The Facts About Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is an underground criminal industry based on the principles of supply and demand.  It happens when a trafficker uses force fraud or coercion in order to control a person to commit acts of labor or commercial sex acts.  If there was no demand for laborers or sex slaves, there would be no need for a supply. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.

As defined under U.S. law, severe forms of human trafficking include:

  • Children under age 18 induced into commercial sex.
  • Adults aged 18 or over induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion.
  • Children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.

Human trafficking is a complex underground criminal industry. It’s victims vary in age, socioeconomic class, education level, gender, and race. Across the world, human trafficking generates $150 billion annually. The commercial sex industry generates more than $99 billion per year. Experts tell us that there are more than 20 million slaves in the world today which means that modern day slavery is epidemic.

Florida is ranked 3rd in the nation among 50 states in reports of human trafficking. Locally, Jacksonville ranks highly among cities in the state with a human trafficking problem. HT is happening in cities, suburban neighborhoods, around shopping malls, online, in rural areas, and in vacation destinations, too. It is a widespread problem that affects many sectors of our society: healthcare system, business owners, hotel and tourist industry, our schools where girls/kids are recruited, our public transit system, the justice system, and so much more. It is a community problem that affects all of us.

What is our Mission?

To provide a sanctuary where the young ladies can heal from the devastating effects of human trafficking. By healing lives, we are interrupting the cycles of trafficking in the lives of victims and leading the exploited to freeodm. We impact our community in three ways: Survivor Care in both residential and community settings; Victim Outreach; and Community Education and Awareness.

Her Song was founded in 2013 to address the gap in services in the Northeast Florida area for safe housing and trauma-informed programs for sex trafficking survivors. The snare for victims is powerful and life-controlling so services must address these life-altering issues keeping her ensnared. She didn’t choose it. She has been manipulated and coerced into believing lies about herself.  Her potential has been thwarted. When she gets out, we empower her to live out her purpose and achieve the goals she chooses for herself.  The results are stunningly beautiful. The results are empowered ladies going to school, making awesome grades, gaining scholarships, internships,  and employment in their chosen field. More than anything, her heart is healed and whole and she now graces the world with her radiant beauty and confidence. She is free and really alive.

What are the Effects of Human Trafficking on Victims?

  • Shame & grief
  • Loss of stability (home, income, family, personal belongings)
  • Almost total break down of the body, mind, and spirit
  • Traumatized (often time this is severe and repeated traumas alled complex trauma)
  • Disconnection from healthy people
  • Substance abuse/addiction to cope with the pain of existence
  • Cycles of relapse and recidivism due to limited and fragmented services locally and nationally

Who are the Clients?

They are victims of sex trafficking from very young ages. Sometimes as young as 5 years old. Others sold since they were 14. They are the most complex victims of crime and come with great needs. We serve female trafficking victims 18 & up who have been child victims of trafficking and no one was there for them.

What is the Vision?

Her Song envisions a world where every girl is free. Free to live. Free to achieve her dreams and goals. Free to go to school.  Free from harm and abuse. Free from the snare of traffickers.

What has Her Song done since it’s inception?

Her Song has since assisted over 1000 victims with referral services, recovery support, and programming. Additionally, Her Song:

  • Established the first 2 safe houses in the NE Florida area with comprehensive trauma-informed, strength-based, post-traumatic-growth focused recovery programming for trafficked females;
  • Built strategic partnerships with FBI, JSO, the State Attorney’s Office, St. John’s Sheriff’s Office, the judiciary and many other agencies; chairs the service provider committee for the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition and serves on the Executive Committee;  serves on a pilot multidisciplinary team to assist survivors with diversion;  and is part of statewide and national referral networks to assist and advocate for victims;
  • Established community-based programs offering:
    • Victim outreach, identification, and referrals;
    • Support groups, economic empowerment groups, and after care for incarcerated victims;
    • Implemented a research-based economic empowerment program to assist survivors to move out of poverty and into self-sufficiency (based on local data); and
  • In 2016, partnered with Duval County Public schools to implement middle school curriculum for students and teachers on the facts about human trafficking educating over 28,000 students to date.  In 2018, the curriculum expanded to high school. Currently, K-5 curriculum is being evaluated as The State Board of Education unanimously approved a new rule requiring instruction in child trafficking prevention for students K-12. Her Song continues to collaborate with the Florida Department of Education and the Statewide Human Trafficking Council’s education appointee to ensure evidenced-based prevention strategies for all curricula.

How do Women Come to Her Song?

Young women come to us as referrals from a large network of law enforcement partners and service providers including the FBI, local sherrif’s offices, the judiciary,  the NEFLHT Coalition members, from survivors themselves, and from the community. We also identify victims hidden within the correctional systems and offer services and opportunities for growth.

What do the Clients Need?

Everything. Housing, food, clothing, medical care, emotional and spiritual support, educational and economic opportunities, and love. Most are homeless and are trying to break out of cycles of trauma, addiction, and shame. Many lack suportive families. We were not there for them when they were young. Everything has been stolen from them.  They need a chance to heal and begin to chart a pathway to success. They need a new purpose for their life so they have meaning and a direction.