It goes beyond what you see in the movies. Sadly, you probably know someone who is a victim. It's their secret, their horror, and their reality. Their trafficker could be anyone: a parent, a pastor, a boyfriend, a family member, or a friend.
It's happening here on the South Plains...right here in Lubbock. And it's happening more than you may believe.
Watch here, or tune in to KCBD NewsChannel 11, tonight at 6:30 pm for this Investigates special report.
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National Human Trafficking Resource Center or 1-888-373-7888 or Text BEFREE (233733)
Human trafficking is the modern day slavery of children and adults.
The Texas Attorney General's office says 25 million people are enslaved worldwide and there are 79-thousand victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas at any given time.
In 2018, there were 760 cases of human trafficking in California - the most in the nation. Texas came in second with 455 cases. Trafficking can be found anywhere: in homes, massage parlors, hotels, motels, and online sites like Backpage or even Facebook.
Shared Hope International, a research and rescue group, says an under-aged victim may be raped by six thousand men over the course of five years. They could have up to ten to fifteen buyers per night.
Most parents would do anything to protect their children from harm, but in some households right here in Lubbock, parents are deliberately putting their children in dangerous situations so they can make a profit. For some sex trafficking survivors, the abuse continued for years, even into adulthood.
Experts in prevention of sexual assault and sex trafficking say that the majority of buyers in trafficking exchanges are men. That's why, they say, it's on men to end it. South Plains Men Challenging Men founder Kenneth Castillo says buyers are perpetuating modern day slavery in the United States.
Law enforcement has been working to adapt to this long-lasting yet ever changing issue and working to find those traffickers. Sex trafficking is more common in Lubbock that many might think, and one detective spoke to us about fighting this battle daily.
In addition to law enforcement, other organizations within the community have dedicated resources to respond to the crisis of sex trafficking in the city.
In many cases, victims are in need of medical treatment because of sexual or physical abuse. For this reason, Lubbock is equipped with nine sexual assault nurse examiners, or SANE nurses.
After assistance by law enforcement or medical professionals, the survivors still need help.
Open Door Survivor Housing is one of the ways survivors can find a hand up and encouragement to live their lives after breaking free from their captors.
While local organizations work hard to both prevent and respond to sex trafficking in Lubbock, the state government has also recognized the need for more resources to address this growing issue.
Both the Attorney General's office and Governor's office in Texas have sent funding to Lubbock to assist counselors in their work with survivors of sex trafficking.
In our investigation and interviews, one survivor said "there are people in our community that really do want the very best for you and want to love you...meet you where you are at and help you move forward."
There are multiple organizations here on the South Plains that help those in need, whether that's handing out goody-bags to dancers at gentleman's clubs, or just teaching those in the community how to identify and respond to the signs of trafficking.
Human Rescue Coalition says they want everyone to get involved because the issues has far more effects here in our own West Texas communities than many people may think.