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Last summer, I went to the mall with my mom. We parked in the garage and I felt strange the second we got out of the car. I knew something was off but I couldn't pinpoint what it was. For some reason, human trafficking popped into my head but I quickly brushed it off. We went into the mall as usual and when we were finished shopping and went back to the car, my mom found chewed gum stuck to the driver’s side door. My mom was furious and I went over to her side to see what had happened. The pit in my stomach that I felt earlier returned. There was a white van with a man sitting in the passenger’s seat on his phone. I looked at him but he never made eye contact. 

As soon as I got in the car, I texted my friend about the weird experience we had that night and she told me that she heard on the news that this was a tactic human traffickers had been using recently. The trafficker will stick gum on the car so that a person is so distracted and focused on removing it that they are easily able to attack them from behind. It’s terrifying how easily this can be done. My mom and I were shocked and horrified that we had spent so much time upset about the gum on my car door that something terrible could have happened. If I had been alone that night, I think it would have ended very differently. It still shocks me that I thought of human trafficking walking into the mall. I know the van was not there when we initially parked because we wouldn’t have parked right next to it. So why did I get that feeling? 

This intuition that I had that night is something all women have but have learned to ignore. How many times has a man approached you and you went along with it because you didn’t want to be rude? We are so afraid of making other people feel uncomfortable or making other people think we’re paranoid that we put ourselves in dangerous situations. I should have said something walking into the mall when I felt uncomfortable. We need to stop suppressing this intuition that keeps us safe. This feeling is there for a reason, and there’s even a book about this exact topic called “Protecting the Gift” that goes further in-depth about this.

Human trafficking has become more prominent within recent years in Kansas City and it's important to listen to your intuition to keep yourself safe. If you're interested in learning more or helping combat human trafficking, check out this link to see what you can do. 

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