Women's Community, Wausau PD discuss human trafficking in public forum

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WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- Throughout the last several weeks, the Women's Community organization along with the Wausau Police Department conducted a city-wide survey to see what the residents know about the growing concern of human trafficking. More than 300 people participated in the survey and organizers are calling the results ‘shocking.’

“What we have learned is that people have a lot of misconceptions on how to identify a human trafficking victim,” stated Brenda Bayer who represents the Women’s Community.

This was the first time the two agencies came together to conduct a survey, although it was a big success, it shows there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to educating central Wisconsin on this issues.

“We want to make sure that you and the public know what is going on behind closed doors,” explained Sarah D’Acquisto who works with the Wausau Police Department.

On Tuesday a panel discussion was held at Northcentral Technical College to review the results of the survey. The event was free and open to the public.

“Yes, Wausau does have such issues,” stated Mayor Robert Mike who kicked-off the panel discussion.

The panel consisted of representatives from the Wausau police department, a sexual assault nurse examiner, a social worker from Social Services, a forensic interviewer from the Children's Advocacy Center and an assistant district attorney. Each person explained their role of what they do when someone reports being a victim of human trafficking.

“People believe that victims of human trafficking are targeted or kidnapped or followed around in a shopping center. Some believe they are carried across borders or international boundaries but that is not what we know about human trafficking,” added Bayer. “Victims can be anybody from any demographic or socioeconomic background.”

Roughly 50 people were in attendance for the event. The results of the survey will be made public soon.