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Human Trafficking in Indiana

Human Trafficking in Indiana


In February the DVN Advocate’s Group welcomed Tracy McDaniel, executive director of Restored, as a guest speaker. She spoke about the lack of housing services available to human trafficking victims, as well as addressing the “demand side” of the issue. However, the most striking thing that Ms. McDaniel discussed was how people are recruited into a life of human trafficking.

Many young men and women are found by “recruiters” in schools, at work, or even shopping at the mall. Recruiters will pose as a new friend, a boyfriend, or even a mentor and groom the young person by promising money, love, support, and acceptance. In a presentation by a former victim earlier this year, I learned that the man that was selling her for sex was also the only one in her life that supported her education and made sure she was getting her homework done. The relationships are blurred and complicated. It’s easy to see how a young person who feels alone in the world or is already experiencing abuse can be convinced that the people exploiting them are the same people that love them.

Human Trafficking is a difficult topic, but there are some key things to remember:

  1. Keep an open dialogue with your children about what healthy relationships look like from an early age. Human traffickers look for young people that are “easy targets.” People with lower self-esteem or abuse in their homes are much more likely to be targeted. (Check out or for tools to talk with kids.)
  2. Watch your child’s social media. We hear about this all the time, but it is a prime recruiting method for traffickers. Stay up to date on what different apps do and what they look like.
  3. Know your child’s friends. All of them. That really nice, slightly older student that your child just met at the mall could be an average student, but they could also be a recruiter for human trafficking.
  4. We must address the supply side or “Johns” that are purchasing sex. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Prevail in Hamilton County, and Restored are all working to hold people who purchase sex accountable. If there’s no demand, then there is no profit for Human Traffickers. Indiana is #NotBuyingIt .
  5. Victims need resources, but even they may not realize that they are being victimized. We need more beds, more detox, and more specialized counseling for victims of human trafficking in Indiana. We also need to remember that many victims of human trafficking see their abuser and the other victims in their situation as their family. Victims are often haunted by not knowing what happened to the other girls they worked with after they find their way to resources.

Human trafficking is a growing problem and leaves behind victims that are devastated by the trauma they experience. We thank Tracy McDaniel from Restored for helping to train the advocates of Central Indiana, and we will continue to work to end human trafficking.