Running The Race Of Freedom

Out of breath from running, I slowed down to a steady walk. I was halfway through the Trek Against Trafficking 5k and wasn’t sure if I had trained enough for this moment. My heart was pounding and I questioned if I’d be the last person to cross the finish line. Physically, I was tired and I wanted to quit. Mentally, I knew I couldn’t stop and had to keep going, but I needed something to hold onto to help me press forward. I thought about how I wanted to achieve this goal of running a 5k. I thought about my family who was rooting for me, but it wasn’t enough. 

And then I realized what I had forgotten in that breathless moment: I was running for freedom.

Those that financially supported my race, the people cheering along the course, the volunteers who spent months preparing for this day - we were all in this together, fighting for freedom and doing our part to fight the epidemic of human trafficking.  

In that moment, I was changed. It was no longer about me, my race, or even my ability to finish. It was about the difference I was making. Each step I took was a step for freedom. It was a step I was taking with the hope that it was one less step a trafficked child would be forced to take. As I crossed that finish line, I was tired, but filled with a reignited hope. 

Two years from that unforgettable moment, I’m now in the role of race director for this year’s Trek Against Trafficking. It’s been an honor to oversee Love True’s largest event, especially since it was an event that changed me when I ran a few years ago. As the months go by and as we get closer to the race, I find that yet again, I’m being changed all over again. With each race registration I see, my heart leaps with joy because I believe that they too, will be changed during this race. It’s not just a one mile walk. It’s not just a 5k or 10k. It’s a powerful statement that we are aligning ourselves with freedom. 

We were all in this together, fighting for freedom and doing our part to fight the epidemic of human trafficking.

Being a part of our Trek Against Trafficking sends a message to survivors that we stand with them and support them. It shows those who feel trapped and wonder if they’ll ever make it out that we see their pain and are fighting for them. Lastly, it sends a very clear message to the evil around us that we won’t stay silent any longer. 

We’re only two and a half months away from race day and I couldn’t be more excited to see how this year’s race will unfold. So many lives have been touched already through this race, and it’s only just the beginning. 

On September 30th, 2017 in Duke Island Park in Bridgewater, NJ we will see hundreds of people come together to run for freedom. We’ll see moms pushing the strollers that their children are in, as they run the 5k. We’ll see dads cheering as they watch their littlest ones run in the children’s races. We’ll celebrate life and the beauty of freedom, and we’ll also run with a passionate hope to see trafficking ended in our lifetime. 

It was a step I was taking with the hope that it was one less step a trafficked child would be forced to take.

Love True’s Trek Against Trafficking has been changing lives for the last 5 years and we would be honored to have you be a part of it. If you’ve run with us before, we hope to see your smiling faces running with us again. If you’ve never run before, I promise you that it will be life-changing, not only for you, but also for those you are running for. 

Our Trek registration prices will be going up at the end of July, so be sure to sign up before then to lock in the best rate. By signing up early, you’re guaranteed a spot and a t-shirt to commemorate the day you ran for freedom. 

Whether you walk with your family or run the longest distance we have this year, your very presence makes a difference. 

Click here to sign up or donate today.

See you there!

Amanda Pietrocola is passionate about ending sex trafficking and has been a volunteer for Love True for the past four years. Earlier this year, she stepped into the role of race director for Love True. On her blog, HappilyMe23, she shares about 20-something life in an uplifting and "real talk" kind of way. She's also been a guest blogger on multiple blogs, most notably Jim Daly's blog, the President of Focus on the Family.

A Letter From Our New Prevention Education Director

After a year at Love True as the Prevention Education Intern during my Master of Social Work program, I have now been hired full-time as the Prevention Education Director, and I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity!


I came face to face with the reality of sex trafficking through years of research on national and international human trafficking throughout my undergraduate and graduate career, experiences in the domestic violence and sex trafficking fields, and a summer internship in Cambodia while obtaining my undergraduate degree. It is with great expectation that I continue to commit myself to combatting sex trafficking through my new role as the Prevention Education Director at Love True.

There are several things that I am particularly looking forward to as I take on this role. First of all, I will be devoting a considerable amount my of time and energy into ensuring that Love True’s Prevention Education trainings are brought into schools. FBI statistics assert that the average age girls are victimized by prostitution is 12 to 14 and the average age for boys is 11 to 13. However, according to federal and state law, there is no such thing as underage prostitution, but everyone under the age of 18 who is engaged in a commercial sex act is, in reality, a victim of sex trafficking, this is something we make very clear in our Prevention Education programs. Not only that, but people are more vulnerable to sex trafficking in periods of transition: something that kids in school are constantly experiencing. Therefore, in this coming year, we will be taking a proactive approach in contacting schools to schedule trainings in order to educate as many youth and staff as possible.

