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From Pimpin’ to Prison

By Karen Hoover, Fall Intern

Shelby’s Sentence

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan

Shelby Shaandor Lewis, born April 4, 1967, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for prostitution and human trafficking during an intensive sentencing hearing with Judge Sullivan in DC Federal District Court yesterday. Lewis’ family, children, and two out of four of his victims were present, along with numerous other individuals. Lewis’ attorney, Christopher Davis, began his opening statements by asking for the judge to sentence Lewis on the ‘low-end’ of the sentencing guidelines, therefore asking for 180 months (15 years) instead of the recommended and suggested 200 months (20 years). Davis argued that Lewis “stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility to this issue.” Davis introduced previous cases (relating to different charges not including human trafficking or prostitution) for “equally egregious conduct” where defendants received only 96, 100, and 110 months. Furthermore, he tried to convince Judge Sullivan that Lewis would be “well into his 50s” before he would get out of prison. This, he assured us, would cause Lewis to change his behavior and leave this lifestyle of prostituting minors for commercial purposes. Davis also tried to minimize Lewis’ over 25 previous arrests for charges such as battery, assault, theft, solicitation for lewd purposes, impersonating a police officer, and use of handguns.

 

The hearing then took a spin when Lewis began saying he was sorry for his actions and for the situation he got himself and his family into. He said he was trying to “help” the girls he victimized, take them under his wing, provide for them, and be a father figure. Judge Sullivan jumped on these statements and immediately confronted Lewis. “You weren’t helping anyone out. You were gaining money from using those young girls and helping yourself.”

Life sentence for a victim

Bridgette Tillman, Assistant U.S. Attorney, read from a victim impact statement written by one of the young girls. When asked how the victim felt about herself she answered “angry, embarrassed, and self-pity.” When asked what the pimp (Lewis) should know about her, she said that the experience and abuse made her “angry and stronger.” Tillman went on to say that Lewis took advantage of the unsettled lives of these girls and promised them a home life, food, clothes, and shelter. Instead he put them on the street and made them work for him while he drove the streets looking for more vulnerable girls. Tillman argued that it made no sense for Lewis to serve only a 15 year sentence when these victims would be living a life sentence of shame, hurt, and pain, never able to get the years of life back that he violated them.

A helping pimp?

Is 20 years enough time for Lewis to reform?

Judge Sullivan offered Lewis time to reconcile himself and say what he wished in regards to the hearing. Lewis again tried to convince the judge and audience that he was helping these girls and “never used or abused” any of them despite when the written plea clearly stated that he was an appointed guardian over four minors ages 12, 13, 14, and 16, of whom he prostituted. Each of these girls was living in his house alongside his own children. He transported them in his black, Ford Mustang and champagne, Chevy Tahoe between Temple Hills, M.D. and Washington, D.C., where he forced them to engage in street prostitution. They were required to give him all the money they earned.

After Lewis alleged that he never used or abused the victims, Judge Sullivan inquired whether Lewis pled guilty because he was guilty or rather to get the trial over with. Judge Sullivan appeared slightly confused and asked Davis and Lewis whether the plea of guilty still stood or whether Lewis was suddenly changing his mind and wanting to plead not guilty. Lewis declined answering some questions and instead motioned for the hearing to continue with the plea agreement of guilty.

20 years enough?

Judge Sullivan handed down a sentence of 200 months (20 years) to be served concurrently in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  He signed the sentence after Lewis voluntarily waived his right to attend his upcoming restitution hearing scheduled for December 16, 2010. In addition to the 20 years, Lewis must provide a DNA specimen for the sex offender registry, which he is required to register for life. He is to have no contact with children under age 18 (including his own children) or with the victims. Lewis must also attend sex offender treatment and abide to corresponding employment restrictions.

Lewis’ last words before leaving the courtroom were “I’m ready to go.” He appeared distressed, shook his head, and took his wedding band off. Judge Sullivan concluded his statements by telling Lewis that if he could make the sentence consecutive he would do so, extending the sentence of 20 years to 80 years.

