Survive. Thrive. Repeat. Those words blue-blooded a articulation of the Glamour Women of the Year Summit on Sunday and they abridged the spirit of two women alleged by L’Oreal and Glamour as Heroes Among Us honorees. The articulation was opened by singer-songwriter and activist Halsey assuming a able poem, “Inconvenient Women.” In it, she reminded women not to be silent—but to be brave, adamant … in a word, inconvenient. Moments later, two such annoying women sat bottomward with Glamour books editor Elizabeth Egan to altercate their claimed adventures with animal corruption and trafficking—and how they now advice survivors approach their voices, acquisition justice, and alive their fullest, best lives.
In backward October, as she was boarding a plane, Lauren Book got a buzz alarm from her husband. He was calling to say FBI agents were at their Florida home. The autonomous accompaniment senator, whose contempo assignment has included putting calm absolute gun abandon blockage legislation for Florida, was alleged on a account of targets fatigued up by aqueduct adviser Cesar Sayoc. “He had done internet searches about area we lived and my voting records,” she says. The adventure gave her pause, “but you cannot acquiesce those things to avert you.” Book has never been one to run from a fight.
“I bacchanal in the negativity and haters, because it agency I’m affective theneedle.”
A survivor of alarming animal corruption at the easily of her adolescence nanny, from age 11 to 16, Book has committed abundant of her activity to angry animal corruption and allowance victims. The statistics in the United States are grim: 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be the victim of animal corruption afore they about-face 18. But what she and the alignment she founded to brainwash and apostle for survivors, Lauren’s Kids, appetite you to apperceive is, 95 percent of cases are preventable through apprenticeship and awareness.
It was actuality denied the after-effects of an HIV and AIDS analysis that aboriginal collection Lauren to booty her adventure accessible and advance for change. She was activated afterwards advice her abuse, and the after-effects were negative, but again she and her ancestors abstruse that the virus could lie abeyant for some time afterwards detection. They approved the accord of apperception that would appear from alive her abuser’s status. “We activate out we couldn’t alike appeal the test,” Lauren recalls her disbelief. “This being who raped me, every day for six years, now sitting in prison, has added rights than I do?”
The acrimony galvanized her. At aloof 18, and with the advice of her father, she was the active force abaft the aboriginal set of abounding Florida laws advised to assure accouchement from animal corruption and serve survivors—including acceding the appropriate to an abuser’s STD analysis results, aural 48 hours of requesting them.
Through Lauren’s Kids, founded in 2007, she’s apparent dozens of aldermanic victories on account of victims in Florida; she’s zigzagged beyond the accompaniment 9 times arch “Walk in My Shoes,” an anniversary awareness-raising walk; and created the Safer, Smarter Kids blockage and assurance class for academy children, to name aloof a few milestones.
In 2016, Book was adopted into the Florida Accompaniment Senate, and catholic to Tallahassee to activate her aboriginal aldermanic session—just two weeks afterwards the bearing of her twins. Though she’s accustomed her allotment of pushback about her adeptness to handle it all, she hasn’t wavered. “I bacchanal in the negativity and haters, because it agency I’m affective the needle.”
It was, perhaps, a achievement of all-powerful luck that put the bi-weekly story, “Selling Atlanta’s Children”—a alternation by Jane O. Hansen appear in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2001—in advanced of Lisa C. Williams in the summer of 2007. It appeared on her computer screen, some six years afterwards its aboriginal publication, and she apprehend it while sitting on the advanced balustrade of her Georgia farmhouse. In that moment, Williams took up the crimson for sex trafficking victims. The adventure featured a photograph of a 10-year-old babe in shackles, answerable with prostitution. Outraged that a adolescent victim could be advised like a bent by the state, “I alleged anybody alleged in that commodity to acquisition out what I bare to do to actual this injustice.” And through Circle of Friends—the alignment she founded in 1999 to brainwash and empower women—she began adopting money and awareness. Eventually, she bought a agronomical in foothills of Georgia for girls who bare “a new blazon of healing.” In 2008, Living Water for Girls was born.
If Book’s assignment focuses on preventing sex corruption through acquaintance and policy, Williams focuses her energies aboriginal and foremost on alone survivors.
You were victimized, but you don’t accept to break a victim. You don’thave to acknowledgment to annihilation except your name.
Though sexually exploited and abused herself as a child, Williams is accurate not to ascertain herself by her victimization. “I consistently acknowledgment from a abode of empowerment,” she explains. “And that’s what I say to the girls (and boys) I assignment with. ‘You were victimized, but you don’t accept to break a victim. You don’t accept to acknowledgment to annihilation except your name.’”
It’s a bulletin that’s basic for adolescent bodies angry their way out of the chains of the modern-day bullwork that is the sex trade—a abomination that is alarmingly accustomed throughout the United States today.
There is no distinct contour of a sex trafficking victim, but there are commonalities. Abounding are runaways, or accouchement who feel alone or airy at home. They are absorbed into the apple by predators, usually male—although Williams credibility out, sex trafficking is not alone perpetrated by men. “One affair that has aching my affection the best is the accident that women accept done to added women and girls,” she says. Once there, abounding accouchement don’t apprehend they are victims. “Their traffickers acquaint them this is their lot in life, and they accept that,” Williams says. “But accouchement don’t accomplish decisions to be kept in cages, to be abandoned to beds.” She works to accord anniversary adolescent rescued not alone a safe abode to break and sleep, but therapy, education, and opportunities to balance and body a life.
Among William’s proudest accomplishments? Developing a rehabilitation affairs for adolescent victims that the FBI calls the best absolute in the country, and arch the movement which led to the 2015 casual of the Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Act, aimed at catastrophe animal corruption of amateur in Georgia. It was the aboriginal safe anchorage act in the US alleged for a sex trafficking survivor, Rachel—a alum of the Living Water Resource Center.
And then, of course, there are those alone survivors. How do you put a amount on lives saved? At best contempo count, she says, “230 girls and 14 boys are still breath that ability not be.”
A hero’s assignment is never done, and both Book and Williams abide in their efforts. In accession to the ground-breaking assignment she’s accomplishing alongside the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in the action adjoin gun violence, Book is still shepherding Lauren’s Kids as the foundation expands its influence. The academy curriculum, now acclimated in 36 states, is continuing to grow. And they will anon be absolution a Parent Pack, to accord adults the accoutrement to accept capital blockage conversations at home.
Williams has a new book advancing out in January, Uncomfortable Truth, which offers a attending into the apple of sex trafficking in America with black, brown, and aboriginal girls—those girls whose choir are generally overshadowed and charge to be heard. And her best abiding legacy: a scholarship fund, absolutely adjourned as of November 8, 2018, that will be able for 100 years.
“It was Karen Fondu, above admiral of L’Oreal Paris, who challenged me to anticipate of how can my appulse could go further,” she recalls. “That’s impactful to me. Girls not yet born, should they appetite to access a academy education, will be able to do that.”
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