Unraveling the Madness and Discovering the Path to Freedom
Featuring Barb Bollinger
Hey, fearless fundraisers.
I’m Donna. Go. It’s time to buckle up for a new episode of Ray’s Nation Radio. The one and only podcast made to inspire fundraisers like you to continue making impact in our communities, building better tomorrow’s and exchanging ideas. So whether you’re a trailblazer or season pro, you’ll pick up the trends that transform your fundraising And together, we’ll dive into lively conversations and chat with industry leading fundraisers and thought leaders to explore Hapa and issues and innovative ideas. So stay with us for the next thirty minutes while we inspire you to embrace the future of fundraising.
Alright. Well, let’s get going. Welcome back Ray’s Nation Radio.
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We’re gonna dive right in. We have a little delicate, conversation today, but a very important a big shout out to some of my peers here at one cause that really drove this conversation to the raised nation, show.
Kind of uncomfortable, but important. We need to start someplace, so to start talking about the uncomfortable to maybe get to a better place is is maybe a a good direction. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m very pleased to welcome, Barb Bollinger with us. She is the development director, for path to freedom out of Florida.
And we are going to be talking about human trafficking and just what’s going on in the world and and how We, as people, need to help because it’s a problem that transcents every social economic, status, gender, race, religion. It it it knows no boundaries, and it’s it’s rough out there. And I think we owe it to ourselves and to the world, to become more informed and and and to just dive in and help because help is needed.
Barb, welcome to Ray’s Nation Radio, and thank you so much for joining us and being willing to talk about a really delicate situation. How are you doing today?
I’m good. Thank you so much for having us This is such a horrific crime, around the world, and we really appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk about it with you. So thanks. I hope I can do the topic justice.
I’m gonna try. I think I have some silly questions to answer embarrassing, I should say embarrassing questions to ask you. But let’s start with our audience getting to know you, and and what it must be like.
To lead path to freedom, whatever you’d like to share, how you how you got here, what you do for path to freedom, and just let us get to know you a little bit better. Sure. So, well, my role as development director is fundraising. It’s also, getting the word out.
So part of what we’re doing right now is part of what I do. I actually started with your organization as a volunteer when we first opened our safe home. So we have a safe home that is for child survivors of human King in Florida. Florida is one of the worst states in the country for sex trafficking.
And we were started by an amazing woman called Anna Stevenson who started us back in twenty fifteen.
And she had learned about this this issue and really learned about the fact that Hey, this is happening in my own backyard. This is something that she has four daughters of her own, realizing that, you know, this is something possibly could have happened to her own children.
And the story she heard heard the, girl tell her personal story of what happened to her, a local girl that was pulled into trafficking by an extended family member for two and years. She was drugged and forced to have sex on a daily basis. In fact, in one evening, with over fifty men.
And, so it’s quite a horrific story, and she just she couldn’t sleep at night. She she just really felt she had to do something about this. Once she knew about it, she needed to do something. So she had started path to freedom. She and her husband actually run John Stephenson, and is her husband. He’s our executive director.
And I found out about them. May it come to the church that I attended told us about their organization and then I got involved as a volunteer. I was very, involved for probably about six months did a lot of different things.
Happened to open their safe home during COVID.
Oh, yes. I happened to I worked in corporate America for twenty eight years. I happen to lose my job during COVID. And I And so my my husband too, we know that story. So so many people were in that same boat. Scary time.
But I knew, you know, I was gifted in a in a way blessed with the freedom to be actually be able to do more in the space of human trafficking. It had always been an issue on my heart. Personally, I had I had known about it and really it had been gnawing at me that I should be doing more about it. So this gave me the freedom to, actually start volunteering.
And during a time when a lot of volunteers, you know, of course, one felt that they need to be home, that they couldn’t get out because of COVID. So I was doing all kinds of things. I learned a lot about the organization and how it was starting up. And then as I was letting them know that, hey, by the way, I can’t I I’m looking for another job when I do find something.
I won’t be able to do as much as I’m doing now. I wanna stay connected. I wanna help and that’s when, they so what if he worked for us?
So I I think it was it was definitely It was meant to be, maybe. It meant to be. Yeah. So, so I I really love what I do. I love this organization, and, and it’s there’s a huge need. For what it is, the services that we provide. Yeah.
And, you know, I think I mentioned when we just we’re doing the intro that I’m learning that there’s no boundaries. What doesn’t I mean, human trafficking, sex crime this whole space is whether you’re young or or older Whatever gender, race, religion, color, ability, disability, it has zero boundaries. It could affect anyone. Is that an accurate statement? Absolutely. Yeah.
