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Valley professionals meet to combat human trafficking

Over 150 professions gathered to share ideas on how to combat human trafficking in the Central Valley.
Human trafficking is a growing problem in the Valley.
In Madera Wednesday, the 4th Annual Conference on Human Trafficking was held.
Over 150 professions gathered to share ideas on how to combat the problem.

"It is a very difficult experience and it's hard to get out but there is a life after trafficking," said Diana Cisneros, human trafficking survivor.

Looking at Cisneros you wouldn't know she was forced into human trafficking at the young tender age of 7, but it was all she knew into her teenage years.

"When you grow up with something you think it's normal you don't know that it's wrong or different than anyone else," said Cisneros.

A long journey she was able to escape from and now lives to tell her story in hopes of educating the community of this growing problem.

"You can drive down and see prostitutes working the street, not every one of them are there by their own will," said Sergeant Curtis Chastain, with the Fresno Police Department.

Human trafficking, either labor or sex trade controls its victims through force, fear or coercion. For the traffickers, it's all about making money.
Over the last four years, Fresno Police have investigated hundreds cases and identified at least one hundred local victims of human trafficking.  The majority of them were victims of sex trade.

"Young adults, adult women being forced into prostitution, controlled to do that on the streets, on the internet, hotel rooms and even in private homes," said Sgt. Chastain.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola said a key to battling the problem is identifying the warning signs.

"Starting with an abusive relationship...with the first signs, say I want out," said Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola.

Cisneros attributes Jesus for the strength she needed to get out.

"Given me hope and healing, given me counselors and other people along the way to become whole," said Cisneros.

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