We will also be evaluating our Prevention Education programs. This will include conducting consistent research into best practices in anti-trafficking education, getting feedback from those who attend our programs, and integrating that research and feedback into our trainings in a way that makes them more engaging, relatable, and informative. One of the core strengths of the Love True team is its innovative nature in anti-trafficking efforts, and that is something that I intend to continue to keep at the forefront by continually improving our material.

Most of all, I want to invite you to join the Prevention Education Program. Whether that is by volunteering, facilitating one of our many programs, requesting that this training be brought to any circle that you are involved in, praying, or donating, please consider joining in.

All in all, as the Prevention Education Director, I am eager to oversee the growth and expansion of the Prevention Education Program in order to educate as many people as possible with the highest quality of sex trafficking education. We anticipate training a variety of professionals, working with youth in differing capacities to see the warning signs of trafficking and how to address it, as well as educating the youth themselves in order to reduce their risk of being trafficked. Finally, we envision welcoming all members of the community, especially men, who are characteristically absent in anti-trafficking efforts, to join in the fight to end sex trafficking.

If you would like to talk more with me, please give me a call at (732) 649-8783 or email me at

Pornography And Human Sex Trafficking Are Inseparably Connected

It’s 2017, and the reality of this digital age is that internet porn is more vast and varied than just about anything else found online. Since Fight the New Drug was started in 2008, it’s become abundantly clear that porn is increasingly becoming more accessible, affordable, and anonymously used, year after year. But what’s the big deal about all of this? Plenty, and we’ll tell you why.

The average porn viewer, likely exposed before the age of 18, has no idea what exactly goes into the production of a single pornographic image or video. They might not even think about how or why a performer got to be on camera. If someone contributed even one, or a substantial amount, of the 23 billion views of the world’s most popular free porn site last year, they probably don’t understand the likelihood that they might be viewing a performer who didn’t appear on film of their own free will.

In other words, viewing a victim of human sex trafficking.

That’s right. Porn and sex trafficking are inseparably linked, and much of society denies this fact. For example, a common misconception held by too many porn viewers was tweeted at us after we posted facts about sex trafficking:

Clearly, too many people are completely blind to the link between porn and sex trafficking, and the fact that one industry fuels the other. Too many think that the porn industry and sex trafficking industry are completely separate issues, one being legitimate and the latter being illegal activity that only happens in developing countries. Absolutely not so. The truth is, porn, prostitution and sex trafficking are more closely linked than the average viewer may realize.

By The Numbers

We live in a world that needs to see hard numbers to legitimize an issue. Unfortunately, since sex trafficking is an underground business, those numbers are hard to come by. But a lot of what we do know about the current state of the industry comes from survivors, and they have a lot to say about how porn was largely connected to or included in their trafficking.

They probably don’t understand the likelihood that they might be viewing a performer who didn’t appear on film of their own free will.

- According to anti-trafficking nonprofit, Rescue:Freedom, in 9 countries, 49% of trafficking survivors said that pornography was made of them while they were in prostitution.

- By some estimates, 4.5 million people are trapped or forced into sexual exploitation globally. (International Labor Organization)

- In one survey, 63% of underage sex trafficking victims said they had been advertised or sold online. (Thorn)

- And 70% of underage trafficking victims say that pornography was made of them while enslaved. (Thorn)

- Sex trafficking is big business—it generates $99 billion annually, just from commercial sexual exploitation alone. (International Labor Organization)

While only 22% of global trafficking victims are trafficked for sex, sexual exploitation earns 66% of the global profits of human trafficking. The average annual profits generated by each woman in forced sexual servitude ($100,000) is estimated to be six times more than the average profits generated by each trafficking victim worldwide ($21,800), according to the ILO.  Studies show that sexual exploitation can yield a return on investment ranging from 100% to 1,000%.

Here’s a real life example. In the Netherlands, investigators were able to calculate the profit generated by two sex traffickers from a number of victims. One trafficker earned $18,148 per month from four victims (for a total of $127,036) while the second trafficker earned $295,786 in the 14 months that three women were sexually exploited according to the OSCE.

Studies show that sexual exploitation can yield a return on investment ranging from 100% to 1,000%.

What does any of this have to do with porn? It means that exploiting vulnerable people for profit in the sex industry is a sure way to make a lot of money. And seeing as the porn industry is worth an estimated $97 billion on its own, it’s clear why many traffickers choose to capitalize on the opportunity.

Take it from an expert. Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, LMSW, Ph.D is the Founding Executive Director for the Wichita State University, Center for Combating Human Trafficking. Watch the trafficking survivor and leading anti-trafficking expert speak out on the clear connection between the porn industry and sex trafficking industry:

Porn Fuels Trafficking, And Vice Versa

This is the reality of what the porn industry fuels: real people being sexually abused and exploited at the hands of family members, traffickers and pimps. Each click to porn content directly fuels the demand for sex traffickers to make money by selling videos of their sex slaves to porn sites. But what about major porn studios and porn sites—aren’t they completely separate from the sex trafficking issue?

