January is Human trafficking awareness month, shining light on an issue impacting some of the most vulnerable communities in our nation and state. According to the Human trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks third in U.S. in human trafficking cases reported. LSF’s Trafficking Victim Assistance Program works with trafficking victims to help them rebuild their life and get a new start, like was the case for J.M. – a survivor of human trafficking here in Florida who we first met three years ago. (We are using the survivor’s initials to protect his anonymity.)
J.M. came to the United States in 2011 under a legal work visa, lured by morally bankrupt traffickers using the promise of higher wages and a better life for his family. He was told that he’d be able to send money home to them in Honduras, and that eventually they would be able to join him for a new, prosperous future in America.
The promise of prosperity given to J.M. turned out to be a living nightmare.
For five years, he was forced to work abusively long hours for meager wages while being restricted from communication with outsiders. He was housed in the unsanitary conditions of an overcrowded trailer with no AC or shower, sleeping on the floor without pillows and blankets. Any objections were met with threats to his family back home in Honduras. Every day J.M.’s heart ached with regret. He would have done anything to see his family again.
Miraculously, J.M. was able to escape after making sure that his family had moved to another area of Honduras, safe from the traffickers.
We are happy to share that J.M was reunited with his family and was able to celebrate the holiday season together for the first time in almost 10 years.
BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
To report a trafficking tip, call the
National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888
a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.
If you suspect someone is in immediate danger, please call 911.