“Three cases were identified as being possible sex trafficking cases, and one homeless teen was transported back to the command post after it was discovered that he had not had anything to eat in three days. He was then debriefed and turned over to Child Protective Services for aftercare,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in its release.
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He is accused of advertising the girls online on websites known to be used by traffickers and pimps. Investigators found several ads online allegedly placed by him for one of the women. They also recovered hotel receipts and T-Mobile records from Dallas and Fort Worth that correspond with the dates and locations documented on the ads.
“The average age for victims entering the human trafficking lifestyle is 14-16 years old,” said Elizabeth Goatley, Ph.D., assistant professor in Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, who studies trafficking. “Each year, there are 30,000 to 40,000 children at risk for trafficking recruitment. Some common places for recruitment are schools, bus stations, homeless shelters, malls and on the Internet.”
The Polaris Project, a national statistical housing project on human trafficking, shows that, in 2014, there were 5,042 cases reported in the United States – 3,598 (71 percent) were sex trafficking, 818 (16 percent) were labor trafficking, 454 (9 percent) were non-specified trafficking and 172 (4 percent) were a combination of sex and labor trafficking.
Over one million children in the world are trafficked for sex each year, in an industry worth $39 billion annually. It happens everywhere, and the U.S. is no exception. A cross-country sting by the FBI in October 2016 yielded 82 rescues and 239 arrests nationwide. In the Atlanta area alone, sex trafficking contributes $290 million to the illegal sex industry each year.
Violence rules life as a trafficking victim. Victims are beaten and abused, branded, starved. In order for the traffickers to operate covertly, victims are often shuffled from city to city under cover of night. Many victims become addicted to drugs and alcohol while in captivity. Those who are able to survive life as a sex slave face a long and challenging restorative process that includes intensive medical and psychological care.
Pimps and traffickers brainwash their victims by systematically controlling and dominating them, convincing the victim that the pimp cares for them, provides for them, keeps the victim secure. The victim grows to believe they can trust their captor and that they are powerless to remove herself from the situation. Traffickers routinely threaten the victims with death if they escape.
If a victim of child sex trafficking is able to escape their captor(s), they will likely need plenty of help transitioning back into regular life. Their social apparatus has been rewired by the trafficker(s) and the child’s ability to trust has eroded. Their body has been ravaged by the demands of life as a sex slave. They have likely been pregnant or has endured necessary abortions to continue their work, and they carry with them each day the reminders of their former life—most victims are tattooed or branded like cattle by their captor(s).
The restorative process is lengthy and difficult, but not impossible. Many victims of child sex trafficking are often healed and become productive members of society, able to love and contribute to the well-being of others. Restoration takes time and effort, and requires knowledge of the psychology of victims of child sex trafficking.
Once rescued, survivors need proper shelter and security from their former captor(s). Survivors require immediate intensive medical and mental health treatment. If the survivor is addicted, medical providers will work to help the victim detoxify in a healthy manner. If she is pregnant, doctors will perform tests of both the mother and fetus for injury and disease. Every survivor requires a unique package of care from clinical professionals and security to (eventually) provide the survivor with peace of mind.
*For the safety and privacy of the clients of Justice61, and in accordance to HIPPA regulations, we do not share any identifying information. Clients, past, present & future, of Justice61 will never be asked to share their story, as it is not a requirement for them to receive assistance. Sharing their story or parts of their story is their choice and will be done so, in a manner in which they direct. This information and images associated, have been written and shared exactly as directed by a client.
The Justice61 therapeutic model: Every moment is a therapeutic moment. Therapeutically oriented actions throughout the day are key.
Those caught in sex trafficking can feel like they have no choice. Justice61 always strives to empower clients to know and believe they have a choice. A choice is humane. A choice means they have free-will and can change their life if they want. Those caught up in sex-trafficking can believe they have no alternative. Caught in the cycle of pleasing and staying loyal to their captors, it’s hard to individuate and believe “My life is my own, I have choices and can make a different life for myself. I am worthy of making a different life for myself”.
Most of the decisions to change originate in a core belief that “I have value and I matter”. It makes the most sense that we would attack this belief system straight on. This belief system is changed through repetitive experiences of true unconditional acceptance and positive regard. This means we, as a clinical team, demonstrate you are valuable, worthy, and accepted despite what you do.
Like Justice61, if you work with those caught up in sex trafficking, it is important to remember the following:
- Everyone is unique and heals differently. Respect multiple coping styles, empowerment and establishment of choice is essential.
- Just because someone isn’t speaking doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating. Do not force the survivor to talk about it. Survivors who choose not to talk about trauma can be just as healthy as those who do.
- Timing is different for everyone. Some people may wait years to speak about trauma. Reasons might include fear of being labeled a victim or a past experience of being blamed.
- 30 days isn’t long enough – Healing takes time. Avoid saying that a trauma survivor should just “let it go” and move on. Understand that your relationship with them is valuable to their healing. The relationship may have challenges and moments of strength, but it is normal for the relationship to adjust as the survivor is healing, feeling more empowered, and rebuilding trust.
- Clients within Justice61 are empowered to make every choice that impacts them. Through practicing supportive interaction techniques, and asking open-ended questions. Strive to be nonjudgmental. Point out the person’s strengths. Try not to minimize. Allow for silence. Reflect the emotion being described (“It sounds like…”, “No wonder you feel…”). Join in enjoyable activities to help establish a normal routine.
Justice61is a non-profit organization that aids in the rescue and restoration of children aged 13-23 caught in sex trafficking in Colorado and surrounding states. We are a critical resource for federal and local law enforcement in both rescue and restoration. We also work to inform the public that sex trafficking exists in nearly every community across the U.S., and what we do to combat it.
Justice61 is a resource that relies on people, like YOU to become a Justice Rebel. Without YOU, freedom isn’t possible. Become a Justice Rebel today!
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This is just the beginning! To expand our services, Justice61 is building Rebel Oaks to assist in the shortage of adequate housing, quality medical care and behavioral health services and educational assistance. Rebel Oaks is not a permanent placement for these children, rather a safe, secure, restful and hope filled stop during their childhood journey.
They came into our care and needed everything. They needed clean clothes, food, a quality vehicle, job skills and hope. They needed to stay together, they were family. They were stressed and anxious about all the things they didn’t have. With a strategic approach, we were able to provide what they needed, and what they wanted. They have been able to stay together, they are in school, they are thriving at work and they have peace.
This month alone, your generosity has provided specific and specialized behavioral health care for clients needing unique services, brand new clothing, and legal assistance. Your generosity has changed lives of the most vulnerable and that is powerful! However, that’s not all! You have also provided the much-needed resources to fund operational and administrative expenses which cannot be overlooked. Thank you!