And it’s really it’s it’s our most vulnerable in society that that are that are susceptible to it. So It can be people with disabilities, people with mental challenges, socioeconomic challenges, but particularly we think of children.
And, children are very vulnerable for a lot of different reasons.
The most common in the United States when it comes to children, it’s children that are in foster care.
And so when you think about a child that’s in foster care and the trauma that they’ve already been through, why they’re even put into foster care, to begin with. They’re coming from from issues at home, and they’re looking for that security and that love, and they’re much more susceptible to the lures of what a trafficker can provide, in terms of attention, in terms of promising them, all kinds of things.
And but sadly with with children because they’re so trusting, a lot of people think that kidnapping is a very common way that kids are brought into trafficking. And actually, especially in the United States, that’s one of the lowest.
Last year was reported by the Polaris project. They’re the organization that runs the human trafficking hotline, only eight percent. Were, got into it through adoption. So the by far, the most common is a trusted relationship, and of the two, the number one is sadly a family member.
Parents. Number one. The number one. Yeah. I mean, any extended family member, but parents are doing it to their own children. Secondly, And of course, you know, child’s gonna do wants to please, obviously, their caregivers and and more likely to do what they’re told to do. And then the other one is very close and it is a love interest or or boyfriend relationship.
Oh, god. And so oftentimes, you know, there are the the traffickers out there know how to start and groom these relationships with these kids. So it always starts out with something that feels like an innocent relationship that builds into something where they can actually get them to do so. Monipulators.
I mean, just Totally. Yep. Yeah. Criminals and manipulators.
Yeah. Yeah. Wow.
Let me ask an embarrassing question because I I think I know and maybe our audience can relate.
Can we just get a definition out there? I mean, we hear it a lot, you know, especially with what’s going on in Hollywood and the news and human trafficking, can we just start there and and and get a definition? And I’m I’m embarrassed to even ask that. But You know, I’m hearing about I I did think it was associated with kidnapping.
I did think that oh, stay close to your your kids because somebody’s gonna, you know, wrangle them in. And next thing you know, they’re gonna be gone. And that’s where the But it’s not that. And I’m learning just in the opening remarks that you have.
So let’s just define it. Can we can we start there? Yeah. I’m gonna read the official Okay.
I mentioned a few shocking. So it is modern day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex acts. So there’s obviously labor trafficking as well. In the United States, the majority of human trafficking is sex trafficking.
And in the case of children, that when we say, that they’re forced into it, If you’re under the age of eighteen, whether or not you say it was voluntary or that you, chose to do this, it is still illegal. So if these acts are happening, exchange of goods or services.
It is illegal, especially if you’re under eighteen, whether you said, that you were not forced to do it or not.
Hey. Definition is even worse than I thought it was going to be.
So this isn’t necessarily. So I think some people think of moving people around when you think of trafficking.
But this isn’t necessarily taking people from one location to another, but it it can be right in your own backyard, but you’re forcing them to do these things, and, for money.
And people are making a livelihood in the business out of this.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And it’s very lucrative. So worldwide, number that you’re you often hear is it’s a hundred and fifty billion dollars. And, this was an estimate that was done by the ILO back in twenty fourteen. Very reputable study that was conducted.
So you’ll hear it quoted often. You’re gonna see it on a lot. If you Google it, you’ll see it all over the place.
And, you know, that was nine years ago. So there’s a lot of unofficial estimates that it’s as big as two hundred billion plus it is, it is the fastest growing crime made second only to drug trafficking. And it’s very lucrative because victims rarely come forward.
It’s very low risk for the traffickers and the predators.
And, cause they’re often not getting prosecuted or caught. And also, they you can sell a child over and over again. Multiple times a day. They’re getting raped constantly, if they’re in trafficking.
And, you know, And with a drug or a weapon, you only sell it once. Oftentimes, they, you know, the the ones that are that are forced into it on a very regular basis are often hooked on drugs or and there’s, you know, it’s almost a catch-twenty two because, you know, the trafficker wants them to take the drugs so that they’ll actually be more willing to do the acts, because they’re a little bit out of their mind, but also it becomes a crutch because it keeps them to endure this life of hell that they’re living and what they’re doing. So, so that’s often involved.
So another embarrassing question.
Is is that the motivator? It it’s it’s money? Is is because I gotta tell you there’s no money in the world that can get me to wrap my head around this. And and the number the the finance is the figures that you put out.
