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'Your suburbs are not safe': Billboard campaign targets sex-trafficking in WI

Posted at 8:27 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-22 10:45:13-04

An edgy public service campaign is coming to a billboard near you. The woman behind the campaign is a daughter, friend, athlete and a sex-trafficking survivor. 

Emmy Myers says she led a pretty typical childhood. She played soccer, did gymnastics and even earned student of the month at her school. 

But in her early 20s, she became involved with a man who eventually she says became her trafficker. 

"He told me that he would keep me safe and I would have a house, food in my stomach," said Myers. "My trafficker just like many, used force, fraud and coercion. He made me false promises, he made threats against my family." 

She says the FBI helped her get away and start over. 

Now Myers runs Lacey's Hope Project, a non-profit that educates first responders, teachers and other industries on the signs of sex trafficking. 

Her new public service campaign will send the message that sex trafficking is not just an issue in big cities. 

"I want you to look for somebody like me," she said. "We are all vulnerable in our own way. Traffickers prey on your needs." 

The statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, made up by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, says victims come from a range of income levels and backgrounds, and from every county in the state. 

The National Human Trafficking Hotline says 91 cases have been reported so far this year in Wisconsin. 

"All communities are not safe but we want to focus on the suburbs because there are so many people that think it’s not happening in my community," said Myers. 

She said the best thing parents can do is talk with their children about sex-trafficking, and look for signs. 

"Get educated," she said. "It doesn't have to happen to your child. I know for a fact my mom never thought I'd become a sex trafficking victim."

Lacey's Hope Project will hold a fundraising gala on Sept. 13 in Richfield. More information including how to get tickets can be found here.