GREAT FALLS — A new effort is underway in Great Falls to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Chelsi Lanphear, the creator of a support group for victims and survivors of human trafficking, explained, “I decided that I just wanted to start a group because I’m the type of person that just likes to talk about what I’ve been through."
Lanphear recently moved to Great Falls from Oregon. When she realized there were no groups in the community dealing specifically with the issue of human trafficking, she created the Solid Ground support group; click here to visit the Facebook page.
The issue is something she became passionate about through her involvement with a non-profit agency in Oregon that works to end human trafficking.
“I would show up to the rallies, and when they would have educational courses I went to all of them. It really struck me because I, myself, can resonate with some of it. I was not a victim of sex trafficking but I did traffic materials,” Lanphear said.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the hotline was contacted 87 times in 2019 by people referencing human trafficking in Montana, with 38 reported cases.
Lanphear said she’s gotten a lot of positive feedback since she started advertising the support group: “It makes me feel excited for victims and survivors. I feel that they are not heard enough.”
She hopes to eventually start a non-profit agency to further her mission.
The Montana Department of Justice website has more information about human trafficking, including this overview:
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that subjects children, women, and men to force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. This horrific practice can include prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism, as well as labor for domestic service, factory or construction work, and migrant farming. Globally, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry. Victims suffer from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and rarely have access to education or healthcare.
Anyone can be trafficked regardless of class, education, gender, or age when forcefully coerced or lured by false promises. The high demand for cheap goods and commercial sex puts children around the world at risk of becoming the “supply.” ¹ Between 2007 and 2010, the global percentage of detected child victims was 27 percent. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.² According to the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. State Department, estimates of the number of victims of human trafficking remain in the tens of millions worldwide.