Second Life Chattanooga

Ending sexual exploitation and slavery in the Greater Chattanooga area

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Working with Traumatized Victims:“Why Won’t They Ask For Help” (Part 1)

Working with Traumatized Victims:“Why Won’t They Ask For Help” (Part 1)

Written By: Danae Church March 4, 2014

Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Catastrophic events, physical injuries, threats of harm, acts of violence, dislocation and loss of home, family, country, or children can cause a victim to go into emotional shock. Human trafficking, by its very nature, is a traumatic experience as victims are subjected to force, fraud, or…

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Today is the Day We End Human Trafficking Together

Today is the Day We End Human Trafficking Together

By Tricia Martin, Administrative Support for Second Life

The Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus reported on February 5, 2014 that new anti-human trafficking laws were being pushed to the Senate. These laws are being submitted in an effort to create awareness and increase penalties for human trafficking in Tennessee. The Senate Judiciary Committee is being led by Senator Brian Kelsey of…

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Unite. Wear White. 
Friday, January 10, 2014
Chattanooga Choo Choo

If the link does not work, go to…

Filed under Second Life Chattanooga Sex Trafficking SLC Unite.WearWhite. Second Life second life of chattanooga Chattanooga Choo Choo Choo Choo Wear White

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New York’s Example: Special Trafficking & Prostitution Courts

By Kayla Ewert, Second Life intern
Near the end of September, a New York judge announced that the state would legally treat most alleged prostitutes as victims and not charge them as criminals. Additionally, New York would try to connect these trafficking survivors with medical treatment and care, job training and more.

The Empire State has established and will continue to establish special courts that will see these cases. According to Judge Jonathan Lippman, this new system could help many trafficking victims and forced prostitutes. When a prostitution case goes beyond arraignment, that case will go to a special trafficking court. There, a judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney will discuss the case and determine whether the defendant is a trafficking victim. If so, they will work to connect the trafficking survivor with services such as drug treatment, education, job training, health treatment and care, or immigration help, as needed.

The program is structured similarly to drug diversion programs: If the trafficking victims take advantage of the recommended services, any potential criminal charges are dropped. Additionally, there may be concerns of increasing taxes to cover these services, but in New York, the service providers are able to cover the cost of the services and are even willing to do so. Furthermore, this system will bring fewer cases to the regular courts, which will likely even save money over time.

While Tennessee has passed laws designed to provide legal reinforcement for the prosecution of traffickers, it has not created a system similar to New York’s special courts nor has it put laws in place that will offer sex trafficking victims the ability to request vacating convictions for sex trafficking (basically, victims criminalized as prostitutes could request to have those charges become legally void, due to the circumstances of being trafficked at the time). This is concerning, and places trafficking victims at risk for additional, undue duress. Legal changes need to be made to address this problem.

For more information on New York’s special courts, click here.

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National Runaway Prevention Month - How Does a Runaway Become a Trafficking Victim?

Written by Patricia Martin, Second Life of Chattanooga

November is National Runaway Prevention Month in the United States. This is the month that we are all asked to create and raise awareness about the issue of runaways in our country. However, very few people even realize that this is still an issue or the reasons why children might choose to live on the street as opposed to their own homes. There is a strong misconception that children leave home because they are choosing to be defiant. Far more are the cases where a child is being victimized or abused and they are choosing to run from their abuser.

Based on research completed in 2002 on runaway and thrown away children in the United States, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth (children 12-17) runaway each year. Additionally, this age group of children is at higher risk for homelessness than adults, per the same study. Of these youth that run away, 70% of them reported abuse as their reason for running away. This included physical and sexual abuse at home and the fear that abuse would continue if they returned.

Unfortunately, this abuse that leads to the child leaving home puts them at greater risk for abuse and exploitation on the street. Instead of finding solace or security on their own, many of these teens find only more adults willing to continue their abuse. Approximately 10% of the teens that sought refuge in a shelter and 28% of those that did not reported engaging in “survival sex” after running away. Survival sex includes sex in exchange for shelter, food, drugs or subsistence needs. Additional studies have found that among girls who run away from home, those that have been sexually abused previously are at greater risk for being sexually victimized while on the street.

