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by 3 Generations Director of Development Lindsay Gebhart

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.38.28 PM Click here to read the full impact report

For the past five years 3 Generations has worked hard to bring the issues surrounding the sexual exploitation of women and children to light. Our founder, Jane Wells, first began exploring the dark world of the domestic sex trade in 2010 and was astounded by what she learned. She quickly began capturing this world, along with those who sought to help or hurt those involved, with a series of short films that eventually grew into the feature documentary film Tricked.

She, along with the rest of the team at 3 Generations, wanted to show the world that these people’s lives were not simply the results of bad choices and/or drug abuse. These women and children were sex trafficking victims. This distinction was one of many our organization strived to reshape over time.

When I began my work at 3 Generations I was extremely impressed by the scope and depth of the organization’s sex trafficking campaign, and I was excited to help create a report to document all of the campaign’s achievements.

The report highlights and details the work done surrounding three core problems:

Problem One: The false belief that prostitution isn’t a problem and is a victimless crime.

The impact of our series of films, and Tricked in particular, was far greater than we had hoped and anticipated. A report commissioned to track media hits on this campaign between March 2013 and May 2014 identified 321 unique media hits which, in turn, generated 75 million media impressions. In 2016 Tricked will be distributed globally.

Problem Two: Law enforcement is targeting and arresting the wrong people.

There has been a demonstrable shift in law enforcement culture since 2010, more states have implemented Safe Harbor laws and we are engaged with District Attorneys and Attorney Generals through Tricked. The 3rd Annual Malone Prize ceremony will be held in Miami in February 2016 and co-hosted by the State’s Attorney of Miami-Dade and Camillus House. Both of these agencies are now working together to address sex trafficking in their area.

Problem Three: There is a lack of direct services to help trafficking survivors escape the life and transition out

We were able to make dozens of nonprofit partnerships and produced nearly two dozen short films featuring many of them.

We hope you will take a moment to view our full report, which you can download here. I am so proud of the work we have done and look forward to the work we will be doing in the future. Please let me know what you think at lgebhart@3generations.org.

This year we are thrilled to announce our partnership with the The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade and Stop Sex Trafficking Miami in honoring the winners of the 2014 Malone Prize. Through these partnerships we are furthering our initiative to help end sex trafficking by working with law enforcement to recognize prostitution as modern day slavery.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org
For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

This year’s Malone Prize award ceremony will take place on January 12th, 2015 at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, FL. To learn more about the Malone Prize, please follow the link .

Nominations close on December 19th. If you’d like to recommend a law enforcement officer for the prize, please fill out the form here and return to Info@3Generations.org.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 13, 2013: Denver Police Department Sergeant Daniel Steele holds his Malone Prize. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 3 Generations)

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

If Katrin Bennhold’s front-page article in today’s New York Times —Years of Rape and “Utter Contempt” in Britain — were told as a narrative movie, it would be considered too far-fetched to be true and would most likely be viewed as a hyperbolic psychological drama. However it is a news item and one subtitled, “Life in an English Town Where Abuse of Girls Flourished.”

Ms. Bennhold recounts a monstrous story of over 1000 girls as young as 12 being groomed for rape by gangs of young Pakistani men over a period of 16 years in a working class town called Rotherham. Even when girls came forward with parental support, the authorities chose to ignore the crimes, lost evidence and succumbed to the worst kind of victim blaming. In a staggering series of cases of police negligence, children who were raped were referred to as “tarts” and crimes against them called “100% consensual”.

It would be easy to imagine this does not happen here in the United States or that this is an isolated incident. Sadly, neither is the case. Nor is it simply a story of child abuse and rape. What is described is sexual slavery and fits our Federal definition of (child) sex trafficking. It also serves as an important illustration of the common misconceptions about commercial sex, outdated law enforcement culture around prostitution and sex crimes and the on-going battle to stop blaming victims for crimes committed against them.

Ms. Bennold’s article describes girls being groomed by young men who they perceived as friends or boyfriends – this is the most common way that pimps in the USA recruit girls into the sex trade. In Rotherham the sexual encounters, “evolved from personal gratification to business opportunities” to literal life–threatening enslavement, an evolution that perfectly matches the descent of many young people in this country from quasi-volitional sex work to enslavement.

