TULSA - Oklahoma has become the crossroads of human trafficking in recent years, and advocates in Tulsa are taking steps to fight it.
Tuesday is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Ten local organizations came together to bring more awareness to the issue. They hope people will show up to support their fight and even get involved themselves.
Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. UNICEF estimates it's a $12 billion a year industry.
"It's all over Tulsa, it's 11th Street, it's in massage parlors, strip clubs, it's in our own neighborhoods," said Jeannetta Taylor, a survivor of human trafficking.
Taylor escaped its grasp on her life just three years ago.
"It just became a vicious cycle of arrests and prison and more arrests, until I came to a point where I wanted to end my life," she said.
At 13, Taylor says she ran away from home and was forced into prostitution. Now she's working in social services, using her experiences to help other victims heal.
"It's a child who's lost or lonely, who's been abused, has been abandoned and neglected. And these perpetrators come in and they show them that attention and that affection," Taylor said.
Advocates say human trafficking isn't easy to spot.
"In America it's packaged differently. It's becoming the number one destination for child sex trafficking. But it's packaged differently, you can't see it," said Kristin Weis with Stop Child Trafficking Now.
SCTN is focusing on the demand side of the problem, the predators of children. They have military operatives that go after the men buying children for sex.
"If we save even one child's life, then to us it's worth it," Weis said.
Angie Bowker with Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans says Tulsa is one of the top 10 cities for human trafficking, and that that needs to change.
"The first goal is awareness, that's key. The second is for people to take action, and that's being educated in what happens in the state from a legislative perpective, it's coming in and working with victims," Bowker said.
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