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Green Country groups raise awareness about human trafficking

Posted at 7:26 AM, Jan 20, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — State leaders and victim advocates are working to educate the public about the fastest growing criminal industry in the world by hosting community conversations.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. Trafficking generates about $150 billion a year and state leaders said Oklahoma is not immune to it. The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women report an estimated 4,000 Oklahomans seek help from human trafficking situations.

Facilities like Domestic Violence Intervention services in Tulsa is one of three different agencies in the state serving survivors, giving them not only a haven through shelter, but counseling resources as well.

Tracey Lyall, CEO at DVIS, said people don't typically come to the shelter saying they've been trafficked.

“Often times they are coming in due to violence they've experienced,” Lyall said. “But then as we sort of start peeling back the layers, we find that they've been trafficked and sometimes have to help give them a name for it, for what's happened to them, because their lifestyle has become so indoctrinated into these sorts of horrific things that are happening. That sort of normal way of life is now foreign.”

The commission said the most prevalent type of trafficking is labor trafficking, which is where victims are made to perform a task through force, fraud, or coercion.

A statewide initiative called "Not Me" launched this month to raise awareness and help the public recognize signs of trafficking. Locally, DVIS is hosting community conversations to confront violence as well, arming the public and parents with knowledge to put a stop to human trafficking.

DVIS will host its town hall and community discussion with city leaders on January 31 at Union High School Grand Hall at 6 p.m. If you need help, call the 24-hour DVIS hotline at 918-7-help-me or 918-743-5763.

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