The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking will meet Thursday, Sept. 16, at 9:30 a.m. virtually.
The September meeting will feature guest speaker, Lillie Malpass (she/her/hers), the executive director of the Pitt County Coalition on Substance Use (PCCSU).
Malpass completed her masters in public health from East Carolina University in 2020. She is a certified health education specialist and is passionate about educating the community on substance use, trauma and recovery.
Originally from Hallsboro, N.C., Malpass now considers Pitt County her second home.
She is currently teaching two sections of HLTH 4611 – Program Evaluation for the Department of Health Education and Promotion at ECU.
“The intersection between substance use and human trafficking in Pitt County and all of North Carolina is large,” said PCCAHT facilitator Pam Strickland.
“It is important that we come to the table and talk about these intersections and how one leads to the other or vice versa. Ms. Malpass will offer our coalition insight into the issue in Pitt County, as well as an avenue for professionals at our table to collaborate with professionals and community members at hers.”
The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking will welcome Ashley Lowe, survivor and advocate, to speak on her experiences and her work around providing support to girl survivors of exploitation and trafficking during the scheduled June meeting.
Lowe works as an advocate for the nonprofit organization Karana Rising.
Karana Rising supports survivors for life, not just a season, customizing a path to wellness that involves body, mind, soul, and community.
“I love advocating for girls who were like me,” Lowe said.
“When growing up, I felt like there weren’t enough resources for girls that were like myself and experienced some of the things that I encountered into my adolescent years. I love what I do and I love telling my story because our voices need to be heard. I live by the motto reach one teach one. I want to teach and educate young women and girls that they are not alone and there are people that have in their shoes and understand where they come from.”
Pam Strickland, PCCAHT facilitator and founder of NC Stop Human Trafficking said the voices and the stories of survivors are imperative when developing localized services and resources.
“As a community, we need to understand what survivors need, and not impose as service providers what we think they need,” Strickland said.
“We are excited to hear Ms. Lowe offer up sound advice and wisdom that she possesses through her lived experience and advocacy work.”
The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking meets on the third Thursday of the month at 9:30 a.m. via zoom and in person at the new Farmville Public Library, 4276 W Church St, Farmville.
Lauren Anzelone, LCSW, founder of LAMB’s Place, will speak about the relationship of human trafficking to the foster care system during the May meeting of the Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking (May 20 at 9:30 a.m. virtually or at the Farmville Public Library).
Lauren received her Master’s in Social Work in 2009 from East Carolina University and became a fully licensed clinical social worker in June of 2019.
She has worked in the mental health field since 2002 and with young people in the foster care system and/or aging out of the foster care system since 2009.
Lauren saw the continuous need for stable, affordable housing for young people that age out of foster care or have had adverse childhoods and barriers to overcome as they transition to adulthood.
She heard countless stories of the dreams young people have for their lives, all while seeing the many barriers they have to reaching those goals. Her heart was broken as she realized that many of the young people aging out of foster care will experience homelessness and do not have stable/consistent relationships to help them navigate life and the many bumps in the road. After walking out of the third home in poor conditions that the young people were living in, she said, “God, you need to do something.” He said, “Ok. You do it.” and LAMB’s Place was started.
Without stable housing the young people are more likely to have difficulty with obtaining/maintaining employment and education. The instability also increases the risk that the young people getting involved with the legal system or more at risk of getting involved in human trafficking. The goal of LAMB’s Place is to assist the young people with gaining the independent/transitional life skills they need to be successful and to reach their life goals. Counselors meet with them weekly and help them get connected with community resources to help them meet their needs. Since opening their first home in the summer of 2020, they have opened three homes and supported 8 Residents.
To attend this meeting you can go to the Farmville Public Library, 4276 W Church St, Farmville, NC 27828, or attend the meeting on zoom.
Join Bonnie Jean Kuras of TEDI BEAR Children’s Advocacy Center and Melinda Sampson of NC Stop Human Trafficking to discuss what awareness events are popping up across Pitt County for Child Abuse Prevention & Awareness Month.
With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking is welcoming LaDwina “LaLa” Barlow, sexual assault advocate and personnel director of REAL Crisis Intervention, to discuss the intersection of sexual assault and human trafficking.
The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking will meet virtually on April 15 at 9:30 a.m.
Barlow has a bachelor’s in social work and has worked in crisis intervention and mental heath field since graduating from East Carolina in 2015.
She has been a crisis counselor for a little over five years and a victim advocate for nearly four years with REAL Crisis.
Pam Strickland, facilitator of PCCAHT, said, “We are excited to have LaLa speak with us on this broad intersection of sexual assault and human trafficking. Through her experience, she has a nuanced understanding of both issues and is a true advocate in her ability to address this with both compassion and strategy.”
The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking will be highlighting best practices and standards of care for professionals who serve human trafficking survivors.
On Thursday, March 18, at 9:30 a.m., PCCAHT will convene virtually with guest speaker Nancy Hagan, PhD, North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission Coordinator of Training and Technical Assistance. Hagan works with the executive director to plan and conduct training around human trafficking to a wide array of partners and communities locally, statewide and nationally. Hagan came to the commission after three years as a senior human trafficking analyst with Project No Rest, a grant funded anti-human trafficking initiative based at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.
Prior to that, she worked for 20 years in direct service and program development at a community-based organization in rural North Carolina. She has expertise in the identification, awareness, and response to both sex and labor trafficking, with a particular focus on the labor trafficking of vulnerable people who are foreign nationals.
“We are happy to have Nancy Hagan speak to the members of the coalition about the standards of care that has been developed by the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission,” said founder of NC Stop Human Trafficking and coalition facilitator Pam Strickland.
