Conference on human trafficking says businesses should be more aware

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The message at a conference sponsored by My Sister's House Friday was that businesses must be aware of the occurrence of human trafficking.

My Sister's House is a domestic violence agency that believes there are common themes between domestic violence and human trafficking, during which the victims are sexually and emotionally abused, exploited, bullied, beaten and psychologically traumatized.

Victims are often forced into the sex trade and involved with businesses looking for cheap or slave labor.

"It takes place from transportation to hotel, motels to massage parlors to the fields. Those are just four types of industries where human trafficking is often seen," said Nilda Valmores, the executive director of My Sister's House.

Several hundred participants heard from panels and speakers at Sacramento State University, including Rachel Thomas. Thomas is a human traffic victim who was lured by a pimp who posed as a modeling agent.

He beat her and threatened to kill her family and used mind games to manipulate the then 20-year-old college student.

She said people should become more suspicious of activities or interactions that might seem to be private domestic issues.

"It could be malls, in airports, in places of business and there is a lot of opportunities for the common citizen to become more aware and to intervene," said Thomas.

Thomas has developed a curriculum to aid service providers and victims on ways to escape human trafficking situations that is used in 24 states.

She advocates that witnesses call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if anyone sees something suspicious.

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