Local group using coffee to bring awareness to human trafficking

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:36 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Human trafficking might call to mind images of shady, far-off alleys with seedy masterminds taking advantage of innocent people until the leading action hero comes in to save the day.

The reality is often far less dramatic and far more common.

The Center for Prevention of Abuse is partnering with CxT Roasting Company off Knoxville Road to bring awareness to human trafficking in the Central Illinois area.

The state ranks 10th in the country for reports made to the National Human Trafficking hotline. Locally, CFPA said they served 120 survivors of human trafficking, with 90% of them from Central Illinois.

Every coffee cup served by CxT will come with a custom blue sleeve with information about trafficking locally. It also includes a QR code linking to signs to look out for and how to report trafficking. A portion of each sale will be donated to CFPA’s human trafficking resources.

“It’s something that really we didn’t realize, and to help bring awareness to that is our goal for January,” co-owner of CxT Tristan Popadziouk said.

A vast majority of the survivors from CFPA, 81%, are victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. However, there are also less obvious types of trafficking.

“It could include things like panhandling, which all see on a daily basis, someone sitting on an intersection with a cardboard sign,” CFPA CEO Carol Merna said. “It could be door-to-door sales, it could be work in the agriculture industry, it could be domestic labor which happens a lot, it could be hospitality.”

Not all panhandlers or workers are being trafficked, but Merna also suggests signs to look out for when trafficking is suspected. Signs include someone not being in charge of or holding their own documents, a general air of confusion or withdrawal, or someone not being able to speak for themselves.

“Everyone sees human trafficking just about every day, most people just don’t recognize it,” Merna said.