Maybe you've seen the video and maybe it stopped you in your tracks. Maybe it made you sick to your stomach. Maybe it made you think about the women and girls in your life. I'm talking about this video, shared on social media by a woman named Lynne Knowles. In the video, posted on Sunday, September 16th, Lynne discusses the very real issue of human trafficking and the situation she recently found herself in.

Around the world, there are an estimated 40 million slaves. Human trafficking, the modern day name for slavery is a $150 billion dollar worldwide industry and the number of victims right here in the United States is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Until just a few short years ago I had no idea that human trafficking and child prostitution was as big a problem in the United States as it is. And then I became friends with a woman named Jane Evans. Before her recent retirement, Jane served as the Director of Communications for a non-profit called Transport for Christ. Jane explained to me that a big reason that so many people don’t know how severe the situation is right here on our own soil is that there just aren't enough people doing their part to get the word out.

In March of 2016, Antonio Ballard of Binghamton was convicted of eight counts relating to a sex trafficking and prostitution business involving three minor girls. In January of 2017, Ballard was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison.

Ballard is just one of the bad guys and thankfully he was caught. Think of all the others who are still out there, snatching up our girls and women. I beg of you to help spread the word so that more of the bad guys can be taken down and so that the innocent, especially the children, can be freed.

According to the Polaris Project, some of the most common signs that someone is being trafficked is that they're not free to come and go as they wish, they've got a huge amount of debt that they're not able to pay off, they're under the age of 18, and they offer to provide sex as a form of payment.

Victims of human trafficking often are anxious, depressed, submissive, nervous or paranoid. They tend to get jumpy whenever the subject of law enforcement is brought up and they might lack health care and also look malnourished.

Other signs that someone might be a victim of human trafficking include that they have very few personal possessions, they aren't allowed to speak for themselves, and they aren't able to say with clarity where they're staying or what their address is.

Be sure to check out the complete list of human trafficking signs and please, if you suspect that someone you know is one of the bad guys, or you believe you know of someone who has been forced into child prostitution or who has been trafficked, please do the right thing and call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. The  National Human Trafficking Hotline is always open, it does not shut down. Ever.

If you feel safer texting, you can text BeFree to 233733 any time of the day or night. All reports are completely confidential and interpreters are available.

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