Absolutely not.

The more the mainstream adult entertainment industry flourishes, the bigger the opposing globalized black market for porn will become. So the higher the demand for porn, even porn that was produced in professional studios (which, newsflash, also abuse their performers),  the more sex traffickers will want to profit from that lucrative porn demand, and the more they’ll exploit vulnerable people to get there. After all, as we’ve seen from the numbers, it’s big business to do so.

The more the mainstream adult entertainment industry flourishes, the bigger the opposing globalized black market for porn will become.

As an anti-porn organization, this is exactly why we do what we do and why we’re fighting to stop the demand for sexual exploitation. By creating awareness, by educating others on why porn is tangibly harmful to our world, we are creating a movement of change around the world that surely puts a dent in the massive porn industry. Knowledge is power, and being aware of the facts is an important step in decreasing the demand for porn and helping to eliminate sex trafficking.

Written by: Fight the New Drug

About Fight the New Drug: Fight the New Drug is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to educate and raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography and sexual exploitation. We exist to provide individuals, especially teens, with the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness using only science, facts, and personal accounts.


Everyone is Vulnerable

If you have ever taken a psych class you are probably familiar with this pyramid. It’s Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation. This theory explains humans’ basic psychological needs like water, shelter and food, up to needs such as acceptance, purpose and inner-potential. For a human to be fully healthy in body and mind they need all of these areas to be filled.

Graphics sourced from Love True’s Professional Training on Domestic Sex Trafficking

Graphics sourced from Love True’s Professional Training on Domestic Sex Trafficking

But as we know, for most, maybe even all, humans don’t have all these areas fulfilled. This leaves us having vulnerable areas in varying levels depending on which section of the pyramid we are missing and which sections are combined. For instance, if you are homeless and hungry, your most basic needs are not being met, leaving you vulnerable in the area of “Psychological Needs”. On the other hand you could have plenty of food and a beautiful, safe home but still feel like you are unloved and alone. This would leave you vulnerable in the “Love and Belonging” section. Any person can have vulnerabilities in any given section in any combination.

I am passionate about this topic because I have noticed that most people think if they have the bottom three, or even just two, sections of the pyramid fulfilled that they are not vulnerable. But they, unfortunately, are very wrong. Even though their vulnerabilities are not as clearly seen by those around them, they are deeply rooted within the person and some people can detect them. Hopefully in some cases those people are caring peers or individuals in their lives but some could be those who want to exploit these vulnerabilities.

Graphics sourced from Love True’s Professional Training on Domestic Sex Trafficking

Graphics sourced from Love True’s Professional Training on Domestic Sex Trafficking

In the population of those who would exploit those vulnerabilities are pimps, traffickers or controllers. (Which are the same: according to federal and NJ state law, anyone who uses force, fraud or coercion in selling someone in commercial sex is considered a sex trafficker). Traffickers target those with vulnerabilities and then exploit them by selling them for sex or sex acts. Here is how one trafficker used Maslow's Theory of Human Motivation to exploit those vulnerabilities.

Graphics sourced from Love True’s Professional Training on Domestic Sex Trafficking

Graphics sourced from Love True’s Professional Training on Domestic Sex Trafficking

He is basically saying that whatever this person is missing from their lives he will attempt to fill in order to take advantage of that person. This is seen as a more effective form of recruitment because then their victim has dependency and may even love or trust their perpetrator. This also contributes to Stockholm Syndrome which is common among victims of abuse and or kidnapping/hostage situations. This syndrome is when the victim has loving feelings for their abuser/captor; a survival technique.

Because of recruitment methods such as this one, people from all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses can be trafficked. This is all the more reason to be aware of our own vulnerabilities and those who are in our lives, whether they be our family, friends, coworkers, school mates or even neighbors. If we can fill those vulnerable areas by being a friend or helping support a struggling family we could potentially rescue them from the sights of an exploiter. This can play a major role in someone being vulnerable to exploitation in general, not just trafficking.

A survivor leader that we’ve worked with at Love True once told me that if someone, even just one had said something when they saw the suspicious activities going on that her experience of being exploited by a neighbor may have been prevented. So, if it’s that simple, if the answer to a massive social injustice is to care for those around you and help fill vulnerable areas than why don’t we do it? Awareness. People do not know just how important it is and what effect they may have on those around them. Our actions and words have power and they have the power to possibly prevent someone's life from being stolen in one way or another. So next time you see something, be sure to say something. When you notice a lacking area in a life ask yourself, “can I help fill it”. Know that you can make all the difference in someone’s life just by being aware of their life and choosing to act against exploitation.

If you know someone who is at risk or is being sex trafficked please call the National Sex Trafficking Hotline 888-3737-888

Running To End Trafficking

Running can help end slavery? Yes, here at Love True we like raising awareness and funds in a variety of ways, and our running team is a part of that. Chloe is the director of the running team. We talked with her recently about how fighting human trafficking and running in races can be connected. 

