Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, and the Black Hills is not immune to the exploitation of both men and women.
That's why one local organization held their soft launch on May 15th to help survivors of human trafficking. Freedom's Journey is a non-profit that aims to help survivors on their journey from slavery to freedom.
One of the individuals who attended the meeting is a South Dakota native who was actively sex-trafficked from ages 17-to-21. She knows how important a local organization like Freedom's Journey is.
Kelly Patterson says, 'We need something local rather than a local survivor or someone in the Black Hills, for instance, to try and call an 800 number speak to a faceless person on the opposite side of the United States perhaps. If you have someone right here, a hand up and a handout. Then you have something real intangible.'
Patterson has a book coming out later this year entitled "From Trafficked To Treasure."
Founder of Freedom's Journey, Tess Franzen shares some of the warning signs to look for in someone who may be a victim of sex trafficking.
Tess Franzen says, ' One of the big ones is someone who won't meet your eye, if you walk up to someone and they won't meet your eye, they won't answer your questions straight, they may have someone with them who answers for them, they may be acting like they are looking over their shoulder, kind of nervous.'
Franzen adds that if you believe someone is being trafficked to call the police because trying to intervene yourself could put the victim in danger.