That’s what we know. If people are not necessarily reporting, it’s on their tax return. Right? Like, oh, you know, like, Right.
Right? So if you know if that’s the known amount, I can only imagine what the unknown amount really is. So is is that the motivator? Or is there something else going on?
Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s it’s ultimately, it’s about money. It’s it’s it’s, again, it’s highly profitable.
I mean, if there wasn’t a demand out there, I mean, then the traffickers wouldn’t be doing it. I mean, it’s there’s and that’s a whole another issue of how to address the predators, the the sickos — Yeah. — that that, you know, and is some of this, you know, there’s there’s a lot of different reasons for that that we could go down. I mean, some of it is how people are brought up, the culture they’re in, they maybe they were abused themselves, sexually abused as children, and they often repeat things as adults Another big huge problem is pornography.
And pornography is something that I think people It’s a drug itself almost. Yes. Eth whether you have this, you know, we can put the ethics aside of whether it’s right or wrong to even engage in it. But oftentimes, if people think that they’re not hurting someone because they’re looking at stuff. And you don’t know what you’re looking at. Often often what you’re looking at is these are people that have been coerced into whatever videos or photos they’re watching.
People that get addicted to pornography tend to, they’re wanting to look for the next more exciting things so that they could start looking at adults and moving into looking at children. Those kind of things they might wanna act it they may go out and can and then start soliciting prostitutes, and and going to traffickers and wanting to find, you know, to actually act out what they’re seeing.
But often what they’re seeing is, is, can be children that are being trafficked. Also, especially girls look a lot older. Than they really are. They often think they might be looking at women, but they’re probably young teenagers that have been forced into this. So There’s a lot that goes with the industry of pornography that, again, in in the United States, is the number one consumer.
Of online pornography, so that that’s one of the biggest, drivers of the demand.
Now there’s a high you’re located in Florida. Path to Freedom is located in Florida, and we seem to have a larger issue in the state of Florida. Why why is that? Is it Yeah. So we are the quote third worst in the country.
Okay. I’m sorry. Yes. In terms of number of cases every year, number of cases that are reported each year, Florida ranks third, California, Texas are are above or quote, have more cases reported.
So One of the so it’s a variety of reasons. We we are an international hub.
A lot of international folks come here, but, It’s also because we are a location for we’re a big vacation state. We’re a big state where a lot of training courses and seminars happen to be located. There’s a lot of big sporting events that happen in our state. And in a lot of those environments, unfortunately, there’s there’s an encouragement to do things you normally wouldn’t do at home.
And sometimes it’s that that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas traffickers know this. So they’re bringing, you know, the enticements to those venues and to the to our state. Also, we have a lot of very wealthy, wealthy people with second homes down here. When you think of the Epstein of the world, and some of the extremely wealthy that really feel that they’re above the law and, engage in these activities and and not thinking that there’s anything wrong with it.
So so those are multiple reasons why Florida is is a hotbed for sex drive. Sorry. Oh my gosh.
Okay. So we we we have the, gruesome picture now laid out before us.
Can we just maybe switch gears a little bit and talk about path to freedom?
What what’s going on? What what are your programs?
Your role in fighting, the criminals and these horrific acts and saving some of these precious lives. Can let’s talk about your impact and your work there. I would love to please enlighten us because we’d love to know what you’re doing. How we can do that elsewhere in the country.
And, of course, you know, what what you need in help. But let let’s talk about what you’re doing first. Sure. So I and I just wanna talk about the There’s a lot of different organizations that are involved in human trafficking in different ways.
So there’s some that are that are there to help create awareness. There are others that are trying to create funding that’s kind of a pass through to other organizations that are directly working with survivors.
There’s also the rescue organizations, kind of like what you see in sound of freedom in their organization, which is, I would say, when you get into escuing and law enforcement, that’s one of the toughest things. And then I would say, right next to that is what we do, which is the repair and restoration of the survivors.
Because the trauma that they’ve been through and the amount of time that it takes to heal from what they they’ve gone through. So what we are so a fish artificial mission statement is we create hope and healing for child survivors of human trafficking by providing safe environments and long term programs for recovery. So we have a safe home. We call it the Magnolia House, and we are licensed to serve girls between the ages of twelve up to eighteen. Twelve. Oh, god. And and they, and there’s And so the, and it, you know, officially the average age of a child entering the life is twelve to fourteen.
That’s for girls for boys, and it does happen to boys too. Between the ages of eleven to thirteen, I’ve heard more in, again, unofficially and other seminars have been into that the belief is it’s as young as nine and ten years old.
