Trafficking in Michigan: Survivors, advocates say issue is not new, but awareness heightened
MICHIGAN — Mindy Hughes, a Michigan sex trafficking survivor, author and public speaker, said she had been sold to men in her community in the Thumb starting from infancy.
Hughes said she was sexually exploited, abused and neglected from the age of 1 through young adulthood by her mother’s husband and others in her life.
As a child, Hughes remembered a hospital visit with injuries from abuse and said her injuries should have been red flags to health care staff trained to recognize trafficking.
“I had been in the hospital once as a kid, and they had to put stitches in my anal area.” Hughes said. “They took out my tonsils and they had to do some stitches there in my anal area. And they never even mentioned or questioned it — never said anything about it. They sent me home with the same people (who brought me in).”
Early last year, a package of bills passed addressing human trafficking in Michigan. The laws created tougher penalties for people convicted of exploitation and required health care workers to have training on identifying victims.