When a victim of violent crime enters the emergency room looking for help, they will be physically and medically cared for.
But while physical wounds can heal, often emotional scars remain.
Now in its fifth year serving the Toledo region, the Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) has helped hundreds of victims of crime and their families, including those who have fallen victim to human trafficking. The TRC team continues to not only provide help to victims but also to raise awareness and provide education to at-risk youth.
“We have received human trafficking referrals from community agencies along with Lucas County Juvenile Court.” OraLee Macklenar, a supervisor at TRC, shares. “Those referrals come to us because our team in trained in providing high standards of trauma therapy. Our team is also trained in providing a curriculum for youth to help prevent them from becoming victims of human trafficking.”
OraLee continues, “we have seen the vulnerability of local youth in our community that come into these educational groups. These youth disclose that they have been engaging in very risky behaviors that puts them at risk and in danger of being trafficked or sexually exploited. By the end of the curriculum training, many of the youth have changed their stance with their behaviors and have realized how dangerous many of their actions have been.”
Ohio remains among the top states in the country with the highest human trafficking case counts.
World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is taking place on July 30, with this year’s theme being “Use and Abuse of Technology” to bring to light the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking. Among the riskiest behaviors that teenagers can engage in is the use of social media to meet strangers. This leads to many youths agreeing to in-person encounters without verifying that the person is safe.
“Often times the youth did not think twice about giving out personal identifying information about where they live or meeting up with strangers alone,” OraLee says of the youths who participated in the curriculum. “After the training, many of these kids reported that they would not engage in those behaviors again. We spend a lot of time helping these youth realize the dangers and risk of social media and how predators are lurking on social meeting looking for vulnerable youth.”
But for some, those warnings come too late. In communities across the nation and in our backyards, there are youths who find themselves in dangerous situations or already having a history of being exploited.
“We will continue to take this curriculum to the community and into areas that we are able to provide this anti-trafficking curriculum,” OraLee states.
Our team at Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center wants victims to know that they are not alone and that there is help.
Recently, the TRC started “The Survivor’s Journey” support group for adults. This group is for anyone age 18 and older that has been victimized, abused or exploited, including those who have been victims of sex or labor trafficking. Held every other week, OraLee says that the number of participants continues to grow.
“This is a powerful group of people that have been victimized and who wish to transform their lives and to have a chance to recover from trauma,” she adds.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, more than 3,100 cases, including more than 6,000 victims, have been identified since the hotline was created in 2017.
This hotline is a resource available for both victims of human trafficking as well as those who suspect human trafficking. Call 1-888-373-7888 and report your information to the trained representative. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Also, learn about other ways you can help victims of human trafficking.