Community holds vigil to honor human trafficking victims

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office held a candlelight vigil on Jan. 31 to honor victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 9:35 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) – Community members came together for a candlelight vigil on Tuesday, Jan. 31 to honor victims and survivors of human trafficking.

“Today we stand in solidarity against human trafficking,” said one vigil attendee.

Tuesday, Jan. 31 was the last day of Human Trafficking Awareness month across the nation.

Those who gathered at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday night said they want to make sure the awareness continues year-round because ending human trafficking is a continual team effort.

“It’s incredibly important. As we work at Voices [for Children] we get to see the victims as they come in as they move to survivors. It’s only because we have great law enforcement that are doing the investigations, that are doing the work that’s necessary in order to get the children out of awful situations,” said Nise Holloman, the president and CEO of Voices for Children.

Holding signs and candles, people gathered together closely with the same goals in mind: Helping those who are victims of human trafficking and supporting survivors like one young lady who said a heartfelt prayer for the sexually immoral, survivors, and victims.

The survivor also shared some of her experience.

“It took years for me to understand what happened to me. I spent nine years acting out ‘cause I didn’t know any other way,” she said,

Michigan State Police trooper Amy Belanger talked about some of the signs that signal human trafficking, including frequently running away and drug use.

“It’s a way to get their claws in the victim because once the person is addicted, then they want to keep using that drug, and that pimp is going to keep using that against them because every time they give them that drug, they incur a debt and it’s a debt they’ll never be able to repay,” Belanger said.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson lead a moment of silence.

He also spoke directly to those who are rebuilding their lives or who are still caught up in the web of human trafficking, giving them hope to overcome.

“You don’t need to come to Chris Swanson. You don’t need to come to GHOST. You can come to anyone here. You can go to a teacher. You can go to somebody in the ministry, but you have a right to have your voice heard and we will protect you. Amen,” Swanson said.

Click here for information about how to report human trafficking or for trafficking victim services. Call 888-373-7888 to report a human trafficking incident.

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