GREENE, Iowa (KWWL) – Area pastors gathered at St. Peter Lutheran Church for a free workshop on human trafficking education.
The public sat through the three hour session covering human trafficking and other harassment topics. They were provided the warning signs, and what they should do to prevent it happening in the community.
Yolanda Harden was one of the facilitators of the workshop and is the Iowa Regional Director of The Set Me Free Project, an organization focused on fighting sex trafficking.
Harden says these cases are prevalent in urban areas, but they can happen in eastern Iowa.
“I hate to say that, but the traffickers are really smart, they often times build trust first, and it may be a boyfriend, it may be a girlfriend, it may be a high school cheerleader,” says Harden.
They do not use the warning signs in a step process. The other half of the workshop focused on labor trafficking. In this part, organizers say coercion warning signs are hard to find.
“It’s pretty easy I think to identify force because you’re going to have somebody that’s harmed, but when it comes to coercion it’s a different type of harm, it’s trickery,” says Nicole Hamilton-Brahm Violent Crime Supervisor. “It’s making people do things when they think they don’t have another option.”
The overall takeaway for the public was learning what can be done to help.
“We can help people get out of these situations or just be a listening ear, or be there for someone to talk to so they don’t have to turn to other means of violence,” says Elizabeth Schroeder.
The workshop organizers say to continue the conversation in your household and if you see or suspect forms of human trafficking you should contact the human trafficking hotline, 1 (888) 373-7888.