• Photos by Roxanne Thompson/The Groesbeck Journal
    Karen Davis, left, with the Human Trafficking Coalition, provides information packets and posters to some of those attending the human trafficking training Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Mexia Civic Center, an event for all of Limestone County.

Group fighting human trafficking holds training, outreach

By Roxanne Thompson, Staff Writer

Representatives of Unbound, an organization that fights human trafficking, provided training on the subject Saturday, followed by an outreach to local businesses.

The training portion was held at the Mexia Civic Center and covered basic information on the subject. Organizers hoped to help Limestone County residents become more aware of the fact that this type of bondage can happen to virtually anyone. Also, the group wanted to teach people how to recognize the signs of trafficking in those they encounter.

Susan Peters, the national director of  Waco-based Unbound, was the keynote speaker; she was introduced by Karen Davis, of the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition. Unbound is a member of the Coalition, and the reason for the day’s event was multifold:

“No. 1 is for the victims,” Peters said. “We know they’re out there and they’re underreported. We want to get the word out there as a community that we believe awareness saves lives. We’re able to spot it by putting the posters out there. If a victim can read that, then maybe they’ll recognize, ‘Hey, that’s me.’ and they can call the hotline number.”

Peters spoke of what makes a person vulnerable to human trafficking, what venues tend to see people being trafficked, and signs to look for to recognize those being trafficked.

After the training, some of those attending Saturday’s event then broke into groups of two to take posters and other material to local businesses to ask that the poster be displayed somewhere at the business, whether on a bulletin board, the restroom or a break room. The posters tell about this important subject and also give a phone number that victims may call to get help in getting out of their predicament. Even by just seeing the posters, victims can know that someone cares and is trying to rescue them.

The reason Unbound and the Coalition want businesses involved in stopping trafficking is that traffickers are using these businesses to recruit victims.

Unbound and the Human Trafficking Coalition have discovered trafficking victims in Central Texas and elsewhere and rescued them, she said, when people learned what to look for and called the organization to report suspicious circumstances. For example, someone may go to a massage parlor and be told the business does not give women massages; or notice the windows are blacked out or realize that all the workers live at the business.

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