GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Human trafficking affects people around the world, and it exists in West Michigan.
13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke to Tiffany Kelly, who is a survivor of human trafficking in Grand Rapids.
"I didn't do anything extraordinary," she says. "I just took a step. When somebody offered help, I just took the first step."
This weekend, the nation recognizes Human Trafficking Awareness but local organizations that are created to help victims, have to deal with this disturbing criminal trend every day.
The Manasseh Project is an outreach ministry of Wedgwood Christian Services that is dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of young men and young women in West Michigan. It's a specialized trauma program recovery program that provides care you young people ages 12 to 17.
"I go into the community and do a lot of education and a lot of training to help the community to understand that this is a big issue," says Manasseh Project community organizer, Nikeidra Battle-DeBarge. "We have to be more mindful of that it can happen to someone, lots of times it happens with someone that we know, people that we're connected to already."
Human trafficking is a crime under international law, federal law and in the state of Michigan
Kelly says that her abuser was incarcerated for two years, giving her the opportunity to get out, to heal and to grow.
"The thing about human trafficking is that survivors are oftentimes not reporting," says Kelly. "You have a lot of victims who don't see themselves as victims."
According to humantraffickinghotline.org Michigan reported 383 human trafficking cases in 2018.
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