ORLANDO, Fla. — Human trafficking is the second fastest growing crime in the world, second only to the drug trade. The stats are terrifying.
Most women are raped six thousand times and each woman is worth one hundred thousand dollars a year, making them very valuable and their chance of escape almost impossible.
It’s not just happening in big cities or bad neighborhoods, but in almost every community in our country and experts fear COVID is going to cause a human trafficking crisis.
“I was going through a very serious divorce from a very wealthy husband. He actually had me sold into human trafficking so that I wouldn't win custody of my five children,” Kimberly Lansford, human trafficking survivor, told Ivanhoe.
Kimberly Lansford was 27 when human traffickers drugged her and took her from Denver to Mexico City.
“You're broken in with terror, a lot of physical abuse, a lot of sexual abuse,” said Kimberly Lansford.
Kimberly’s nightmare continued for 19 years until…
“Samaritan village found me,” exclaimed Kimberly Lansford.
For more than a decade, Samaritan Village has been helping women rebuild their lives.
“For those young women that feel ugly, unwanted, unseen, those traffickers can come in and they fill that hole,” vocalized Dionne Coleman, Executive Director at Samaritan Village.
Samaritan Village offers hope, supplying free housing for 18 months. Survivors receive mental, physical, and dental care, access to job training, and most importantly support. Money from donors and from their thrift store helps pay for the costs, but now organizations like this one fear fallout from the pandemic.
“We're kind of calling this the quiet before the storm. I know that when we all resume to a state of normalcy, there's going to be a lot of people that need help,” explained Dionne Coleman.
Women who could not get help during the lockdown.
“It doesn't just happen to the lower class or the drug addict, that's not true. It happens every day to everyday to people like me,” announced Kimberly Lansford.
“If you see something, someone that feels, looks off, or there's a pairing of people that, something about that doesn't feel right, call that human trafficking hotline number,” stated Dionne Coleman.
The biggest misconception about human trafficking is that the victims are runaways or addicts. Family members selling family members, like in Kimberly’s case, is common. Also, traffickers often target high school girls and threaten to ruin their reputation. Samaritan village partners with local colleges for scholarships.
If you would like to learn more, go to samaritanvillage.net.