An impressive group of community leaders and local policymakers are working together to stop trafficking in Nebraska. Every month in Nebraska, 900 individuals are sold for sex online with about 75 percent of these individuals showing indicators of trafficking. During the upcoming College World Series, the Women’s Fund will be joining elected officials, community partners, service providers and survivor leaders to raise awareness about what sex trafficking really looks like in our community.
“Commercial sexual exploitation is happening in every zip code, every day across our state. We have to stand up together and say Not On My Watch,” said Meghan Malik, trafficking project manager at the Women’s Fund of Omaha. “Having all of our partners working on this issue together—from elected officials to community partners and service providers to the survivor leaders will send a strong message. Hopefully the community will feel a sense of responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens and join us.”
The Not On My Watch effort aims to increase community awareness about the signs of sex trafficking and send a strong message that trafficking in our communities will not be tolerated. Volunteers will be in the Capitol District and inside the Omaha Baseball Village distributing information and promotional items. Informational materials will also be available at the College World Series Fan Fest informational booth.
With increased awareness, anyone can recognize the signs of someone being trafficked. Signs someone may be a victim of sex trafficking include:
- Sudden or dramatic change in behavior
- Disconnected from family, friends, community organizations
- Difficulty focusing, persistent fear, depression and/or anxiety
- Evidence of being controlled (rarely alone, cannot speak for themselves)
- Physical harm (bruises, scars, untreated illness)
- Expressed fear to leave employer
- Not in possession of personal identification and/or personal items
- Tattoos that appear possessive (bar codes)
- May be in possession of excessive amounts of cash, hotel key cards and cell phones
- School age but not in school during the school year
If you suspect someone is a victim or perpetrator of sex trafficking, report it to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888. For immediate help, dial 911.
There are many community partners who continue to move this work forward by providing community trainings and services to victims and survivors. They include the Coalition on Human Trafficking, Heartland Family Service, Magdalene Omaha, Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Project Harmony, Salvation Army, Survivors Rising, Women’s Center for Advancement and Youth Emergency Services.
In advance of the awareness efforts, both the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and Omaha City Council passed resolutions in support of the campaign. Elected officials who have showed their support of Not On My Watch include: Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts; Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert; Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson; Nebraska State Senators Carol Blood, Kate Bolz, Sue Crawford, Robert Hilkemann, John McCollister, Mike McDonnell, Patty Pansing Brooks, Theresa Thibodeau and Lynn Walz; Nebraska State Board of Education Member Lisa Fricke; Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson; Omaha City Councilpersons Brinker Harding and Aimee Melton; Gretna City Councilperson Angie Lauritsen and La Vista City Councilman Kelly Sell.
More information about the community effort can be found online at www.StopTraffickingTogether.org.