BEND, Ore. - A survivor of human trafficking who was captive for almost two decades was in Bend Friday evening to share her story. Wendy Barnes was ensnared in the trafficking ring at 15 years old, and was trapped for the next 17 years.
The Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate there are over 100,000 victims of human trafficking each year in the U.S. alone.
Barnes said the most important thing to do in that situation is to keep hope. The same applies to those who are in a position to help a victim.
"A lot of people feel like it's okay to throw them away," she said. "Those are the throwaway people. I want people to know that no matter how bad it is, no matter how bad a person looks, there's always hope."
Barnes said there were four things that led to her being imprisoned in the trafficking ring: bullying, sexual abuse, poverty, and absence of a parent.
She said it's not uncommon for 15-year-olds to experience any of these factors, which is why she's raising awareness of the issue.
Barnes spoke at the Fall Freedom Fest held by In Our Backyard, a Bend-based nonprofit that fights human trafficking through awareness, action, education, legislative advising and advocacy for survivors. To donate or find out more about human trafficking, click this link.