‘Predators' like Jeffrey Epstein familiar faces in seedy 'underbelly' of the modeling world
by Georeen Tanner, Angela Bertorelli -- FOX News
Jean Luc Brunel ran a Miami-based modeling agency launched in part with a $1 million investment from Jeffrey Epstein. In exchange for the contribution, Brunel is alleged to have funneled young models to the now-deceased pedophile.
Brunel vanished after Epstein's suicide, before being spotted in South America in September, according to the French outlet Le Parisien. French authorities are investigating him for rape, sexual assault and his ties to Epstein, but Brunel has denied that any misconduct arose from his relationship with the perverted financier, who hung himself in a prison cell weeks after his July 6 arrest on child sex trafficking charges.
But men like Brunel and Epstein are nothing new in the world of high fashion.
“There are solid people in the industry,” supermodel Kathy Ireland told Fox News. “There are also a lot of predators.”
The majority of female models enter the fashion industry between the ages of 13 and 16. Their age and the often unfamiliar surroundings in which they find themselves make them especially vulnerable to sexual predators like Epstein.
“Before entering the modeling world, my universe was as far as I could ride my skateboard in Santa Barbara,” said Ireland, who started working at age 16. “When I came to the city [New York], I was very naïve. I thought that all adults would be good, honest, respectable people like my mom and dad.”
She was wrong.
Ireland recalled her narrow escape from a harrowing early job. The owner of the agency she worked for scheduled her with a photographer who was said to be a good friend of the agent. Ireland quickly learned that the photographer had seedy intentions when she got in a car with him and headed to a hotel.
“This photographer had set this up so that there was one hotel room and it's only one bed in the hotel room and I was expected to stay with him,” Ireland said.
“We were on a freeway. I was contemplating, ‘What do I do? Do I jump out of a car on the freeway?'”
Situations like this were commonplace, and according to Ireland, agents were often complicit.
“What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys,” she said. “They're not playboys. They're predators.”
“It's illegal to have sex with a child, with a minor, and that's not consensual. There's nothing consensual about that.”
Ireland has previously discussed an incident when she punched a photographer for getting physical with her after she refused to take off her clothes.
“I said, ‘No' and he said, ‘You model swimsuits.' People prey on someone's desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.”
“So often young girls come to me, they see the glossy retouched images and they see the covers and they want to model. It looks so fun and beautiful and glamorous and easy and they don't see everything that goes into it.”
The life of a model can include 18-hour days without breaks, months without payment for work, living in crowded “model apartments,” and going into debt. Models coming from other countries can become beholden to their agents for necessities like visas, housing, and food.
In addition to this poor treatment, young models are often unchaperoned leaving them vulnerable to predators like Epstein. Funneling in young women from overseas can be as easy as filling out a temporary visa.
To help combat this, Model Alliance, a policy and advocacy group founded by former model Sara Ziff, pushed the passing of the Child Model Act in New York in 2013. The law affords child models the same basic rights and protections as child performers like actors, singers and dancers. Prior to the law's passage, models under 18 years old were not protected under New York's labor law.
Ziff, who began modeling at age 14, was surprised.
“New York is the center of the American fashion industry and the fashion industry relies very heavily on underage girls,” Ziff said.
“One of the problems that we've seen for many years in the industry has been agencies representing 14, 15, 16-year-old girls who are thrust into a very adult environment and are walking at New York Fashion Week and appearing in magazines and advertising campaigns and presented as adults.”
Ziff had a similar experience to Ireland when, at 14 years old, she was told to take her clothes off by a photographer.
“Being put on the spot to pose nude or semi-nude was pretty common. No advance notice or consent, and a lot of difficulty getting paid,” she said. “Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid. When I eventually left after enduring quite a lot of abuse, that agency withheld my earnings — they refused to pay me.”
Under New York State's Child Model Act, a child model under 16 years old must be accompanied at work by a “responsible person designated by the parent or guardian.” A parent or guardian must also set up a trust account for the child and “an employer must assure that at least 15 percent of the child model's earnings are put into that trust account.”
These safeguards may protect young models from some of the industry's pitfalls, but predators still lurk.
