Two of my favorite credos are “once you know something, you can’t unknow it” and “just because you see can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

When I do presentations on human trafficking, I find that people hearing about it for the first time try not to acknowledge what they hear, while others tend to dismiss the crime because it’s something they’ve never seen. Both seem to be a response to fear and not knowing what to do, so if it can’t be seen or said not to exist, one doesn’t have to do anything. And if it does exist, blame it on something or someone else. Both dismiss any issue or curiosity that may have had a chance to bloom.

So as I wrap up January as a month for recognizing the existence of human trafficking globally, and because fear should never inform our choice, I offer suggestions and resources to help us learn more about this crime against humanity. Knowledge is power.

Policies on how countries treat migrants play a significant role in supporting the business of smuggling and human trafficking. The two issues are closely related. I don’t know if you’ll be one to watch this in “sound bites” or become engrossed in the story, but in either case, watch It’s a National Geographic focused on human trafficking as Mariana Van Zellar follows this crime through the supply chain and those caught in its web.

Support teen programs, particularly those that address mental health and self-esteem. Even though they aren’t, those who feel powerless are more easily cultivated and groomed by traffickers. Foster children are particularly at risk.

Be cautious of the charismatic or those who make suggestions that cause a respected person to look bad. This is hard, right? We want to trust. So trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it just might be. Traffickers are skilled at manipulating and psychologically grooming.

Indigenous Peoples are disproportionally impacted by sex, labor, and organ trafficking. More information can be found at Corruption, and lack of interest has thwarted attempts at bringing this situation to light, but times are changing. Be part of the change.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is an excellent resource for learning about the exploitation of farm workers and immigrants. They have a long history of working with the exploitation of immigrants and continue to fight for workers’ rights for fairness and justice wherever injustice is present.

One of the most important things anyone can do is make talking about human trafficking commonplace in communities.

Encourage leaders to take affirmative action by hosting training and cooperation of law enforcement, posters on buses and in schools and other institutions, and training for anyone who works with children, such as teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria personnel, administrators, doctors, and NGOs.

This link provides a PDF of services available for victims of human trafficking. Note that specific groups may need additional or different programs

Investigate local resources. If you can’t find any, start something.

If you suspect human trafficking is happening anywhere in America, call the National Trafficking Hotline (each country has resources) at 1-888–373-78888 (TTY:711). Text 233733. Put this number on your phone. No harm is done if you are wrong. You may save a life.

I am available to do human trafficking awareness presentations for your organization, church, or school.