A Note from Our Executive Director, Jarrett Luckett
In Southeastern Wisconsin, news stories of creepy guys asking odd and invasive questions to women and kids have been in the news and on social media a lot more lately, along with stories of attempted abductions. Thankfully in most of the situations, no one was harmed. These articles have been portrayed as possible attempts to abduct someone for human trafficking. Yes, abductions happen for multiple reasons, including human trafficking. However, in Southeast Wisconsin and throughout the United States, abduction isn’t the common way that someone is forced into selling their body.
Individuals are typically forced into selling their body by someone that they know. I know it is hard to believe but it’s true. A woman or young girl is often pursed by someone within their family or someone they may enter into a romantic relationship or friendship with. In this relationship, the perpetrator works to gain trust and find vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities can include lack of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter), the need to make more money, lack of love, lack of a father’s love and engagement in their life, insecurities, promised a job, and the list goes on.
While the recent stories of attempted abductions and creepy guys asking weird and invasive questions is alarming, it is important to not miss out on how human trafficking victims are usually groomed and tricked. I have taught personal defense classes for over 4 years to thousands of people, so please be aware and stay vigilant however, don’t let what is shocking cause for us to miss out on the subtle tactics most traffickers use.
For more information:
Psychology Today - Human Trafficking: Psychology of Recruitment
This event has closed
Date: Thursday, January 12th at 7:30am
Host: Milwaukee Global Shapers and Exploit No More
Join the Milwaukee Global Shapers, Exploit No More, and experts from around the country to discuss global human trafficking and efforts to help bring freedom to victims.
Note: This event has past but you can still watch the chat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqNQvJsLwow
Shared Hope International
Nancy has long been active in the movement against sex trafficking and has worked alongside Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, since 2002.
Nancy’s diverse responsibilities include speaking, writing, training, donor interactions, restorative shelter initiatives, and partner relationships. Since 2008, she has been a member of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force Victim Services Committee. She served as chair of the task force’s Legislative Committee in 2012 and 2013 and received the Governor’s Service Award for Volunteerism in 2013 for her leadership in that role. Nancy received her Masters in Social Work in December 2014.
Find out more about Shared Hope International’s work go to: Shared Hope
Mending the Soul
Rebekah has a great passion for working with women who have been sexually exploited, abused and traumatized. She holds her master’s degree in professional counseling and currently works as a clinician for Western Psychological & Counseling Center in Tigard, OR. Prior to moving to Portland, Rebekah was part of a private practice, Journey’s Counseling Center, in Tempe, AZ and a part time therapist for Calvary Addiction Recovery in central Phoenix.
Rebekah enjoys mentoring survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and leads professional Mending the Soul groups. Rebekah has been involved with Mending the Soul for many years as a participant, trainee, trainer, facilitator and mentor of women who have experienced all forms of abuse, trauma and commercial sexual exploitation.
Rebekah loves sharing how God has redeemed the pain in her own life to encourage others as they begin their healing journey. Rebekah and her husband, Michael currently live in Portland, OR. They have three beautiful and energetic children and love spending time together as a family.
For more info on Mending the Soul go to: Mending the Soul
Treasured Vessels Foundation
Alicia Bush is a native Texan, born and raised in Texarkana. From there she traveled to University of North Texas and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Biology/Chemistry. Having considered medical school, Alicia had a leaning for the healing arts. Thus, she positioned herself in surgical device sales. This placed her in the operating room every day. She distinguished herself from her peers by her profound caring for each individual patient’s best care. It was this characteristic that gained the trust and respect of surgeons across north Texas. And thus she rose to be a top ten salesperson nationwide year after year.
Alicia was always able to compartmentalize her professional and personal life. In her personal life he became the wife of a successful custom home builder, mother of three, and dedicated leader in her church. When the demands of these roles increased, she was unequivocal in making the decision to resign her sales position in 2014. With time to homeschool her children and expand her role as a worship leader, she also listened intently to a calling placed on her heart. Out of this was founded Treasured Vessels Foundation, a 501(c)3 not for profit corporation.
