Kellie Russell was a victim of human trafficking.
“I felt like I was crazy,” says Russell. “I felt like I wasn’t loved. I actually hated myself.”
Now, Russell is a survivor. She and Carol Smith started Victory Through Grace Ministries, a local program helping other women who survived human trafficking.
“So many people nowadays just really want to believe that it’s not happening around here, but it is,” says Smith.
Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says instances increase when there’s a big event with a lot of people, such as the total solar eclipse. NASA predicts hundred-of-thousands of people will come to the Local 6 area to see the big event.
“There’s demand for this so they’re going to supply it because it is a money making thing,” says Smith. “Human trafficking is the second largest money maker in the world.”
Smith says traffickers target boys, girls, men and women. She says they can hire people called “recruiters” to help find their next victim.
“It’s more befriending,” says Smith. “A lot of times recruiters can be children their own age, or a year or two older than them.”
Smith says there’s no need to panic, you can still enjoy the eclipse with your family just pay attention to your surroundings and don’t let your children wander off.
“Let’s talk to our children,” says Smith. “Let’s know where they’re going. Who they’re hanging out with and always let them know that there’s always a place for love.”
Smith says contact police if you see someone you think is involved in human trafficking.
Victim warning signs include:
Kids and adults who show signs of physical abuse.
Someone who won’t look at you.
A hotel guest with little or no luggage.
A person with a lot of cash on hand.
If you are a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233-733. The national hotline is free and confidential.