NDSU Educates Students on Human Trafficking

On Tuesday, January 23rd, NDSU hosted Jill Krone and Karlee Liddle to speak on the prevalence of human trafficking in our society. Jill Krone, an employee of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, works with Karlee Liddle, an employee of Youthworks North Dakota to support victims of extortion and human trafficking. 

“Extortion is essentially taking something of value and trading it for sex,” said Liddle when explaining human trafficking. The state of North Dakota follows federal laws, meaning if a victim is under the age of 18 it immediately qualifies as a crime, but if the victim is 18 years of age or older, proof of means is required to prosecute. Means will include force, fraud, and or coercion. 

When attempting to identify a victim of human trafficking or extortion, Liddle gave many “red flags” to look out for including but not limited to finding people with condoms or birth control in their pockets, STDs and pregnancy, bruises and malnourishment, and charges for survival crimes such as theft of basics needs like food and clothes. Liddle identified that most of the time, a victim may have been sexually abused, physically abused, or self-medicating. “Victims usually do not see themselves as victims, but as criminals instead.” 

Many times a victim who is involved in human trafficking will show physical and psychological signs of what has happened in “The Life”, as Liddle referred to it. Some physical attributes of someone being trafficked include chronic terror, starvation, sleep and protein deprivation, sexual violence, and learned helplessness. A victim being trafficked may also display injuries from beating, slapping, whipping, burning, tattooing, or branding. Many times a victim will experience difficulty leaving “The Life” due to denial, trauma bonding, lack of education or work, and mental illnesses. 

A fair amount of trafficking is done in what seems to be our own backyard “We have aunts and uncles trafficking their nieces and nephews. We have parents, I have a client whose own mother is actually in prison right now for exploiting her daughter,” says Liddle when describing where we can most commonly find trafficking. Human trafficking can look like a lot of different things, dating violence for one, but trafficking always starts with grooming. 

Liddle was able to describe a large number of buyers participating in buying in the sex trade. The average buyer of a sex worker is described to be 39 years of age, between the ages of 11 and 52 when they first bought, and a majority have children at home. 79% of buyers had attended college, 62% have a regular partner outside of the sex trade, 22% have feelings of guilt about buying sex, and 87% thought women chose to enter “The Life”. 

Near the closing of her presentation, Liddle was able to give a list of things victims require as they are trying to exit “The Life”. Some examples of these things may be a safe place to live, peer support, mental health services, legal assistance, job training, and trauma focused therapy. Many times a victim has been failed by multiple systems such as child support or foster care and are fearful and suspicious of law enforcement, so these support systems given in the correct way should set a victim up for success in the future. 

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