Equally tragic and also prevalent in this country is the dominant culture that sees, and in many cases, insists that all this sexual activity is consensual. This ranges from adults engaging in sex with underage boys and girls, which, whether we like it or not, is statutory rape, to minors being “boyfriended” or kidnapped by pimps and gangs and sold for sex as prostitutes. The outcomes of these crimes depend almost entirely on the attitude of local law enforcement and their understanding of the severity of harm done to any minor who is sexually abused. Many people in this country (and elsewhere) believe prostitution is a victimless crime, one that it is here to stay and does not warrant time, money and focus by our criminal justice system.

My experience over the last 5 years making the documentary Tricked  about sex slavery in the USA unequivocally indicates otherwise. No one I encountered was unscathed by their sexual abuse. All still carry deep and lasting wounds years and decades later and every john who had purchased sex was insistent that nothing that he had done could have in any way harmed the girls and boys from whom he had paid for sex. In between is the criminal justice system – gradually waking up to the reality that sexual crimes of this sort are major human rights violations that need our utmost attention. Alas, way too slowly for the hundreds of thousand of victims out there. Katrin Bennhold deserves praise for telling such as newsworthy story.

Sarah’s Home
Lincoln and Jenny Smith

A place of safety and rest for young victims of sex traffickingkitchen

“Aww, are you crying?  Do you need a hug?”

These are the words coming from 14-year-old Tessa*, spoken to her foster mom as they walked out of church last night.  I was moved because this is a girl who 6 months ago was being trafficked on the streets, escorted from motel to motel, sold for sex to strangers each night.  This is a child who has experienced unmentionable trauma and pain.  Every relationship she’s ever known since birth has been dysfunctional and hurtful.  She has every right to recoil at the thought of touching another person.  No one would blame her for wanting to crawl into a closet and cry herself to sleep, far away from any other human being.  Yet here she is, attuned to the pain of another person, empathetic towards the emotions of her foster mom.  It might seem like a benign comment, but it’s a key indicator that this traumatized girl is healing.

Today thousands of children are being sold for sex right here in the United States.  Thirteen-year-old girls are marketed online and delivered to motel rooms to service men old enough to be their fathers.  Children who should be listening to the latest pop sensation with their friends and giggling while learning to put on make-up are instead learning how to properly pleasure a man.

The majority of kids sucked into commercial sex trafficking come from single-parent homes, abusive and neglectful homes, state care (foster or group homes), or they are runaways living on their own or with friends or other families.

In other words, when families are unhealthy and broken, kids are vulnerable to exploitation.

If we recognize that vulnerable children are being sold for sex in our communities and we choose to engage the issue, we must answer the question, “What is the best way to help these children heal?”

Sarah’s Home is a long-term safe home located in Colorado Springs for juvenile girls rescued out of the forced commercial sex trade in the U.S.  Our restoration program includes therapy sessions 3 times a week.  Two teachers are in the home each day working one-on-one with the girls to bring them up to speed with their education.  We have a small group of mentors that work with the girls on empowering activities.  Right now at Sarah’s Home, we have one home that is up and running with 3 girls and their foster mom.  Our second home will be ready to open as soon as we find the right fit for a second foster mom (or foster couple.)  Each home is licensed for 4 girls, allowing us to help 8 kids.

The path to healing for our girls is exceptionally complicated and multi-faceted.  But at the heart of each necessary healing element are relationships; relationships with family, friends, community, faith, education, etc.

At Sarah’s Home we have learned that trauma happened in the context of broken relationships, and healing will happen in the context of healthy relationships.**

Before you gloss over that concept, pause and think about it.

Healing comes from relationships.

If you accept that premise, you have to then ask, “Who is going to have a healing relationship with this child?”  Is it going to be the night shift worker at the state run detention center or group home?  Is it going to be the social worker or parole officer?  Is it going to be their teacher or coach or neighbor?  All of these are important relationships for the child.  But these people all have one thing in common, they go home at the end of the day or at the end of their shift, and the child is left alone yet again.  By necessity these relationships end up being compartmentalized and shallow because a child can’t be emotionally close to someone who is not present with them.

