Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Slavery in Missouri

By Amelia Waters

From KHQA.com:

Many shelters house abused women and children. Some shelters receive victims that have been through worse. Human trafficking for commercial sex is one of the worst ways to treat a human being. I found one woman who works in a shelter in northwest Missouri who has helped trafficking victims who come in from third world countries.

"We have dealt with many cases where as the girls are brought in as mail-order brides, when they got here basically they were used for prostitution and pornographic purposes," said Cheryl Leffler, who operates a women's shelter in northwest Missouri for more then 10 years.

We've agreed to safeguard its location to protect its clients. But how does it come to this?

"They usually start with just written correspondence with them, and after they have pretended to be the perfect person they get the girls to trust them," said Leffler.

Traffickers promise the world to potential victims and pay for their plane ticket to Kansas City. Traffickers then take them to their home, where the horrific experience begins.

"They had been traumatized. Their first sexual experience had basically been brutally raping them to get them under control," states Leffler, "'This is what's going to happen to you if you don't do what I tell you.' They thoroughly believe these guys will kill them."

Leffler told us of one woman's experience, after being locked in a house she fled for her life once she saw an unlocked door. Running down the street, a local church member helped her and brought her to the shelter.

Rescuing victims doesn't stop the cycle of trafficking.

Bringing trafficking victims into a shelter is only the first step. Leffler went on to tell me how she believes local law enforcement authorities are reluctant to help.

"We've had issues in rural Missouri that law enforcement are reluctant to believe these girls. They're reluctant to help because they're not us citizens," quoted Leffler, "We sometimes deal with racial issues and they sometimes just don't want to help them."

Leffler also says Missourians in rural areas are reluctant to help as well.

"I think Missourians are definitely in denial," she stated strongly, "We have a large population of immigrants in our area and I don't think its an issue people want to think would happen in this area."

Is there a profile of a trafficker? Most of those Leffler's shelter has dealt with are middle aged white males, 40 to 60 years old. They're isolated and are likely to be involved with drugs and alcohol.


  1. MORGAN6:21 PM

    my name i morgan. recentl learned about the sex slave industry at a church camp i went to. and reading this stor bings tears to my eyes. i live in rural missouri. and this jus shows me that so many people dont care like we should and i am goin to be one of the few that will stand up and say "I CARE!!"

  2. I want to get involved in helping victims of human trafficking. Any ideas would be greatly helpful.

  3. Hi. I was doing research for my own blog entry (which is now published on my blog) when I came across this article. Sexual slavery is among some of the worst crimes in America, and the tragic part about this crime is that it's preventable. Thank you for raising awareness of the issue!

    1. Anonymous11:52 AM

      I am a victim of human trafficing. I would like to help in any way I can. It is and has been a problem not just in other places, but most definitly in Missouri for decades. I was a victim of such a crime in the 1970's. I think it has become an epodemic.