Interview with Carissa Phelps; Author & CEO of Runaway Girl, FPC

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities

Carissa Phelps

RICHMOND, VA, February 26, 2013 — Early one bright, hot August morning, during the first week of second grade, my stepfather picked me up and tossed me out the front door.  I hit the ground hard, instinctively protecting my face, breaking my fall with my hand.

As I struggled to catch my breath, I realized two things: I was hurt, and the kids on the school bus out in front of my house were watching me.  All those eyes were aimed right at me.

I looked at my mother, standing slightly behind my stepfather.  She just stared calmly, her arms crossed over her pregnant belly.  She said nothing, did not move, acting as though nothing had happened.

“Mom?” I said, waiting for the comfort and dust-me-off that didn’t come.

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7 Layers Captive: A new performance by survivor Stacy Jewell Lewis

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities

7 Layers Captive


WASHINGTON, D.C., February 17, 2013 – Playwright, poet, and human trafficking survivor-activist, Stacy Jewell Lewis, is offering a brand-new performance entitled “7 Layers Captive” this week in Washington, D.C.

According to Stacy’s website, 7 Layers Captive is a “descriptive real life story about Stacy’s horrific experience in what she and other experts call ‘The Life.’ Through poetry, music and powerful storytelling, Stacy describes the fear, shame and eventual acceptance that plagued and kept her locked in the chains of her [captor’s] manipulative seduction.”

7 Layers Captive offers explanation to those hard-to-explain questions,” Stacy stated, “Questions like ‘Why didn’t you run?’ and ‘Didn’t you have a choice?’”

Survivors like Stacy and I know all too well how difficult these questions are to answer in just a few statements.

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Human Trafficking: Survivors offer tips to the Dept of Transportation

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities

RICHMOND, VA, February 10, 2013 – Last October, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman announced a partnership among the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and Amtrak to combat human trafficking. Under this partnership, DHS and DOT would work with Amtrak to train over 8,000 frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers to identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking, as well as how to report suspected cases of human trafficking.

DOT announced that this partnership is also part of their efforts to raise awareness about the issue and to ensure that the U.S. transportation system is not being exploited for human trafficking. The DOT has stated that, under the leadership of Secretary Ray LaHood, nearly all Department of Transportation employees have completed an anti-human trafficking training that covers common signs of trafficking and how to report it. DOT contractor employees are expected to begin the training soon.

“We cannot let the American transportation system be an enabler in these criminal acts,” stated Secretary LaHood. “In addition to…partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and Amtrak, we are working with all modes of transportation to help stop the flow of human trafficking. Raising awareness can save lives, and we all have a responsibility to keep an eye out for these activities.”

Read the article on the Washington Times website