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Survivor shares how to spot signs of human trafficking

Michel Furjuelle was just 15 years old when she was first lured into a sex-trafficking ring. But after escaping her trafficking, she now works as a peer advocate, supporting other survivors of human trafficking.

For Furgiele, trafficking began after her friends met people on social media who at first seemed friendly. They soon exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet in real life.

“(The traffickers) just offered to pick us up and take us home from the mall one Friday night after school, and it didn’t seem like a ‘stranger danger’ type of situation at all,” she told CTV’s “Your Morning.” On Tuesday. “They drove well, they were well dressed and to be honest at 15 I thought they were pretty safe people.”

Furjuelle felt that being around these people “filled the void” that had been created by her insecurities. But after two months of wining and dining, the traffickers began to exploit Furgiele, forcing her into the sex trade.

Agreed Covenant House TorontoThe average age of victims of sex trafficking is 17, but for indigenous girls, victims can be as young as 13 and as young as eight. Trafficking agents can earn more than $280,000 a year from controlling just one victim.

The exploitation continued for years until Furjuelle came into contact with Walk With Me, a Toronto social service agency founded by human trafficking survivor Timea Nagy.

“Timea Nagin. he’s really who I have to thank for coming out. He was the first person who was able to put a name to what I was going through. And her own experience helped me connect with someone and confide in someone. “I didn’t believe in the police, but thanks to him I was able to get in touch with great resources.”


For years, Furjuelle was trapped in a double life, being sexually exploited while seemingly living a seemingly normal life as a high school student.

“I was trafficked while I was living in my family’s home, I can’t stress this enough. I went to my local high school and lived in my family’s home, these red flags will be right under your nose,” he said.

Furjuelle says there are several signs parents should look out for, such as their child changing social groups at school, withdrawing from the family or any “dramatic changes in behavior.”

Other red flags that may indicate a child has been trafficked include having a second cell phone and spending a lot of money on their appearance.

“If they’re doing their hair and nails, if they’re making clothes, and you don’t understand where they’re getting the money to buy those products, that’s a huge red flag,” Furgiele said.

Furgiele also says parents should keep a close eye on any “domestic behavior.” For example, while he was being exploited, Furgiwell’s traffickers stole $50,000 from his parents’ line of credit after he gave them his PIN and card.

“We went to the police and the police wanted to implicate me and actually charged me, which my mother just thought was ridiculous,” she said. “He knew I was the victim of some kind of crime, but he didn’t even have a name.”

“It took me years to build the confidence. I am very thankful for my family. I have a very, very supportive family. I wouldn’t be here without my family.”

How to find help if you or someone you know is being trafficked?

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