The mission of Treasured Vessels is to build residential treatment facilities for underage girls rescued from sex trafficking. The mission statement is: TVF is devoted to providing a safe place for healing and growth. We have a passion for restoring purpose and value to the perfectly imperfect.
Sex trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the USA. Texas is a hub with Dallas and Houston being among the most actively involved cities. On any given night, 400 under-aged girls will be sold for sex in Dallas. Their age ranges from 11 to 13 when they are stolen or coerced into “The Life”. They are subjected to a programmed degradation of mind, body, and spirit until they willingly obey. Once trapped in “The Life”, their life expectancy is 11 years. If lucky enough to be rescued, they will need 18 to 36 months of residential treatment. But for most…. there is nowhere to go…. except back to “The Life”. Treasured Vessels will change this, and Alicia Bush is leading the effort.
For more information on Treasured Vessels Foundation go to: Treasured Vessels Foundation
More About Global Shapers
The Global Shapers Community is a network of Hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements, and their drive to make a contribution to their communities. As an initiative of the World Economic Forum, with over 400 hubs globally, Shapers are improving the state of the world. For more information go to, https://www.globalshapers.org/
Written by: Katie Linn | Previous Executive Director of Exploit No More
The more knowledge that is uncovered about domestic minor sex trafficking, the more people question how we can prevent these young girls from being victimized and trafficked in the first place. While some at-risk youth may already have knowledge of trafficking, as they may have seen it happen to their family or friends, others have never heard of sex trafficking. Therefore, it is crucial to build relationships with youth – and specifically girls – in order to build confidence and self-esteem, as well as to share about the issue that we face in our own cities and communities. Youth prevention work is a key component to the fight against sex trafficking.
A multi-week youth prevention program typically takes place within a small group of at-risk girls ages 12 to 18 years old. While individual youth prevention programs and topics can be created and discussed, there are nationally recognized programs, including My Life My Choice, in which the curriculum and information is provided and tested, proven to increase knowledge and reduce the chances of exploitation. These curriculum's are most often used to reach girls who are already at a higher risk of sexual exploitation or who have already experienced exploitation. Higher risk factors of exploitation include those who have experienced previous abuse and neglect, who come from families filled with violence and addiction, or those who live in known areas targeted by pimps.
Youth prevention programs can last for various amount of times, however smaller groups typically last a number of weeks in order to relay further information and to form relationships among the girls and leaders. For at-risk youth, it is important that through the program there is a change in the attitudes toward commercial sexual exploitation and prostitution, a greater knowledge of the realities of pimps and trafficking, and an empowerment of skills to identify and resist recruitment or to receive resources to exit the life if they are already in it.
While some youth prevention presentations can be done by those without specific training, more specified curriculums are run by a licensed clinician or a service provider with training in leading groups. Often times, there are also survivors of trafficking involved within the group, sharing their own personal story and providing a safe place for girls to open up about their own experiences while recognizing that they do not need to be ashamed of their victimization.
Some of the topics that are covered within a course include understanding and recognizing recruitment tactics, reducing the risk of exploitation, recognizing the link between substance abuse and exploitation, developing self esteem, hearing stories from survivors, and finding help if a girl has already been victimized or exploited.
Written by: Katie Linn | Previous Executive Director of Exploit No More
One of the most frequent questions that people have after learning about sex trafficking worldwide and locally is “What can I do?”. For those who are not actively involved on the ‘front lines’ in justice and aftercare, there can often feel as if small efforts may be inadequate in the fight. However, raising awareness within our communities, fighting for survivor-centered advocacy, and raising funds to support organizations providing aftercare are deeply important actions that anyone can take in order to fight trafficking.
There have been many people who have become passionate about ending trafficking that began with the same question. Upon some thought and soul searching, they realized that they can use their gifts and talents in order to make a different right where they are. Two teenagers in particular stand out in their efforts to raise awareness of the issue and to help financially support organizations.