Court discernment

During the sentencing the atmosphere was tense as the audience wondered whose arguments would carry more weight in influencing the judge’s decision. Occasionally the victims got up and left the courtroom; one girl left crying, overwhelmed by the situation. Some news repor

ters took opportunities to interview others present in the courtroom. By the end of the sentencing, the audience seemed to be in a damper mood, recognizing the consequences imposed on Lewis. However, most of the audience seemed pleased with Judge Sullivan’s decision, perhaps even wishing that he could have sentenced Lewis consecutively.

A pimp’s consequences

Lewis' case will set a precedent for future sex trafficking cases

This case is monumental in fighting against human trafficking specifically in the United States. Judge Sullivan did a great job sentencing Lewis, as well as being true to the law. Those in attendance saw the concerned side of Sullivan when he encouraged the family to have Lewis’ four-year-old son leave the courtroom, stating due to the nature of the case it would be unwise for the boy to be present. In the end, is it fair that Lewis only received 20 years due to the type of plea agreement when in fact these four victims—all of whom were minors at the time of the offenses—will live with these memories for the rest of their lives? Is it true that Lewis will mellow and get away from this behavior once he is in his 50s and out of prison? The case and sentence provide ample deterrence factors to other pimps. Lewis will not only spend the next 20 years locked away, he will also potentially lose relationships with his children and family.

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“We doin’ big pimpin, spending G’s…”: Why is this Crime Glamorized?

A blog post by Fall intern Rachel Moore

Disclaimer: The examples and references given in this post in no way suggest that Shared Hope is promoting the below types of memorabilia. We understand curiosity and investigating on behalf of interest; however, we do not recommend the purchase of such items, which could in turn endorse the commercial sex industry.

Jay-Z's album cover

Jay-Z’s catchy hit from 2000, hasn’t lost any novelty during its ten year run in the music industry. It even costs $1.29 on iTunes—the price reserved for only the most popular songs within the virtual-jukebox—instead of the standard $.99. In a culture where pimps are idealized as wearing bright orange top-hats, luxurious furs and sporting fancy canes, who wouldn’t want to be “doin’ big pimpin’ up in NYC”? I offer two basic reasons why becoming a pimp can be so appealing in 2010, but please remember, my rudimentary analysis is by no means exhaustive. I simply suggest that the promise of being cool and making lots of money can be a deadly combination that has created an enticing outlet for the up-and-coming commercial sex entrepreneur.

It’s bad (that means good)!
The pimp culture doesn’t achieve all of its glorification just from Hip-Hop charts in the music world; the message is pervasive. From books to movies and video games, there is a never-ending list of media promoting the “ghetto-fab” lifestyle. Just ask Border’s bookstore sales representative Margaret Rhatican about her experiences working in a place where you are sure to find the story of  A Pimp’s Life within a series of books about “working the streets.” Just in case one needs a little extra guidance, Amazon offers The Pimp Game: Instructional Guide for pimps in training. In the world of cinema, movies like Pimp (2010) and American Pimp (2000) have received rave reviews on IMDd (the Internet Movie Database), and video games like Grand Theft Auto, which allows gamers to virtually beat prostitutes, are top-ranked editors’ picks.

Classic depiction of a pimp

The word pimp in today’s vernacular has come to denote the improvement of just about anything. The growing world of social networks has been enhanced by a plethora of Websites dedicated to the simple pimping of one’s profile on MySpace.  The hit MTV show “Pimp My Ride” is often thought of in this context, because who doesn’t want their car equipped with the ability to act as an amphitheater and circus-ride simultaneously? Pimping or to be pimped is merely the process of making something bigger, better, and brighter in our daily jargon. What’s wrong with that? You can even pimp your name on playerappreciate.com. I always thought Rachel was a little boring and needed some spice so I gave it a try. Ghetto Fabulous Rachel Shizzle, Master Fly Moore Loco, Crazy Eyes Rachel Flex, and Vicious D. R. Dogg were just a few of the names I found most interesting. It may seem harmless and exciting to take advantage of these flashy “improvements,” but when pimping is  indicated by ridiculousness or flamboyance, it is very easy to forget the darker realities associated with the true connotations of this term.

