CLEVELAND — Rachel Socorro is a human trafficking and labor trafficking survivor.
“It’s happening right here in our communities; I was trafficked in an upper middle-class community right here in Northeast Ohio,” said Socorro.
She was 19 years old, a new mother and was vulnerable when she said a family member trapped in a human trafficking situation was forced to recruit her.
“The newest statistic that we have is that 41% of trafficking incidents happen with a family member of someone in close relation,” said Socorro. “That’s where the grooming process started for me. Once that safety net of trust was built then I was relocated to another house,” she explained. And that was the beginning of the end of her freedom.
Socorro’s story is similar to other human trafficking victims. “It’s sort of a myth about human trafficking that involves abduction, physical force and abuse. And while those incidences do happen, what we see more often than not is that there is a coercion involved and sort of a psychological trap that victims of human trafficking fall into,” said FBI Special Agent Preetham Rao.
Currently, according to the FBI, every one of their field offices has open human trafficking investigations, including Cleveland.
In 2021, FBI statistics reveal there were 604 human trafficking investigations nationwide with 786 traffickers arrested. “They’re master manipulators,” said FBI Special Agent Alex Hunt. “They’re able to sell something to these victims that isn’t what it ends up being,” he said.
“It was modern day slavery, I did everything in-house for my trafficker,” said Socorro. “I was forced every day to get on my hands and knees and put their socks and shoes on,” she added.
Socorro said she was forced to marry her trafficker and have a child with him. She escaped in 2017. In 2019, she started a nonprofit called Women Revived Ministries to help other victims. It’s now expanding.
“It was built out of my need. There was nobody to help me rebuild my life,” she said.
And now, she is on a mission to help other victims become survivors.
“I walked that road,” she said.
For more information about the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, CLICK HERE or call 1-888-373-7888.
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