According to Human Rights First, an estimated 24 million victims are being trafficked.
19% of these victims are sexually exploited.
One survivor here in our community is hoping to use her story to bring more attention to this issue.
“My goal in doing all of this is just letting other survivors know, ‘Hey, you’re not alone,'” Nikki Blowers said.
Like many, Blowers grew up to call the Peace Garden State home — but she quickly found life to be the greatest teacher of all.
In 2005, at just 17, Nikki found herself in Nevada.
“I lived on the streets out there for a while and that’s when I met my trafficker. Was on the streets out there and he saw that I was an IV drug user and he fed me all kinds of lines like, ‘I’ll help you’ and pretty much befriended me in, ‘Romeo’d me’ as people would say,” Blowers said.
But this was no true love story.
Blowers was now in a sex chain that she wanted no part of.
“He obviously saw that I was broken and so he preyed upon that and to me, the purpose is dollar signs and it’s all about money and that financial gain,” she said.
She said it took nearly three years to free herself, but thanks to a stranger she was able to make it home.
“They purchased a bus ticket for me. Him and a bunch of Marines escorted me onto the greyhound bus and they waited until it was time for me to go back home because I was afraid my trafficker would find me,” Blowers said.
Now 16 years clean and free, she’s partnering with the non-profit 31:8 Project to share her story.
“I feel really humbled to be a part of this wonderful organization,” she said.
“The 31:8 Project was founded in September 2015, so we have been around now for a little over five years. We’re coming up on our sixth birthday, and we actually serve the entire state of North Dakota, but we have been working more recently in the Bakken region,” Executive Director Stacy Schaffer said.
More specifically Williston.
“We had got several requests just from community members of, ‘Hey can we host a community awareness event on this topic?'” Schaffer said.
This will be the city’s first ever 31:8 event and it will touch on statistics, preventative measures and, most importantly, share the real-life stories of survivors like Blowers.
“I’m thankful that I experienced what I experienced. I am a strong woman because of it and I am able to help other people,” Blowers said.
The summit is June 17.
For more information, including how to register, click here.