You make bank (lots of G’s)!

Seattle-area pimp Jerome Todd

A pimp is not only a member of the “awesome-elite,” he’s rolling in the dough. It’s the most secure job in an un-secure economy. It’s “recession proof,” says Linda Smith in her book Renting Lacy, because “commercial sex turns out to be one of the few U.S. products produced cheaply.” Why would someone import from elsewhere what they can find right in their own backyard?  The product is even more profitable when it can be recycled. In the recent Congressional DMST Hearing, Rep. Carolyn Maloney said it best when she described trafficking humans as heinously convenient. People can be sold over and over and over again, unlike the commodities of the gun or drug trades, which are only one-time sales.

There is no denying that pimping is a lucrative business. This is arguably what makes a pimp so glamorous. “The money is too good. It will never stop. It’s like stopping people from eating. This game will never stop,” were the words of one of the ex-pimps interviewed by DePaul University researcher Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers, Chief Operating Officer of The Dreamcatcher Foundation,  in their study, “From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 Ex-Pimps in Chicago“. Their research estimated that the yearly income for pimps is roughly $150,000-$500,000 a year. That’s just chump change right? Tell that to the trafficker who was making $40,000 a week selling women to satisfy the demands of the gluttonous consumers of sex. Money—the root of all evil according to 1 Timothy 6:10—continues to fuel the fire of this ever-growing market, and doesn’t everyone want to be a millionaire?.

Make it whack! (that means not right)

Rasheed Davis, charged with sex trafficking

What can be done to take the glitter and glamor out of the pimp-life? Change the vernacular. Searching the words trafficker, rapist, or abuser does not elicit the same Google images of fur, hats, and fancy canes as the pimp search, but instead, reveals truer depictions of the atrocity associated with each term. This necessary shift will take time and a complete transformation in society’s ingrained perceptions.  Would a different approach that could act as a catalyst for such a change be more effective? Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher think it’s possible. They have started a trend focusing on positive reinforcement with the “Real Men Don’t Buy Sex” campaign. The Demi & Ashton Foundation (DNA) wishes to eradicate sex on the Internet in the hopes of rehabilitating the cyber-world to act as a weapon against sex trafficking.

Additionally, is it possible to formulate a pre-emptive strike? If so, education is key, and “by specifically educating and empowering young men, it is possible to decrease the number of people who patronize the commercial sex trade,” according to Allison Dunn Burque of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). That is why she created a curriculum that has the potential of “increasing the number of men who are allies in understanding and challenging the harms of commercial sexual exploitation.” Both the DNA and CAASE realize that society will not end the demand in this industry without the strong and crucial role of men who need to say, “Buying sex is wrong, and even more so, it destroys dignity.”

Make them pay (lots of G’s)
The unfortunate reality is pimps exist, and more often than not, they are not wearing ridiculous costumes, and they most certainly are not interested in upgrading your Toyota. It is also crucial to remember that this role is not restricted to men. A Florida woman was sentenced last week to 2 ½ years for trafficking young girls, and her male accomplice may face 20 years and a $250,000 fine (a mere fraction of their income). Also last week, a Massachusetts woman and her 18-year-old son plead guilty to inducing a child into prostitution. As I said, the “cool reputation” and assurance of wealth aren’t the only incentives in becoming the big pimp that Jay-Z advertises. Familial ties to the life, the history of abuse, and coercion can all be added or tangential factors that lead to one assuming the pimp role.

However, pimping today is attractive and immensely profitable. Many of the Facebook fans of Shared Hope recommend sentencing the sellers of domestic minor sex trafficking victims to a minimum of a life sentence. Is that sufficient? Would that create the necessary cultural shift needed to amend society’s perceptions? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know it couldn’t hurt. It would definitely be a step in the right direction, because no one should be “doin’ big pimpin’.”

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Get Ready, Chicago!

