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Stand Against Trafficking holds Walk for Freedom in Springfield, hoping to abolish human trafficking

Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 5:16 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2020 at 9:18 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Dozens of people gathered Saturday morning at Jordan Valley Park in Springfield to participate in the Walk for Freedom.

The 0.6-mile walk was done in complete silence in memory of those who have endured human trafficking.

Dawn Day with Stand Against Trafficking was one of the organizers of Saturday’s event, which passed out free masks with red X’s on them.

“Their voices are taken away," Dawn says. "Their freedoms are taken away and they’re silenced. The mask, the X’s on our face, is reminding us that these victims are silent. We take a moment of silence for them and it’s here to remember that we want to make it where they’re unsilenced and we want to make it where they are free.”

Alexie Grace is a survivor of human trafficking. She says she felt was never able to really tell anyone what was happening to her. Her traffickers provided a script for her to follow when she went to doctor’s offices.

“A lot of the emotions I felt as a victim while I was being trafficked was a lot of shame, a lot of guilt. There was a lot of you keep your mouth shut, you don’t tell anybody what happens in the family," Grace says. "What happens in the family, stays in the family and that’s it.”

Day is also a sexual assault program coordinator at Mercy. When she heard some of the victim’s stories, she realized they were victims of human trafficking.

“They’re isolated from loved ones, tricked into thinking that this is okay, that this is a normal life because a lot of people wonder why don’t they get out of this," Day says. "They don’t get out of this because one they’re manipulated into the concept of thinking that this is okay or they’re threatened.”

Grace says she’s had multiple emotional and physical meltdowns over the years, but she always strives to survive.

“There have been a lot of things over the years that have tried to keep me quiet, tried to keep me silent and I refuse to let the enemy win," Grace says.

Stand Against Trafficking educates people within the community. Day says the coalition will go out to any location for free to educate people on trafficking.

Experts from Stand Against Trafficking say to pay attention to these risk factors and signs.

Human trafficking risk factors:

  • Victim of abuse or neglect
  • Homeless, runaway
  • Criminal or foster system involvement
  • Social isolation
  • Low self-esteem
  • Truant
  • Substance use by individual and/or family
  • Disability
  • Poverty
  • Mental illness or trauma
  • Family conflict

Spot the signs of human trafficking:

  • Sexual knowledge that is not age- appropriate
  • Dates significantly older
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Brands, tattoos, scars or burns
  • Possesses expensive items
  • Paranoid or resistant to touch
  • Runs away from home
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Academically disengaged
  • Frequently absent from school
  • Medically neglected
  • Unstable home life

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