At a press conference at the NC General Assembly on Tuesday, May 9, a survivor of sex trafficking said that at one time in during that time she was so distraught she wanted to die.
Joy Anderson said that she and a group of girls from all over the country were brought to Charlotte by her traffickers any time there were big events.
“We were being sex-trafficked,” Anderson said. “I actually didn’t know the term sex trafficking when I was enslaved. I just thought this was my lot in life. That dark and evil lifestyle is so scary and I didn’t think there’d be a way out.”
An emotional Anderson also said that three years ago she was in a hotel asking herself if this was all she was born for, and that she would rather die. She said she cried out to God for help, and that two days later she was rescued as a result of an FBI sting.
She said that a program called Redeeming Joy helped her a great deal by helping her escape from that life. in being rescued out and helped set her free.
Rep. William Brawley (R-Mecklenburg), who called the press conference, has introduced House Bill 910, “Human Sex Trafficking: Resistance and Rescue.” Its goal is to help victims like Anderson recover from the horror of being enslaved.
— WNCN (@WNCN) May 9, 2017
Brawley said that a safe harbor law passed in 2013, which allows victims to report having been trafficked without fear of being prosecuted for things like prostitution, is helpful, but women often come out of the trafficking world with no training and emotional scars from having suffered abuse.
Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that there are so many moving stories like Anderson’s, and that many of the women feel trapped.
Dollar said, “Many if not most of these young women who are trapped in this don’t feel there’s any way for them to get out of it. It’s just a horrible circle, particularly when you lose hope.”
Brawley gave on overview of the bill and said that the bill would focus on education for kids and law enforcement, as well as helping those who have been rescued from trafficking with issues such as mental health and shelter.
He continued, “Law enforcement officers already receive some training on recognizing human trafficking in basic law enforcement, but there’s no follow-on training, and we realize people often see it but have no idea what they’re looking at. So, we want additional training for law enforcement. And, also a way of getting victims out and a place for them to live to rehabilitate.”
The bill establishes a pilot program to do the following: “Educate students in grades six, eight, and 10 about the dangers and signs of human trafficking, train law enforcement officers to identify signs of human trafficking, appropriate funds to implement the pilot programs and appropriate funds to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide shelter beds and mental health services to victims of human trafficking.”
The bill proposes $37.5 million in non-recurring appropriations for shelter beds, and $13.5 for mental health services to human trafficking victims.
The State Board of Education is to establish the pilot program for schools, educating students about sex trafficking warning signs, typical terms, actions and behaviors associated with sex trafficking, and web sites that are popular with sex traffickers.
The Department of Public Safety is to work with local police departments in educating law enforcement about what to watch for regarding businesses, building construction that may have places to conceal trafficking victims, and injuries on citizens that may indicate physical abuse.
Both programs would provide information regarding child advocacy centers and counseling for victims of sexual abuse or trafficking.
Another of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake), said, “We’ve got to get serious about human trafficking, folks …. We are fighting for the most vulnerable North Carolinians, helping the victims get on their feet and become whole again after an incredibly traumatic experience.”