AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The mission of No Boundaries International Amarillo is to reach out and help those affected by human trafficking on the High Plains.
According to the Executive Director of No Boundaries International Amarillo, Dr. Traci Rogers, human trafficking in the area cannot just be blamed on the highway.
“It’s so easy for us, if we say, if we blame the interstate, because its an inanimate object and we have no responsibility and then we can’t stop it because it just, it going to happen, but the reality is, if we didn’t have buyers in Amarillo, we wouldn’t have a problem with human trafficking,” said Dr. Rogers.
She said the city has to look at the main core of the issue.
“I think it’s time for us to start taking some responsibility and really look at the root of the problem and the root of the problem is not an interstate. The root of the problem is that we have those buyers,” said Dr. Rogers.
She added that the city of Amarillo sees a lot of both sex trafficking and labor trafficking and that people are trafficked through the highways, but they are also trafficked in Amarillo.
“We do see people coming in, especially when there is a big event or when there is something special coming into Amarillo, we know that the number of trafficking goes up exponentially during those times, but we also see that it is happening right here from people that have been here there entire lives,” said Dr. Rogers.
She said that human trafficking crosses all borders, no matter ethnic background or socioeconomic status.
“With the sex trafficking, we see all sorts of exploitation, all sorts of sex trafficking happening right here in the city. For us, our youngest victim was three years old and our oldest victim was 72 years old, and I only share that to show the broad range that human trafficking can impact, because many times people think it’s only a certain age or a certain status of people that it happens to,” said Dr. Rogers.
She added that sometimes people often times confuse human smuggling and human trafficking.
“Just because they cross a state line, doesn’t mean they are being trafficked. They don’t have to cross state lines to be trafficked. It’s any time they are sold for a commercial sex act or labor of services or goods, or anything like that, that would be considered human trafficking, said Dr. Rogers.
Dr. Rogers said the trauma that is experienced by human trafficking victims is deep.
“Those victims of human trafficking are many times so traumatized and they experience Stockholm syndrome and there are just so many levels to their trauma,” said Dr. Rogers.
Dr. Rogers added that there are many things people in the area can do to spot and stop trafficking.
“When people see something that doesn’t seem right to say something. We have a lot of traffickers that will brand their girls with certain tattoos… we see them being showered with extravagant gifts… if they are a student, an extremely older boyfriend is also a red flag.
As a part of its mission, No Boundaries International Amarillo does victim assistance, including things like inner healing to help overcome trauma, and Dr. Rogers said they also do outreach in the community to build relationships, go into high-risk areas, and empower people to stand up for themselves.
She said that events like the Human Sex Trafficking Symposium hosted by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health help build awareness on the High Plains.
“Not only does it raise awareness and bring in resources and things that are much needed, but it also with like the symposium that the laura bush institute puts on with Texas Tech every year, that trains medical professionals on how to identify victims,” said Dr. Rogers.
Dr. Rogers said that training is important for those professionals as the signs can be subtle.
“They are going to watch for the unusual number of sex partners… the inability to keep appointments, to produce documents on who they are, the inability to speak for themselves, maybe they brought someone in with them, that wouldn’t allow the patient to even speak, that’s a red flag,” said Dr. Rogers.
Dr. Rogers added that being able to speak at events like the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Power of the Purse helps spread awareness of trafficking on the High Plains.
“The more we can educate our community and the more we can raise awareness, even just people recognizing the signs, that empowers those that are potential victims and those that have been victims and those that are currently trapped in that world,” said Dr. Rogers.