COLUMBUS, Ohio — Maria Busch, with the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, said trafficking is an issue here in central Ohio.
“Human trafficking is happening all over Ohio, it happens in many different forms,” said Busch.
She said typically it happens to those who are most vulnerable. Most commonly, it happens to those experiencing homelessness, housing instability or those who may be undocumented.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2021 there were 291 cases of trafficking identified with 424 survivors. The majority were female and sex trafficking cases.
Busch explained some of the forms it can take, including labor trafficking.
“Where oftentimes foreign nationals recruited from their home country are then forced to work a job different from the one they were told, then, their wages are withheld from them."
"It can also look like commercial sex with substance use disorder. Where a trafficker is withholding drugs from victims to get them to do commercial sex and bring money back to the trafficker."
Busch said it doesn’t matter if it’s a rural, urban or suburban area, trafficking happens everywhere.
Here are some signs of trafficking to look out for:
Some signs of trafficking may be people having their wages held from them or documents withheld. Some may also include victims living in their place of work, according to Busch.
When it comes to survivors, Busch said they need support. That support can look different for everyone.
“Oftentimes victims need basic services like shelter or tangible needs like food or other tangible assistance like bus passes."
If you suspect trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.