LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Dozens of people lined Jefferson Street at 6th Street Tuesday afternoon to spread awareness of human trafficking. There were prayers for victims and a speech from a survivor.
"What no one knew at the time was at the same time I was going out and having fun with my friends that I was also being trafficked by a trusted adult in my life," said human trafficking survivor Margeaux Gray.
Gray was trafficked for much of her childhood from the time she was 5 until she was 18. Gray says she is proof that human trafficking happens everywhere.
"I grew up in south central Kentucky and I went to dance classes, and took piano lessons, took swimming lessons, I was also trafficked by a trusted adult in my life. It was easy for him to gain access to me to exploit me because I trusted him and so did family and friends," Gray said.
The People Against Trafficking Humans PATH Coalition of KY chose this week for the vigil because they say research has shown a spike in demand for human trafficking victims during large sporting events.
"Three years ago we started, Some Catholic sisters and our associates started this prayer because of our concern about human trafficking and knowing that its always higher during Derby, and that's true around the country around big sporting events it tends to go up and we have since from a study, we know it goes up higher in March Madness so its sporting events that tend to bring the worst conditions," said Sister Julie Driscoll, SCN, citing research from Louisville assistant Justice Administration professor Theresa Hayden on human trafficking patterns.
Gray says while it's nice to see more of a spotlight on the issue during sporting events, it is important to remember that for some victims, human trafficking is an everyday reality.
"Dr. Hayden's research shows that human trafficking certainly, specifically sex trafficking, increases during this time of year or big events such as the Derby or NCAA or Super Bowl. It happens 365 days a year and we I encourage everyone to not let that sit in your conscience," Gray said.
For more information contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 (888) 373-7888