Stop human trafficking conference continues the conversation about the crime

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Stop Human Trafficking Coalition's 2018 conference is taking place this weekend and is a reminder that the conversation about this should never stop.

The conference will be hosted by the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City. 

Christine McDonald is a trafficking survivor and this year's keynote speaker. 

"When we think about trafficking, we think about victims, we think about children, and my victimization began as a minor," said McDonald. "But nobody identified me. No E.R., no law enforcement, no social worker."

She survived two decades of trafficking with 17 of those years in Kansas City. 

"Events like this educate us," said McDonald. "They bring the humanity to the victims so we're not calling it prostitution, we're not calling it trafficking, but we're seeing the real bodies that are affected by the harms of this crime. And the only way we can change this is by having conversations. " 

Jake Seifert, director of development for the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, organized the conference and spoke about the power of McDonald's story.

"It was happening in Laurie, Missouri, a small town here in mid-Missouri and I think it's very important for people to realize this is something happening in their own backyard."

Seifert explained events like this continue the conversation that this is a reality in communities across mid-Missouri.

"Whether it's Jefferson City, Columbia, it doesn't have to be a big community," said Seifert. "It could be Lynn, Missouri, it could be Osage Beach, it could be anywhere and it is happening everywhere." 

The event will take place Friday and Saturday at the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.