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Deceptions Program Manager
Local Survivor of Sex trafficking Shares Story, builds awareness, and Becomes Key Speaker for Education.
Portland, oregon, January 11, 2016— “It Can Happen To Anyone,” says sex trafficking survivor, Amy, in a recently released public service announcement (PSA) addressing human trafficking in the local community. In an effort to help young people avoid what she experienced, Amy shared her story with local social service non-profit, Northwest Family Services (NWFS).
Human trafficking is among one of the largest black market trades within the world, including the United States. Sadly, this growing challenge within American cities includes the Northwest. The Portland Metro Area has become a hub of child sex trafficking in part due to the large volume of legal adult entertainment venues.
Portland Police Sex Trafficking Unit Officer, Mike Gallagher, says, “Sex trafficking has been and continues to be a problem in the Portland area as well as nationally. It’s a problem that won’t go away without addressing the issues behind it. That means going after the demand side, targeting the traffickers and working with the victims who are forced into prostitution through a variety of means. This is not the victimless crime that people often think it is.”
In Winter 2012, Amy, a pre-school teacher, met a very charming and handsome young man on a popular dating site, named Mark. He was nine years her senior and told Amy he was a web designer. Mark promised Amy everything, and she really felt she had found Mr. Right. He said he “loved me,” with plans for family, home, and a future together. Mark even bought Amy lavish and expensive gifts such as full outfits head to toe. He also weekly made sure Amy went to the salon to get her hair and nails done.
While Amy was falling in love with Mark, her parents, with whom she was living, did not. They strongly objected to this older man who seemed to sweep their daughter off her feet. In due course after only a few weeks of dating Mark, Amy left her parents’ home and moved in with her new boyfriend.
This is where Amy’s story began to change, and her new boyfriend quickly became controlling and possessive. Ultimately, Mark revealed his true intentions and became Amy’s pimp.
Amy said, “he had me convinced that nobody else would ever love me or take me back.” When Portland Police finally found Amy in a hotel room, they knew she was a victim. Her sex trafficker, Mark, was sitting in the lobby with a couple thousand dollars in cash.
Reflecting on her nightmare experience of being trafficked, Amy explains, “I wish I had been brave and badass three years ago and I’m trying to make up for it. It is so important to me that we stop this from happening. There is no point in my story if no good comes from it!”
Human Trafficking Awareness Program: Deceptions
Northwest Family Services’ Deceptions curriculum was created at the request of law enforcement in Vancouver, Washington. Vancouver Police realized that sex trafficking had become a raging epidemic in Pacific Northwest schools, including the Portland Metro area. The three-hour curriculum follows Amy’s story, with the use of engaging videos, discussions, and activities that introduce students to the concept of sex trafficking, healthy relationships and boundaries, internet safety, and more.
Deceptions is a three, one hour series curriculum that is geared towards middle and high school students in a school based format. Amy tells her story in the series to help students understand the way that traffickers prey on victims and the tactics they use to manipulate people like herself into working in the commercial sex industry.
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About Northwest Family Services
Northwest Family Services is an award winning, leading provider of creative services that reduce poverty. Annually, NWFS serves 20,000 people through our health, education, employment, and social justice impact programs. NWFS Executive Director Rose Fuller, says, “We are thrilled and excited to be expanding the work of NWFS to include Deceptions, our human trafficking awareness program. The sad truth is that few are aware of the human suffering inflicted on the youth as they are being lured into slavery in our own neighborhoods. Northwest Family Services is most honored to join in this cause.”