This is why we choose to run Sarah’s Home as a foster home.  One of our core values is that we want our girls to learn to build healthy relationships.  Our foster mom works hard to build relationships that prove that the girls are worth loving through the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly.  Our girls need a person who is willing to listen to their pain and endure their defense mechanism of lashing out at those around them; a person that can experience their anger and their hurt without recoiling.

The girls are longing for unconditional love and this only happens if you are present . . . a lot.  Present when she is crying in her closet, when nightmares keep her awake at night, when she is getting her STD report at the doctor, when she discovers she is actually 3 years behind where she thought she was in school.  The same person needs to experience all that with her, and still love her.  And then that same person also gets to experience the straight A’s in school that are the fruit of diligent studying, the thrill of learning to bake her first cake, the joy of completing her first long hike, and the confidence that comes from testifying against her trafficker in court.

Because she’s been through the good and the bad with the girls, it’s the foster mom that gets to hear the words, “Aww, are you crying?  Do you need a hug?”

* Name changed to protect the child’s identity.
** Our friend, mentor, and colleague, Debi Grebenik was instrumental in teaching us this philosophy.  Learn more at: http://www.traumatraininginstitute.com

Danielle-Survivor

By: Danielle Douglas, sex trafficking survivor and advocate

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

I was lured by a pimp as a 17-year-old freshman at Northeastern University and spent two harrowing years under his control. I managed to escape with the help of my family, and have spent the last eight years rebuilding my life. I am one of the lucky ones. I am a survivor. As a result, I have become a passionate advocate to help those less fortunate than I.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunities I have been given to speak out and fight against sex trafficking. I have learned to feel comfortable speaking publicly about what happened to me. In many ways, telling my story has helped me recover.

Recently, I have come to realize that the struggle against trafficking can be a confusing journey that often leaves me hopeless and saddened. It’s not only our shame as survivors and the prejudice we experience from members of the community that we have to overcome, but sometimes it’s also the intentions of those who seek to help us.

Survivors are not always treated as experts, even when talking about our own experiences. This is unfortunate. People who see themselves as friends in the anti-trafficking movement seem to have forgotten the true meaning of what it is to be a survivor. A survivor is someone who puts himself or herself on the line, battling their own fear, safety and mental and social anguish to fight for their own freedom and the freedom of others. The stakes are literally life and death. Survivors aren’t actresses or actors. We are not selling or promoting a product. We are not engaged in the issue because we are “mission driven” folks. We are engaged in the issue and in this struggle because we know how it feels to be hopeless, to be suicidal, to feel no self worth, to feel that we are disposable.

I find today in my life as a survivor that when I am mistreated, it brings me back to when I was under pimp control. I thought the pimp who had manipulated and beat me, mentally and physically, was dead and gone. I was wrong. He lives on. The PTSD is only one cruel barb or one misguided manipulation away. The general public needs to be educated and can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing better. But those who work on this issue must do better. At times it feels that in the search for a good story we are willing to sell not only our own souls to the devil, but also the souls of others, including those whose souls are just regaining their strength. What exacerbates all of this is who some of these soul sellers are. The fact is they can be anyone — strangers or the media — or they can be our so-called “allies,” abolitionists, NGOs and service providers. The same people who you think would understand and know how to support a survivor of sex trafficking.

I have been asked on some occasions if I can “look young” for certain media opportunities because they want to have an underage survivor. “It brings more attention to the issue.” “It causes more concern.” But where do we draw the line? Isn’t that just the same as a john asking me to put pigtails in my hair so I look 13?

Luckily, a majority of my experiences in the advocacy world have been positive, uplifting and motivating, including my work on the upcoming documentary, Tricked. Throughout the filming, I was encouraged and supported in sharing my story and experiences. I was given many freedoms regarding what was filmed, and this assisted me in reaching deeper into my recovery as a survivor. The experience returning to where I was trafficked was pretty terrifying, but I have no regrets. I feel lucky and honored to have been given the opportunity to work with Jane Wells and 3Generations and the amazing men in law enforcement that I share the film with, Chris Baughman and Dan Steele.

