Amanda Taylor, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- People bought and sold. Sounds like a centuries old history lesson. But this form of slavery, human trafficking, is happening today in our own backyards.
"When you think about where do I go to find poor, uneducated, vulnerable women and children, this Oklahoma-Arkansas (region) is one of the hot spots." And Mark Elam with OATH, Oklahomans Against Trafficking of Humans, said the statistics are eye opening.
• We have the most women in prison.
• Number one in teen child abuse.
• Second in teen pregnancy.
• Third in divorce.
• Fourth in women murdered by a loved one
And the women often know who's exploiting them.
"It's where my family member is my pimp or the trafficking person that sells me," Elam said.
Many of these victims are forced to walk the streets at night. But our own children put themselves at risk, sometimes everyday, by sending a simple text. Those can turn sexual and get into the wrong hands.
Elam shares one woman's story:
"They blackmailed her with them, saying we're going to show everybody what you did, call you the school whore unless you do what we say."
Or they use a different approach.
"They prey on the individual in what's called a grooming process, where they tell her how wonderful she is, make her feel valuable and special," Elam said.
Either way, their goal is to break the girl down so she feels she has to have sex just to survive.
"It's not until she's out of it, she understands the elements of control and how much they victimized her," Elam said.
Layers of abuse that take years to peel away.
"It's not a three-month or six-month or 90-day treatment that's going to fix someone with a life of abuse," Elam said. "It's a lifetime of restoration, recovery and renewed value."
4 Warning Signs Your Child May Be At Risk:
1. Gifts you don't know where they're coming from.
2. Failing grades.
3. Arguing, fighting.
4. Don't know friends or new group of friends.
How to report Human Trafficking:
Look for and report possible predators at: www.netsmartz.org.
Cyber Tip Line: 1-800-843-5678, www.cybertipline.com
Resources to get help:
OATH: Oklahomans Against the Trafficking of Humans: www.OATHCoalition.org, 1-800-995-0128
Children of the Night 24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-551-1300
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888