The Rescue Run
In June 2015, a recent high school graduate, Hannah Redders, put upon herself the challenge to run across the state of Wisconsin in order to raise awareness about sex trafficking within our state and to raise funds for Exploit No More’s aftercare residential program. As she ran for 10 days from Superior to Milwaukee, Hannah had the support of family and friends who joined her for sections of her trek, running at least 20 miles per day. In addition to those who physically supported and encouraged her along the way, financial sponsorships and donations poured in, raising nearly $20,000 in order to provide aftercare for Wisconsin’s trafficking survivors.
Loose Change to Loosen Chains
In 2003, a twelve year old boy named Zach Hunter first learned about modern day slavery around the world. Through his anger about the issue and his passion to help, he started Loose Change to Loosen Chains. While raising awareness and sharing stories of people who were entrapped in slavery, he collected any loose change that people had in their pockets, purses, or wallets to donate to abolitionist organizations such as Free the Slaves and International Justice Mission. His method of raising awareness and collecting change in little yellow cups spread, with students all throughout the country raising money to help end slavery.
Today, more than a decade later, Zach still speaks and writes about slavery, having written books including Be the Change: Your Guide to Freeing Slaves and Changing the World, Generation Change: Roll up your Sleeves and Change the World, and Lose your Cool: Discovering a Passion that Changes You and the World.
Even just the smallest steps can make a large difference in your community to fight trafficking. While knowledge about trafficking is become more wide-spread, there are still many people who do not know that sex trafficking happens within their own neighborhood. Just by having a simple conversation, by throwing a party where you share about the issue, or by hosting a movie showing or a book club, a great deal of effort is being put forth in assisting in the fight.
Written by: Katie Linn | Previous Executive Director of Exploit No More
Conversations about sex trafficking – whether they be a few minutes or a few hours presentation – often leave people with a sense of hopelessness and despair. With so much information to absorb, it can be difficult to move past the darkness to see the hope and light for survivors of trafficking. Women and men who are recovered and escape from the life have a long journey of healing and restoration that will continue long into their lives. However as many walk the path to becoming healthy again, they find that their passions now lie with helping others who have been victimized and exploited. Their stories provide the hope, light, and inspiration that is needed in order to see how these incredible women are being restored.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and for this month, we will be highlighting a few of the stories of hope from survivors around the United States. These profiles are of well-known survivors who are working in the United States to support victims and survivors in their own cities and nation-wide. Please check out their organizations and ministries to learn more about how they work daily to end human trafficking.
A survivor of sexual, physical, and mental abuse, as well as of sex trafficking, Brenda Myers-Powell founded the Dreamcatcher Foundation, an organization working to bring education, empowerment, and active prevention to young at-risk girls in the city of Chicago.
Brenda fell victim to trafficking after running away from an abusive home at the age of 14. After 25 years in the life, Brenda now uses her experiences to mentor and relate to girls in similar situations as her own. The Dreamcatcher Foundation provides services including healing and recovery groups; physical, emotional, and psychological health services; personal development; and educational services.
Brenda was recently featured in Dreamcatcher, a documentary that focuses on prostitution and sex trafficking in Chicago and the work that The Dreamcatcher Foundation is doing to prevent exploitation and support victims.
Brenda Myers-Powell is just one of hundreds of survivor advocates working to use her own experiences in order to help others in their healing journey. Exploit No More has been blessed to have a number of survivors in the Milwaukee community who share this same desire. While the healing journey continues, our survivor advocates and volunteers have reached the point in their journey that they have a passion to help other girls and women who have been victimized and exploited. Without survivor-led mentorship and leadership in the fight to end sex trafficking, organizations are at a huge disadvantage and leave the survivors they are attempting to help at a loss. Survivors who have a passion to help others who were victimized provide a space for understanding, vulnerability in sharing stories, and healing.