Unfortunately, sex trafficking, gangs, and cults are all present in Northern Colorado — but Loveland is doing something about it.

The city is set to host "Undue Influence: Manipulation and Exploitation in Sex Trafficking, Cults and Gangs," a conference dedicated to raising awareness about these practices, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on February 8 in the South Exhibition Hall of the First National Bank Building at The Ranch (5290 Arena Circle).

The conference was organized by its host, Connie Mitchell, who has spent over a year gathering sex trafficking, gang, and cult experts for the event.

These issues affect Mitchell, a counselor at Freedom's Hope Counseling in Fort Collins, personally.

According to The Greeley Tribune, her parents entered her into a religious cult when she was six years old. She did not get out for 27 years.

Mitchell will share her story with conference attendees, while giving an in-depth presentation about cult dynamics.

Mike Prill, a detective with the Greeley Police Department, will speak about his experience with gangs over the last 21 years.

Megan Lundstrom, director of Free Our Girls and a survivor of sex trafficking herself, will detail how perpetrators use manipulation to trap victims into the sex trade.

William Douglas Woody, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Northern Colorado, and Diana Laws, retired Emeritus of Aims Community College, will deliver keynote addresses.

Other speakers will elaborate on how to deal with trauma, and a question and answer session with survivors will take place.

To help the public discern which information will be most helpful to them, the conference is divided into three tracks: law enforcement, professional counselors, and community interest.

The conference costs $40 to attend (lunch will be provided).

Mitchell hopes that attendees can walk away from the conference with a better awareness of these practices and the psychological damage they can cause.

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