SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – This month is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and a local organization is working to build awareness.

“We want to just make sure that the community is aware that yes, human trafficking is happening right here in Sioux Falls, but also throughout our state,” Call to Freedom community engagement coordinator Monica Rilling said.

Call to Freedom has events going on in January to build awareness of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“It is our, actually the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, so this coming Tuesday, January 11, we’re just asking the community to build more awareness by wearing blue, so I’m wearing my blue t-shirt today, and then putting a red X on your hand just to bring that awareness,” Rilling said.

Call to Freedom associate director Michelle Treasure says their referrals have increased.

“Last year in June of 2021, we had already met the the number of referrals that we had seen in the entire year of 2020, so now going into 2022, we’re not, unfortunately, expecting anything less. The number of referrals that are coming in are very high currently. I would say that we’re probably seeing around five to eight referrals a week,” she said.

Their services can help victims of sex and labor trafficking as well as people who have suffered sexual exploitation or assault.

“We just get to know those people. We get to know their story. What do they need? What are some of the goals that they have for their lives?” Treasure said.

Call to Freedom also helps with housing, transportation and counseling. The organization says it is important for people to be on the lookout for signs of human trafficking.

“Some of those red flags are going to be, you know, no eye contact. They may not be able to speak for themselves. The person that’s with them might be talking for them. Their speech might sound very scriptive or robotic,” Treasure said.

She also says to look for signs of physical abuse.

“I think human trafficking has been going on a for a very very long time,” Treasure said. “I think now it has a name, and people know what it is and that exposure is out there because of the education and prevention that some of the organizations like Call to Freedom is doing out in the community.”

Call to Freedom is opening a new facility in Sioux Falls in April to replace its current one.

Below is a flyer with the events Call to Freedom is hosting this month. You can also go to their Facebook page.