Can you describe what the running team is in a few short words?
Chloe: In short, our running team is an opportunity to take on a challenge and use that as a platform for raising awareness and funds. You commit to doing something hard and ask others to support a good cause in honor of your efforts. It's a win-win as one can achieve their physical goals while simultaneously raising funds and awareness to fight sex trafficking in New Jersey.

Why a running team, and who can participate?
Chloe: What I love about running is how much it mirrors life and faith. By offering the opportunity to run for Love True, we are giving you the opportunity to fight both physically and philanthropically for something you believe in. And our team is open to all! With committing to fundraising comes personalized coaching from our nationally certified running coach (alternatively known as me). 

Our running team is an opportunity to take on a challenge and use that as a platform for raising awareness and funds.

What is it like to cross a finish line not just for yourself but for an organization like Love True as well?
Chloe: It gives you the knowledge that the hours of training and the pain of racing are so much bigger than yourself. Knowing that by crossing the finish line, there is a young girl out there that much closer to receiving the care and healing she needs from a life of hell makes the struggle so very worth it. 

How can someone join the running team? 
Chloe: They can start by emailing me at with their interest. I then send out a form to fill out so I can evaluate their goals and needs, and then if necessary, begin personalizing a training plan for them. I also work with them to get their fundraising page up and running, and equip them with tools for spreading the word about their efforts. hey can also fill out the form here.

By offering the opportunity to run for Love True, we are giving you the opportunity to fight both physically and philanthropically for something you believe in.

The running team just had a big race, can you tell us a little about it?
Chloe: e did! Team Love True came into the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon on March 25th as one of the biggest charity teams there! We have 6 participants, and to put this in perspective, each team was capped at 8 members. Collectively, our team raised $2,131 through their training, all of which will go to our restoration home fund.

Are there races coming up?
Chloe: Someone wanting to run for Team Love True can run in any race of their choosing, at any time. That said, we do from time to time as team have team races, and in late September there will be our 5th Annual Trek Against Trafficking race. Those who commit to any distance and raise a certain minimum amount will be entitled to free registration! More information will be coming up soon. I also have a dream of recruiting a team to run the a relay through the entirety of New Jersey, but that idea is still in dream-only status. 

Knowing that by crossing the finish line, there is a young girl out there that much closer to receiving the care and healing she needs from a life of hell makes the struggle so very worth it. 

What excites you about the future of this team?
Chloe: I firmly believe that with enough momentum and excitement, Team Love True can fully fund New Jersey's first restoration home for teenage victims of domestic sex trafficking. And that alone is exciting enough to join the movement, literally and figuratively.

We’re excited about the growth and work the running team has been doing. As Chloe said, if you would like to get involved in the running team you can go to the running page or contact Chloe at And as Chloe also mentioned we have our annual Trek Against Trafficking on September 30th, sign up here to join the fun!

Fact: Child Pornography is Sex Trafficking

To the average person on the street, child sexual abuse and human sex trafficking likely don't come to mind when the topic of porn comes up. They probably think of the "sex-craving goddesses" that are marketed on popular porn sites and the infinite fantasy world of sex that can be found online.

To many, these may seem like completely separate issues, separate industries. After all, it’s a felony to even view child pornography in the United States, and human sex trafficking is a global issue that only happens in places like Thailand and Russia, right?


The fact is, child porn and sex trafficking are both inseparably linked to the porn industry, and they all coexist to fuel the demand for sexual exploitation.

Think about this—one of the most-searched terms year after year on the world’s largest porn site is “teen.” And while the performers are generally not actually underaged, the content focuses specifically on sexualizing the abuse and manipulation of adolescents. The common scenario within this popular "teen" porn genre is a teenage girl getting taken advantage of by an older male. However, in countless cases, this is the actual scenario, not a scripted fantasy. Many high school teenage girls are tricked into doing porn, sex trafficked by pimps, or are otherwise sexually abused. Fantasizing this reality through porn is contributing to the issue.

The fact is, child porn and sex trafficking are both inseparably linked to the porn industry, and they all coexist to fuel the demand for sexual exploitation.

Another issue is that for those who view porn frequently, the leap between child and adult content gets smaller and smaller. For example, in one real life example, a man in Buffalo, New York who was initially viewing adult websites accidentally came across material depicting actual child sexual abuse. Shocked and curious, he found himself pursuing more child pornography.

Child pornography has become more prevalent than we ever could have imagined; the people who actually get caught for possessing it are just the tip of the iceberg. The exploitation of minors for commercial purposes is a business that has been virally expanding on the web for years, and the material is getting worse and more hardcore every year. In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, every week, there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web. Furthermore, U.S Customs Services estimates that illegal child pornography is offered by approximately 100,000 websites. According to a 2009 United Nations Human Rights Council Report, the production and distribution of child pornography has an estimated value of between $3 billion and $20 billion. It’s a booming business, and its effects are spreading quickly.