Anita Teekah, the senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon, counts the lack of financial transparency among many things that leave underage models vulnerable.
“Models are told they are dispensable. They are very much inhibited from airing grievances for fear of retaliation. If you're underage, this compounds all of this,” Teekah said.
“There's so much harmful behavior that has been deeply normalized. Once something becomes normalized, it's hard to fight it. It doesn't mean it's right or legal, but because it's normalized it's harder to fight.”
This is the slippery slope into trafficking, according to Teekah. Young women are often unaware of their rights, which leaves them defenseless.
“This is going to sounds pessimistic, but it's human nature to try to exploit people,” Teekah said. “It's easier to get away with these things when you have people who are vulnerable and won't speak out.”
Though more protections are in place for models, there is still work to be done, a fact highlighted by the Epstein scandal.
Ziff recalls meeting Epstein as a young model. She came away from the encounter unscathed but credits that to her circumstances.
“He might have recognized that I was not as vulnerable perhaps and was coming from a slightly different background from some of these other girls who he allegedly abused,” she said. “I am all too familiar with the overlap between trafficking and modeling and unfortunately it's a very real problem that's taken the Jeffrey Epstein case for people to even, it seems, acknowledge or be concerned about it.”
“But it's not surprising to people who work in the industry,” Ziff continued. “Jean Luc Brunel's behavior was well-known. I heard from other agents over the years about him so none of this is anything that's new and unfortunately nothing yet has been done really to address it. It's still going on.”
Fox News reached out to Brunel's former attorney Joe Titone who recently communicated with his client by phone. Titone had no comment regarding the pending allegations and says he does not know Brunel's whereabouts.
Ireland had no direct contact with Epstein, but calls him a “familiar character,” and understands how young girls could become prey to those like him.
“I can see how young girls are susceptible. Many of them have never left home before—naïve like I was, trusting,” she said. “The ugliness of it takes different forms and there's something about seeing a person in an image. We can objectify people and dehumanize them and somehow justify that it's okay to abuse them, to rape them, to discard them.”
Ireland, who is working on a novel about the industry called “Fashion Jungle,” acknowledges the good works done in the industry, but remains aware of its dark side.
“I feel very grateful to have survived the industry because it's rough,” she said. “It is a jungle out there and my hope is that the young people there will survive this jungle and we'll share their stories.”
Child Advocacy Program for Abuse Victims Receives Nearly $400,000
New HopeNew Hope Child Advocacy Center
by KALIE DRAGO
Washington Department of Commerce of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) dispersed $7.2 million in grant funding throughout the state and Grant County's Kids New Hope program was one of the organizations selected for funding in the competitive grant opportunity. New Hope, based in downtown Moses Lake, received almost $400,000 in funds for two years.
“We are really excited about the opportunity we have for serving all the kids in Grant and Adams County,” said Suzi Fode, director of Kids New Hope. “We are going to be able to hire a forensics interviewer and an administrative support staff that are going to supplement the staff working in our children's advocacy center.”
Law enforcement or Child Protective Services will refer children who have suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect to New Hope's child advocacy center.
“We are able to wrap all services around that family. So they get their interview done here and they only have to tell their story one time, or that's the ideal. They tell it, it's recorded and then it's sent with law enforcement or prosecutors for a criminal case,” said Fode.
Fode stressed the need to have qualified staff, the right resources and an environment that is a safe and stable landing for families when they come in.
“Obviously a child sexual assault or physical assault is a pretty traumatic event to happen to a kid, so we want to make sure everything we offer them minimizes that trauma down the road,” said Fode.
The child advocacy center strives to provide tools like therapy, an advocate and other similar supportive measures like a gas card to ensure families have transportation to make it to therapy. Fode stated that the center had seen an increase of about 243% reported cases to their agency over the last year and a half.
“So we just knew we had to meet that growth and that demand,” said Fode.
Woman offers hope to unfortunate children
by Thu Hang
We hear many harrowing tales of child sexual abuse.
When a case of child abuse is discovered, most condemn the perpetrator and think of how they should be punished. However, less attention is paid to the victim, and how they can continue living after such a horrific experience.