Shared Hope International is dedicated to the fight against domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Public awareness is critical in this battle to end the buying and selling of America’s youth for sex and sexual entertainment. Shared Hope strives to combat DMST by strengthening the community’s knowledge and awareness of the issue and by building momentum in specific locations , translating to support for local organizations working to rescue and restore victims of child sex trafficking.  We’ve been in Vegas, Washington D.C., Miami and Washington State with campaigns to educate the public and lobby for change. This summer, we’re bringing the movement to Chicago to spread the important message that Kids are NOT for Sale!

Cook County, IL, reports an estimated 25,000 women and girls are involved in prostitution annually in Chicago’s metropolitan area. Local law enforcement and child advocates have referred to Chicago as a “high intensity child prostitution area.” Studies have also shown that of a sample of girls involved in Chicago’s sex trade, 100% have experienced violence at the hands of their pimps and/or clients, such as rape, physical and psychological abuse. In 2008, DePaul University released an assessment of domestic sex trafficking in Chicago, citing that although victims expressed a desire to leave the commercial sex trade, they felt there was nowhere to go and no one to care for them. While metropolitan Chicago agencies, service providers and nongovernmental organizations have shown some success in combating trafficking through collaboration and other endeavors, the sex trade is still thriving in Chicago, and we need YOUR help to stop it!

From June 19-26, we will inundate the city with a jam-packed week of events including a press conference at Thompson Center, rallies aimed at every age group, a Truck Stop Campaign, and a youth rally featuring the efforts of local teens as they raise their voices for freedom through creative ideas, performances, and works of art. We will also host “One Night, One Voice”, a campus awareness initiative, asking local college students to stand up against injustice and plan a vigil, fundraiser or awareness event on their campus. Our week-long campaign will focus on informing Chicago’s leaders, professionals and the community, enabling them to share the facts of sex trafficking and inspire change within their own city.

Through a partnership with STOP-IT, we will also provide a training for the Chicago Police and VICE squad on how to properly identify and respond to child victims of trafficking. Additionally, Shared Hope is proud to collaborate with Tina Frundt, Founder and Executive Director of Courtney’s House, our partner in Washington, DC, to bring an essential street outreach training to Chicago. We recognize the importance of equipping service providers and volunteers with the knowledge to identify, engage and respond to trafficked youth on the street, who rarely have the freedom to access services themselves.

Are you in the Chicago area? Want to get involved and raise awareness in your community to stop child sex trafficking? Check out our website http://www.sharedhope.org/what/Chicago.asp for more information and ideas, including a FREE downloadable social media kit to help you END DEMAND in Chicago! Together, we can stop Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking!

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America’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’

“As long as one person is enslaved, we are all enslaved. As long as we continue to allow these young women to be criminalized, the message we’re putting out is that women and girls can be bought … It’s time that we bring the dirty little secret out into the open.”

-Demi Moore

The Rebecca Project for Human Rights and the Demi and Ashton (DNA) Foundation organized a Congressional briefing on the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Children on May 4, 2010. The meeting room at the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center was lively with Congressman, staffers, and various nongovernmental organizations, including Shared Hope International.  A panel led by three intrepid survivors of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and actress and advocate Demi Moore was moderated by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux.  The panelists spoke out about the sex trafficking of America’s youth. 

Listeners heard the harrowing stories of three young women, survivors, who are the voices of young victims everywhere. One told how she had been forced to engage in sex acts with up to 10 men per night, for as long as 10 hours, to bring back thousands of dollars for her pimp. The survivors also spoke of the stigma of being arrested and criminalized; one relating how she had “dated” police officers and other authority figures who were complicit in her abuse. The bravery these girls displayed as they shared their ordeals is a testimony to the importance of survivor leadership in the fight against trafficking. 

Demi Moore, together with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, started the Demi and Ashton (DNA) Foundation in January 2010 to bring attention to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Advocating for tougher prosecution for johns and pimps, and more leniency and support for youngsters coerced into prostitution, Moore said, “Demand for prostitution fuels sex trafficking. And I think clearly our system isn’t working.”