Just recently in Toronto, Canada, nearly 400 children were rescued and 348 adults arrested following a massive international child pornography investigation that took down a $4 million child porn production empire that distributed its illegal content to over 50 countries worldwide. Police seized over 45 terabytes of child porn in the bust. What was most alarming about this case? Many of the arrests were of people who worked with or closely interacted with children. Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests, and three foster parents.

Related: Child Cybersex Trafficking - Heart Wrenching Viral Video Shines Light on Global Issue

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) compiled a qualitative review of over one hundred scientific studies, court cases and personal accounts detailing the effects of adult pornography on the sexual exploitation of children. Covering a wide range of factors, from the escalating nature of pornography addiction, to pornography’s role in pedophilia and child abuse, the review provides a chilling glimpse into the world of child pornography and its users.

Every week, there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web.

The review cited court cases that reveal the pattern of escalation that these individuals undergo. For many, what initially began as a fascination with adult pornography, progressed to an involvement with child pornography. The following accounts are excerpts from two separate court cases. They demonstrate how an involvement with adult pornography can escalate into darker behaviors:

“From a young age I had access to pornography. My parents had a suitcase locked away with pornography in it. My brother and I found the key and I would frequently get it unbeknownst to my parents. This coupled with my curiosity about girls was the impetus for my porn addiction. In college I continued to purchase porn but it wasn’t until the Internet that I really developed an insatiable appetite for it. It was so easy to get…I found others who loved porn and would steer me towards various sites. I would look up any type of porn I could think of. I found myself wanting more original/amateur and unique pics…It wasn’t till someone sent me a child pornography picture that I gained a curiosity for it. It spiraled out of hand as I found it so easy to obtain. I tried numerous times to delete all porn and not look but I always went back. I spent hours upon hours looking and talking online and had even skipped classes or gone in late to work because of it.” [1]

“One of the men arrested, [Defendant], who…allegedly abused his 18-month-old daughter — said he started watching child pornography after getting “burned out” by regular porn. He needed something more titillating. Something a little sicker. That’s not that unusual for people addicted to Internet porn. Researchers have been finding that Internet porn addicts can build up a tolerance to it and need more and more stimulation. ‘There is something physiologically addicting about it, the flickering images’ compared with looking at photos or porn magazines’, says California psychologist Dr. Barry Gordon.” [2]

In each case, the defendant’s issues began with an exposure and attraction to pornography. Over time, the thrill of regular adult pornography wore off—it wasn’t enough anymore. To quote one defendant, he became “burned out.” So, they pushed the limits, and pursued heavier and heavier material to satisfy their growing struggle and growing need for more illicit material.

In both of these cases, and the millions that go unexposed every year, there is a real child behind them. Coerced, abused, and neglected, these children are the victims of heinous crimes that are then seen and shared by child porn users around the world. And each click, download, and share just increases the demand for more.

If we are going to put an end to human sex trafficking, there's no better place to start than with our society's obsession with porn. By decreasing the demand through education on its harms, we can make a difference and help create a world without exploitation.


Written by Fight the New Drug

To find out more about Fight the New Drug visit their site


[1]  United States v. Honnold, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7025 (N.D. Ohio).

[2] J. Hunter, “Pedophiles haunt Internet porn sites,” Chicago Sun Times, 22 March 2006.

MYTH: Individuals can’t do anything to help end human trafficking

"Modern day slavery." It sounds like a contradiction. But it is a grim, little known fact that there is more slavery in the world today than at any time in history, including the Civil War and the height of the African slave trade.  

"After drug trafficking, trafficking in humans ties with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today and the fastest growing." - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011

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We often think, that is if we stop to think about it, that human trafficking is something that occurs overseas in remote, dark corners of the world. And that is true. It does occur there. But we are mistaken if we think that it doesn't occur here in the U.S., in our cities and suburbs, our neighborhoods, our local schools, shopping malls and farms.

The problem is so big, but often hidden in plain sight. It may seem overwhelming, so we ignore it. But there are things, both large and small, that we can do to help stop human trafficking.

I once saw a photo of a cardboard sign that read,

i am somebody.jpg





I am somebody who can make a difference. And so are you!  

Edmund Burke said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” If we all committed to at least doing a little about human trafficking, a lot would be accomplished.

My organization, Justice Network, exists to educate, equip and empower our friends and neighbors to become abolitionists. We are passionate about finding practical ways to raise awareness and to bring an end to human trafficking.

Here are some ways you personally can make a difference and stem the tide of this heinous evil:


Commit to pray about this issue.  Pray for:

  • Victims

  • Survivors

  • Workers providing restoration services

  • Workers seeking prevention

  • Frontline activists and law enforcement

  • Legislators

  • Accurate and effective news reporting

  • Even for the traffickers, pimps, buyers, and johns, after all, they are broken people too.