These statistics are staggering. Even more so for me, as I was raised in a home where such abuse was common and raised with sisters who chose to leave home rather than continue to suffer such abuse. At the young age of 13 and 15, my sisters chose to leave home and make their way on their own. What they found when they left home, however, was not help. It was far worse than what they expected. But somehow, the idea of coming home was still not an option. The thought of returning to the abuse that caused them to leave in the first place was not considered. They would rather have taken whatever it was they were dealt on the street than come home.

It’s easy for me to see, from this perspective, how a runaway becomes a victim of human trafficking. These children already believe that they have no value. They believe this because the people who were supposed to love and nurture them told them with abuse that they have no worth. Now they find themselves alone, on the street, struggling to figure out how they are going to eat and where they will stay.

 Someone who feels themselves worthless is apt to allow others to treat them that way also. So they give themselves away for food or money. Many of them find themselves in the hands of a person who initially told them they wanted to help them only to find that this person only wants to exploit them.

Or, in many cases, the exploiter found the child before they ever even left home. On the internet, on Facebook, on the multitude of social networking sites available to teenagers in this age. They sought the children out, lured them away from their situation and the child immediately entered the world of human trafficking – where they are now being sold. Less than human – less than a person – again.

So, what do we do with this information? Like most of the information we deal with around the issue of human trafficking, it seems like so much to handle. Too big to do anything about. But it isn’t. I encourage you, if you feel compelled by this issue to reach out to this list of shelters in our area.  Find out what you can do to help these kids who just need someone to tell them they are not worthless. They are not alone. Regardless of what has been done to them or even what they have done to themselves, they are loved. They are valued.

And most importantly, be aware. Know what you are looking at when you see a kid alone on the street. Talk to others about what it is we are seeing on our streets when we see kids selling themselves for someone else’s profit. No one leaves home with the hope of becoming a prostitute. It’s all trafficking. And our job of creating awareness won’t be finished until they are all off the street.

Statistics obtained from:

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Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity

By Kayla Ewert, Second Life intern

            At a GCCAHT meeting this year, U.S. Attorney Bill Killian mentioned Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity: Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013-2017. This plan was released by the White House in April of this year and is the product of collaborative work between multiple federal agencies, with co-chairs from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Homeland Security.

            This plan lays out specific actions that are designed to “strengthen the reach and effectiveness of services provided to all victims of human trafficking, regardless of the victims’ race, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, or the type of trafficking they endured.” Over the course of five years, the plan will create a connected and coordinated recovery network for the victims of human trafficking so that they will be able to receive all the services they need in order to recover and rehabilitate.

            Written for the public as well as governmental agencies, the plan is written to reach out to other individuals who can make a difference outside of the legal arena; this involves the everyday individuals who can offer “resources, expertise, and partnerships” to help the survivors and end human trafficking.

            Four goals are given for the plan and are as follows:

  • Increase coordination and collaboration: Increase guidance, collaboration, and civic engagement at the national, state, tribal, and local levels.
  • Increase Awareness: Increase the understanding of human trafficking among key governmental and community leaders and the general public.
  • Expand Access to Services: Increase victim identification and expand the availability of services for victims throughout the United States.
  • Improve Outcomes: Promote effective, culturally appropriate, trauma-informed services that improve the short-and long-term health, safety, and well-being outcomes of victims.

The goals and related objectives and action items have a timeline for completion and denote the federal agency tasked with those responsibilities. This is key to the collaboration aspect of the plan. Previously, the federal agencies have each worked with combating human trafficking in their own respective areas of expertise; having a nation-wide plan requiring and coordinating cooperation between the agencies streamlines the work and makes the expected progress far more efficient. Beyond that, it will help ensure that the survivors receive all the services they need.

To read the full plan, click here. {}

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Trafficking Fighters: The United Methodist Church

Written by Kayla Ewert, Second Life of Chattanooga Intern

Earlier this year, I did some research on ways that different groups in the United States and around the world targeted trafficking. One of those groups was the United Methodist Church and specifically, the United Methodist Women group.