And some of that’s just the proliferation of technology more and more into kids’ hands.
COVID definitely made that worse.
That is the number one way that, children are initially brought into trafficking and contacted.
So what we do, so there’s something called the in the state of Florida. So we are licensed with DCF, stands for Department of Children Family Services, which is often also called the foster care system. But what happens is when a child is rescued from human trafficking, they are automatically, if they’re underage, under eighteen, they are put into DCF or foster care system. Then they are what identified as what they call a seasick child that stands for commercially sexually exploited child.
And those are the children So if they’re identified as a seasick, those are what is referred to us, and we are a seasick licensed safe home is what we are. So, and what they do so when they come, obviously, they stay and live at our safe home, we are, family first model care aware trauma informed. When we say family first, we want it to feel like they’re a part of a family and not just a group home. So it’s actually run, the house mentors or our male and female married couple.
And we really want them to, again, this doesn’t feel like it’s a program because this isn’t a thirty, sixty or ninety day type of thing. It’s each girl’s situation is different. Every recovery program for them is different.
So we want them to feel like they’re part of a family and they’re part of a home. And they’ve often never experienced a healthy relationship with a father figure or man or men in general.
And to have an example of, you know, what does a happily married couple look like? Now we do have rules around, you know, men being alone with the girls, and we have a lot of female ball tears and female staff. So there there’s never any, time where they’re he’s alone. Yeah. But at least they’re feeling as a family unit, they’re having meals together, and things like that. And then we have an on-site school.
So they don’t go to public school for a couple of different reasons.
Safety is one, but also it’s a it’s a location where they can be contacted by their trafficker. In fact, some kids are are recruited at school.
Where they’re supposed to be safe? Yes. Yes. Yeah. And But the other big reason is a lot of these girls that come to us are well below their grade level.
And they really need individualized one on one education.
So we actually in we assess them, and then we do individualized education for each each girl based on where she’s at help fast track her, and get her up to where she should be.
And we are an accredited, home school. So we actually have had, since we’ve been open for a little over three years, we have had one girl that did graduate and has our high school diploma.
She and she’s actually in college now. So I’m really happy about that. She has a job, part time job. We we do help the girls. As they move on, we have a phase program. So when they first come to us, in particular, we take their cell phones away. They hate that.
But they know that’s part of the program when they come. But we know that’s their access to the outside world. That’s how a trafficker can find them again. They can phase into being able to have, like, a dumb phone, after starting off.
It almost feels like they’re being punished, in a way when their peers have phones. Right? And and I’m sure it’s so hard — Right. — to have gone through what they’ve gone through.
And then to be part of a home, that’s a home, but not a home. And then Heather’s cell phone. I mean, in the mind of a twelve year old, it just keeps getting worse. I mean, oh my god.
Right. And and that is hard. It it is but, I mean, in other group homes where they have phones and sadly You’re keeping them safe. Yeah.
Yeah. There there are kids that get recruited in other safe homes. Oh. So because the trafficker’s contact Safe places are just not safe places.
Yeah. So so we know that happens, and that’s why it’s it’s a It’s a must for us to benefit.
But that’s probably the hardest. One of the hardest obstacles in the beginning. We do have horses on property. We have rescue horses, and the girls love that.
So they get to spend time with the horses. They do, help take care of them. And that is very therapeutic for them. If if they need a brain break, especially while they’re during school, they’ll they’ll go outside and just hang out in the past year, the horses sometimes.
And also the fact that it gives them some kind of worth it work ethic in terms of physical, physically, like helping clean the stalls and taking care of the horses, that we know is just good good for them. So, And we do have, I was gonna say we also have counseling. So we do counseling on property. We they group in individual therapy, And because we are with DCF, they, of course, have their, contact with their case manager and their guardian at Laythem, and we work with them if they’re engaged in some kind of, legal issue with the trafficker and what are cases, that are going on.
We work with them. We also have, different medical teams that we work with if they have medical needs.
How many clients do you serve annually?
So we we are licensed to serve up to six at a time.
Within the home. So so far to date, we have served eighteen girls.
And, of course, you’ve been open three years. Right? Is that when the yeah. Yeah. So, about the average a girl’s each girl has been with us for about a year is about the average length of stay.
And like I said, we’ve had some that have been with us for a couple of several years.
And it really depends because each girl’s situation is different. We’ve had some that have been reunited with family members.
But oftentimes, you know, their situation. There’s a reason they got into the situations they’re in and and re We don’t wanna send them back. It doesn’t work.
We have a couple that have been adopted.