  • Donate money, goods, and services

  • Fundraise

  • Do a donation drive of items for shelters and safe homes

  • Purchase fair-trade or ethically produced goods made by survivors or those at risk (for a comprehensive list, visit the resources menu at

  • Volunteer your time


  • Be informed BEFORE you speak out!

  • Speak up for those who can't speak for themselves

  • Tell your family and friends

  • Use your social media to spread the word and raise awareness (This week visit: to participate in a social media campaign before & during the Super Bowl)

  • Write letters - to local or county papers, to your Congressman, to companies to find out if their products were created slave-free (question their supply sources)

  • Organize or attend awareness events

  • "If you see something, say something." The national hotline to report suspicious activity is 888-373-7888.

Human trafficking is a big problem, but it is one that can be eliminated. If you believe that it is wrong to buy or sell people, then share this message. We CAN change the culture:

  • 150 years ago, President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. Today the idea of purchasing a Negro slave on the auction block is unheard of.

  • 100 years ago, women rallied for the right to vote. Today the idea of an American woman denied access to the polling place is unheard of.

  • 50 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus. Today the idea of separate but equal schools, bus seats, or water fountains is unheard of.

 I have the audacity to believe that 50 years from now, the idea of buying a girl for the Super Bowl will be unheard of.

Dr. BJ Palmer said, "We never know how far-reaching something we may think, say, or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow." I wholeheartedly believe that because you and I will do something today, we will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.  


Written by Susan Panzica, Executive Director and co-founder of Justice Network, which exists to educate, equip, and empower friends and neighbors to become abolitionists providing education about the facts and ways to fight the issue and directing support to those organizations rescuing victims. She serves on the Steering Committee of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking and is co-creator of the global #HTchallenge. More about her journey as an abolitionist can be found in the story Somebody’s Daughter, published in Chicken Soup for The Soul.Susan is author of Mary Had a Little Lamb and writer of the blog Eternity Cafe.


For more specific ideas on what you can do:




FACT: An individual doesn’t need to be moved across state lines to be a victim of sex trafficking

It is a common misconception that for a person to be trafficked they must be removed from their state and brought to a new one in which to be trafficked. Here is a chart showing the difference between victims of trafficking and smuggling. The chart demonstrates that a person can be trafficked without being moved across state lines. If you would like more information please follow the link to the full article on the U.S. Department of State’s website. 


MYTH: Only undocumented individuals are victims of sex trafficking in the US

Local news sources frequently report domestic sex trafficking raids at locations such as massage salons and nail salons. These kinds of cases have a reputation for underpaying workers for their professional work during the day and recruiting the same workers for sex trafficking at night. Such scenarios often involve undocumented, foreign-born persons from Asia or Latin America who were brought into the country through the deceptive promise of work. For this reason, these are the examples that come to our minds when we think of domestic sex trafficking. ( )

While it is crucial to understand the reality of this form of sex trafficking, it is also important to recognize that this is not the only scenario. In fact, certain regions produce trafficking of U.S. citizens more often than trafficking of undocumented foreign-born citizens. Take a look at this article from about trafficking in New Jersey. Bill Williger, a special agent of Homeland Security investigations in the Tampa Bay region, states that most of the trafficking cases he handles involve U.S. citizens. ( )

Statements like these beckon the question: How do U.S. citizens become involved in sex trafficking?

Apart from the method of recruitment mentioned above that targets citizens of  foreign countries, popular forms of recruitment of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are boyfriending, peer pressure, and online recruitment. Boyfriending involves forming a romantic relationship with the victim and using the his/her trust as a means of gradual manipulation into trafficking. Peer pressure involves using the influence of a peer to convince the victim to become involved. Online recruitment involves using an online platform to recruit.

Boyfriending involves forming a romantic relationship with the victim and using the his/her trust as a means of gradual manipulation into trafficking.

Although there are so many stories that capture these different ways of trafficking U.S. citizens, I chose the story of a survivor named Bianca because she was recruited through social media, a familiar platform to all participants in this campaign. Bianca’s trafficker recruited her using a combination of online recruitment and boyfriending. At the age of 15, Bianca followed a man nicknamed Shy on Instagram because she liked his tattoo posts. Their relationship started with liking and commenting on each others pictures. They eventually began messaging one another on Instagram and exchanged numbers. Shy was a source of support to Bianca through a rocky year. She confided in him about relationship issues with her boyfriend, and Shy offered her an appealing alternative. He encouraged her to go on a trip with him to Vegas for his birthday to get away from her problems. He spoke of being in love with her and wanting to be with her as leverage for convincing her to stay with him. He also promised her that he could help her make a lot of money.

Shy was a source of support to Bianca through a rocky year.

