Grit is Rebecca Bender, Chelsie Lancaster, Gaby Humphries (Friday Feature)

January - National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Grit is: Rebecca Bender, Chelsie Lancaster & Gaby Humphries


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Rebecca Bender

"People need to know that human trafficking is not what they saw in the movie Taken." 

Rebecca Bender is a survivor of sex trafficking. She is now a national activist and started a non-profit, Rebecca Bender's Initiative, that equips first responders with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to victims of exploitation, and assists victims in escaping their traffickers.

Rebecca met her trafficker at a party. He was kind to her, he made her feel special, and he was great with her daughter. Trafficking does not usually begin with the seller going up to a women and saying "hey, you are going to have sex for money that you are then going to give to me." It is much more complex than that. Many traffickers use what is called a "Romeo" tactic, where they pretend to be interested and date a women until she trusts him. In the beginning they are charming, they are kind, they are attentive. The Romeo trafficker is the perfect boyfriend until he knows that he has his victim's trust, and then he starts to change. He may become violent, he begins to shame and manipulate his victim into doing what he wants. Psychological abuse, physical abuse, and threats are used to get a victim to comply and to keep a victim from leaving. In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Rebecca stated that she did not know she was being trafficked, she thought that she was just in a domestic abuse situation. 

Eventually, Rebecca broke free of her trafficker and today she is a licensed minister, an activist, and a mother of four. 


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Chelsie Lancaster

"I never thought I would be here, I never thought I would be in this situation." 

Chelsie met her trafficker on an online dating site. She said that he did everything he could to make her believe that he wanted to date her... until he started selling her online. Chelsie's trafficker used websites like backpage to post ads selling her. Many people think that they would simply run away if they found themselves in a situation like this but Chelsie points out that it is much more difficult than that. They knew exactly where her family lived, they had her social security card, they had everything that was valuable to her, and they constantly threatened her with what would happen if she left. "The brainwashing and the coercion is so strong that you just comply out of fear." Chelsie says that even though she went to jail twice on prostitution charges she did not tell the police what was going on because she was afraid of what would happen. 

When Chelsie got pregnant she decided to keep her child and tell her mom what was happening to her. Her mom found an organization called Rescue Houston that helps get trafficking victims out of the life. She went to live in a safe house for eight months and today she works full time and lives with a christian organization that helps victims rebuild their lives. 


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Gaby Humphries

"The thing about trafficking is, this doesn't discriminate. This is all classes, all races and it really is something that can come from anyone." 

Gaby Humphries posted an ad online to find a job in modeling or web-caming. Her ad was answered by a college professor who rented an apartment for her and another women to stay in where men would come in to purchase sex. Like Chelsie Lancaster,she was afraid to leave because her trafficker had all of her information. He had her ID, her social security card, and he knew where she lived. She said that it is a situation you don't realize you are in until it is too late and when you do realize you just comply out of fear. 

Gaby was in a controlled environment where she was allowed to leave. She always went back because she was afraid of what would happen if she didn't. One day she found a church, went inside, and wrote a suicide note on a prayer card. The church's female pastor found the note and tracked down Gaby. The pastor told her to not go back and she gave Gaby a place to stay in her family's home.

Gaby never went back, she went to rehab and became part of Wellspring Living Program for young girls and women who have been trafficked. She now supports herself with a government job and is raising her 8-year old son. 


You can find out more about these three amazing women and see their interviews with Megyn Kelly on today.com (Link Below)

Links:

Interviews with Megyn Kelly: https://www.today.com/news/how-young-mom-college-student-former-escort-became-sex-slaves-t121526

Rebecca Bender Initiative: http://www.rebeccabender.org/

Rescue Houston: http://rescuehouston.org/

National Human Trafficking Hotline: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/

National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/

Deborah Pfluger