SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For many people, it’s hard to believe human trafficking happens in South Dakota, but it does. That’s why an organization fighting human trafficking is working with KELOLAND businesses.
D’Lux Suites in Sioux Falls is home to around two dozen hair stylists, beauty professionals, and even a barber. Some of those renting the suites are learning about human trafficking and what to look for. Owners Brad and Angie Britton thought it was important for their renters to be informed, so they asked Call to Freedom to put on a workshop. The non-profit organization is leading the fight in South Dakota.
“If that person can help guide a person who is being exploited to the right people then we’ve made all the success in the world,” said Brad Britton.
Call to Freedom’s Executive Director of Program Services says hair stylists often get one-on-one time with clients and engage in conversation with their customers and those are prime chances to look for the signs.
“If someone comes in with their perpetrator and that trafficker or perpetrator might be not allowing for that individual to speak for themselves we know that sometimes perpetrators and traffickers will try to make their victims undergo a dramatic change in appearance to mask or hide an individual,” said Michelle Treasure.
Physical signs of trafficking may include bruising appearing malnourished or someone who avoids eye contact. Stylist Melisa Vincent says she wanted to learn more about how to help.
“I’ve probably had clients that have gone through this and I wish I would have known,” said Vincent.
She feels better knowing what to look for and what to do.
“You’d be amazed at what people will tell their hair stylist, we are probably closer to confession than a lot of people and I would like to be a person who could help them get out of the situation if I was ever brought to that,” said Vincent.
This is one of many outreach opportunities Call to Freedom has planned. They encourage other businesses to reach out if they would like to do their part like the Britton’s.
“When they, or if they see something happening they’ve got a resource, having resources is so important. If that person can help guide a person who is being exploited to the right people then we’ve made all the success in the world,” said Brad Britton.
There is a national hotline, 888-373-7888. It is manned 24 hours a day. Victims looking for help can also text 233-733. You can contact Call to Freedom at 605-759-3565. If you would like to know more about Call to Freedom and its mission you can visit the organization’s website.