Human Trafficking is a Disgusting Real Thing Happening Near You

As an author, I strive to write page-turning thrillers with killer twist endings, but I also try to feature a social cause in each of my books. I find the research to be enlightening, but at times, disturbing.

Human Trafficking is a Disgusting Real Thing Happening Near You

In my third novel, Shades of Silence, my chosen cause was sex-trafficking. I’ll admit, I naively thought this evil happened to strangers in foreign lands. And although an estimated 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. each year according to the Department of Justice, the number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher—an estimated 200,00 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry annually. I also learned that my home state of Georgia is in the top 10 cities in the U.S. for trafficking of minors, with an estimated $300 million made illegally by the perpetrators.

cash for woman who is human trafficking victim

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims are 15 Years Old

During one of my training classes at Georgia Cares, I asked how these children end up as victims. Many are fleeing an abusive home. In fact, about seventy percent of survivors reported running away frequently. Others are enticed by promises of a glamorous lifestyle and many are coerced by threats against them or a loved one. Shockingly, the average age of adolescents who fall victim to DMST (domestic minor sex trafficking) is only fifteen years old.

Human Trafficking Victim

Fictional Characters Can Bring Issues to Life

With the knowledge from my training, I was armed to create a few characters for my novel. For example, Brittany aged out of foster care and found herself on the street with no means to support herself. Angelle ran away after being prostituted by her mother to pay the rent. Lily was tricked by a family friend and then extorted. Of course these girls are fictional, but their stories all came from research I’d done on the topic.

Be aware, human trafficking is a disgusting real thing happening near you.

I was honored to share what I’ve learned. I invite you to read Shades of Silence if you’d like to learn more plus be entertained by a murder mystery with a twist or two. Here’s a short summary of the book:

Julianna Sandoval is living in limbo. Her husband’s plane has vanished over the Atlantic Ocean and although the Coast Guard has suspended the search, she clings to hope that he’ll still be found alive. Three months later, a young woman appears after hours at Julianna’s Ormond Beach restaurant, declaring, “He’s not who you think he is.” Before the stranger can say anything else, a gunshot through the window kills her instantly.

Seasoned detective Paul Grant is assigned to investigate the girl’s murder. He senses that the shooting was not random but doesn’t know the connection to his only witness. Was the girl referring to Julianna’s presumed dead husband, her lazy stepson, her shady bar manager, or someone else?

As Grant methodically gathers evidence and challenges alibies, Julianna’s faith in her friends and family is tested. The investigation leaves her wondering who she can trust and culminates with an eerie link to the past that no one sees coming.

Shades of Silence by Liz Lazzurus

Learn more about Liz Lazarus at her website.

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