Uprising agency discusses human trafficking in Casper
Human trafficking is happening everywhere, including Wyoming, and it's hiding in plain sight.
That's according to Terri Markham, co-founder and executive director of a non-profit agency called Uprising based in Sheridan.
According to Uprising, "Trafficking is a serious problem everywhere. It stems from the demand people have to purchase sex. Unfortunately, anywhere there are people, there will be some who desire to purchase sex, and someone there to capitalize on that. It is hard to know the scope of the issue, as trafficking is a highly under-reported crime."
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Uprising came to Casper to talk to law enforcement investigators and victim advocates to shine a light on how it is happening and proactive steps people can take to help.
For part of the conference, law enforcement and victim advocates split up to go through a variety of educational slideshows and engage in conversations specefic to their roles.
K2Radio News joined the victim advocates to learn more about the tactics of traffickers and exploiters while law enforcement talked about illicit massage businesses in Wyoming.
Survivors of trafficking and exploitation were there to share their own experiences being victims and expressed how it happened and why it was difficult to escape the situation.
Markham said familial trafficking is the most common form of sex trafficking she's seen in Wyoming. She said the youngest child she's aware of currently is a 10-year-old boy in one of the Wyoming counties whose family was trafficking him to get money.
Currently, there are few trafficking and exploitation specefic services available to victims in Wyoming.
Markham said sex trafficking is often misidentified as sexual abuse, domestic violence, or some other type of crime.
Markham said, "The hope is more and more cases will emerge through education and identification and someone will rise to meet the need of victim services."