Law enforcement using new method to catch people who buy women, children online

Published: January 13, 2022 10:06 PM EST
Updated: January 14, 2022 5:18 AM EST

The Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Collier County is working with law enforcement to fight domestic violence and human trafficking in our community and catch more buyers online.

They’re pushing for a strategy called “The Nordic model”.

Some human trafficking isn’t in the dark like you might expect. There are websites where you can search as though you were on your favorite retail site and find the person you would like to buy.

While it may look like the women in the photos on those websites want to sell themselves, the CEO of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children, Linda Oberhaus, said about 90% of the women are coerced to sell themselves online by men.

Now, with the help of new technology, law enforcement isn’t going after the sellers, but it’s going for the buyer instead.

Naples Police Chief Tom Weschler said, “it happens everywhere. Including Naples, Collier County, we don’t have much crime, but there are instances of human trafficking here.”

What is in the dark will always come to light.

Weschler said law enforcement has a new tool to fight the darkness of human trafficking. “The Nordic model is something that will be great for us to take a different way of addressing that and actually getting to the bottom of that.”

That means finding out who is buying women and children online.

Oberhaus said, “we are trying to get support and services to victims of sex trafficking and holding the buyers of these women and girls accountable.”

Oberhaus said nothing holds people more accountable than when they could be put behind bars. “We can track people who are going online to potentially purchase people online for sex and then put them on notice. Send them a notice, let them know that if they continue to visit these types of sites, that could likely result in their arrest.”

An arrest the Gentlemen Against Domestic Violence hope is just the beginning.

“We try to get to gentleman and say hey, you need to get involved in this and they’re in shock and we tell them some of the details and some of the stuff that goes on,” said Tom Butz with Gentlemen Against Domestic Violence.

Oberhaus also said they’re pushing for new legislation that would make purchasing a woman a felony.

The Gentlemen Against Domestic Violence are helping get the word out about tools like the Nordic model and other methods of preventing human trafficking and domestic abuse.

Around 75 of those gentlemen got together to raise money for the Shelter for Abused Women and Children on Thursday night.

They held a casino royal event and raised more than $300,000.

The event encourages men to get involved in the fight against domestic violence.

WINK News anchor Corey Lazar served as emcee at the event. He said, “being involved in this cause, you start to look at it differently. You start to look at situations differently, and I think these men come from all different walks of life and they can then leave here and go into their own individual communities and hopefully put a stop to human trafficking and domestic violence.”

Men at the event say it’s so important to get involved because young boys need good role models to help them learn that domestic violence, down to the mental level, needs to be prevented.

Resources for victims of domestic violence in Southwest Florida

On Wednesday at 10 a.m. on CW, WINK News is airing a one-hour special on domestic violence.

Many think of domestic violence as physical hitting with potential signs of bruising of a victim, but it can also include verbal, mental, financial, and other types of abuse.

It can also impact people of all ages and of any sex.

During the hour we’ll tell the stories of survivors, red flags to look out for in a relationship, and provide resources.

If you can’t watch it live, check back here for the full special after it airs. 


Charlotte County
Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies
Phone: 941-639-5499
Hotline: 941-627-6000
SMS Text: 941-449-8534
TDD: 941-627-6000

Collier County
The Shelter for Abused Women & Children
Phone: 239-775-3862
Hotline: 239-775-1101
TDD: 239-775-4265

DeSoto County
Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center
Phone: 941-365-0208
Hotline: 941-365-1976
TDD: 941-365-1976

Glades County
Abuse Counseling and Treatment
Phone: 239-939-2553
Hotline: 239-939-3112
TDD: 239-939-3112

Hendry County
Abuse Counseling and Treatment
Phone: 239-939-2553
Hotline: 239-939-3112
TDD: 239-939-3112

Lee County
Abuse Counseling and Treatment
Phone: 239-939-2553
Hotline: 239-939-3112
TDD: 239-939-3112

Below are mental health resources available to Southwest Floridians at the national and local levels.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

David Lawrence Center  (Collier County)

SalusCare (Lee County)

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Collier County

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry Counties

The National Alliance for Caregiving offers a free handbook
Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers

Collier County Mental Health Court

Lee County Mental Health Court

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Local Support Groups: Anxiety and Depression Association of America

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help)

Local veterans resource: Home Base SWFL