She met up with him in San Jose, but they never made it to Vegas. He took her to a motel where he instructed her to sleep with other guys. When she tried calling friends to help her escape, he threatened to kill anyone who came to retrieve her. As time went on, he expected her and his other victims to sleep with over twenty-five guys a day. They had to make a thousand dollars for him each day in order to earn their sleep time. She was held for two years by Shy, filled with physical and emotional abuse. He was able to manipulate her into coming back to him even after her attempts to leave “the life”. At the age of eighteen, she finally escaped for good. He was arrested shortly after on Feb 7th of 2016.

Bianca is one of the many U.S. citizens who was successfully recruited into sex trafficking. Although she does not fit into the typical news story on domestic sex trafficking, her experience represents that of many. Understanding all forms of sex trafficking in the United States is a key way to equip ourselves to be better advocates for people like Bianca.

If you or someone you know is being forced to do things against their will or is a victim of domestic sex trafficking, please call the Human Trafficking Hotline Number (888) 373-7888 or call the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline number 855.END.NJ.HT (855-363-6548)

Written by Mariah Springer, Love True, It Could Be Me Campaign Manager





O (Hughes, Donna, Janice Raymond, and Carol Gomez. "Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States." Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (2001).)

MYTH: Victims of Sex Trafficking are always kidnapped or in physical captivity

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While leading Prevention Programs at Love True, we ask groups what they first think of when they hear the term “sex trafficking”. Their immediate response is often, Taken (the movie), bondage, hidden, or “in chains”. Although these are good answers they don’t encompass most sex trafficking situations, and can leave us thinking that all victims of trafficking must be hidden away, out of sight or so far away they are out of reach. This is not the case.  

The official definition of sex trafficking states that force, fraud, and coercion are used to recruit, harbor, transport, or obtain a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, or the person is under the age of 18 and involved in a commercial sex act. ( A commercial sex act is defined as any sex act that something of value was given in exchange for the act. So a commercial sex act could be a sexual interaction in exchange for anything of value (food, a place to stay, money, a new phone, etc.)

Force: violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing.

Many of us have the preconceived idea that sex trafficking only looks like traditional street prostitution while the person is being forced in some way.  However, with the true definition of sex trafficking it can look very different in each situation, causing many individuals to be vulnerable to being recruited into sex trafficking without them even being aware of it. Although sex trafficking can include forced street prostitution it can also include but not limited to pornography, online exploitation, trafficking in residential homes, hotels and motels.   

Although some victims have been kidnapped by their traffickers, most of the time traffickers recruit and keep their victims’ captive by creating trust and a common bond between themselves and their victim. That is why boy-friending or befriending is often used as a recruitment method. This is also how traffickers keep their victims in psychological bondage and don’t necessarily have to keep them in physical captivity.

Fraud: deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right. -

As seen in Theresa Flores story, she was trafficked at the age of 15 for 2 years, right out of her own town. Her parents had no idea because she lived at home the whole time, she was never handcuffed or “appeared” forced by outward chains although she was held with much stronger chains; she was coerced forced and lied to keeping her enslaved for months . Watch her story here:

If you were to look at Theresa’s story and apply sex trafficking’s definition to it you would see force, fraud as well as coercion. Because of the coercion that her traffickers continued to use, Theresa was kept in strong psychological chains which kept her afraid and silent. Since she was under the age of 18 and involved in commercial sex she would automatically be considered a victim of sex trafficking making her protected her by Federal Law. Unfortunately, Theresa was trafficked well before awareness about this issue was mainstream, so she had a hard time finding the specialized care and help that she needed.

Coercion: 1. to restrain or dominate by force. 2. to compel to an act or choice. 3. to achieve by force or threat.

Victims often don’t self-identify or speak of their experience because of psychological control, trauma, coercion and fraud.

Knowing that victims of sex trafficking can be a classmate, a neighbor or even a friend and not necessarily someone locked away out of sight can empower us to look out for those who are vulnerable and may be taken advantage of. Theresa was saved because a waitress at a diner noticed her and called the police. If we keep our eyes open we can do the same.

If you or someone you know is being trafficked please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-3737-888 and if you or that person are in immediate danger call 911.

* please never investigate a situation on your own, it could cause harm to yourself, the victim and possibly those around you. Always call the hotline numbers to report any suspicious behavior or situations and allow trained professionals to investigate further.

Written by Emily Rutt, Associate Director, Love True


FACT: Legally there is no under age prostitute in the state of NJ.

By Rebekah Hayward

News articles, blogs, media outlets and even some service providers or professionals unknowingly have pushed the false term “under age prostitute” for years. Criminalizing victims and allowing criminals to slip under the radar.  According to our New Jersey State Law and Federal Law any person under the age of 18 involved in the commercial sex industry is considered a victim of child sex trafficking (1).  This legislation eliminates the term “under age prostitute” all together, although it is still used at times in New Jersey and across our country. 