Francey Hakes, the Department of Justice’s national coordinator for child exploitation prevention highlighted how coordination is imperative when law enforcement comes into contact with young victims. Dr. Michael Shively, an expert on criminal victimization, visited the difficulties of sex as a modern packaged commodity, coupled with little or no prosecution of buyers leading to systemic failures when addressing this issue. When asked if there was a lack of political will to tackle this problem, his answer was an emphatic, “Yes!”

Legislators contributed to the discussion.  Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the original sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act who also has recently introduced anti-trafficking legislation in the House, spoke to the importance of increased resources primarily for crime prevention, prosecution and expanded treatment assistance for victims.  He challenged the “prosecutorial discretion” which allows federal prosecutors to decline cases of domestic minor sex trafficking, resulting in a lack of justice for the child victim.  Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), co-chair of the House Victims’ Rights Caucus, is a staunch advocate for victims’ rights, especially that of the child victim of sex trafficking.  His presence confirmed the importance of this issue. 

 

 

During Moore’s visit to Washington, DC, she was also scheduled to meet with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), co-chairwoman of the Human Trafficking Caucus, and visit the White House to discuss this issue.

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Finding the face behind the numbers

 -by Larry Hawley

Larry Hawley is currently a Defenders Fellow for Shared Hope International, working in Florida to raise awareness on domestic minor sex trafficking through outreach and truck stop campaigns.

 

“If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”     -Mother Teresa

The issue of human trafficking, and sex trafficking in particular, can be overwhelming. 27 million people enslaved worldwide. Over 300,000 young girls at risk of being trafficked into the commercial sex industry in the United States alone. These numbers set our heads spinning and make us wonder: how we can sustain our compassion for those who are suffering when we are likely overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of this issue?

Mother Theresa’s quote illustrates the difficulty faced by many NGO’s  – donations dry up and political will disappears once an issue becomes too large to emotionally process.  The charitable nature of human beings or their outrage against injustice is limited by a process called “psychic numbing” posited by Oregon professor Paul Slovic.  In simple terms, psychic numbing explains the phenomenon that human beings are more likely to act to stop the suffering of one human being than tackling ever-increasing numbers of human suffering.

 NGO’s that seek to end human trafficking worldwide must base their strategy on the studies of Dr. Slovic or will have their cries fall on deaf ears. Our brains can grasp the pain of our fellow man, but do not go through a process of multiplying this suffering amongst our fellow brethren. As Slovic says, “Numerical representations of human lives do not necessarily convey the importance of those lives. All too often the numbers represent dry statistics, “human beings with the tears dried off,” that lack feeling and fail to motivate action.”

The effects of psychic numbing are seen in the media coverage of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In the HBO documentary “Reporter”, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof was followed on his journey to the DRC to document the atrocities.  Mr. Kristof has spent most of his career seeking out underreported large-scale human suffering in order to bring the stories back to mainland.  The DRC has lost nearly six million people over twelve years during the Second Congo War, the largest death toll in any war since WWII. 

Unfortunately, the magnitude of lives lost in the Congo has not been given justice through the media because raw numbers do not carry weight with audiences, as millions dead without personal stories mean little to our sympathetic eyes. Overall, mainstream media coverage of this conflict has been feeble at best, while natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti occupy a large portion of media consciousness due to the ability to ‘put a face’ to the tragedy.  Audiences have been responding to courageous individual stories of survival in Haiti with their dollars and hands while six million remains just a number.

Dr. Slovic’s theory should come as no surprise to a population overwhelmed by twenty-four hour news channels that often focus on two or three individual stories per cycle, i.e. the disappearance of Laci Peterson, the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey, or the recent death of Shaniya Davis. These stories garnered national attention because of our ability to relate to the one- an easily identifiable victim. News reporters everywhere have learned the value of the “human interest” story and flood the airwaves with personal details designed to capture our attention.  This practice is not limited to news desks, either.  A number of people have recently been exposed to the issue of sex trafficking from the Hollywood film, Taken

Even if Taken is not the typical trafficking situation, there is something about a story and an individual victim that we ‘get to know’ that draws us in and helps us relate to them. If stories of trafficking are not personalized to our country or neighborhood, we often turn a blind eye. This is ‘psychic numbing’ in practice. How do we make human trafficking REAL?