And then we’ve had some that have quote age to aged out and turned eighteen. And, we still are in contact with them. We wanna help make sure that we can help them with whatever they need to get on with life. We are in the process of actually, we know that’s a need as they become legal adults. So we are in the process of building a transition home on our property that would be for eighteen and twenty two year olds.
So we did we Finally, it with the hurricane that had happened down here, permits got stalled for quite a long time. So we just finally got all our permits approved and and are able to buildings. Does it start the build? But, and we also so in the state of Florida, there are just last year, there was three thirty seven reported CEC children just in twenty twenty two from DCF.
There’s only thirty one licensed safe homes, safe beds. No place for these young people to No. We are part of that thirty one. We know there’s a big need.
We are actually right now. We’ve kicked off fundraising campaign to, be able to purchase another property and have a second safe home.
And that your job is to get all the funds in because none of this sounds inexpensive, or you’re not — Oh. — you’re not you’re not providing you know, kits or care packages, your your your your building buildings and bringing in medical staff and counseling and education and individual occasion plans, and this sounds monumental. You’re only three years young.
And you’re in charge of development. What type of funding do fundraising do you need to do annually to sustain?
I know you don’t wanna call them programs, but to sis sustain the work that you’re doing. What? I can’t imagine.
So, It’s it’s roughly about a million dollars.
Okay. Now we do get reimbursement. That’s before you start talking about new buildings and campuses and more than, you know, right? That’s yeah.
And, it well, I should say it’s probably a little less. It’s probably about eight hundred thousand. But, That’s staggering numbers, though, nonetheless. Yeah. And it’s but when you think about there’s Some of it is some of that cost is as we’re building things out and trying to create this.
Our ongoing just our operational costs, they’re about five to six hundred thousand a year. So, Just she says. And we do get a fair amount reimbursed from from d DCF, which obviously helps. We couldn’t operate if we didn’t Yeah.
So, but we also know this transition services. We will this will all be donor funded. So that one will be a hundred percent donor funded. It will not be as expensive being, this is meant for girls that are older that have gone through our program that that we’re helping them to find jobs to get out on their own, learning how to manage money, And part of that may be that we start charging them, you know, a small amount of rent.
If they’re staying at our safe home, they’re things like that. So, and helping them find schooling, whatever it is that they’re needing. To be self, you know, Yes. So, suspension.
But what we want is we want long term recovery. Right. Right. Right. We do not want them going back to the lifestyle they are living before they came to us.
You need to give them all the tools that they would get, you know, in order to do that. I mean, you have to really prepare them if they’re gonna have long term recovery in so many different ways, education, and jobs. And clothing and so much. Oh my gosh.
I can’t even imagine. You’re you’re kind of being a family and and disciplinary, and love, and a home, and the environment, all all altogether. It’s just overwhelming to even think about, the infrastructure that you have to build in order to achieve recovery.
I’m heart warmed and and well very overwhelmed.
How And we have some amazing volunteers. I mean, there’s a lot of things that have been donated to us as well. So, I mean, we have, an impact. How can we help?
Let’s get let’s get there. What do you need? So I’m hearing the story, and I’m like, okay. I’ve closed here.
Maybe I can ship them down. Would that help? I don’t even know what What could volunteers do? What donations do you need?
We obviously know, you know, monetary.
I would assume There’s a button on your website, you know, to donate. But what how could people get involved and what do you need if anyone’s listening to this What what do you need? How can we get involved?
So, we do so on our website, we do have, a section about getting involved. And there is, a list with changes of our needs. If you want it to be a direct volunteer. So to be a direct volunteer, which means literally working with the girls coming to the safe home, there is a requirement of twenty one hours of online coursework.
You have to get fingerprinted, background checked, and all of that. And we actually have, we actually have quite a few of those, which is wonderful, but there’s always we could always use more. And, and quite recently because of, the movie south of freedom. We’ve gotten a lot more people signing up, which is wonderful.
The other thing, a big, an easy, really easy thing to do is word-of-mouth.
Because we are new and small, not a lot of people know about us. Mhmm. So even just following us on Facebook, looking at us on social media telling people about who we are. And the other thing is telling, letting people know about the issue of human trafficking in general. And making people aware, particularly parents, and anyone that has influence over children So, and where I’m going with this is making sure that, they’re understanding when they’re working technology and they start if someone wants to friend them, do not befriending someone you don’t know and know that anytime they have any kind of online relationship with someone that they’ve never physically met face to face. Probably the online persona is not who they really are.
