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Human Trafficking: Facts vs Fiction

Posted at 11:17 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 23:17:14-04

FORT MYERS, FLA — You've probably seen the hashtags and headlines on your feeds: #Savethechildren or #Saveourchildren.

It's a recent social push to shine a light on human trafficking, but many of posts seem to contain incorrect information.

So what's the truth?

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, trafficking comes in two major forms: labor and sex.

Victims come in all ages, races and genders.

And traffickers are typically not the proverbial "man in the white van." They often get to know their victims and take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

It's a pattern Julie Kovach knows well.

"It started with addiction," she said.

And that led her to jail, where she met a woman who she thought would help her.

The pair was released together. And the woman brought Julie to a house where she was able to get dope fixes, but they came at a steep price.

"In the process, you wind up getting trapped in the situation," said Kovach.

She was able to break free after about a year, following another jail stint and time in a rehab program.

But a woman named Myra Williams tells us that sometimes trafficking starts at the place where you go to get clean.

"I met this young lady while I was in there. She befriended me, she said she was my friend, but she ended up being my trafficker."

That woman took advantage of the fact that Myra was homeless after leaving the program and forced her to trade sex for a place to stay.

"She would call me and say 'Where you at? What you doing?' I could be at a doctor's appointment for all she know, but she didn't care. Well if you're not here at such and such time, then I take that as you got somewhere else to go, don't come back," said Williams

Myra says it took her about 6-8 months to break free of the situation.

"I think I didn't know what trafficking looked like, what it really was, what it meant to be trafficked," she said.

Both women say the best way to prevent trafficking, starts at home, with loving your kids unconditionally and being careful about who's in their circle.

And as a community, they say these are the things that survivors need to thrive.

"Counseling, maybe some resources, maybe a law against discrimination," she said.

To report a case of human trafficking, you can call the national anti-human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888.