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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME

You know how shows like "Jackass" and "Ridiculousness" and many others show things that are very dangerous along with the warning "don't attempt this at home - these are trained professionals"?

For some reason, I keep reading of how very loving, caring, great people see a video about sex trafficking at their church and next thing you know - you read about them deciding to "open up a safe house" like they think this is the same as any thing else.

The main reason we stood up starting in 1987 and demanding that the system "change" is because EXISTING systems did not work.  Do you honestly think trafficking victims didn't do things like attempt to run away to a homeless shelter or a domestic violence shelter before?  The problem is that they aren't set up for what happens next.

When a very well known youth program opened up a shelter in NY - every Friday and Saturday night they would get swamped with prostitutes who managed to get away from their pimps.  It's usually the best night of the week to escape because he's busy and you can then slip away.

But at 2:00 a.m. the pimp showed up at this shelter with guns demanding their "property be returned".  The staff are not armed and there usually is not armed security at these types of shelters - so what did they do?  What do you think they did?  For the safety of the staff they "returned" the prostitutes.

Then what?  Do you think they can get the budget approved to hire armed security?  Do you think they're going to get staff to work there knowing these pimps are going to show up with guns?  Not likely.  Now luckily this shelter called me up for help.  We set up a system whereby when the prostitutes who had pimps would show up - we'd take them to a separate system that the pimps couldn't track where they were going.

Which is not easy because they then send out "scouts".  These are prostitutes they send in claiming they want help.  That way they scope out how your system works, where you put them, who your staff is, when your shift changes, etc.  Which is honestly why the best system is one where a "rescue" is held in a quarantine for a few days so they don't see how things operate, who works for you, where your safe house is, etc.

In the over 30 years I've been doing this work - we've made the mistakes.  I've put someone up in a safe house only to come out of my own home to find a pimp come up behind me with a gun, put it in my ribs, and demand to be taken to where his "bitch" is.  I've gone to the safe house with food for a rescue - only to have a pimp jump out of the bushes at me, put a knife up to my throat, and demand to be let inside the security building.  Been there - done that.

As a result of many mistakes - we have developed a very good system that protects everyone.  One we will always gladly share with anyone who asks because people's lives are at risk here and the bigger networks we have - the more people we can help.

But when someone just sees some video and runs off half-cocked thinking "oh that looks like a good idea" - they're going to run into problems.

Is this woman's murder connected with the fact she was also running a safe house for sex trafficking victims?  I don't know.  http://ourmothershome.com/website/2015/07/remembering-dr-teresa-sievers/

But I can safely say this.  If this woman had set up her security properly - she would not have been murdered.  Clearly proper security wasn't there.  Now considering she was running a program for sex trafficking victims - well she paid the price.  More than the loss of her life - there are now going to be even less people willing to take the risk of running one themselves now in fear of what happened to her.  Only what happened to her is NOT what happens when a program is set up properly.  Not only would she not have been alone to have this happen - but there'd be security equipment around her to where we'd know what happened to her.

Myself?  I'm surrounded by video cameras that go of with the slightest of motion.  I have signs up all around me, and even my car stating that if you're in view of these cameras - you're giving consent to be videotaped.  If anyone comes through my front door - they're not only being videotaped - but the recordings are sent off site also to another location.   I also have security where if someone does come through a window or door without my letting them inside - they will seriously regret it.

So please - if you're going to enter into this field PLEASE consider consulting with people who have been doing this a while for mentoring.  Your life, and the lives of the people who work with you, and the people you're rescuing depend upon you knowing the most information you can know.  I don't care how many years you worked at a homeless or even a domestic violence shelter - it's not the same.  I don't know people who show up at homeless shelters with guns demanding their wino's back.  I also don't know many husbands who show up with five guys and gas cans threatening to burn the place down if their woman isn't sent outside in 30 seconds.  Then you call the police - and they leave.  Do you know who they were?  Do you know their car license or their real names or even their address if they're traffickers?  No you don't.  A husband - yes.  A pimp - no.  Then after the police leave - they just show back up again.

Please please please - do not open up handbooks and manuals from homeless and domestic violence shelters and think this is the same.  That's about as effective as opening up a center for compulsive gamblers with an AA Big Book and then wondering why it's not working.

Lois Lee opened up the first program specifically designed for the needs of boys and girls who were being sexually exploited for money, or selling themselves on the streets BECAUSE they were not able to get their needs met properly through existing shelters in 1979.  Because the Runaway Hotline did not know how to help the kids escape a pimp safely - she also opened the first hotline for teens and kids to call for help when in that situation.

I opened the first hotline and national program and network for adults in 1987.  We're now in our second generation of helping people.  Meaning I've now got adult members of our program I helped to get out of the sex industry who have heard about someone their kids know in trouble, or a girlfriend in trouble - who are now calling me for help.  I've even got a couple of moms whose daughters were pimped out by their ex-husband/pimp that I'm getting calls about to help the second generation.

So I don't know of anyone older, or who has more experience, in this country than our two programs when it comes to this area.  I read articles like this one above and my heart breaks.  Because if she had properly set up her program - we would not be reading about her death.  Highly unlikely.  I mean I'm still walking around and so is Lois - so we must be doing something right.

Think about it.



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