Trafficking victim care here in South Dakota

Benjamin Chase/Plainsman Kassidy Peters was the guest speaker at Thursday’s Beadle County Republican Women’s meeting, sharing information on human trafficking and programs available to combat the problem.

Director presents info on human trafficking to BCRW Thursday

HURON — While many feel that the idea of human trafficking and/or sex trafficking is something that happens elsewhere, not in “small” South Dakota, Kassidy Peters presented to the Beadle County Republican Women on Thursday that trafficking does, in fact, happen in the state.

Peters is the Director of Development for Call to Freedom, an organization that provides after care for victims of human trafficking and sex trafficking. Peters walked the large luncheon audience at Ryan’s Hangar through the programs that the organization offers for victims, including housing, addiction services, vocational services, and occupational therapy services as trafficking victims work to re-enter society.

Though human and sex trafficking can be done at any time, the exchange of victims, especially those who are being sexually trafficked are high during major events, and Peters identified two major events in the state that see heightened sex trafficking within the state - the Sturgis bike rally and pheasant hunting statewide.

Victims are primarily young and primarily female, but as those who are human trafficked are often forced into labor through manipulative practices, men and women of all ages can be victims. Peters did identify that Call to Freedom (CTF) is seeing a notable increase in youth services this year. She also noted that roughly 70% of victims that CTF services are Indigenous.

She spoke about Marissa’s Project, a housing project that originally began with an apartment complex in Sioux Falls that was comprised of fully furnished efficiency apartments. On April 1, CTF was able to open a second facility that now offers multiple-bedroom apartments so trafficking victims with children can get on their feet with their children living with them.

Peters expects that the number of victims serviced by CTF will double from the nearly 400 served by the organization in 2021 during 2022, and she says that every year the number nearly doubles in large part due to education on where to reach out to receive help for victims in order to escape trafficking as many victims will remain in their situation until ending up in life on streets or in jail or prison.

According to Peters, CTF will continue to provide the long-term care that victims need. Her role is fundraising for the organization, and she did not present any fundraising message during her talk, instead directing attendees to the organization’s website at calltofreedom.org to find information on donating and fundraising events.

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