Lawmaker, area agencies battle illegal sex trade, forced labor

Lawmaker, area agencies battle illegal sex trade, forced labor

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 6.47.33 AMLast May, Bill and Rita Spruce spoke to 30 young women and their parents in Grapevine about abusive relationships, domestic abuse and human trafficking as part of Safe Transitions, which is a course that aims to teach young adults skills they need to remain safe after leaving home.

“The response from the group was amazing,” Bill Spruce said. “Safe Transitions helps people transition from life at home to life on your own. After kids leave home for college, they have to learn some life skills that their parents took care of for them at home. This program makes sure that they have the skills they need to remain safe as a young adult.”

Bill Spruce said the information on domestic abuse and human trafficking initially took many of the girls, and their parents, by shock.

According to the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking is essentially modern-day slavery. Trafficking occurs when a victim does something against his or her will resulting from the use of force, fraud, coercion or addiction. Victims fall into one of three categories: forced labor, sexual labor, or both.

In many cases, victims are regularly transported across city and state lines to further exploit them or keep law enforcement off of their trail.

The State Department notes that one of the major problems with trafficking is that no official statistics exist about the crime as a whole—the only statistics that exist are from cases that have been discovered or prosecuted.

The Spruces host several Safe Transitions courses each year as part of their nonprofit organization, Disrupt Human Trafficking, a volunteer group that provides law enforcement training, community awareness programs and targeted classes to the general public.

“In a recent Transitions class a mom disclosed to everyone that she suffered everything in a previous relationship that the Safe Transitions course had covered,” Rita Spruce said. “She spoke to us about her perilous journey to break free from her abusive relationship and all that it entailed to her family.

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