Rescuing a victim of human trafficking may come down to a text message. Polaris Project, a non-profit group that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, is now accepting text messages in an effort to expand its reach. Victims, survivors and others wishing to connect with the group’s staff can send a text to “BeFree” or 233733.
“Victims of trafficking are often heavily controlled, and in this kind of environment being able to send a silent text message could be their primary access to getting help,” said Sarah Jakiel, deputy director of Polaris Project. In many cases, victims communicate with exploiters, clients and even family members and friends via text messages but are unable to make phone calls because of privacy issues or cost, Jakiel said.
The system is simple. A person sends a text to 233733 and the message pops up on a computer screen at Polaris Project. An employee can talk with the person to determine his or her needs, point out resources and in some cases notify law enforcement officials. Adding text messaging to the hotline will “dramatically expand the way we are able to interface with victims,” Jakiel said.
Polaris Project’s national trafficking hotline number: 1-888-373-7888, e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org, online form: polarisproject.org/report-a-tip.
Learn more at Yamiche Alcindor’s USA Today article: Human trafficking hotline accepts text messages.