(NEWS CENTER) -- As awareness of sex trafficking grows in Maine, more and more people are seeking education on it. And now, those fighting the problem are looking for allies in likely and unlikely places.
The Auburn Police department is setting up trainings for hairdressers, a group that has helped police identify victims of domestic violence in the past.
Sometimes pimps will bring victims in to get their hair and nails done to make them look good for a picture that's then posted on websites, soliciting clients. Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell said hair stylists sometimes can find out information like where a girl is being trafficked, her name, or her pimp's name while she's getting her hair cut.
Crowell said, "Because, a lot of times, they'd have somebody sitting in their seat. And through conversation, they might have been trained and have been given some information. They might be able to pick up on a few comments being made that there might be something else going on.'
Crowell said it's working. One hairdresser has actually helped save two girls through her tips to police.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services has just started training its case workers this month on what to look for and what to do about it. The trainings are partly a way to introduce case workers to many of the advocates that can help them if they believe a client is being trafficked. The focus also is on prevention, connecting at risk girls as young as 9 years old with services that can help them heal from early trauma.
Therese Cahill Low, DHHS Director of Child and Family Services, said the training also is a way to shift the thinking of case workers to understanding that girls who become prostitutes rarely choose that life.
"We have to remember that it's what happened to them. It's not about what they did," Cahill Low said.
And if you think you or someone you know might be the victim of trafficking, you can call the National human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.