SPRINGFIELD, Mo. With recent raids for suspected human trafficking on more than a dozen massage parlors in Springfield, the disturbing issue has hit home. Many in Springfield spent the afternoon learning more about human trafficking at a conference that has been planned for several months.
180 people registered for CoxHealth’s free human trafficking conference Friday afternoon. They got to hear firsthand from a sex trafficking survivor. Kris Wade was 18 and at a Chicago train station for only minutes, when she says a man offered her a place to stay and a meal.
Before she knew it, she was under the control of a motorcycle gang that forced her into prostitution.
Wade shared some of the things that made her vulnerable to traffickers.
“I just really had no respect for authority and like a lot of 18 year old kids, I considered myself queen of the universe and pretty much knew everything in the world there was to know. And I think that couple with my undeveloped teenage brain and my risk taking, thrill seeking capabilities, that made me vulnerable to these guys,” says Wade.
Wade’s advice for parents is to build trust-based relationships with your kids from a young age, and teach them to say no and not show vulnerability to bullies, which is what pimps and traffickers are. Wade also says, “Their kids need to know that they love them unconditionally, that if they get in trouble, it’s ok to tell their parents if they’re in a difficult situation. Parents need to support their kids no matter what.” She says her parents were loving and supportive, which she says ultimately helped her get away from the trafficking.
Wade is now the president of The Justice Project in Kansas City, working to combat trafficking. She and other presenters focused on teaching those in healthcare to look for signs like torture injuries, tattoos showing ownership, burns, and multiple STDs.
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