Survivors call attention to tattoos used in sex trafficking

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Sex trafficking survivors and advocates are working across Wisconsin to help communities recognize signs of exploitation, such as tattoos used to brand victims.

Nancy Yarbrough is a survivor who started Milwaukee nonprofit Fresh Start Learning, Inc. to provide resources to women and children who are victims of sex trafficking. Yarbrough told Wisconsin Public Radio that tattoos are commonly used in the sex trade to show that a person belongs to a specific trafficker.

Wisconsin Department of Justice official Morgan Young says sex trafficking touches every county in Wisconsin. FBI reports show the number of commercial sex trafficking offenses recorded in Wisconsin nearly doubled from 34 in 2016 to 59 in 2017.

Young says the agency sees many tattoos related to loyalty, a trafficker's name, or even barcodes and money signs.