We in the anti-trafficking community need to tell twenty-seven million individual stories to the localities in which we serve in order to make the reality of trafficking resonate within our communities.  Scale is useful when lobbying politicians, but is overwhelming when engaging citizens in the fight.  Unfortunately, it is not hard to find a local story of a trafficking victim that looks, sounds, and acts like someone’s teenage daughter.  To make human trafficking real to the masses, it takes one story for each community in America.

“What does a child sex trafficking victim look like?” Like you used to look when you were a child…..

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The Swedish Approach to Prostitution, Part II

The Swedish Approach to Prostitution: Could it work in the U.S.?

Since 1999, Sweden has taken a unique approach to prostitution.  In Sweden, it’s a crime to pay for sex. Prostitutes (mostly women and children) are referred to government funded programs aimed at getting them out of prostitution while customers (mostly men) who are paying for sex are charged and prosecuted.

Would that approach work here in the United States? What if we made it a crime to buy sex, and focused our attention on stopping the demand? What if instead of charging prostituted women and children with soliciting, we copied Sweden:  investing in support services to help them leave prostitution, and charging the person who is paying for sex?

            Obviously, the US and Sweden are different countries.  So what are our differences in approaching prostitution?

The 1999 law makes it clear that Sweden sees prostitution as a women’s issue, and as a form of violence against women and children. This is very different from our current view in the U.S.

While both countries recognize women’s rights, Sweden has often led the U.S. in terms of timing.  Women in Sweden were given the right to vote in all municipal elections in 1909; in the United States, women gained the right to vote in 1920.  Sweden outlawed rape in marriage in 1965; in the U.S., marital rape was finally outlawed in all fifty states in 1994, when Texas enacted a law. Sweden also has more women in government than the U.S.  For several years, Sweden led the world with the highest female representation in government (close to 50%). And the female politicians were vocal supporters of Sweden’s legislation. To contrast Sweden and the U.S., at the end of 2009, Sweden had 46.4% women in government (second highest in the world); the U.S. had only 16.8% in the House of Reps; and 15.3% in the Senate.[i]

Perhaps the biggest difference between our two countries is our view of prostitution.  Here in the United States, prostitution is not seen as violence against women or children; and we do not view or treat prostituted persons as victims, even when the prostituted person is a child well under the age of consent.  As for the customers or “johns” who pay for sex, here in the US they remain largely faceless and outside the law.

Sweden is taking a fundamentally different view.  By looking at the whole situation, Sweden sees a larger picture where the customer who is paying for sex is the criminal and the prostituted woman or child is the victim.  Here in the U.S., we’re not seeing that bigger picture.  Our focus is solely on the prostitute, whether woman, man or child.  The nature of the exploitation isn’t named; and the person who is paying for sex (“customer”,“john”) remains largely outside our view. 

There is no reason we couldn’t borrow from Sweden’s law and introduce legislation in the U.S. that shifts the crime from the prostituted child or woman to the person paying for sex.  But to change our legislation, we need to change the hearts and minds of our legislators. Changing our view to the bigger picture is a good way to start.


[i] Source: Women in National Parliaments. Info compiled by the Inter Parliamentary Union, based on information provided by National Parliaments as of Dec. 31, 2009 available at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

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March Newsletter

Thanks to our partnerships around the world, Shared Hope International has established a tight but ever-expanding network of advocates who are dedicated to work with us to end child sex trafficking.

Every day, we work hand in hand with partners to strengthen their programs and a step closer to a world free of exploitation.

As our partnerships continue to expand, we would like to share some great stories from the field where from Jamaica to Missouri, we are working together to tackle this modern-day slavery.

“Today is my first day of freedom”

Shared Hope International partners with three organizations in the United States to provide services for survivors of sex trafficking. Despite the geographical differences, these partners work with each other to offer support in the best interest of the victim – communicating with each other, referring victims for specialize services and exchanging best practices. Whenever possible, each partner ensures that every victim is offered the best services available, as illustrated in a great success story thanks to the partnership between Courtney’s House and Veronica’s Voice.

