Katie was just 16-years-old when she was trafficked in her home state of Arizona.

After continuously getting into fights with her parents, Katie reached out to one of her friends that she’d met via social media. She was looking to get away, and her new friend offered her a ride. What she didn’t know, is that the person coming to pick her up wasn’t who he said he was online – and the plan was to exploit her and sell her for sex.Katie, 16, was a victim of human trafficking in Arizona.

Terrified and confused, Katie found herself in a situation that she could never have imagined – she was a victim in a human trafficking ring. Physically, mentally, and emotionally manipulated and abused by the men that took her, Katie became trapped in a world that she no longer recognized, doing what she could to survive each day.

An observant motel guest noticed Katie outside one day. Noticing both her bruises and demeanor, he called the police department. Because he was able to recognize signs that Katie was being trafficked, he saved her life.

Still living in fear and working through her trauma, Katie wasn’t ready to go home. She didn’t think that there was a safe place to go until she found her way to UMOM’s Halle Women’s Center. Once at Halle, Katie was connected with a counselor and a personal case manager. She was surrounded by the support that she needed to keep moving forward in life – she had hope.

Katie was able to find a job through the New Day Employment Center and reconnected with her parents. She’s since moved back home and is working with her parents to repair their relationship. Katie didn’t even know what human trafficking was when it happened to her. By sharing her story, she hopes that she can help others who might find themselves in the same situation.

EVERYONE HAS A ROLE IN ENDING HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

You can help youth like Katie, who are vulnerable and experiencing homelessness, get off the streets. With available resources, supportive services, and safe shelter, youth become informed and empowered to end their experience of homelessness. You can help support youth escape from human trafficking by recognizing the signs, reporting trafficking, and learning more.

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