There’s something called sextortion out there that many need to be aware of that can happen to anyone, and particularly kids. So this is where they get ahold of some type explicit photo, for example, and can use it as blackmail against children. So I, I know a real life situation where this fourteen year boy was gaming online.
He had, was gaming with a fourteen twelve year old girl. At least he thought she was a twelve year old girl.
And she and they he’d been quote friends with her for a while. And then they started she started texting him. She got his number. They started texting each other. And again, he thinks of her as a friend.
She sends him a naked picture of herself one day and asks him to send one back. And he does. And then she says, go to your parents, get their credit card, and you gotta send me two thousand dollars, or I’m gonna put the on the internet and people are gonna see this. Luckily, he didn’t have a good relationship with his parents, felt comfortable enough, you know, because It’s awfully embarrassing to tell them what happened. They called the authorities.
Actually, everything was okay, but the bad part is, you know, now there’s this photo out there. And and the thing is once these photos get out there or or videos or whatever, it’s so hard to get rid of them once they’re out there. So, and of course, who knows who he was really talking to and where that person got that photo that they sent to him. So, just the awareness for children.
It’s so hard to get technology away from kids because it’s everywhere. It’s required for school. But just making them aware that there’s always gonna be predators out there. They’re gonna try and seduce them into doing something that doesn’t really make any sense.
And, so so that awareness is is critical.
So you mentioned a couple things. I I have so many questions for you. I I have two children, so I’m, you know, I’m heartbroken. Right now, I wanna, you know, finish up this has with you and, you know, call my twenty year old daughter, who, thank god hasn’t been a victim, but just I don’t know. I just feel like I wanna talk to her.
You to you mentioned earlier in the podcast that it’s easy to get away with this crime.
And I assume that it that it’s also hard to get out of being a victim Can you shed a little light on that? Why is it so hard to get out of being a victim? I applaud this young boy that you’re that you’re referencing this story that he he thank god. He had a good relationship with his parents and that, you know, he he could make a make a good choice following a bad choice, but you can easily see how we would get pulled into that.
Right? But why is it so hard to get out? And Why are is it so hard to convict the criminals? Why is that situation even happening?
So once once, once someone gets into it, so the traffickers really, really know how to play a mind game on their victims.
And, the biggest thing is threats. So, threats of violence, threats of of hurting loved ones, That’s a big one. And, and then, and exposing them, they’re often told that they are criminal themselves, that they are prostitute that they could be sent to jail themselves. So there’s a lot of coercion, that is, is played on these, these victims. And then once they’re in it for a while, you know, oftentimes they’re quote normal life, and and this could be a girl living at home with parents that has a boyfriend that the parents don’t even know because this does happen. Parents don’t even know that she’s being trafficked by her boyfriend.
But She may be acting out. Her her, she’s not doing well in school. She’s withdrawing.
And, those can definitely be science to, to wanna know what’s going on. But when it becomes the only way they know how to make money eventually, and some of that’s because you know, they’re getting behind in school. They they don’t have But the victim’s not making the money. The victim’s just being, in in a is a a horrific sense of bullying and coercion.
Right? They’re they’re not making anything. It’s the trafficker that’s making the money, or do I have that wrong? No.
You’re right. But the trafficker is often taking care of them in some way. I see. So so now I was giving you an example of someone that’s literally living at home with their parents.
Obviously, there’s others that are, you know, living in in a brothel or living in in some living with their boyfriend. It keeps getting worse. Or if it’s the parent, themselves that are trafficking the child. So they’re they’re they’re caring for them. They have a home.
And so, you know, in order to pay for their living expenses.
That’s all they know how to do. It often, you know, it can eventually be prostitutes on their own because, again, that’s all they know.
So it’s And why is it so hard to convict? I mean, it’s it’s such a horrific So the the victims, often so so some victims actually don’t identify themselves as victims. They can be mentally convinced that they chose this.
They, or they’re so afraid to say anything like I said, because of the backlash.
In fact, there was a a man, and it’s interesting. I’m telling you male examples, but still the majority is is females — Yeah. — this happens to, but, there there’s a man that’s, I think, because there’s more coming out about men because they wanna make more awareness about it.
But he was telling his story, an adult man of when he was he was so traffic for years. And this is just an example about why why they don’t come forward.
He, was hurt by his trafficker. He first got pulled into it from he had, a boyfriend of his mom, and, and then his stepfather, I believe. And so he he was in the in the hospital, oftentimes they they endure all kinds of brutal attacks, whether it’s just the raping itself or that they’re being beaten up for different reasons or and they’re being beaten up to make sure that they don’t say anything. Well, this he was hurt badly. He was brought to the emergency room. And usually, the traffic girls stay real close to the person so that they make sure they’re watching, making sure they’re not saying anything about how it really happened, or or what’s going with them.
