Health & Wellness

Conference Visits Harsh World of Sex Trafficking

e6c6ec0470ad275cfc54_sompixlovetrue.JPG
Emily Rutt, left and Alec Shover of Love True spoke at a Somerville conference about sex trafficking and related issues Credits: Keyonna Murray
e6c6ec0470ad275cfc54_sompixlovetrue.JPG

SOMERVILLE, NJ –​Bored with life, sick of their hometown, the three young runaways headed to New York City, emboldened by the movie “Pretty Woman” knowing that should they become desperate for cash, they could prostitute themselves.

A fourth teenager who had decided against going along stayed home and shared the girls’ plan with families and friends.

What the girls hadn’t anticipated were the two most notorious traffickers in New York City shadowing their movements as they left Grand Central Station; fortunately, their rescuers, alerted by family and friends, were there to stop their flight and return them home before they were engaged by the criminals.

Sign Up for E-News

Sometimes, as in the situation with the three runaways, young people manage to avoid the stalking traffickers, but the number of those who do not fare as well are very high, with an estimated 100,000-300,000-plus victims of trafficking in the United States alone, according to Love True, an organization dedicated to providing support for victims of trafficking as well as their families

Love True, a non-profit organization based in Bridgewater, hosted a professional training session on Friday at the Somerset County Human Services Building on Warren Street.

Sponsored by the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the county Youth Services Commission, the three-hour session focused on the warning signs of sex trafficking, the situations in which trafficking aare most likely to occur, appropriate responses to trauma caused by trafficking, and more.

 Emily Rutt, Love True’s associate director, moderated the opening session followed by Alec Shover, the Prevention Education director for True Love.

Rutt explored how and why individuals end up becoming victims of trafficking, introducing the concept of Abraham Maslow’s pyramid, a diagram that displays the layers of the human nature. On the bottom level sits basic needs such as food, water, and shelter, while the top contains a category entitled “Self-actualization” with things like morality, purpose, creativity, and inner potential.

 Rutt explained how traffickers will identify an area on the pyramid in which a victim is lacking, and exploit such vulnerabilities for their own gain. As a result, many victims of trafficking find themselves in their situation through a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend, and peer pressure.

Rebecca Brender, a young woman who was forced into the business by a man she had dated for six months, was drawn by the love he showed for her and for her daughter, as well as the financial security he provided.

But the relationship had a decided downside, leading to seven arrests for prostitution, as well as multiple threats against her daughter if she did not comply with his orders – there were days when she was forced into having sex up to 15 times.

Brender had suffered abuse with a person she had grown to trust, and came out of it mired in poverty and with a criminal record.

Rutt said 71 percent of victims say they were recruited by someone they knew. In many cases, these people don’t even realize they are being trafficked, and require help recognizing that they had been manipulated.

There is a bill pending in the state Assembly that would overturn the convictions of prostitutes who can demonstrate they were victims of trafficking, according to Rutt.

 Rutt saId that many participate in trafficking because they feel that it is necessary for survival.

 “What youth chooses to sell themselves for sex?” she asked. “I don’t believe we were supposed to ever be sold by another person.”

 Shover focused on the trauma and negative effects on the victim, alluding to the Stockholm Syndrome, a condition that causes sufferers to sympathize with their abusers, often exhibiting positive feelings or a strong emotional attachment to them.

 He also played a video that detailed the long term effects of trauma and how the amygdala, the section of the brain that creates the “fight, flight, or freeze” response, may be triggered by certain objects/environments, and how it can cause victims to not be able to recall certain events as a result of their neurotic response.

 “I never stop to think that the person in front of me or behind me can be a victim of sex trafficking,” said Cristina C. Curto as she left the conference.

Rev. Timothy J. Wolf, pastor of the New Horizon Christian Fellowship in Hillsborough, said “any young person is vulnerable-and so I think it’s important not that parents haunt their children, but know where they are and what they’re doing.”

Love True’s goal is to continue to make others aware of the facts through professional workshops, as well as other presentations tailored specifically towards youth. With continued education on the growing phenomenon and increased awareness of the issue, more victims may be able to find their way back home-and many more cases of trafficking could be prevented in the future.

Further information is available by e-mail, info@love-true.org or by phone, (732) 649-8783

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory thru Sunday for Millburn Township

June 30, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ —  A heat wave rolling into the area is expected to last through Sunday, with the National Weather Service (NWS) calling for a heat advisory for Millburn Township through 12:00 pm Sunday. However, an excessive heat watch runs through Monday evening. 

According to the NWS, the heat index values are projected in the mid to upper 90s today and ...

Millburn Police Issue Multiple Summons Based on Outstanding Warrants

July 17, 2018

On July 11, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Shanahan stopped a 2014 Honda Accord on Millburn/Vauxhall for speeding. The investigation led to the arrest of 22 year old Lyes Yakoubi of Jersey City on an outstanding traffic warrant out of West Windsor. Mr. Yakoubi was issued a summons and released with a new court date.

On July 11, 2018 Millburn Police Sergeant Delrusso observed a 2007 Acura MDX on ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.

 

 

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

GRAMMY Award-Winning Chanticleer Returns to Summit for Encore

July 22, 2018

Lightning is about to strike twice in Summit, New Jersey, as Grammy Award-winning a cappella vocalists Chanticleer close out the St. John’s Summit Concert Series’ fourth season on July 28 at 8:00 pm. The performance was not part of the original schedule for the season and has been billed as a surprise encore.

Celebrating 40 years this season, Chanticleer is a vocal tour ...

Meadowbrook Country Day Camp to Hold "Summer Splash 2018" Open House Event on Saturday, July 28

LONG VALLEY, NJ - Looking for a day camp for the kids for next year? Those interested in visiting Meadowbrook Country Day Camp are invited to attend “Summer Splash 2018,” on Saturday, July 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The camp is located at 73 East Valley Brook Road, in Long Valley, NJ. The Rain Date is Sunday, July 29.

“Seeing camp during the summer is a perfect way ...

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

TRENTON, NJ – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease ...

Summer Storm Checklist

New Jersey gets its share of severe weather – and those closest to the coast are particularly vulnerable to hurricanes and high winds. Here are some things you can do to help improve the safety of your family and home before a storm hits:

·       Be informed. Find out where the nearest shelter is, and map out different routes you can take ...