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Bar Harbor church hosting event to bring awareness to human trafficking

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - Maine has between three and 400 victims of sex trafficking each year, according to the Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network.

The River Church in Bar Harbor is hosting an event Saturday to bring awareness to human trafficking.

“Maine is definitely…it’s definitely happening in Maine,” said Jasmine Grace-Marino, Jasmine Grace Outreach founder.

Grace-Marino, a survivor of human trafficking who runs an outreach program out of Boston, will be in Bar Harbor Saturday to speak about her experience, as she does all over New England.

“She’s very candid with herself and her story. It’s raw, it’s real. Truthful,” said Michelle Rollins, River Church director of missions.

“You know, you get the word sex trafficking, you think of like Asia, you think of other countries that that happens to, so it’s really helping explain to people that it’s like a cult, right? It’s like it’s in the mind I wasn’t handcuffed to a radiator, like you saw in the movie Taken,” said Grace-Marino.

As far back as 2015, 71% of law enforcement reported not being aware of organizations that deal with human trafficking, and less than half said their departments were equipped to deal with cases involving minors.

It’s why River Church is hosting a panel of local law enforcement and other outreach groups to join the public in hearing Grace-Marino’s testimony.

“It can be very discreet. It can be happening, you know, in neighborhoods. It can be happening with people that you go to school with that you work with. Again, it’s very sobering truth to it, and it’s happening, and we know what’s happening in Maine,” said Rollins.

“It’s just bringing it down and making it real and helping them realize that it could happen to their daughter or their niece, even, you know, this does happen to boys and men as well, so really just shedding the light and bringing it home and making it a real story,” said Grace-Marino.

Hope on the Rock at the River Church in Bar Harbor is from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday and is free to the public.

River Church is also collecting basic necessity items for Bags of Hope which will be put together at the end of the event and given to women in need in the community.

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