What inspired you to support the movement against child sexual slavery and exploitation?
I have been working in this field since I was a young volunteer myself, for over 25 years. I have been an advocate for at risk populations over my lifetime and became passionate about the subject of human trafficking when I first assisted a victim. I studied social sciences in Manhattan at the New School University and became well-versed in cross cultural human rights issues. My studies at the New School University opened the doors for studies in comparative religions and anthropology and tribal studies. My work, studies and volunteer efforts kept me drawn to human rights and human trafficking issues.
How did you go about setting up your non-profit organisation?
I analysed as many programs as I could and worked with professionals in the legal and other fields to design a holistic model that filled in the gaps.
What are the aims of your organisation and what is the plan to achieve them?
Our organization aims to provide legal representation to victims of trafficking, paired with life coaching by certified life coaches from the accredited life-coaching program that is designed to give legal privilege protection to the victims. In addition, our organization is designed to assure that the victims are not denied of their amendment rights to an attorney and are not interviewed by prosecutors without legal representation or given legal advice by advocates, innocently, who are unlicensed to practice law and then can be subpoenaed to testify against the victims in court which would retraumatize the victims.
Can you describe what your day-to-day role involves?
I design trainings for other trainers worldwide, I present and speak internationally and domestically, I am an expert witness on trafficking cases, I am a case manager on matters, and at our Outreach Center, I monitor the cases, safety needs, lifestyle needs and psychological and medical attention provided to the victims. I work directly with law enforcement, federally and domestically to assure that the services are provided timely and that victims are appropriately served within the legal community by having pro bono attorneys and certified life coaches to protect and assist them.
We have a fantastic team of trained attorneys, psychologists, doctors, certified coaches, forensic accountants, volunteers and interns, all who go through a background check before working with victims. We are a team and collaborate worldwide with other professionals. B.E.S.T. is renowned for training attorneys in this field and has the most trained attorneys ready to provide pro bono legal representation in the field of human trafficking.
What training or experience did you already have that enabled you to start your non-profit organisation?
I have an MBA, CPA and LL.M. and a Degree in Psychology and have taught at risk students in the New York public system; I have also completed graduate work in Learning Disabilities and have attended many seminars and workshops in the area of trafficking. I sit on the boards of many non-profits and have acted as their strategic planning advisor.
What have you learned on the job or in training that has been particularly useful to you when working to rescue victims of child sex slavery and exploitation?
Never make promises that you can’t keep. Never provide legal advice if you are not an attorney as the consequences to the victims can be horrific. Psychological assistance should be given by licensed professionals to avoid the adoption of potentially accepted transference of survivor psychosis from one victim to another survivor. Licensed professionals are crucial at the earliest possible instance. Always stay within your licensed boundaries and always use licensed professionals as early as possible. Legal privilege is crucial to protect the victims. The way to get the trafficker is with expert testimony and solid, accountable evidence. Avoiding re-traumatizing the victim is essential. Life coaching is crucial to assist with the going forward goals of the victims.
What legal improvements or changes would help to abolish child sexual slavery and exploitation?
Safe harbour laws should not be passed prematurely just to get in on the mania. They should be thought through and worked out universally. Lawyers should be provided instantaneously to protect the victims from any crimes they may be charged with and before speaking to prosecutors.
Mandatory school programs that are mentoring oriented. B.E.S.T. Global Prevention Club is in place and is an action-based program that teaches and mentors on anti-trafficking awareness and bullying and gang infiltration. The program begins with pre-schoolers and goes through graduate and law schools. It is available to be implemented worldwide.
Do these same improvements and changes apply to abolishing the human trafficking and sexual slavery of adults or should different measures be taken instead of, or in addition, to those?
Yes. But assessment is necessary to see when and how adults were brought into the trafficking culture. That is why it is crucial that attorneys are at the forefront before any questioning or advice begins.
For anyone else who wants to be involved, what can other people do to help?
Become educated in the area of awareness by taking as many courses as possible and not limiting your training to one model. Try to find a model that works for you and volunteer with the organization. Learn from them all. Please remember to keep safety as a priority—for yourself as an advocate and for the victims of human trafficking.
Recommended websites/books/films/further reading:
Also, B.E.S.T. is the consultants to the TV series The Life, and we recommend it.