You might think of human trafficking as something that happens in other countries, but it's here. Not just in the U.S., but in Illinois, with 200 cases in our state in 2016 alone. And those are just the cases that get reported.
According to experts, there are many victims who are afraid to come forward. But, for those seeking help, the Center for Prevention of Abuse has created a department that deals solely with human trafficking. And the Executive Director of the Center for Prevention of Abuse says they're already hearing some heartbreaking tales.
"This woman was forced to sleep on a laundry room floor for many years and take care of a family, not allowed to leave the house, physically abused, mentally abused. And I can't wrap my arms around that. I think that's something that happens and it's a very silent and hidden crime against a human being," shared Carol Merna.
Thanks to a federal grant the Center for Prevention of Abuse is able to house 36 survivors at a time to stay, recover, and get back on their feet.
But to give you an idea of just how pressing of a problem this is, here are some staggering statistics:
Nearly 25 million people are believed to victims of human trafficking. One in four are children. More than 9,000 people were convicted of this crime in 2016. And, human trafficking is three times more profitable than tech giant Apple, raking in $150 billion a year.