The Faces of UnBound: Carrie & Rebekah

At UnBound, we believe that every person has a unique part to play in bringing an end to human trafficking. That’s why we encourage everyone (regardless of your career, age, or background) to get involved. Volunteers, survivors, and partners are truly the faces of UnBound; we wouldn’t be who we are without you! Here’s the story of how artist Carrie Stout decided to use her gifts to contribute to UnBound’s mission.

Carrie Stout, a longtime supporter of UnBound, always wondered how she could get involved. As a full-time artist and mother of one (with one on the way!) Carrie has limited time to spend volunteering. “It just dawned on me like I should have known it all along, I paint. Why can’t we use our artistic abilities to speak for those who have no voice or to tell a story that’s hard to communicate verbally?” Carrie said.

Then, Carrie met with Rebekah Hagman, the gallery owner of Culviate 7Twelve, and together they came up with the idea to do an UnBound Art exhibition. When asked about the show, Rebekah said: “Our biggest failure is allowing sex trafficking to flourish. I perceive this show as an opportunity to give voice to the voiceless.” Rebekah and Carrie brought together a team of artists to create pieces inspired by real stories of human trafficking. Artists chose to depict the strength, breakthrough, courage, and hope found within these stories.

The goal of this partnership is to bring awareness about human trafficking within our community to a larger audience. At UnBound, we know we can’t fight trafficking on our own, it takes the whole community. Throughout the month of October 2018, UnBound and Cultivate 7Twelve offered a variety of events to bring people into the gallery, include a “Human Trafficking 101” presentation, yoga night, and book reading with Julia Walsh.  (more…)

Guest Post: Grooming – Not All Captives Wear Chains

By Karen Davis

In 2016, as a graduate student at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, I was first introduced to human trafficking.  I learned there were kids and adults, males and females, of all races, that were being forced, tricked or manipulated into manual and sexual servitude.  I was sickened such an experience was happening in other cultures and far off places. Then I learned human trafficking happens in the United States. In fact, it occurs right here in Waco, Texas.  Because traffickers play on basic human vulnerabilities, everyone is potentially susceptible to their lies, but particularly the innocent. The more I learned, the more I became passionate about educating people about how traffickers operate, how they groom their victims.  

Grooming is the process of gradually, methodically and deceptively building the trust of a targeted individual with the purpose of exploiting the individual through forced commercial sex or labor practices. Grooming can happen to any targeted potential victim. In the case of grooming minors, often the predator grooms the family surrounding the child and/or the community the child belongs to. This process can take weeks, months or years.  Traffickers can be extraordinarily patient.

Stages of Grooming:

1. Targeting a victim

They prey on the physically and emotionally vulnerable.  They are astute observers of human behavior. They can tell if a person is insecure, experiencing financial difficulties, or lacking a strong support system.  They look for those with poor social connections, low self-esteem or financial needs. (more…)

Middle School Prevention Groups

Every semester, UnBound Waco goes into local middle schools to teach girls about human trafficking. Over the course of 10 weeks, our volunteer facilitators cover topics like sex trafficking, value and worth, safe social media usage, healthy relationships and vulnerabilities. This fall we had 11 volunteers leading 7 groups in 3 different middle schools around Waco for a total of 56 sessions.

We surveyed the students at the beginning of the course to find that:

  • 43% – had never heard of sex trafficking, or were not sure what it was.
  • 82% –  didn’t know or strongly disagreed that kids in their school or neighborhood were at-risk for sex trafficking.
  • 35% – believed that if things are hard at home, running away is a good option.

During the course of the group, girls began to learn about what human trafficking was and even identified that some of their friends were at risk for trafficking

Social Media

When the leaders were teaching the students about safe social media usage, the seventh grade girls spoke about how men they did not know contact them “all the time” on Instagram. One girl told the following story. “Well I had been dating this guy I met on Instagram for like 3 months. We talked a lot, and one day he called me. His voice sounded really deep. I asked him ‘how old are you,’ and he said 34.” When the group was teaching about vulnerabilities one of the leaders spoke to the girls about the dangers of running away. One girl from the group said, “I just ran away from home. When I was gone I was walking down a street and a man started following me. He was chasing me, and I ran and ran to get away. I was so scared. So this stuff is real. Don’t run away from home guys it’s not safe.”

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UnBound Around the World, 2016

2016 has been an exciting year for UnBound, around the world! We want to share with you some of the highlights from this past year and what we’re looking forward to in 2017. Behind every number and accomplishment lies what really matters — real lives, real communities and real progress in the fight against human trafficking.

See photos on our Facebook page.

FORT WORTH

“In 2016, we saw great relationships develop between community members, churches, organizations and law enforcement in our city, as we worked together to combat the issue of human trafficking in Fort Worth. In 2017, we would like to see this trend continue, as we believe that community awareness and community members working together are the greatest ways to battle human trafficking in our city. We’re starting January off with a big Not In My City event sponsored by the Fort Worth Police Department in partnership with the Tarrant County 5-Stones Taskforce and Christ Chapel (a large church in town). We are hoping that this event will be a catalyst for what is to come this year in terms of community collaboration and prevention efforts.”

– Lisa Nottoli, UnBound Fort Worth  (more…)

UnBound Europe: Summer Recap

When you last heard from us, we had just launched UnBound Europe: an initiative to engage the crisis by providing critically needed services to refugees through human trafficking prevention and awareness. Strategically located in 5 cities throughout the refugee trail, we were able to spend the summer interacting with refugees and local community members, training short term teams, distributing awareness posters and “Signs To Look For” cards, as well as meeting with business owners, aid workers, and even government officials. (more…)

Yes, it’s in your city. But it doesn’t have to be.

Most of us learned about human trafficking first as something happening on the other side of the world. But as we continue to learn about human trafficking, we get local. We see that in our communities, down the block, in “that” part of town or your part of town, there are  people being exploited as victims of human trafficking everyday.

Our first response may be, “No way! Not in my city! I can’t believe that’s actually happening here.” But as we learn more, have more conversations, talk to law enforcement and hear stories, we have to see the truth. The bad news: it is happening in my city and in your city. The good news: it doesn’t have to. If we all play our part and work together, our initial naive rejection of the truth can turn into our battle cry: “Not in my city!” (more…)

Jump into the Fight

HOW IT STARTS

I sat in church as our speaker showed a video about a human trafficking and was immediately horrified.

I couldn’t believe there were still actual slaves on our planet, let alone five minutes down the road from me. How was it possible that I had missed this? How could this despicable action escape my notice? Human beings are being used up every single day like objects while I blissfully sip lattes and watch my children play at the park. What?! (more…)

This takes you.

UnBound’s National Director, Susan Peters, was first exposed to human trafficking during overseas travel in the early 2000s. In Thailand she saw sex trafficking. In Uganda she saw child soldiers. “I started learning how horrific human trafficking was becoming in our world,” she said.

Multiple times, Susan led the church in prayer to end human trafficking—and saw the same fire that was in her heart start to ignite in those around her.  “For about six years I was journaling, asking ‘what can we do as a movement about this issue? And what can I do?’” Susan said. (more…)

Run, Run, Run For Hope

“What can I do that will really make a difference?” You can run.

The Run for Hope was created in 2014 as a platform for anyone who wants an immediate and active role in fighting sex trafficking. It’s a simple concept – get a group together, train, pray, run and raise money to support restoration for survivors of sex trafficking. It isn’t a single run in a single location. The Run for Hope is a reusable framework and set of resources that makes it easy to rally and equip any group. (more…)