INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)- A human trafficking victim could be right down the street from you right now, and you wouldn’t even know it.
It isn’t always easy to spot, but it’s happening right now across Indiana, according to human trafficking awareness experts.
In less than two weeks state law will change to help victims get out of the trafficking trade and stay alive.
“Even if there’s just a handful, it’s too many,” said Jessica Evans, Founder and Program Director of Purchased.
Evans and her team work daily to end human trafficking.
Jessica Evans explained, “We describe ourselves as the bookends when it comes to human trafficking. We have a lot of prevention efforts, we do a lot of education. We have a prevention curriculum for girls who are at risk for trafficking.”
According to the Indiana Attorney General’s Chief Council of Investigations, 283 calls from Indiana came into the National Human Trafficking hotline in 2017. Of those, 93 calls had strong indications of trafficking and 29 came from victims.
Evans explained, “Often, victims don’t know. They wouldn’t be able to say ‘I’ve been trafficked.’ They just think it’s part of their life or it’s just how things just are for them. It’s going to be very very rare that someone comes forward or you interact with someone who says ‘I’ve been trafficked’ unless they’re farther along in their healing process and recognize that.”
Which is where Republican State Representative Karen Engleman, of Corydon’s new state law comes in. Starting July first, the state’s requirement that a doctor report adult human trafficking victims to police goes away. Right now, adult victims could be charged with prostitution or be attacked by their abuser.
Engleman said “Which was a deterrent for people to seek medical and professional help because they were afraid they were afraid they’d be turned in to the authorities. Instead, they are required to be given information on how to seek help.”
Evans said she wants survivors to know that you can get help now.
“I think any time we remove barriers between a victim or survivor, and potential help, it’s beneficial.”
State Rep. Karen Engleman said, “I want to say we care about you. We’d like to help you in any way we can.”
If you or someone you know at any age is in the human trafficking trade right now, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733. People can chat live 24/7 with an advocate at humantraffickinghotline.org/chat.
There are also resources available online from the Indiana attorney general.