One woman is always willing to help and offer hope to sexually abused and exploited children with her enthusiasm and kindness.
For 10 years, Nguyen Yen Thao, 39, from HCM City, has rescued and raised hundreds of children who were victims of sexual abuse or at risk of violence.
She is the head of One Body Village (OBV) Viet Nam (known as Nhip Cau Hanh Phuc) in HCM City under the Viet Nam Education and Psychological Science Association.
Nhip Cau Hanh Phuc is funded by the OBV, an American non-governmental organisation established in 2001 to bring hope to sexually abused and exploited children, particularly in Southeast Asia, including Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia.
OBV was established in Viet Nam in 2009 and has become the second home and family of unfortunate children involved in sexual abuse incidents.
Thao used to work for HCM City Television. She developed an interest in helping young victims of sexual abuse in 2009 after collaborating with reporters on stories about the children.
This led Thao on a journey full of hardships, pain and sleepless nights, but also lots of laughter at the OBV.
“I want to alleviate the pain of those children. I want to help them to return to normality after the incidents. Nhip Cau Hanh Phuc is a happy and safe environment for them,” Thao said.
“Our purpose is to improve the lives of high risk and sexually exploited children by giving them shelter, education, medical care, psychological counselling and vocational training for free.”
Nhip Cau Hanh Phuc currently houses 30 youngsters aged between 3 and 21. They will be cared for and live in a safe environment so that they can gradually move on from the trauma and return to normal life.
It will take a long time for a child to regain trust, restore their self-esteem, realise their self-worth, and rebuild their lives.
Many children live at the centre for eight to ten years. When they are confident enough, they will return to live with their families.
Every day they go to school like any other children and return home after class. They receive direct care from six people at the OBV.
Thao and her colleagues use the media to locate children who are at risk or being abused.
After learning about a child in need of help, Thao firstly verifies the information then contacts local authorities to reach the victim's family.
She will invite the victim's family to the OBV so they see where the child can live safely and the centre will welcome the child if the family agrees.
Thao realised the work would be a lot harder than she expected when she first visited the family of a baby that was being sexually abused.
"I thought they would welcome me because I came to help them. But things were not as I thought. They did not co-operate or trust me and thought nobody would want to help."
In some cases, the victims' parents felt the incident should be forgotten and the children should stay at home to earn money.
Most sexually abused children come from poor families.
The families often refuse to allow Thao to take their children, or force them to return home after a short stay at the centre.
"I faced a lot of difficulties in the first few years doing this job. It made me uncomfortable when the victims' parents did not take care of their children while I wanted to help."
"However, years later, I realised I couldn't blame them because I'm not in their situation. But I still try to help them as much as possible," she said.
If Thao can't bring victims to the home, she still tries to monitor them after the incidents.
Many cases were particularly upsetting, with shocking details of children abused by their own relatives for many years. Often these cases went undetected and the children did not dare speak out.
Around 2,000 cases of violence against children are reported every year in Vi?t Nam, of which more than 60 per cent involve sexual abuse, according to a report by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Last year, more than 1,540 cases of violence against children were reported, with 1,570 victims. Over 1,290 of 1,570 children were sexually abused, the report said.
About 80 per cent of children were abused by relatives and acquaintances, Thao said.
Many stories haunted her, and she still blames herself.
The most tragic story was the death of a 13-year-old girl in Ca Mau Province who was sexually abused by a neighbour.
After suffering the abuse for months, she decided to go to the police.
Local police officers investigated the case but decided not to prosecute the man. On hearing the police's decision, the girl committed suicide by overdosing on medication.
"She died before she could come to the OBV house. If I worked harder and tried to convince her mother to quickly bring her to us, things would be different," Thao said.
“There are also many cases where I tried my best but was unable to help because the family refused.”
Not every abused child will be brought to the OBV. They are only welcomed when the family is in a difficult situation or the child molester lives nearby, meaning the youngster is still in danger.
Living with their parents is still the best option for a child, according to Thao.
Children who are not at the OBV will receive psychological or financial support to continue going to school. Many have dropped out after suffering abuse.
"The most difficult thing is to help each child achieve something so they can move forward," Thao said.