My hope is that the film is able to reach a wide range of people and possibly transform their beliefs around sex trafficking. The diverse stories and viewpoints depicted throughout the film allow for a fuller understanding of the issue. This is what makes the film so powerful: we hear from the pimps, johns, survivors, families and law enforcement officials.

Sgt. Dan Steele

By: Sgt. Daniel Steele, Denver Police Dept. Vice Section

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

What does the war against the trafficking of women, men and children look like on the front lines? Imagine, gangs, money, sex and violence; it has the makings of a great Hollywood thriller — edge of your seat suspense. A hard-boiled, square-jawed detective enters the seedy underbelly of society and rescues a beautiful young woman from the clutches of a maniacal terror; played by Anthony Hopkins nonetheless. If this were reality, wouldn’t it be so much simpler? A 90-minute ride through the horrors of modern day slavery, where the bad guy is always caught and the hero saves the day and gets the girl to boot.

Unfortunately, the front lines in the war on trafficking are not glamorous. The everyday battle being waged by the men and women in blue is always uphill, and the victories are few and far between. The true story is plagued by stops and starts; roadblocks at every turn. The vast majority of detectives investigating sex trafficking spend hours behind their desks, compiling thousands of pages of case file documentation. There are no high speed chases, no shootouts and there are definitely no suspenseful, last minute rescues. In fact, I would be hard pressed to say we as cops are ‘rescuing’ anyone at all. To rescue, is to free from confinement, violence, danger or evil. It’s true; cops rescue trafficking survivors in the immediate short-term sense, especially as it relates to confinement. But can a police officer truly deliver someone from violence, from danger and evil?

Trafficking survivors experience the penultimate horror, being bought and sold like meat. As a police officer, I can’t even begin to comprehend the emotional and psychological trauma invoked from sexual slavery. In fact, I have yet to speak with a survivor who, even years later, truly felt they had been rescued from the evil they experienced at the hands of their exploiter. So, no, cops are not rescuing people from trafficking. Rather, we are aiding people in becoming survivors, assisting them at the initial stages of what will be a lifetime of recovery.

So, wait, if I’m not saving the day, then what good am I? That’s the question that plagues every investigator working this heinous offense. The age old deliberation that eventually haunts every cop, “Am I even making a difference?” To that I say, “Of course you are.” After all, as cops, we are supposed to seek justice, we are supposed to stand and fight where others would not dare. While I may never swing in on a bull whip to save the day, I still count every person recovered from trafficking as a victory and every trafficker put in jail a triumph. Understanding that police are at the very forefront of a growing epidemic, understanding as cops we may be the first person to recognize trafficking and, thereby, understanding as cops we need to respond appropriately, is how we can truly make a difference. The better cops understand human trafficking, trauma bonds, coercion, manipulation and deception, the better we can respond to the needs of the exploited. After all, we don’t want to exacerbate the situation, becoming exploiters ourselves.

It is important to realize that the police cannot solve human trafficking alone. As a community, we must recognize that trafficking is the end result of much deeper societal woes — poverty, homelessness, gender inequality and more. If we want to abolish the sale of humans, we must look deeper and work to fix the root causes that lead to trafficking in the first place. The fight against human trafficking will not be won by cops or caped crusaders. Human trafficking will only be destroyed when we come together as a society and agree it is a problem, agree it needs to be stopped and agree to work together to stop it. Not really very glamorous is it? Honestly, it doesn’t even sound like “movie-of-the-week” material. Well folks, this is reality. The reality is we need everyone to wake up, step up and get involved in the fight. I’ll do my part and still go out and catch the bad guys.