This past January, Amber (name has been changed to protect her identity), an adult victim of domestic minor sex trafficking, was rescued from her pimp after being prostituted across America since she was 14 years old. Young and insecure, Amber was approached by a pimp at a mall who promised her everything she wanted. However, it wasn’t long before he was selling her on the streets and forcing her to use drugs. After 10 years of enslavement, suffering a drug addiction and desperate for help, Amber called the Courtney’s House hotline.

Funding from Shared Hope enables Courtney’s House to run a 24 hour survivor-led hotline. Tina Frundt, a survivor of child sex trafficking and Founder and Executive Director of Courtney’s House, was running the hotline at the time and answered Amber’s call. She was ready to leave her pimp, and Tina needed to figure out – fast – a safe place for Amber to heal.

Thanks to our strong community of survivor-led organizations, Tina knew the perfect place for Amber. Veronica’s Voice, a fantastic longstanding partner of Shared Hope, offers immediate services for survivors of trafficking. Tina called in the nick of time – Kristy Childs, Founder and Executive Director of Veronica’s Voice, was able to locate and secure a safe bed for Amber.

Amber safely fled her pimp and was greeted by Tina, who took her to get food and clothing. Amber, who had been under brutal pimp control for years, was finally free to make simple yet important decisions for herself again. Amazed that she made the toughest decision of her life, she looked to Tina and said, “Today is my first day of freedom.”

The journey has only begun but Amber is recovering well at Veronica’s Voice and continues to keep in contact with Tina. Thanks to the collaboration of these two amazing organizations, Amber is now on a path to healing and recovery.

Hebron House and Theodora’s Place Partner to Save Two Lives

Linda Smith (center) with Reverend Fowler of Theodora’s Place and Christina Milford of Hebron House.

When we hear of the successful partnerships that take place to save the lives of those victimized through sex trafficking, we realize that our smaller efforts are working to build a larger web for safety. Just recently Tasha (name has been changed to protect her identity) was rescued from sexual exploitation and is being provided services thanks to a collaborative effort by our two partners in Jamaica – Hebron House and Theodora’s Place.

Since leaving an abusive home at 13, Tasha struggled to find a safe environment to stay. Shortly after running away, she was recruited by an older man into prostitution. Tasha was trafficked for over three years, repeatedly raped by strangers for her pimps profit. Tasha arrived at Theodora’s Place a completely broken soul –  she had been gang raped a month previously and recently discovered she was pregnant.

Theodora’s Place is a shelter that serves young girls victimized through sex trafficking. However, due to Tasha’s pregnancy, Theodora’s Place needed to relocate her to a safe environment where she could stay and be provided with the services she needed for her unborn child. Thankfully, Theodora’s Place knew the perfect resource for Tasha – Hebron House. Hebron House provides a shelter facility and services for girls victimized through sex trafficking.

Since arriving at Hebron House, Tasha is receiving services that are helping her to unload the abuse she suffered through her sexual exploitation. Tasha’s path to recovery is long but she has recognized that she was a victim of exploitation and abuse – often the most important step for a survivor. She is attending school through Hebron House and is finally holding her head up high in confidence! When staff from Theodora’s Place recently visited her to check on her development, they were amazed by Tasha’s advancements! We look forward to hear more from Tasha’s achievements in the coming months.

Tasha with a staff member from Shared Hope during a partner visit to Hebron House and Theodora’s Place in Jamaica.

Tasha and Tara, both in their third trimesters of pregnancies, take a moment to give us a smile!

Although our partnerships with organizations and programs are important, our most valued partnership is with YOU. We appreciate each of your support and investment with Shared Hope International as we work together to ensure justice for these important voices who need your help to be freed from sexual slavery. Please take a moment to learn about our partnerships in India, Fiji, Jamaica and Nepal, in addition to our partners in the United States.

Many Thanks
Shared Hope International

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