“Locally, our service providers need to know the best practices in providing survivors with the best possible care so survivors are empowered to live independent and successful lives. We want to prevent well-meaning service providers from causing undue harm to survivors because they did not know differently. We hope this session provides the knowledge necessary to our service providers so that victim response is the best it can possibly be in Pitt County.”
To attend this meeting, go to pccaht.org/2021meetingminutes
GREENVILLE, N.C.: The Pitt County Coalition Against Human Trafficking will be highlighting the importance of teen dating violence prevention in an effort to end commercial sexual exploitation of children.
On Thursday, Feb. 18, at 9:30 a.m., PCCAHT will convene virtually with guest speaker Kyla Reece, victim advocate for the Center for Family Violence Prevention, who will discuss the overarching issue of teen dating violence in Pitt County.
“February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, and it is through intimate partner violence that traffickers groom victims into commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking,” NC Human Trafficking founder and PCCAHT facilitator Pam Strickland said.
“Traffickers also target young people. When we are able to look at the leading mechanisms of grooming and recruitment, and cut down the efficacy of those techniques that traffickers employ to victimize youth, we are preventing human trafficking. PCCAHT is happy to have Ms. Reece join our discussion around disrupting the pipeline of victims to traffickers through intimate partner violence prevention in Pitt County.”
ABOUT PITT COUNTY COALITION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING
PCCAHT was created to increase collaboration among agencies and organizations addressing human trafficking in Pitt County. Through collaboration, the coalition builds awareness of sex trafficking and labor trafficking in the county. PCCAHT works to increase identification of sex and labor trafficking victims locally as well as improve short term and long-term outcomes for identified victims. PCCAHT also works to prevent human trafficking. For more information about PCCAHT, visit www.facebook.com/PCCAHT or www.pccaht.org.
19 Days of Prevention of Violence Against Children and Youth begins on Nov. 1 and runs through Nov. 19. During the 19 Days of Prevention, each day addresses an aspect of child abuse. Though this is an international campaign, most of the issues that are addressed each day have a very tangible and real effect in the U.S. and in North Carolina.
We all know what big press conferences look like announcing the arrest of human traffickers at the culmination of a years-long investigation.
The common rhetoric around these conferences are the lauding of law enforcement and prosecutors and inevitably addressing that victims were “rescued.”
It is difficult to fathom that some of those victims may have needed deliverance from the officers sworn to protect them – but that was the case in Arizona in 2018.
It certainly didn’t look like officers were involved in the sexual assault of human trafficking victims during a press conference in September of 2018 when Lon Weigand, deputy special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Arizona, took the podium praising the efforts of agents and other law enforcement agencies that led to the arrest of nine people in a human trafficking investigation in Arizona.
However, almost two years later, those charges were dropped because officers were not allowed to testify in court, and investigative journalists discovered why.
HSI undercover officers were given approval by their supervisors to pay for sex acts from the human trafficking victims during this investigation.
Make no mistake, that is federally sanctioned sexual assault.
If you are curious if that egregious abuse facilitated the conviction of human traffickers, it didn’t. If you are curious if the victims are now safe, you will remain that way, because we don’t really know. Those victims cannot be located. Those victims were very likely retraumatized by this unconscionable investigation.
In the anti-human trafficking movement, survivors have often decried the practices of law enforcement, and rightfully so.
When the people who are designated to protect take the most marginalized people in our community and threaten and abuse them, we are left questioning where the justice really is in our justice system.
When many survivors talk about law enforcement, they tell stories of being forced to have sex with officers to avoid arrest.
The terror campaign that traffickers wage against victims to maintain control over them further drives those who need help into the shadows.
After all, traffickers also use threats of arrest and police brutality against victims to get what they want.
And when we consider that victims of human trafficking are disproportionately people of color or immigrants, the likelihood that they come forward for help is further reduced.
The current alarms blaring – and rightfully so – about how people of color are treated by law enforcement and the political environment in which ICE is encouraged to actively deport immigrants and detain them in inhumane conditions at our country’s southern border, result in people who desperately need help being terrified to reach out and get it, and quite frankly, they are not wrong to stay hidden in the shadows of abuse.
What choice do they really have?
It was with great and profound outrage, but with little surprise, that I came upon a news story about HSI undercover officers – a branch of ICE, by the way – paying for sex acts from people they had identified as victims of human trafficking, and that it was approved behavior by supervisors in the agency.
According to HSI’s Blue Campaign, “DHS (Department of Homeland Security) uses a victim-centered approach to combat human trafficking”.
Authorizing misogyny, the sexual objectification of women, sexual assault, and contributing to victimization and trauma of human trafficking victims is not a victim-centered approach.
As NC Stop Human Trafficking founder Pam Strickland put in several of her complaint letters to government agencies designed to keep officers accountable, that is “institutionalized exploitation.”
It was clear in the journalistic investigation of these crimes that the local law enforcement officers partnering with HSI were appalled. All the agencies, except for HSI, of course, have policies clearly prohibiting officers from having sexual encounters with people involved in investigations.
But as Clark Neily, vice president of criminal justice at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank said, “It is difficult to exaggerate the extent to which the law enforcement community collectively turns a blind eye when its members engage in misconduct.”
And while we can go through the laundry list of policy changes that could make law enforcement practices more humane to victims of crime, let’s begin with making sure our federal officers are held to the highest standards and ask that HSI policy clearly and explicitly forbid sexual activity of any kind with people of interest in an investigation.
We also need to ensure that HSI receives more oversight, which based on reports, is sorely lacking. I would encourage you to make your concerns known to the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, the elected oversight body for Homeland Security