Screen shot 2012-01-25 at 1.16.27 PMBy: Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Before we decided to collaborate on the documentary film TRICKED, one of us was filming street prostitution in Washington, D.C. (blocks from the White House) and the other was filming pimps at work in Chicago. When we discovered what we were both working on, we decided to partner on a joint film at a time when street prostitution was still flourishing in many parts of this country. Four years later, as TRICKED premieres, the landscape of sex trafficking has changed dramatically. Street prostitution is largely gone; two of the victims we filmed were recruited by pimps from their own living rooms via smartphones. Computer solicitations have turned into smart phone apps. Craigslist has been replaced by Backpage.com. And light plea bargains for pandering have turned into multi-year trafficking sentences.

At the onset of filming, we encountered severe misconceptions: “Sex trafficking only happens in Thailand,” or, “The girls do it by choice.” At the other extreme, jaw-dropping stats overstated the realities like sensationalized fiction. There is precious little data on the subject, and urban myths supporting both sides of the prostitution debate abound. We had to dispel the myths first; clarify the truths, second. As the basic landscape kept changing during production, we faced a constantly moving target as we made TRICKED.

On several occasions, we worked with devoted community leaders who fought trafficking alongside colleagues who openly belittled it as a victimless crime. Two opposite ends of the spectrum worked under the same roof. Embedded with law enforcement officers in several cities, we found some were enlightened and kind to those caught up in prostitution, while others were cruel and judgmental.

The variety of viewpoints and facts presented a real challenge. We struggled to tell the whole story from as many angles as possible, to try and show the real truth of sex trafficking in America without further victimizing those in the life or preaching from the soap box of the so-called abolitionists. We wanted to make a film that would be interesting to both male and female audiences. We wanted to let johns and pimps reveal who they were and how they ticked. Sometimes this was disturbing, other times infuriating. There was a great deal of gallows humor.

Making TRICKED clued us into the fact that sex trafficking continues to evolve, and the various factions continue to argue. The legalization and the pro-trafficking lobbies are strong. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the country. The fact is, this is big business: industry stats, which we believe are accurate, say both sex trafficking and human trafficking combined are a $9.8 billion a year industry in the United States. At the same time, the number of anti-trafficking NGOs continues to grow along with their reach and impact. Although we’ve noticed positive change in the past year, and new legislation is before Congress, the road to permanent change remains long, uncharted and complex. Changing cultural norms is essential to progress.

While inaccuracy and denial continue to cloud the realities of domestic sex trafficking, our hope is that TRICKED does its part to spark a national dialogue and create change. The victims — our daughters, sisters, mothers and sons — deserve nothing less.

Interested in seeing TRICKED? The film will run from Dec. 13th-19th at the Quad Cinema in NYC. To purchase tickets, check out the Quad Cinema’s listings on movietickets.com.

Admission is free for law enforcement with ID.

John-Keith Wasson and Jutta

John-Keith Wasson and Jutta discuss Surviving Hitler: A Love Story

By: John-Keith Wasson

I was in Kigali for the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. It was my first time, and hopefully my last time, witnessing a mass burial of unknown genocide victims.

After the ceremony, a Holocaust survivor shared his story. For several teenagers, it was a momentous speech: it was the first time that they realized genocide had occurred elsewhere in the world. Genocide wasn’t just Rwanda’s problem.

Two weeks later, I began my first documentary, SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY. The film focused on Jutta, a teenager in Nazi Germany who discovered that she was Jewish. She joined the German resistance and met Helmuth, an injured soldier. The two became sweethearts and co-conspirators in the final plot to assassinate Hitler.

It’s a harrowing tale of war, resistance, and survival, but at the center of the documentary is a love story for the ages, with riveting narration by Jutta herself, original 8mm footage (shot by Helmuth) and, miraculously, a happy ending.

SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY enjoyed a successful festival run and aired on over a dozen TV stations including the BBC. Jutta’s main message was well received: stand up to evil– that and a little luck can change the world. With Jutta’s encouragement in mind, I set out to find a contemporary human rights story.

Jane and I met during that remarkable trip to Rwanda. While I went off to make a documentary, she set up 3 Generations. In 2011 we decided to join forces on TRICKED.

