Salute to Service: Helping human trafficking victims - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Salute to Service: Helping human trafficking victims

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KALISPELL - It's a bold step -- being a 16-year old teen with the courage to come forward and tell the frightening tale of human trafficking.

Yet that story of transition and survival prompted Montana lawmakers to strengthen the state's laws against this demeaning crime. This Salute to Service report features Adrian who broke her silence in order to help other victims.

"Hi, my name is Adrian, I'm 23-years-old and I'm a human-trafficking survivor." She'll tell you herself that she's not your typical 23-year-old.

"My abuse started at the early age of five years old." And Adrian's story is becoming more common. "At age 11 I got sold to a pimp," she told MTN News. "I was trafficked until the age of 16.

Human trafficking is a growing problem across the country. "Montana has had three times as many human trafficking cases in 2017 as we had in 2015," said U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)."

"We bring them to a place of restoration so they can start functioning as a normal citizen once again," explained Grace Manchalla, a sex trafficking survivor and advocate.

.Fortunately for Adrian, she was rescued in another state and ended up at a safe house in Montana where she met Manchalla, who is a a survivor of human-trafficking herself and now looks to protect the most vulnerable members of society like Adrian.

"Her mom died when she was born and then she was given up for adoption and her adopted father and brother started grooming her right from the time she was five years old, sexually assaulting her and raping her until she was 11-years-old," Manchalla said of Adrian.

Manchalla runs Glory for Ashes, a non-profit organization that fights human-trafficking through education and outreach.

Manchalla encouraged Adrian to share her story with the Montana Legislature and in 2013 helped pass anti-trafficking bills. From victim to survivor to leader, Adrian says has her setbacks but she's on the road to recovery.

"I'm not totally healed but I'm on the recovery process," Adrian said.

.Glory for Ashes will be holding a series of four evening seminars Monday through Thursday in Kalispell.

RELATED: Sexual assault victim bringing powerful message to Kalispell

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