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Community Efforts Begin to Send Alleged Human Trafficking Surviv - KOAM TV 7

Community Efforts Begin to Send Alleged Human Trafficking Survivors in Joplin Back Home

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Joplin, MO -

Several organizations have stepped forward to make sure alleged victims of human trafficking found yesterday are on the path to recovery.  Officials say these victims were promised a better life in this country, but learned too late that wasn't the case.  Instead, they learned to fear and answer to a boss who controlled their lives.

Only one main wall separated Emily Furrh from what police are now calling a human trafficking operation.

"Men yelling a lot," says Furrh.  "Sometimes, they were yelling in other languages that we couldn't understand,"

Furrh works with the Elizabeth Turner Law Firm.  There were suspicions the "Therapeutic Massage" parlor was running an illegal sex operation.

"My husband and I had dinner one night.  We came back at 10 to pick up my vehicle, and there were still men coming in and out.  The men, sometimes, as they would exit (Furrh covers her face with her hand, hiding her face in the same way she would see some of the men)."

Workers at the Elizabeth Turner Law Firm called the FBI and Joplin Police Department about their suspicions.  The JPD says a total of seven women human trafficking victims were found in three different massage parlor locations.

"I know there were sexual improprieties that had been reported," says Karolyn Schrage with Life Choices in Joplin.

Life Choices is now offering services to the seven women from Asia.

"There have been lots of tears, there have been lots of hugs.  There was watching the ice skating last night and cheering for their countries!  They're women who just want to see their kids taken care of," says Schrage.

Schrage says the women's kids are still overseas.

"If we, as a community, can tell your students, tell your children how to respect women, what that looks like, how to treat people with respect and kindness, then a lot of these things won't be issues," says Maggie Schade with the Southern Missouri Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Life Choices is making sure the women know more than victims, they are survivors.  Soon, the women will have the option of flying back home, free of charge.

But there are still "bosses" projecting abuse.

Schrage points out, "It just takes one person to make a call and say hey, what's going on in that business next to me?"

No arrests have been made in this case, but police are still investigating.  Many times only the victims of human trafficking are found at locations.  Life Choices says the JPD has handled this case exceptionally well by not treating the women as suspects.

Click here to learn more about an upcoming seminar on human trafficking, sponsored by the Southern Missouri Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

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