            United Methodist Women and its parent organization, the Women’s Division, have focused on fighting human trafficking for more than a decade, both locally and internationally. “The Protection Project” offers training to educate members about human trafficking and offers practical suggestions for actions they can take in their own communities. Church members are also educated about how to identify where trafficking victims may be working and about how to interact with local law enforcement. This not only spreads awareness but a practical understanding of trafficking.

            The church also encourages members to advocate for better laws related to trafficking, support plans for more shelters and other programs for trafficking victims, and investigate how immigration patterns and policies play a role in the problem.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief was the first NGO (nongovernmental  organization) to work with Armenian authorities in all regions of Armenia to reintegrate trafficking survivors back into society.

            In 2008 the United Methodist General Conference (the denomination’s top legislative body) approved a resolution calling for the abolition of trafficking. Read the resolution here {}.

            This past year, the church started the Super Bowl initiative called Intercept Human Trafficking: Let’s Reverse the Momentum, which highlighted the fact that the Super Bowl is the single largest human trafficking event in the United States. Read more about that here {}.

The church also offers various resources for members, such as the Human Trafficking Fact Sheet, Human Trafficking: A Resource for Preventing, Protecting, Prosecuting, and Voices of Human Trafficking. To view these resources, click here {}.

            As an organization, the United Methodist Church partners with the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Julian Center, Stand Against Human Trafficking, the Center for Victim & Human Rights, and more.

            What ideas do you have for getting your church or organization involved in the fight?

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Status Update: “What’s being done to fight human trafficking?”

Written by Danae Church, Second Life of Chattanooga Intern

“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – modern slavery.”

– President Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting September 25, 2012

Status is defined by the Oxford Dictionary (2013) as “the position of affairs at a particular time, especially in political or commercial contexts.” One year after President Obama challenged the nation, the White House staff released a status update telling us what they are doing to combat human trafficking. At the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting held September 25th this year, the administration announced a series of initiatives that have been, or will soon be, launched. Utilizing a variety of services, agencies, occupations, and industries our government models collaborative efforts in combating the injustice of human trafficking in our nation and overseas.

Status Update: “Global warming?? Or are things heating up in the fight against trafficking?”

Several of the initiatives include:

  1. Conducting tech camps to design affordable and easy-to-implement tools to battle trafficking.
  2. Helping healthcare workers identify victims and provide services with screening and training.
  3. Connecting to global payment service, Western Union, to fight trafficking payment methods.
  4. Educating flight crews and airline staff in staying alert for signs of trafficking.
  5. Outline a road map for child and youth services to identify, engage, serve, and restore victims.
  6. Strategizing with donors to map funding, resource gaps, and how to acquire those resources.
  7. Create challenges like the recently launched, Reimagine, that has an aim to get communities to creatively provide long-term housing, economic opportunities and services for victims.

Status Update: “Is this a dime store ‘cause we’re seeing change in our community!?”

We at Second Life of Chattanooga are excited to see such developments and discussion at the national and global levels as we strive to do our part in our community. You may have seen us around Chattanooga recently as we’ve been busy collaborating with area agencies and organizations to make a difference. From presentations at area universities to meeting community members and stakeholders, handing out pamphlets and wristbands, attending meet and greets, and writing grant proposals, we have been keeping busy. We’re even preparing for our first costume party fundraiser, “Fright for Freedom.” As we put our heads together, we urge you to explore innovative ways you can contribute and make a difference to fight human trafficking.

Status Update: “I’m doing my part to end human trafficking!”

Whether it’s developing an app, informing your friends and family, giving a presentation, making a donation, writing your politicians, hosting a documentary screening, or  advocating through a status update, be creative, collaborate, and don’t ever stop fighting until this injustice is eradicated.


Status. (2013). Retrieved October 3, 2013, from Oxford Dictionary:

Park, T., & Graubard, V. (2013, September 25). All Hands on Deck: Renewing the Call to Combat Human Trafficking. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from

Park, T., & Graubard, V. (2013, September 25). Progress Report: The Obama Administration’s Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking at Home and Abroad. Retrieved October 1, 2013, from