It just so happened he was able to get separated from the traffic repair a short amount of time. He actually told the nurse what was happening to him and asked for help.
She went ahead and what had happened prior to that was the trafficker had told her you know, you can’t believe anything. This kid will say. He heard himself from an accident. He’s constantly he’s accident prone. He lies, he makes up stories for attention.
And so she told him, oh, he’s now just telling me, you know, that you’re forcing him to have sex with with men. She did not. So he leaves with his trade left, leaves with his trafficker, his trafficker beats him close to death.
He goes back into the emergency room, and, of course, he’s never gonna say anything again. He he said he went back multiple times, and it wasn’t until a nurse, another nurse recognized what was going on in in, he didn’t have to say anything. She recognized it. She reported it.
And the and this is why it’s so important, especially people in emergency room. There’s a lot of, frontline type of of roles where you can have an eye out for this kind of thing. So like school teachers, in schools, as well as definitely in the medical field, and nurses and things like that. But the emergency room is one place where, where you’ll see victims coming in and that’s where they can get them to safety.
In fact, one of the girls that we’ve had at our safe home came through a situation like that.
It just keeps getting worse.
But there’s an example where he just knew, you know, he tried to say something and he knew okay. Yeah. But that sounds like another whole nonprofit, you know, educating emergency room nurses too. Yeah.
And there are groups that do that. Like I said, it’s definitely Sounds like we need a lot of help. A lot of training. Yeah.
For especially frontline. Yeah. Outline and pull yeah.
How to handle a situation like this.
How do you also mentioned the, Hollywood. And, yeah, I personally tried to, watch the Epstein documentary. I couldn’t get through it. I just I I couldn’t get through it.
And now there’s the sound of freedom. Do they help or hurt? Like, what? What’s your take on that?
I I personally think they help. I think they help because there’s so much going on today in the world that distracting that the issue this is such a horrific issue that people aren’t hearing about it or even want to pay attention to it. So, you know, regardless of opinion of, like, is this sensationalizing the issue? Is this something is this a good portrayal of what really happens? First of all, the sound of freedom really the story is real. Like, what happened really did happen? It’s a true story.
But in a in the United States, it happens a little bit differently, but it’s still happening. And we are thankful that people are now paying attention because they saw the movie. So, and I do have to say it’s a very well done in in terms of how they did the movies so that this is not something that you’re gonna walk away personally traumatized.
They they There’s a lot. Yeah. The Epstein story, I couldn’t get through it. I just couldn’t.
Yeah. Because there are scenes. Let’s put it this way. You’re not gonna have to watch the acts happening, you know, there’s enough going on that you know what’s going on, but you don’t have to literally see it.
Let’s put this way in terms of the storyline. So they’d I think they were very did a very good job of letting you know what’s going on, but you don’t have to literally sit through and watch it if that makes sense. Yeah. But it’s still a very hard topic and it’s really It it’s tough.
So going back to what do you need, If you could top three things because, if if if our audience is listening and there is move as I am, I’m I’m I just I’m at a loss for words. I I don’t know that I could think of anything more horrific. It’s just so awful on so many levels.
Three things. Let’s would it be monetary? And what what would you I’m gonna say monetary. What are the two others?
Yeah, monetary. Oh, spreading the word about us. I mean, and kind of awareness awareness, of the issue, both both just that it’s out there that path to freedom exists for one thing.
And and making children and parents and people that that are involved with kids, aware, and having a good eye out for, possibly being lowered into it. And, and if you see something, say something. And — Yeah. — and that is our recommendation is to call local law law enforcement.
The human trafficking hotline, is out there, but that has now been promoted so much. It’s on it’s in airports. It’s all over the place. They’re actually overloaded.
And so their capacity, they’re focused on helping victims calling in that need help. So if you’re a victim, yes, call the human trust. Like, if you feel that you’re being victimized as a But if you see something in your tipster and you want someone to get engaged in investigating it, that’s where you would call law enforcement.
So, and make them aware of it. You can report it to human trafficking hotline. I can just say it’s not their first priority. That’s all.
It’s interesting because, you know, I I asked I I speak with a lot of nonprofits, on the show, and, I asked you twice. Okay. What do you need? And your your answers are mostly to benefit the the larger mission, not necessarily benefit it, your organization.
