An official with the Tri-County Help Center told county commissioners there’s been a rise in human trafficking cases in Belmont, Monroe and Harrison counties this past year.

Ohio ranks fifth in the nation in the number of reported cases.

Help Center officials say many victims are unlikely to trust law enforcement, so they never report their perpetrator to the police.

But they can still turn to the Tri-County Help Center for assistance.

“We don’t require our clients to report to law enforcement if they’re not ready,” said JaQue Galloway, sexual assault program facilitator with Tri County Help Center. “But we do want them to know that when they are ready, if they choose to do so, our advocates are able to accompany them throughout the entire process. And if they are not quite ready to report, that’s OK too. We’re here to provide whatever services they would need.”

In the Ohio Valley, she said the most common types of human trafficking are familial and drug-facilitated.

In familial trafficking, a parent, aunt or uncle will offer the “services” of a child to someone in exchange for money or drugs.

In drug-facilitated trafficking, the trafficker controls an addicted person by supplying them with heroin or other drugs.

Tri County has a 24-hour crisis line, (740) 695-5441.