How to help those that might be in danger

Walter Sprague, NLJ Reporter
Mick Bohn listens to the second human trafficking presentation that was held at the Newcastle Lodge and Convention Center on March 24. The lecture, open to the public, was presented by Rev. Tess Franzen, founder and excecutive director of Freedom’s Journey in Rapid City, S.D.

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."

– Mother Teresa

The Rev. Tess Franze described the dangers and evils associated with human trafficking in two presentations she gave at the Newcastle Lodge and Convention Center on March 24 in Newcastle. Franzen is the director and founder of Freedom's Journey Inc. of Rapid City, South Dakota. The speeches and slide shows, which last several hours, were presented first to law enforcement officers and then to the public.

Part 1 of this story, ”People are not valued by others” was published in the News Letter Journal on March 30. "Until we change the hearts and attitudes of people to value the victims as human beings and not just objects, the demand for this will continue," Franzen said In that overview of human trafficking. 


This is Part 2 of our short series on Franzen’s presentations. 

Often, a victim of human trafficking is too afraid to contact authorities for help to get out of slavery…and then to ask for and access the appropriate assistance to aid in their recovery. The victim’s hesitation can range from fear of further physical abuse to fear of being exposed to shame for whatever activities they have been forced to partake in.




Some health issues associated with victims, according to Franzen, include sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, permanent damage to reproductive organs, HIV/AIDS – hepatitis C, chronic drug use (addiction), unexplained injuries in various states of healing, severe psychological trauma, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, confusion and many others. 


Franzen deals with these victims daily by phone, as well as in person, and said the need to get help to the victims cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, the unwillingness of victims to seek help is the norm, but 

Franzen said that people can take steps to help identify victims so they can get needed treatment and live free of trafficking so they can become functional, productive and fulfilled members of society.


Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard agreed, stating that it is essential that we realize what is going on around us. 


"It doesn't matter that we are a small and somewhat isolated community," he cautioned, "It has and it will happen here."


"We have to keep an eye out. These evils are hidden but have indicators, and we have to learn what those are," said Gilbert Nelson, Weston County Emergency Management’s coordinator.


He indicated that, most of the time, traffickers get away with their activities because people turn a blind eye to the situations, and Nelson said people must not only keep an eye out for what goes on around them — but also trust their gut. 


"If something feels wrong," he said. "It often is."


Franzen admonished people to be aware of their surroundings and the people come into contact with, even when it comes to neighbors and in churches. She said the advice is not an endorsement to spy on or suspect everyone, but she warned that people need to be aware that trafficking happens and to trust their instincts if they believe they are witnessing signs of trafficking.


"It is our job to believe the victim at first. Of course, there are drama seekers in the world, but those people usually are found out as you help them,” Franzen said. “But if we initially start doubting people's word, the help won't get to those who need it."


Franzen stressed, more than once during the presentation, that a person's average life span, once captured in human trafficking, is seven years, and urged Christians to pray for those who are enslaved, those who are vulnerable (while hopefully staying free) and those who are fighting human trafficking.


Aside from praying, Franzen said that people need to get involved in fighting this “devastating evil.” 


"It's not a comfortable topic," she admitted. "But it is far worse for the victim."

Signs of Possible Victims

A child accompanied by someone other than their parent

Signs of frequent travel

Abrasions/rug burns, especially on the knees, elbows or small of the back

Exhibiting unusual fear or anxiousness

Scripted stories

Is not in control of his/her finances or financial records

Presence of an overprotective "boyfriend"/male or female adult

Not allowed, or able, to speak for themselves

Controlling person answers all questions and demands to be present for all conversations

Multiple cell phones

Unrelated children living together

Unexplained physical injuries or injuries in contrast to a person's story in various stages of healing

Condoms and/or lubrication present around kids

Mouthwash in a purse or on a person

Large sums of cash, especially for the unemployed or minors

Exhibits unusual fear or anxiety after bringing up law enforcement in a conversation

Has few or no personal possessions

Will not look you in the eye

Does not know where they are

Does not speak English

Seems excessively fearful

Occasionally wearing trafficker tattoos


Keeping Kids Safe


Ask about online friends.

Ask about their favorite websites.

Ask about favorite apps or games.

Ask if they ever see anything online they don't like, that scares them or that makes them nervous.

Ask who they get to talk to online.

Ask if someone has ever asked them for anything, such as personal information, videos, pictures, etc.

Ask if someone ever talks about coming to meet them.

Ask them if they are being offered money or gifts in exchange for anything.

Play the "What If Game" (


How To Help a Victim


The pamphlet “Freedom's Journey,” which was handed out at the event, stresses that people should not intervene or approach a possible trafficking situation. It’s wise not to put yourself or the victim in danger, . But such cases also cannot be ignored, according to the pamphlet. Witnesses are advised toOne of the first things to do is to go somewhere to safely write down everything you see, and . Then advise law enforcement. If you are uncomfortable reporting your suspicions to law enforcement, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.


People first need to learn about human trafficking, what it looks like and the devastation it presents to victims. To arrange a presentation to your group, email Franzenher at

You can also call her at  1-805-380-8009 or visit their website at for more links, to view videos and for more complete information. 


Information provided by Rev. Tess Franzen, M.S., Executive Director of Freedom's Choice


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