INDIANA (WFIE) - It’s alarming to hear. The southwest Indiana region has seen an uptick in reported sex-trafficking cases, according to Albion Fellows Bacon Center.
The Center, located in Evansville, is a safe haven for domestic and sexually abused victims spanning 11 counties in the region. Albion’s Community Engagement Director, Mallorie Cloum, tells us in 2016, the center served five individuals involved in trafficking. In 2017, the number was from 15 to 17, according to Cloum. So far in 2018, the number of victims who have come forward has climbed to 28.
“Most of these victims live within Evansville’s city limits,” Cloum said. “Twenty-eight people standing up and saying, ‘this is happening to me, I need your help, please help me', is...astounding to think about," Cloum said. “It’s astounding to think about that even one Human Trafficking victim exist within our community.”
Mallorie Cloum and eight advocates at Albion Fellows Bacon Center see first-hand the effect sexual and domestic abuse has on local men and women.
“There’s this perception I think that human trafficking only happens to international people, that it’s not something that’s a local issue.”
Cloum said victims who come to Albion are not required to report their cases to police, and often, Cloum says they don’t. It’s up to the victim.
“What we find is, a lot of times in Human Trafficking--especially within the United States--it happens with domestic or an intimate partner who has used manipulative tactics," Cloum explained. "They’ve abused that person, they’ve been in domestic violence situations, to the point where they’ve been degraded and brought down so far that they are now in the situation that they cannot escape.”
Cloum recounted some disturbing examples that might be hard to read.
“We’ve had clients come in, who their boyfriend or husband had their baby, and they use the baby as a tactic to manipulate, saying, ‘if you don’t do what I tell you to do, if you don’t have relations with this person, I will kill your baby’.”
Cloum says the opportunity to spread awareness is something positive in the 28 coming forward.
“I think that what’s happening in our community," Cloum said, "people are really starting to talk about these issues, and they’re really starting to stand up and when we talk about them, we’re able to educate about them.”
Albion Fellows Bacon Center is funded through federal grants and community donations. Because they’ve been at full capacity for so long, the organization is looking to raise money for an expansion.
If you need help or recognize a case of Human Trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.
You can also text “HELP” to 233733. The hotline is available in 24/7 in more than 200 languages.
To visit Albion’s website, click here.