East Tennessee human trafficking group sees rise in men, youth trafficking clients
The Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking explained why the number of male and youth clients doubled last year.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking has continued to expand its reach to help human trafficking clients. It’s part of the reason why the group said it’s seeing more male and youth clients.
Adam Woldt is a pastor at The Point Knox who also works with the group. He said he never thought this was an issue in the U.S. until he got more involved.
“I used to think human trafficking overseas,” Woldt said.
He found out human traficking happened here in Knoxville after he noticed one of his neighbors went missing for about six months. He only found out what happened to her after he saw her again.
“That night I was kind of shaken up by many things, but what I had discovered that night is her landlord who had just gotten out of jail had found out about the arrest and said ‘If you don’t do this for me, I’m going to kick you out,’” Woldt said.
Woldt said it’s part of the reason he wanted to help out. In his five years working in East Tennessee helping human trafficking clients, he said the average age of the clients is around 15 years old, used for sex and considered part of a vulnerable population. Many times, people close to the clients are the ones who gave them away.
“15 year olds are most commonly being trafficked by family members which could be their mom, aunt or somebody they know closely,” Woldt said.
The Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking has grown its employee list to help find more clients, as well. By the end of the year, they plan to have 25 employees help serve their hundreds of clients.
“We have to do something to begin to make a difference now,” Woldt said.
The organization is asking the community to help out, along with making law enforcement more aware.
“Raising a voice and saying this is not okay and we need to take a stand against this,” Woldt said.
People can support the organization in a fun way next Thursday at a Poker Tournament hosted at Schultz Brau Brewing.
Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.