RAPID CITY, S.D. — Treasured Lives, an anti-trafficking organization, hosted an event at The Monument – formerly known as the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center – to raise awareness of the prevalence of sex trafficking.
The nonprofit is Rapid City’s only survivor-led organization, working with victims of trafficking and sexual trauma. Kelly Patterson, Executive Director of Treasured Lives, says Rapid City is not immune to this billion-dollar industry’s reach.
“We are not small potatoes in the world of trafficking. In fact, because of I-90, we are dead in the middle of it and because it’s a place that people feel it isn’t happening, this is the best place to go,” Patterson said.
Former CIA operative, founder and president of the Association for the Recovery of Children, Bazzel Baz, has dedicated his life to saving victims of sexual abuse from their abusers. He says sex trafficking has been a problem in America for quite some time.
“In 2019, we had 421,000 American children missing. The question is where did they go?” Baz said. “And we had 3.2 billion dollars in child pornography annually, so children have become a commodity.”
Treasured Lives says they are always in need of help in the form of donations or services.
Organizers say they are in need of doctors, dentists, hairstylists and other professionals in the service industry.