Expert: Fear and mind games control sex trafficking victims


by Shawn Chitnis &

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 6:12 PM

SPOKANE COUNTY -- The search continues for more victims of a human trafficking case out of Spokane County.  Detectives said the case may involve more people beyond the four suspects already arrested.

The alleged victim contacted the Sheriff's Office last Thursday.  She said she was forced into prostitution and held captive for about a year.  The 21-year-old woman said she was shuttled between different homes and hotels and forced to have sex against her will.  She claims there are more victims.

Experts who work with trafficking victims say these cases are more common than most people think.  Many victims do not come forward because they do not realize the services available to help them. 
Community leaders hope this recent case helps to not only let possible victims know about their services, but also teach the public about this problem.

"We see trafficking of children, we see trafficking of adults," said Adam Shipman of Lutheran Community Services.  "Children are at risk especially in the sex trafficking industry."

Cases are rarely reported, making human trafficking an invisible industry.

"Some people may go back into the lifestyle and almost 100% of the time that is fear, fear of their safety.  Traffickers are skilled at letting victims know the consequences for leaving," said Shipman. 

Those who want to speak out are aware of what could happen.  But they often do not realize who else is out there to help them.

"The big thing we are seeing in Spokane is identifying resources within our community.  We make sure that the systems are in place so when trafficking victims are identified, they can immediately get services."
If you are a victim of trafficking, or know someone who is, you can call a confidential crisis line.  That number is 1-866-751-7119.  The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.