So I commend you for that. That was that was a very different answer and a very special answer. You’re so I think it speaks to, path to freedom that you’re really committed to just the larger mission, see something, say something called get help. You know, it’s not I had to put it out there, you know, the donations and the monetary.
So And we definitely need money trust. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So how how is fundraising going?
What are you doing to to put the money? Yeah. What’s going on? We have a our biggest fundraiser every year is we have a we call it the Red Gala The red gala.
Okay. The red gala. We When does that take place? That’s in January this coming year.
It’s at a we’re we’re actually having it in a hanger. We have it at a hanger last year and it was successful.
We actually doubled what we raised the the last time we had done it, which was a traditional type in a hotel. So this is It was so successful. We we chose to wanna do it in a similar type of setting as well.
And you can find out about that on our website.
So you could attend that or be a sponsor.
And, we do have other We are doing other speaking events, and and we do have, other folks that are wanting to do some private events for us in their home, which is wonderful, to help raise funds. So, and and we we’re also the faith community.
We are a faith based organization.
They are, one of our biggest supporters as well. We have, several churches that are just ongoing supporters of us and have just chosen us as one of their ministries to support. So, and we’re very thankful to them. So Well, well, Laura, but I don’t know what the answers are.
I really I really don’t, but if you’ve saved one person, and and help them with long term recovery.
I applaud you, you know, for doing that. And and I know my peers specifically Stephanie and Missy and Aileen who pushed me to, you know, make sure I reached out. I’m hoping this podcast does bring some awareness.
Thank you so much for what you’re doing, you know, every day. And, I’d love to check back in with you, you know, a couple months or, you know, just to I I don’t I don’t know where the end is in sight. It’s just so horrific and chronic. It’s it’s it’s just amazing to me.
I didn’t know everything that you shared today. I’m glad I know. I’m very tremendously moved. And, if there’s anything that we can do to help, hopefully, this podcast will help us.
Yeah. Just one just one person is is is all worth it.
So thank you, and thank you for shedding some light on this. And, I know my peers are gonna be feeling proud that we we could do our little part just, you know, and spreading awareness.
I probably can talk to you forever and error, but, I know our listeners, wanna, you know, help go to path to freedom and help out and, do their own, soul searching. So That is about all the time we have for today. Thank you for listening. I do hope that everyone felt comfortable with this topic even though it was del delicate.
We do have new episode releases every twelve thirty every Thursday at twelve thirty PM. That’s Thursdays, twelve thirty PM.
And hopefully you’ll find, find us on your favorite station. We we stream everywhere. So, I don’t know if there’s, a channel that we’ve missed. So, hopefully, you could, tune in.
Again, Barb Volinger from Path Path to Freedom. The development director there was a big job Thank you so much. You’ve been so candid and authentic and, taking this head on. I think they’re The gods were working back in the pandemic as that was a god awful time for all of us.
There was, a a higher mission there at work, bringing you to PAC to Freedom for sure. So, I’m glad that at least came came out of it. Thank you so much. Any last words of inspiration for our audience? Sure.
Well, I think I talked about spreading the word. I Actually, I think I was remissing that same our website.
Oh, I’ll get that all in the show notes. Don’t you worry. We’re gonna get your your we we do pretty good all notes here, and our audience knows we’re gonna have your website. We’re gonna have how to get in touch with you, and we’re gonna have little article going along with this podcast.
So if you’re listening, you can do all the reading too. We’ll we’ll get we’ll get if people wanna help, we’ll get them connected to you. Don’t you worry? But go ahead and share it anyway.
Is it pathway? Oh, well, it’s pastor freedom dot org. There is a fund and need page, which actually is where it talks about our second safe home. If you wanted to help donate towards the second take home, that’s on our fund and need page.
But, and and in general, you know, this really is, especially with children. In our view, this is the the worst crime, you know, against god’s creation. Perfect. Yeah.
It’s so horrific.
And, and I think, you know, Anna, on a, on a Stevenson in, in particular, who started path to freedom, and in the amount of effort it took to get going. And the people that believed in us in the very beginning before anyone was getting started. So just wanted to do a shout out and thank you to to them. Yeah. Well, thank you again so much. Let’s let’s keep in touch. We’ll check-in.
See how you guys are doing.
Maybe you can share some success stories without any names or violating any any privacy, but we wanna know the good that’s coming out of this and how we can help stop the bad. So, we’ll have you back again if you don’t mind joining us.
I would love to. Thank you. Until next time, Raise Nation Radio. Don Lego. This is Ray’s Nation Radio. You stay fearless out there.