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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

CoastLine: Human trafficking is on the rise in NC but public education helps

Maria Charitou / Creative Commons

The Cape Fear region sees its share of human trafficking thanks, in part, to the tourism economy. And as reports of cases rise in NC, local nonprofit leaders hope to educate the public about the signs.

North Carolina ranks 9th in the United States for human trafficking. That’s a move up the ladder – in the wrong direction from 11th place --according to the state’s Department of Administration. Some of the reasons the Tar Heel state draws traffickers, officials say, are the interstate highways, a large and transient military population, agricultural areas with a high demand for cheap labor, and gang populations on the rise.

The Cape Fear region sees a large share of this type of illegal activity for all of those reasons – including the tourism economy thanks to the beaches.

Human trafficking typically falls into two different categories (although there can be overlap): forced labor and sex trafficking. Children are often victims of both. North Carolina officials say teenagers who become victims of sex traffickers have likely already experienced physical and / or sexual abuse.

So who’s helping the victims? And what do members of the public need to learn in order to help?

On this edition of CoastLine, we talk with two people who head up local nonprofits for exactly this reason.


Dawn Ferrer, Executive Director, A Safe Place, launched in 2012 by MaLisa Umstead to offer shelter and services for victims escaping from sexual slavery

Lee Anna Stoker, Co-founder & Executive Director, First Fruit Ministries, launched in 1998 to serve those experiencing homelessness and those who are victims of human trafficking


Local, toll-free anonymous hotline for help for trafficking victims:


Federal resources:

Report Trafficking & Get Help 

If you are a human trafficking victim or have information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also submit a tip on the NHTRC website.

If you believe a child is involved in a trafficking situation, submit a tip through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline or call 1-800-THE-LOST. FBI personnel assigned to NCMEC review information that is provided to the CyberTipline.

A Safe Place:  https://asafeplacetogo.com/

First Fruit Ministries:  https://www.firstfruitministries.org/

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.