When many victims of sex trafficking are younger than the age of consent how can we hold them accountable, in our words, to a crime that requires consent
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Why does the changing of this terminology make such a huge impact? In our country we think of prostitution as an option, the term implies choice, fault and blame. Prostitution is illegal. The term “underage prostitution insinuates that regardless if the individual is of consensual age or not, they are choosing to sell themselves. While attaching the term child prostitute to young victims it diminishes the fact that child enslavement happens, it causes the individual to be seen by the public as a criminal rather than a victim of a horrific crime.  When many victims of sex trafficking are younger than the age of consent how can we hold them accountable, in our words, to a crime that requires consent.

 In reality this fact changes the course of a youth’s life, as a child prostitute they would be seen as a criminal of a sex act, facing jail time, massive court fees, a lifelong criminal record, societal shame and so many other lifelong perpetuating penalties for an act they never could legally consent to. This is why the proper use of the term allows us to see victims of domestic sex trafficking even when they themselves may not self-identify as a victim of child sex trafficking. The proper term being used is essential in helping human trafficking victims not only be seen but identified and cared for. If our mindsets change regardless of the terminology presented, then more youth would begin to access the care they need. Possibly the changing of our mindset or assumptions could save a young boy or girl's life.

 To be a victim of this crime is unimaginable, the manipulation, exploitation, abuse, threats and torture that have a lifelong impact cannot begin to be described.  Unfortunately, often these children are told not only by their exploiters (pimps and traffickers) but by the media and public that it was their choice or fault. To quote Sharon Marcus-Kurn assistant US Attorney General for the District of Columbia “I have never met a juvenile involved in prostitution who doesn’t have a pimp”. (2) We must advocate and stand up for these youth. One impactful way is to eradicate the term child prostitute and begin to recognize children in the commercial sex industry as victims of domestic sex trafficking.

 If you or someone you know is being forced to do things against their will or is a victim of domestic sex trafficking, please call the Human Trafficking Hotline Number (888) 373-7888 or call the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline number 855.END.NJ.HT (855-363-6548)

 Change begins one person at a time, together we can end sex trafficking and bring freedom to all. 


Written by Rebekah Hayward, Executive Director, Love True



2 Invisible Chains by Benjamin Perrin

MYTH: Everyone in the USA has access to the same freedom.

Statistics show that human trafficking is happening in every state of the U.S. yet most people you ask wouldn’t be able to say they had seen trafficking happening around them, this issue for the most part goes unseen which creates the illusion that freedom is universal in our country.

The difficulty of combating against human trafficking is that victims are not often in physical enslavement. Their enslavement is invisible. This invisibility protects those in the wrong while making it harder for the general public to understand what is actually happening in their country, state, and town.

The difficulty of combating against human trafficking is that victims are not often in physical enslavement. Their enslavement is invisible.

A large obstacle that creates invisibility around those being trafficked is lack of education. For example, if someone doesn’t know what a commercial sex act is, any sexual act in which something of value is exchanged, than it will be near impossible for them to believe that commercial sex acts are happening in the local schools. If it is not called by the right name it cannot be stopped. An elderly woman once told me about how her mom used to make her go out on dates with men forty years older than her. By using the word “dates” she was unknowingly making the truth that he mother was exploiting her invisible. Her freedom was taken away from her by her own mother’s actions, and it was covered by an innocent word.     

Visibility is key, and education brings about visibility. IJM estimates that there are 45+ million people enslaved today in the world. Organizations, such as Thorn, have cited national studies that calculated about 325,000 children in North America alone are at risk of sexual exploitation. Those numbers represent actual people that are unseen, unnoticed, and unheard. Polaris Project’s textline combined with the national hotline have tracked reports of human trafficking cases happening in all 50 states, during the year of 2015. And the two lines have received over 25,600 reported cases since December of 2007. (Polaris Project) These numbers prove that there are people in our country that are not free. Their enslavement is hidden from our view, though they may be in plain sight.

IJM estimates that there are 45+ million people enslaved today in the world.

Last week NBC published a news article about an Uber driver in California who recently helped rescue a 16 year old girl from human trafficking. Keith Avila picked up three women for their ride and overheard this girl’s two traffickers talking in his backseat about “delivering her to a John.” After the three of them left his car he called the police. These women were riding in an Uber, in plain sight of the world, bringing a young girl to a hotel “to be delivered.” This wasn’t hidden, though it could have gone unseen if Avila was not aware of what was happening around him.

Everyone should have access to the same freedoms, but until we are able to stop those who choose to exploit we cannot end human trafficking. Education brings about awareness, and awareness is key to ending human trafficking. Education can have a twofold impact, it can help those who are being exploited find access to freedom again and it can demonstrate to exploiters the negative repercussions their actions are creating. My challenge for you would be to take this month long journey with us to learn more about what human trafficking really looks like. To see myths debunked, and facts brought to light. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to gain more visibility into a nationwide issue. Join us as we learn why It Could Be Me.