How did you become involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?
I’ve been on Facebook for quite some time but in the beginning, it was mostly to play games. I didn’t see anything else that interested me at the time. Then my daughter was abused by her now ex-husband. She somehow stumbled upon a Facebook page called The Sisterhood. I noticed on that page many hurting women who’d been battered and abused. My daughter’s story was on their discussion page. God, it hurt me to the bone of how he truly hurt her, and how my granddaughter was the witness of it all. That’s when my daughter knew she had to leave and she did. She was so brave. So, I would go in there once in a while to help console some of them and give them little words of wisdom I’ve learned in my years of life. The creator of The Sisterhood page realized what I was doing and asked me to be a guest administrator for the page for a month. Since then, I’ve become a part of the group of people that have developed that page, which is actually an outreach to Machspeed, Inc., an organization where they go out and rescue those from domestic violence and find them a safe haven to stay until they can get themselves together.
About that time, Facebook started to change their format as far as the groups were concerned. I didn’t even know they had groups until then. Tammy Joeckel, the founder of Machspeed, started a group for the administrators of The Sisterhood page so we could share issues we thought we had with either rescues or those on the Sisterhood page. Then all of a sudden, it seemed I was being added to other domestic abuse groups. I also looked for other groups myself, like Al-anon, etc. Then I found the Silver Braid Sisters group and met Yvonne Williams. Silver Braid is a support group for those who’ve been sexually abused, domestically abused, and those coming from commercial sexual trafficking. At one point, there was someone asking for all of us to do our part to combat trafficking. Little did I know what I was signing up for. Yvonne Williams starts up the Trafficking in America Task Force group and this became the training ground for me about trafficking.
What draws you to support people who are trafficked and sexually exploited?
I have to admit, I was just as naive as others and thought trafficking was only in third world countries. Learning more about it, I learned that I too was trafficked. First, on my sixteenth birthday, my father sold me to his best friend. I was so scared. You see, I was quite promiscuous in my teens already, stemming from the sexual abuse I endured during my childhood and not knowing what real love is. Then, as I learned more, I realized I was also trafficked when I was seeking extra income because of a college loan that my ex took out while we were married and I co-signed for it. Little did I know that trying to find a job dancing would lead me into trafficking. Again, it was my dad who referred me to a so-called talent agent; in the end, he was my pimp. I ended up quitting my full time job because of the demand he had on me. I was still naive enough not to know this was trafficking. I just knew I had to get out and I did by the grace of God.
Being through the demand and fear of the pimp, I can understand just partly what they are going through and I know they have to come out safely.
What does your work involve?
Right now, most of what I’m doing is advocating for those who are trafficked, until we can get OKKids Corral open to serve the rescues of sex trafficking in the Greater Milwaukee/Waukesha, Wisconsin area. At the moment, I do taxes with H&R Block during the tax season. I’m an Enrolled Agent and Master Tax Advisor. I’m the one that everyone comes to ask questions about taxes. When I’m not doing that, I’m advocating as much as I can.
What legal improvements or changes would help to abolish human trafficking and sexual exploitation?
I would love to see the Safe Harbor Law put in place across the country in every state and if possible around the world. Another law that has passed already in four states, and is being considered in a fifth, is Erin’s Law, created by Erin Merryn. It’s a law that will empower our children to have a voice against abusers who try to sexually abuse them. Like she says, we give our children lessons on fire drills, stranger danger, and other alerts, now with the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, also shooting drills, but we say nothing about sexual abuse. We never tell them what is good touch or what is bad touch. Erin Merryn is Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year 2012 because of this law. She’s an awesome woman. With this law, I believe we can find out who abusers are faster than we ever have before. Paedophiles will not be able to get away with what they have been doing to our children; many are within our own families. Those that we trust are the ones we need to keep our eyes on.
For anyone else who wants to be involved, what can other people do to help?
Learn what trafficking really is. Too many try to help without knowing what they are getting into. By learning more, they may be able to see just where their talents can help bring an end to this evil crime. Read up on it, and most of all, contact their congressional representatives and state legislators to get the laws needed to stop this crime.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m diligently working on trying to open OKKids Corral as a safe house for the rescues from the Milwaukee/Waukesha area here in Wisconsin. We are in need of prayer from everyone as this is a major task God has brought to us. Thank God, I’ve already done the 501(c)3 status with the Internal Revenue Service, so we can work on getting the funds needed to help us bring OKKids Corral to life. Hopefully, we will be starting fundraising soon to get the necessary plans in place – I hope to have it open, or near open, by the end of the year. If anyone would like to contribute, they’re welcome to help. Right now, we don’t have a website to accept donations, but this is one of the first things I want to work on. For the moment, people can send donations to: OKKids Corral, 1526 Big Bend Rd, Apt. 106, Waukesha, WI 53189.
Recommended websites/further reading:
OKKids Corral Facebook page
US Department of Homeland Security – Human Trafficking Awareness Training