Survivors of Slavery: New book offers global narratives on modern-day slavery

By Holly Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Communities Digital News


NEW ORLEANS, LA, March 24, 2014 – Last week, my book, Walking Prey, was released by Palgrave Macmillan and is available via AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound.  Walking Prey is an academic nonfiction book about child sex trafficking in the United States.  This week, another promising book will be released: Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives by Laura T. Murphy, Ph. D.  In Survivors of Slavery, Murphy offers survivor narratives from Cambodia, Ghana, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States, all “detailing the horrors of a system that forces people to work without pay and against their will, under the threat of violence, with little or no means of escape” (description from Amazon). As a way of introducing this book, I’d like to include here a portion of the foreword written by Minh Dang of Berkeley, California:

An Open Letter to the Antitrafficking Movement, March 2013

Dear respected members of the anti-human-trafficking movement,

As a U.S. citizen and survivor of child abuse, incest, and domestic sex trafficking in the United States, I write to you to communicate my deepest wishes for how we approach our antitrafficking work. Over the past three years, I have publicly shared my story of slavery and freedom in venues large and small across the United States. I have met college students, teenagers, mothers, fathers, clergy, professors, service providers, and many others working to fight modern-day slavery. Through my presentations and conversations, I have developed a working set of guiding principles for the antitrafficking movement. I urge all of us to take heed of these principles because our adherence to or refutation of them will deeply affect the work that we do and the impact we have.

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Wellspring Living serves victims of sex trafficking in Georgia

By Holly Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Communities Digital News

ATLANTA, GA, March 15, 2014 – Wellspring Living is an organization that offers services to victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Their mission is “to confront the issue of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation through awareness, training, and treatment programs for women and girls.” In the following interview, Founder and CEO Mary Frances Bowley takes us inside the walls of Wellspring Living in order to educate the public about their services.

Holly Smith: Mary, where are your headquarters, and where are your efforts based?

Mary Frances Bowley: Our vision is to serve locally and influence globally. Locally, we are committed to the rescue, restoration, and renewal of survivors. Globally, we hope to come alongside other organizations and give them a replicable model so they can do the same in their communities.

Holly Smith: Can you tell us about the restoration programs available at Wellspring Living?

Mary Frances Bowley: Wellspring Living offers three types of comprehensive healing programs: Wellspring for Girls, Wellspring for Women, and the Transitions Program. All of our programs focus on the holistic restoration of sexual abuse and trafficking victims.

Wellspring for Girls is offered to girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who have been sexually exploited. Girls are offered counseling, group therapy, education, life skills, vocational training, family reunification, and spiritual care. The program aims to help exploitation survivors heal and move toward a positive and healthy lifestyle. The program collaborates with a licensed children’s home, a non-traditional school, and community partners.

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Interviewing victims of human trafficking: Survivors offer advice

By Holly Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Communities Digital News

RICHMOND, VA, March 1, 2014 – Recently, I discussed with law enforcement interviewing techniques when working with potential victims of human trafficking. As a survivor of child sex trafficking, I wrote an academic nonfiction book on the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in the United States, titled Walking Prey.  Although I do share my personal story in Walking Prey, this book is much more than a memoir. I discuss predisposing factors and community risk factors for CSEC, as well as the potential mindset of a “willing victim”.

A child victim who does not self-identify as such is often referred to as a “willing victim,” as was I at age fourteen in 1992. In Walking Prey, I discuss “willing victims” in order to offer victim-centered insight to law enforcement and other first responders and victim advocates. My hope is that such insight will help professionals interview and care for such victims. When offering tips to law enforcement, I often pull from my resources in Walking Prey. However, I believe that additional insight from other survivors of human trafficking is needed in order to offer comprehensive advice on interviewing techniques.  Following are quotes from a few survivors of sex and labor trafficking within America.

Trust, trust, trust…Building the rapport, trust, and relationship with victims takes time and patience…it is essential for [human trafficking] cases…[this is] one big reason why these cases are different from any other and [why] specialized training is needed. [Plan for m]ultiple contacts, multiple interviews. [Have p]atience! Never expect the victim to give you all, or even hardly any, intel the first interview. The first few meetings are you gaining their trust and building rapport. You will most likely get tiny bits of info, which will grow little by little, and over time pieces will come together.  – Anonymous Survivor and Consultant for the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators (IAHTI)

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