HELENA — Sex trafficking can happen anywhere and any place.
According to the National Human Trafficking hotline, in 2020, there were 462 calls, texts, chats, or emails that mentioned Montana.
MTN News spoke with a Montana sex trafficking survivor. Her identity has been concealed for her protection.
"I feel that when someone gets into sex trafficking, it doesn't start there,” the survivor explained. “Something was going on before that, and it was way before that maybe it was past trauma of things that happened that nobody else knows about that she was too scared to tell anyone about."
The National Human Trafficking hotline reports of the 29 human trafficking cases reported in Montana in 2020, the vast majority (22) dealt with sex trafficking. They break down the top venues for sex trafficking, with pornography leading four cases.
Online ads, illicit massage businesses, residential calls, and other venues had three or fewer cases.
The woman we spoke with told us sex trafficking doesn't just impact lower-income communities.
"Sex trafficking, they think of something different than what is going on. I feel like when it comes to doing calls and stuff, it's mainly middle and upper-middle-class men, ‘Johns,’” she said.
“Johns” are the name for anyone who pays for or trades something of value for sexual acts.
The survivor told us calls happen 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and she began to feel lost during her ordeal.
"You lose yourself afterward, after every single call — you know, because people look at sex and it is supposed to be so connecting and amazing and all these stuff, you lose that whole general aspect of it it's not the same anymore," she added.
She encourages those trapped in the system to do what they can to seek help.
"There are so many other ways to feel loved, and there are so many other ways to feel a part of the something."
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888 or you can text 233733 and text HELP or INFO.
The Montana Department of Justice encourages anyone that believes another person is being trafficked to reach out to law enforcement.
- If the situation is an emergency, call 911.
- Do not intervene if you see suspected trafficker(s). Remain at a safe distance or in your vehicle.
- In non-emergency situations, call or text 1-833-406-STOP (1-833-406-7867) OR reach and advocate via live chat at 406stop.com.
- When possible, take images with your cellular device of the suspected trafficker(s), victim(s), and vehicle license plate(s).