WE ARE HERE FOR YOU
24 Hour Crisis Line
505 N 24th Street
How do I know if someone I know needs help?
Is a friend staying at your home often and doesn’t seem to have a home of their own? Is someone in your life overly controlling of where you go, who you see and what you do? Are you or is someone you know performing sexual acts or unpaid labor in return for anything of value, such as a place to stay, food, drugs or gifts? These are just some of the signs that you or someone you know may be in danger of being trafficked. By stepping in and getting help for someone who is vulnerable, you may be able to keep them from being trafficked for sex or labor. You don’t have to solve the problem… you just need to take the first step and reach out for help.
What is trafficking?
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/or her will. Trafficking is not just a big city issue; it is happening right here in Billings every day.
What puts me at risk for trafficking?
Traffickers and pimps are very aware of social cues and use these cues to seek out youth that are more vulnerable to abuse because of their life circumstances and experiences. If you have endured childhood physical or sexual abuse, parental drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, neglect, abandonment, poverty, and homelessness, you are particularly at risk. If you have run away from home to escape these problems, you are vulnerable to trafficking.
Who are traffickers?
Anyone can be a trafficker. It could be a stranger you met online or it could be your own parents. Most victims are trafficked by family members, friends, boyfriends or employers —someone you know and trust who is abusing and exploiting you.
What is abuse?
Abuse comes in many forms… physical, sexual, financial, spiritual, emotional. Abuse may start so slowly that you might not fully realize you’re in trouble until long after the abuse begins. Pay attention to how your interactions with others make you feel. A healthy relationship should produce positive feelings… you should feel respected, safe, supported, accepted and heard. Healthy relationships are built on trust, honesty and equality. If someone is making you feel unsafe or trying to control where you go or what you do, removing yourself from the situation before the abuse escalates is vital.
When might a trafficker or pimp try and recruit me?
One of the most common ways traffickers start conversations with potential victims is through their cell phones or social media accounts. Traffickers will send requests to follow you and start a relationship online. They may request photos from you, or your cell number to message you directly, or ask to meet you in real life.
Traffickers may also approach you in person when you’re out shopping at the mall, walking to school, at a concert, waiting at the bus stop… any place where you’re out alone, a trafficker might try to stop you and start a conversation. They might even come up to you if you’re with a group of friends.
They may tell you that they can get you started in a modeling or music career or make other false promises about jobs or events to engage you. Or, they may try to become your boyfriend. If someone approaches you to start a conversation and it doesn’t feel right, remember you have the right to walk away. Then, exercise that right!
How do traffickers or pimps keep you in their control?
A trafficker or pimp may rape, beating, or physically restrain you to keep you from leaving. They may also make threats towards your family or make you feel like you owe them something. Traffickers might isolate you from friends and family or take your identification away from you. Or, they may try to get you addicted to drugs. Traffickers will stop at nothing to instill fear into you to try and keep you in their control.
Am I worthy of being helped?
Yes. No matter what your past is, no matter where you find yourself right now, you deserve to be cared for and supported by people who want to help you build a positive life. You are worthy of being loved and, by asking for help, you have the power to change your future.
What can I do if I need help?
If you are in immediate danger of trafficking, get to a safe place if possible. Then, tell someone. A friend, a teacher, a friend’s parent, a doctor, a coach, a police officer. Call Tumbleweed’s 24 hour crisis line — there are caring people ready and waiting for your call to help you get safe.
How can Tumbleweed help me?
From immediate to long-term help, Tumbleweed is a safe place for you. We offer food, shelter, showers, laundry, and clothing as well as counseling and mental health services. We can also help you secure housing, education and job skills so that you are able to build a safe and successful life for yourself.