PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Human trafficking is a nationwide problem, and officials are seeing it happen right here in Bay County.
On Friday, Freedom 180, the Positive Youth Development Program of the Florida Department of Health and Florida State University’s Panama City campus hosted a seminar to bring awareness to trafficking.
Sula Skiles was one of two survivors that spoke at the ‘More Than Just a Number’ human trafficking seminar.
“I got the energy and the strength to ask him for a ticket home, and he told me no you are not going anywhere, I purchased you as a Christmas gift for my girlfriend,” said Skiles.
This was the nightmare she was living in 15 years ago, when she was sold into human trafficking overseas.
“I didn’t know what my outcome was going to be,” said Skiles, “I’m one of the very few that have been exploited into traffic that have made it out.”
The event aimed to help educate the public on how to recognize the signs of trafficking.
“Trafficking has actually been on the rise since Hurricane Michael, and so we want to bring awareness,” said Florida Department of Health senior health educator Sean Smith.
The seminar gave residents the information they need to stop trafficking when they see it.
“We hope that they can take away the information we present and the signs of human trafficking so they can stop it when they see it throughout the community,” said Smith.