Human Trafficking in Montana

Information and Local Resources

6 Ways to Be Human Trafficking Aware

Human trafficking can refer to either sex trafficking or labor trafficking. The trafficking of a person occurs when force or fraud is used to exploit that individual. Montana’s geography creates a unique human trafficking climate becasue Montana is both urban and rural. Montana has city centers connected via massive interstates and communities spread far apart. 

 

Everyone has the potential to discover a human trafficking situation; everyone has a role. This article aims to help you understand more about human trafficking and recognize potential signs so that you may become human trafficking aware.

 

To see Montana’s current, recorded statistisc on human trafficking, visit 

National Human Trafficking Hotline in Montana

  1. Think about Rules and Control.

There are social rules we all use as we talk, engage, and interact with our neighbors and community members every day. Pay attention when these social rules are broken. If you notice inappropriate power and control it may be a red flag to something dangerous. As a neighbor and as a fellow community member, your ability to observe and act may make a difference. Watch and listen for unusual power and control relationships such as:  

  • Living with employer
  • Employer controls food or personal possessions
  • Working very long shifts or too many hours
  • Poor living conditions
  • Security devices designed to keep people in, such as bars on windows
  • Many people in cramped space
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Answers appear scripted and rehearsed
     
  1. Watch for situations dominated by Threats and Fear.

Using active empathy, observation, and awareness can go a long way in helping identify a potential human trafficking situation. As you are checking out at a store, asking a question of a customer representative, or making small talk with a neighbor while out on a walk, take note of a person's body language, mood, and stress levels. Watch and listen for individuals who seem to be under the stress of threats and fear such as:

  • Employer is holding identity documents
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Person is worried about the break-up of their family
     
  1. Be cautious of Indebtedness through money and/or favors grounded in Deception and Lies.

Reliance and promises are hard to walk away from. These include the promise of money or the promise of safety of either oneself or one's family. Debt arising from deception or misrepresentations can lead to a situation where someone feels trapped. Be weary of enticement that sounds too good to be true or opportunities with upfront perks and no long term plan.  Watch and listen for peers who are in situations such as:  

  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Under 18 and in prostitution
     
  1. Know What To Do if you think someone you know has been trafficked.

Do not attempt to rescue a trafficking victim without trained professionals. Never confront a trafficker. You could put the victim’s life in danger.

 

If you  believe that you have identified someone still in human trafficking situation alert law enforcement immediately. For urgent situations call 911.  

 

You  can also call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-373-7888 to report a tip and for other information.

  1. Further your education through Training.

Human trafficking awareness training is available for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, educators, and federal employees, among others.

  1. Be a conscientious and Informed Consumer

Discover your slavery footprint, ask who picked your tomatoes or made your clothes, or check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. 

What Local Resources Exist?

  1. Missoula Human Trafficking Task Force describes itself as being, “ … committed to raising awareness about the issue of sex and labor trafficking in our community and building a coordinated, trauma-informed and multi-disciplinary response to child and adult victims.” 
  2. Human Trafficking Task Force - Yellowstone County Area, Montana is a Facebook group  community members can join to receive communication and event information shared by the two Facebook group administrators.
  3. Tumbleweed is a non-profit in Billings, Montana describing itself as an organization that “ ... provides safety, assistance and hope to our community’s vulnerable and homeless youth, creating lasting life changes.” As part of Tumbleweed’s mission, Tumbleweed presents workshops for awareness and intervention in order to stimulate societal change around the topic of human trafficking.
  4. Traffick Refuge - Safety & Love, Hope and a Future! is a non-profit that provides “safe homes for the victims of domestic sex trafficking where they are loved and free to heal, learn their value, get an education, guidance, and a new direction for their lives.”
  5. YWCA(s) exist throughout most of Montana’s major cities. YWCA serves everyone “regardless of age, gender identity, race, income level, sexual orientation or religion” through a crisis line, service connections, counseling, and shelter options.
  6. Montana Operation Underground Railroad Volunteer Team is the Montana chapter of Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), an organization that has “gathered the world's experts in extraction operations and in anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.'s Underground Jump Team consists of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives that lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. These operations are always in conjunction with law enforcement throughout the world. Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors begins.” Montana O.U.R. Volunteer Team is organized similar to Missoula Human Trafficking Task Force in that it is a Facebook page, likable by other Facebook members. 
  7. DeliverFund is a non-profit based in Bozeman, Montana. DeliverFund attests to be “ … transparent, mission-focused and passionate. It is a privilege to use our intelligence skills, technology and experience to equip, train and advise the everyday heroes of law enforcement in the fight against human trafficking.”
  8. The LifeGuard Group is “made up of individuals that combine their efforts and expertise to build a culture that will stand on guard for the lives of those who are drowning in the injustice, unfairness, and difficulties that life has handed them.”
  9. Law Enforcement may not grassroots on its face, the availability of law enforcement is another organization that needs community support to achieve its desired ends. Law enforcement is held to be a heightened authority and is able to give presentations with more efficiency due to law enforcement’s pre-established integration in the community. Montana only has two law enforcement officers who have human trafficking as their designated jobs: Guy Baker of Missoula who focuses on human trafficking as one of the many job functions and FBI Brandon Walter of Billings whose only designated task is to focus on human trafficking.

 

A rancher with mountains in the background