By KATHY FOUST

The Zonta Club of Findlay says “no” to violence against women.

It is one of Zonta’s goals to educate others about the prevalence of violence and what to do if you suspect or see it happening. Many are not aware of the crimes which take place in our own city or right next door.

David Batstone, author of “Not for Sale,” reported modern-day slavery, also known as human trafficking, generated $32 billion annually while enslaving over 30 million people, half of them children.

He documented many horrific stories of the gruesome abuse the sex and labor slaves have experienced. Recovery from this level of sexual and physical violence is long and hard. Often, the victim is so damaged that recovery seems impossible.

Some symptoms of sexual and physical abuse include shame, guilt, embarrassment, depression, fear of abandonment, eating disorders, self-injury, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, insecurities, nightmares and a lack of trust.

Counselors trained in this area can help the victim heal from the abuse and help her to restore her life.

A common question is: How does a person become a slave when slavery was abolished?

In impoverished countries, children are sold by their parents, who don’t have enough money for food.

Sometimes, the trafficker will lie and say that he can provide a job for the teenager, which turns out to be a nonpaying hard labor job and/or prostitution. A runaway child, a homeless child or a foster care child is at high risk for being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Yes, slavery is illegal. However, the complex underground connection of organized crime by slave traders makes it difficult to detect. Modern-day slavery is a business run by people of all walks of life, including those we would never suspect with white-collar jobs. The slaves are well hidden, emotionally broken down and brainwashed by extreme physical and sexual violence. They are threatened with their life to never speak of being a slave.

Because of this, not many slaves are able to escape. Some are rescued by our law enforcement. Individuals who are willing to get involved have also been able to rescue girls who have been slaves.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is quoted in Batstone’s book: “Trafficking thrives in the shadows and it can be easy to dismiss it as something that happens to someone else, somewhere else. But that is not the case. Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on earth, and that includes our own.”

Toledo has been reported to be the third largest hub for human trafficking in the United States. Interstates 75 and 475 along with the Ohio Turnpike make connections easy for transporting slaves. They are often taken to Las Vegas for prostitution.

It is an alarming thought to know slavery is occurring so close to us. The best action we can take as a community is to increase our awareness of the problem. Become alert of those around you and report suspicious behavior to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Foust is owner of Lighthouse Counseling Services, Findlay, and is a licensed professional clinical counselor. If you have a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay 45839.

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