CW39: Can You Spot the Signs of Human Trafficking?
Houston Public Media: Raising Awareness on Human Trafficking
6 Ways We Fight For Freedom in Houston
This post was featured in Southwest Airline’s blog!
‘Jasmin’ walked up to our table during one of our city outreach events. Intrigued, she cautiously inquired about our organization, United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT). After discovering a bit about us, she shared her own experiences: she had been trafficked.
Jasmin‘s exploitation occurred on and off for years. Using force, fraud, and coercion, her trafficker compelled Jasmin to work without pay as a housecleaner and have sex with strangers for his own profit.
No cages or chains like in the movies – the threat of violence, of withheld food or shelter were more than enough to keep Jasmin trapped.
Still, Jasmin tried to leave. But each time she managed to escape, the man reappeared in her life to derail it. The trauma she experienced, coupled with lack of support, led a hopeless to Jasmin to becoming dependent on drugs an alcohol to cope.
UAHT’s Outreach team acted quickly. They helped Jasmin navigate the intake process at a local clinic and arranged for transportation – all during a standard tabling event. Now safe, Jasmin is on a journey to recovery from both exploitation and addiction.
And it all started because she felt safe enough with our team to share her story.
UAHT’s Outreach Team Acted Quickly
Since 2005, we have assisted and empowered human trafficking victims, survivors, and at-risk persons like Jasmin. Our vision is a world without the trauma Jasmin experienced, with zero tolerance for the buying and selling of human life. We fight so that all may live free.
UAHT began as a small volunteer coalition in Houston that formed in response to the area’s dire trafficking problem: major highways, thriving trade, proximity to a major border, and a booming sex industry all contribute to the Greater Houston Area’s hotbed of human trafficking.
Today, UAHT is a leader in the Greater Houston Area’s anti-trafficking movement, unifying organizations across the region to develop a strategic approach to ending exploitation for the purposes of sex AND labor.
We collaborate extensively with the Houston Mayor’s Office, the Houston Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and other governmental and nongovernmental entities to ensure trafficked persons are treated with the respect and autonomy they deserve.
Our goal at UAHT is to find and fill service gaps in our region. Trafficking victims are all too often hidden in plain sight due to stigma, ignorance, and fear. They often belong to marginalized groups such as the homeless, immigrants/refugees, LGBTQ+, the substance-dependent, the mentally ill, and survivors of domestic/sexual violence, who already face enormous struggles.
We go out into the community to identify these forgotten victims, help in any way we can, and equip them with the tools they need to break free when they’re ready.
How We Fight for Freedom
The Fight to Survive: How Our Brains Protect Us
Just a moment before, my hair flowed behind me in the cool wind. My fingers wrapped around the handlebars, one foot planted on the deck, the other launching me forward along the pavement. I trailed a few feet behind my older brother as he expertly crossed from one half of the driveway to the other on his blue scooter. I wanted to keep up and pulled my right handlebar back slightly.
In an instant, my front wheel caught in the concrete crack. The back wheel swung out as both the scooter and I toppled over.
Involuntarily, my hands released the handlebars and flew out in front of me, catching the full weight of my body as I let out a scream.
My wrist was fractured, but thankfully everything else – my head and torso – was unscathed.
A healthy response
Everyone experiences these reactions:
You might feel rage course from your ankles to your head, heating every inch of your body, pressure building with every inhale until a deep growly yell erupts. That’s fight.
You might lose the ability to sit comfortably, fidgeting your fingers, squeezing your toes, readjusting your posture, as nausea slams your gut. That’s flight.
You might numb your senses to your surroundings, glazing your eyes and ears, racing through every terrifying scenario in your mind, yet incapable of uttering a word or twitching a finger. That’s freeze.
These are natural, normal, healthy responses to an abnormal, uncomfortable, stressful situation.
stuck in survival mode
Fair Trade Fiesta
On January 20, United Against Human Trafficking joined with Fair Trade Houston to celebrate Houston’s designation as the first Fair Trade Town in Texas. Fair trade vendors were in attendance, to help educate Houstonians on how labor trafficking can exist in our local communities, and how we all as consumers contribute to global labor trafficking. (more…)