How did you become involved in the movement against human trafficking?
I became involved in the fight against human trafficking via Facebook. I belonged to several child abuse support groups as well as BAAK (Bikers Against Abusing Kids). I had just come out about my own history as an abused child and in discussing my situation on these sites, I started to notice articles about human trafficking. I was stunned to learn about the relationship between human and drug trafficking as well as illegal arms dealing and poaching. I started asking questions within the groups and it’s then that I came in contact with Yvonne, Lynn and Michele who gave me some websites to look into that better explained it all as a whole. One thing led to another and I found myself overwhelmed at just how serious and worldwide the problem is, which is up to and including my own backyard.
What draws you to support and advocate for people enslaved by traffickers?
I’d have to say what draws me to be involved is a spiritual thing really. I believe in the universal connection of all living things. I feel that what happens to one of us happens to all of us. I started to read more stories from trafficked survivors as well as interviews and realized I had to stand up and do something.
What does your work involve?
I’ve made a point of learning all I could and have started public speaking about it. I attended a conference in DC to learn more and to see how I could do my part. Basically, I’m a talker and activist and will talk to anyone who’s willing to listen.
What legal improvements or changes would help to abolish human trafficking?
I think that universal laws are what’s necessary to combat the problem. I also feel that in the United State where I live the government needs to reevaluate prostitution laws as well as have federal laws in place to deal with trafficking instead of individual state laws. Sadly, there is a great lack of knowledge and training here about human trafficking.
For anyone else who wants to be involved, what can other people do to help?
I feel that others can help by learning all they can and stop living in denial. People need to openly speak out and demand that government take a tougher stand on those who oppress others. I feel that more money needs to go into campaigns to spread awareness worldwide. More television ads, billboards, magazine ads etc. I feel that mainstream media refuses to address the problem because it’s so horrific that people would change the channel or not buy their papers, magazines etc. rather than see a reality they can’t deal with and I think that needs to change.
What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to educate myself and be a voice for those who have none. I stay current on the Justice Departments website as well as research each state’s laws governing trafficking. I read the stats and cases by states and regions where I am.
I also plan to keep public speaking and making people aware of the companies and corporations that have forced labor. I will also keep telling people about things like Backpage.com where human beings are sold for sex. I found one of the most powerful statements I’ve been able to make to get others involved is to give them the stats on human slavery here in the United States. There are more people trapped in slavery here now in a one-year time frame than in the entire history of 350 years of the slave trade from Africa. I’ve found that that’s a statement that completely shocks people. I tell them to type in ‘human trafficking’ into their search engines and prepare to be overwhelmed. Many have done so and then come back to me with feedback. I truly think that the most important thing anyone can do in this fight is to be that voice. No man, woman, or child should be forced into any type of slavery. Man should not own man.
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