Human trafficking awareness event in Lincoln Co. sheds light on prevalence of issue

TOMAHAWK, Wis. (WSAW) -- Human trafficking is a national problem, even happening right now in north central Wisconsin. To help raise awareness, one group held a presentation in Tomahawk Thursday night.

The Holy Cross Sisters USA Province of Merrill partnered with human trafficking survivor Morgan Meadows to bring light to the issue seen in north central Wisconsin.

"It exists in all 72 counties in the state of Wisconsin. And nobody is exempt, and just because we're not in large cities, that doesn't mean it's not happening," said Sister Celine Goessl with Holy Cross Sisters.

"We want to bring awareness to this area of Wisconsin. Bring more awareness so that people at least if they know what it's about, they can be more aware of their surroundings," said Sister Kathy Lange with Holy Cross Sisters.

Human trafficking affects men and women of all ages, although the majority of victims are young females.

"I could not have admitted that what I had been through was human trafficking, cause I didn't know what the definition was. All I knew was the different types of things that happened to me," said survivor and victim's advocate Morgan Meadows.

Thursday night, Sisters Celine Goessl and Kathy Lange partnered with Meadows to inform people of the prevalence of the issue in the north central Wisconsin communities.

"For the last three years, I've given 94 presentations and yes, we will go wherever we are asked to go," said Sister Celine. For her, she's even changed the appearance of her hair to have a blue streak to show her support. "It's not a fashion statement, it's not the fact I have unfulfilled teenage desires that have gone by the way because now I'm 83 years old. I want people to know that I stand in solidarity with the victims and the survivors."

Showing her support while educating people on the signs of a potential human trafficking situation.

"What's gratifying to us though is that at these talks, we have people coming up to talk to us afterwards and they say, thank you so much for making us aware," said Sister Kathy.

If you are in a situation where you recognize a possible sign of human trafficking, you can call 911 or the dispatch number for your local law enforcement agency. You can also contact the human trafficking hotline at 1-888-3737-888 to get help or report a tip.