.

HRC launched a facility where women survivors can receive healing at a long-term trauma program, which runs 16 to 18 months. By the end of the year, it hopes to launch an advocacy center where survivors can access immediate help.

It’s also offering classes to bring awareness and educate families about human trafficking.

“They’re just looking for opportunity like that so the best thing that anybody can do is just communicate with your kids let them know that this is happening. Know who they’re talking to, know who their friends are. Talk to your kids about not adding people on social media that they don’t know,” Altmeyer said.

Altmeyer suggests parents have their children turn of their location on Snapchat, because if it’s on, people can track where they’re at.

Lutheran Community Services is hosting a human trafficking 101 training 3 to 4 pm in Event Room B of the Central Spokane Public Library on Wednesday. It will be followed by a reception and candlelight vigil at 4:30 pm in nxʷyxʷyetkʷ Hall.

If you have concerns about possible human trafficking contact, you can contact [email protected]. You can also reach out the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

READ: Washington House bill would require informational human trafficking posters in all bathroom rest areas