NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force is shining a light on the common misconceptions surrounding the crime.

“Cases are now making it to court. And the attorneys are having to spend a lot of time in trial to explain to jurors what human trafficking is and is not, rather than focusing on the case and the crime itself,” said Lauren Knapp, the co-chair of the task force.

The organization led it’s first public meeting on Friday at the Charleston County Government building to debunk myths about human trafficking. One of those being, that the problem does not exist here in the Lowcountry.

“There is a market here, just like anywhere, for this. So, saying that it’s not here is just putting your head in the sand,” Knapp said.

Brooke Burris is the other co-chair. She said it’s often believed trafficking involves force, when in reality, most traffickers use psychological coercion.

“Really victim stories are often that ‘it was my boyfriend and he asked me to do a trick for a favor and after that it went to one more,’” Burris explained.

Other facts to know – trafficking does not always involve travelling, victims can be males, exploitation often occurs by people the victim knows, many victims do not realize they are victims, trafficking can occur even if consent is given by the victim at first, and age of consent laws do not conflict with human trafficking laws.

The Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force hopes showing the reality of human trafficking will help put an end to it. They plan to host another public meeting on June 9th.