BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
It’s a topic that brings up some unhappy images for people, but it is a reality for some in North Dakota.
“I’m just a force to be reckoned with really, I’m a firecracker,” said Bismarck survivor Nikki Blowers.
People often say, what you go through, and what has been done to you does not define you, and for Bismarck resident Nikki Blowers that is exactly the case.
Blowers is a human trafficking survivor who has overcome the worst of the worst
“I grew up here with my mom and my dad and my brother and then around age 13, I started using drugs, and then that would let me out to Reno, Nevada, and then eventually California where I met my trafficker. He just so happen to be staying at the hotel that we were all staying at and drugs were involved and we just got high together and that’s kind of how I met him and then I just kind of spiraled from there and he told me that I was too pretty to be a junkie and that he would help me get clean and sober and that I wasn’t ready to come back home because I had done a lot of shady things back home and so he just offered me a life of luxury and security, it was supposed to be,” said Blowers.
She shared with us, being from a small town state, she was very naive.
But as drugs took over her life — she quickly learned that the human trafficking lifestyle is real, and it was in her own backyard.
“You don’t see pimping and hoeing in North Dakota on the streets like you do in the bigger cities,” she said.
Blowers says her family and locals were new to this as well.
“I got home in 2007 and I didn’t realize I was trafficked until 2015 I believe. I just always thought that this was my choice because I had it ingrained in my brain like this is your choice even though it wasn’t my choice and so people just looked at me like I was just a prostitute, or if people knew what I was doing out there. We really didn’t talk about it,” Blowers shared.
“I think we just have to be transparent about what it looks like. I know this topic can be scary for people to talk about but we have to be real about what it actually looks like,” said 31:8 Project Founder, Stacy Schaffer.
Not only was she living a life not heard of, but she was blind to it herself as she lived it.
She saw herself as in love.
Blowers says it wasn’t until she found out she was pregnant through trafficking that she opened her eyes and saw that a change was needed.
“A lot of people in the smaller town mentality think like oh it doesn’t happen here you know that only happens in bigger cities, but it happens in plain sight more often than not,” said Blowers.
One in six children that end up homeless or running away become a victim of human trafficking.
Schaffer says in 2016 about 40 million people were enslaved in the world.
Right now, that number is now 50 million.
To learn more about this topic, view other survivor stories, and see what local resources are available, visit 31:8 Project’s website.