GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Civilian First Responder training offered by Women at Risk International empowered more than 350 people to confront the realities of human trafficking in West Michigan.
The training was held at Grace Bible Church in Grandville Saturday as part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
The day-long event educated attendees on what trafficking is and ways to spot it in their communities.
"We've had women run into our store, in our office right here in Grand Rapids to get away from their trafficker," Rebecca McDonald told 24 Hour News 8. She's the founder and president of Women at Risk, International (WAR). "Our goal to is empower the civilian: the bus driver, the medical professional, the school teacher, the mom at a sleepover. All of us to rise up and be an abolitionist in this slavery that's overtaking our country."
Survivors also shared their stories to give a face to one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States.
"Nobody realized that I was being trafficked," Vanessa Martinez told 24 Hour News 8. "Not even my dad, who had visitation with me every week, because nobody was talking about it."
Martinez grew up in Illinois. She shared her story in hopes of correcting common misconceptions.