Local pastor wants to give victims of human trafficking a second chance at a normal life
MILWAUKEE - Human trafficking is a growing issue, and Milwaukee is at the forefront of the fight. According to Supervisory Special Agent Chad Elgersma, who heads the Human Trafficking Squad at the Milwaukee FBI office, human trafficking is becoming a big problem in the Milwaukee area.
“Every victim is different and there are different reasons why people fall victim to trafficking,” Elgersma said. “It could be that they’re coerced into it. That they are promised gifts, money, riches. It could be that they’re down on their luck and they are looking for a way to make their life better.”
Elgersma said many of the victims are also forced into the system.
A local pastor is hoping to help the women and girls to have a safe place to go when they escape the system. Pastor Jason Butler started Exploit No More because of the growing problem is Southeast Wisconsin.
“Numbers are really hard to come by, especially when you’re talking about underage victims,” Butler said. “We’ve heard estimates of up to 500 a year in the metro area.”
Those numbers can’t be verified because of how hard it is to pinpoint all the people being trafficked at any given time. But for Butler, he wants to help as many as he can.
“Our real focus here is to establish a longterm residential safehouse for underage victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” Butler said. “Along with that, Exploit No More would be heavily involved in creating awareness… and advocacy.”
Elgesrma said many of the victims are from in the area, but others are brought from out of town and out of state. While he can’t say Milwaukee has one of the worst problems with human trafficking, their attempt to stop the trade has found there is a big problem here.
“If you’re going to look at some of the numbers specifically related to Milwaukee, Milwaukee rescued the highest number of juveniles across the United States,” he said.
Pastor Butler is taking that problem and doing what he can to give the victims a chance at a normal life.
“We want to provide a safe place for them to come,” he said. “Longterm living where they can seek counseling and feel safe, where they can get their life back together.”
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