Even victims don’t know they’re being trafficked. So how can you spot the crime and the perpetrators?
Colleen Stratton grew up in Kohler, one of the most affluent communities in Wisconsin. She met her trafficker when she was about to turn 25. By then, she’d already struggled with abuse, self-harm and addiction.
She met that man in Florida after her parents sent her there for addiction treatment. Stratton skipped out on treatment and stayed in a beach-side hotel until her money ran out.
Her trafficker, she said, didn’t have to groom her. She was already homeless and detoxing from drugs and alcohol.
“He said he was going to take me back to his house and help me get on my feet again,” Stratton said. “A week later, he was raping me and having others rape me.”
Her trafficker also “owned” four other women and kept them in his “stable” — a term used to describe a group of people being trafficked by the same person.
He would take her to walk the streets, to truck stops and motels.
“I thought that I was just a prostitute,” Stratton said. “I literally just thought, ‘OK, I’m prostituting myself so that I have a place to stay, so that I can have drugs, so that I don’t get beat.'”
Though Stratton didn’t realize it, she’d entered the dark world of human trafficking. The International Labor Organization estimated 40.3 million people were victims of trafficking at any given point in 2016. The signs are subtle but it’s taking place all around us, in towns of all sizes in Wisconsin.
You may have seen someone being trafficked and had no idea it was going on.
To read the full story by Diana Dombrowski on The Sheboygan Press: Click HereTags: Survivor, Wisconsin