During the course of filming, the landscape of domestic sex trafficking evolved: computer solicitations turned into smart phones apps, Craigslist was replaced by Backpage, and plea bargains turned into multiyear sentences. We didn’t have the advantage of historians, time, or distance to offer perspective. Domestic sex trafficking was happening here, in America. We were chasing a moving target.

When I look back at how SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY influenced TRICKED, I realize that both films focus on people who struggle against evil. In WWII the evils happened to be well defined and Jutta lucked into a Hollywood ending. Meanwhile, sex trafficking has no ending. In fact, we’re only just reaching the first critical turning point.

Over the course of filming, Jane and I noticed a few promising changes. Press coverage, public awareness, and the culture of law enforcement all showed signs of improvement. There is real progress. It’s just slow. I hope TRICKED does its part to further the national dialogue.

In the words of Jutta, “Stand up against evil—that and a little luck can change the world.”

 

Interested in seeing TRICKED? The film will run from Dec. 13th-19th at the Quad Cinema in NYC. Check out the Quad Cinema’s listings on movietickets.com. Admission is free for law enforcement with ID.

To purchase VIP Premiere tickets for the 7pm showing, please go to our donation page. We hope to see you there!

 Sgt. Dan Steele getting "techy" with Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States and Vivian Graubard and Danica Macavoy of CGI

Sgt. Dan Steele getting “techy” with Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States and Vivian Graubard and Danica Macavoy of CGI

This week, Jane Wells and TRICKED star, Sgt. Daniel Steele, were invited to participate in the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The meeting’s theme, ‘Mobilizing For Impact’, brought together hundreds of the world’s leaders and thinkers and provided Jane and Dan with the ideal platform for them to share their work. On Tuesday, Jane participated in the ‘Storytelling: A Tool For Action’ session in which she shared 3 Generations’ efforts to utilize storytelling as a tool for both survivor healing as well as advocacy. On Wednesday, Dan spoke on the ‘Human Trafficking: Sporting Events as Opportunities for Advocacy’ panel, sharing his personal experiences fighting sex trafficking in Denver and discussing how we can combat human trafficking at the upcoming Super Bowl*. Jane wrapped things up yesterday, speaking at ‘The Myth and Promise of Data for Social Impact’ session in which she discussed 3 Generations’ efforts to coordinate cross-sector support for our film, TRICKED, and action in combating domestic sex trafficking.

Reflecting on his first experience at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting Dan feels that, “participating on the panel at C.G.I. was a truly great experience. Not only were the other panelists extremely knowledgeable and compassionate, but the audience was participative and fully engaged in the discussion. I felt honored to be included with such an impressive group.” Jane seconded Dan’s comments, adding that the most exciting thing to her at C.G.I. was, “the promise of collaboration and the heartfelt offers of members of this administration to support everyone’s efforts in fighting human trafficking.” As an organization, we’re so proud to see Jane and Dan standing alongside so many of the world’s most innovative thinkers and leaders. Their dedication, and the dedication of every other leader at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, shows not only the impact that one individual can have, but more importantly, what can come from the concerted effort of a group of dedicated leaders. Let’s pray these feelings of hope last!

This past weekend the FBI, working alongside 230 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, launched its largest attack on sex trafficking with raids recovering 105 teen victims and resulting in the arrests of over 150 pimps. This was an amazing operation and we are very grateful for the FBI and law enforcement’s hard work. We’d like to say a special thank you, however, to our friend and star of our upcoming feature documentary, TRICKED, Sgt. Dan Steele.

Discussing the events of this past weekend, Steele says, “The most significant and startling number associated with the event were the 9 minors recovered exclusively by the task force. The number is truly disconcerting, especially when one considers Denver only trailed major metropolitan cities like San Francisco/Oakland, Detroit and Milwaukee. The national recovery number of 105 children is alarming and disgusting and is really an indictment of the growing problem sweeping this country. If that number doesn’t wake people up I don’t know what will.”

Do “happy hookers” really exist? Check out this article about pimp turned non-profit founder, Derek Williams, and Danielle Douglas, sex trafficking survivor and star of our upcoming film TRICKED, to see how they break down this myth.

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