See something. Say something. Raising awareness of human trafficking.

Human trafficking has quickly become one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States with North Carolina saddled among the most affected states.

In 2020, 260 cases of trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, ranking North Carolina No. 9 among the 50 states in cases reported.

If this number startles you, consider that human trafficking is often referred to as a shadow crime, meaning that cases are vastly underreported, making the potential of that case load considerably higher.

Human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

This definition is further broken down into three categories: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and domestic servitude.

The NC Department of Administration outlines “major interstate highways, a large and transient military population surrounded by sexually oriented businesses, numerous rural agricultural areas with a high demand for cheap labor, and an increasing number of gangs” as a few factors that make our state a hotbed for human trafficking.

A faculty member of the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business, Dr. Michelle Osborne, has spent a considerable amount of time researching the cause and effect of sex trafficking for her dissertation.

Sex trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to induce someone to perform a commercial sex act such as prostitution, pornography, stripping, or erotic massages; If the individual induced to perform the act is under the age of 18, it is considered sex trafficking regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion was used.

Michelle Osborne and co-author Kay Bowling wrote The Maid, a captivating story that weaves interviews with actual human trafficked victims into a single fiction based on facts.

In The Maid, fifteen-year-old friends Anna and Rosa find themselves trapped in the dark underworld of sexual slavery within the Costa Rican tourist industry.

Anna is imprisoned in a hotel, savagely abused, and forced to service clients under the guise of a maid. To make her imprisonment worse, she is later ordered to care for and mentor three children kidnapped for prostitution.

Local missionaries plot an escape plan, but it will take a miracle for everyone to get out before Jose, the leader of a wide sex trafficking operation, uncovers the escape plot and kills his victims.

This view into the lives of actual victims brings forward the internal emotional discourse experienced daily by individuals subjected to this life and hopefully raises awareness of onlookers to act.

To hear the stories of Anna and Rosa, and the many young victims they crossed paths with, visit

If you suspect someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373 – 7888 or text INFO to 233733.