"We have a great responsibility to take care of them because their families have trusted us and entrusted their children to us. They are all taken care of like I take care of my daughter."
Although tiring and stressful, Th?o is not alone because of the help of others who work at the OBV.
Thao said that to help the children, she always tries to forget the painful things they have encountered. She always tries to look towards the child's future.
"I try not to remember what happened to the babies. I always look to the future of each child."
A normal house
The OBV's house is similar to other homes. From the outside, no one can tell it is a home for abused children. Only the head of the local People's Committee and the police are aware.
If someone wants to visit, they are required to provide their details and cannot take any photos. These measures are to protect the identities of the children.
The people who work here are also not allowed to ask children what happened to them.
Children in the OBV are not allowed to ask and tell each other what happened to them. These are part of the organisation's regulations.
"Each child understands they are not alone and there are others from the same circumstances. This means they can live happily together," Thao said.
She devotes her time, effort and energy to seeing the smiles and happiness of these unfortunate children. She delights in their daily progress.
"I am happy when they are happy. Many children who have left the OBV after years living here told me they miss me, when they passed college or they got married. These stories make it all worthwhile," Thao said.
In New Orleans, hope for justice seen in ex-deacon's arrest
by Jim Mustian
A man who says he was raped by a Catholic deacon four decades ago while serving as an altar boy in New Orleans says he hopes the deacon's arrest will “send a message to other pedophiles in the Church that this should never happen again.”
“There's no closing the book on this for me and the other people who have been molested,” the man told The Associated Press. “But there would be some reparation, some justice, by him being found guilty.”
The man spoke Thursday as he prepared to meet with local prosecutors about the case of George F. Brignac, a longtime schoolteacher and deacon who has faced a series of sexual abuse allegations amid a scandal that has roiled the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The AP does not usually identify victims of sex crimes.
Brignac, 84, was jailed Saturday on one count of first-degree rape, more than a year after the former altar boy told police that Brignac had repeatedly raped him beginning in the late 1970s. Police said the abuse began when the boy was 7 years old and continued until he was 11.
Brignac, who was released on $40,000 bail, declined to comment Thursday. He faces life in prison if convicted. His defense attorney did not return messages seeking comment.
The arrest comes amid a new reckoning within the Catholic Church over how it handles clergy accused of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese of New Orleans has settled several lawsuits against Brignac, including one for more than $500,000, and included him among the more than 50 names it released last year of clergy removed from the ministry due to “credible accusations” of sexual abuse.
The archdiocese said in a statement that it continues to cooperate with law enforcement. “I want to publicly express our prayerful support of the victim in this case as this moves through the criminal justice system,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond said in a statement to the Clarion Herald.
Advocates said they hope Brignac's arrest proves to be a harbinger of additional criminal cases against abusive clergy. There is no statute of limitations in Louisiana for child rape.
“This arrest has signaled for the first time that the law enforcement in the city of New Orleans and district attorney are willing to get involved in these cases,” said Richard Windmann, the Louisiana leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The former altar boy acknowledged the challenges prosecutors will face given how much time has passed since Brignac first befriended him in 1978. There is little physical evidence in the case, he said, aside from a collection of love notes and greeting cards he received from Brignac when he was a young boy.
“In the end, it's basically my word versus his,” he said. “But I think I'm a much more credible person than he is.”
Under Louisiana law, prosecutors may also present the testimony of other Brignac accusers to the jury, said Prem Burns, a former sex crimes prosecutor in Baton Rouge. The New Orleans Police Department has collected contact information of several people who settled civil cases with the archdiocese over claims against Brignac.
“While these cases are difficult to try, there is a willing victim,” Burns said. “It would be a very powerful case and might give further closure to the numerous victims whose compensation was financial.”
Brignac was defrocked as a deacon in 1988 after a 7-year-old boy accused him of fondling him at a Christmas party. That accusation came on top of previous claims that he abused other boys, including one that led to his acquittal in 1978 on three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
Still, he remained involved in the church as a lay minister and read the Gospel during Mass until last year, when news reports about his past prompted officials to remove him. The Associated Press reported this summer that Brignac maintained access to children and held leadership roles until last year in the Knights of Columbus, despite his written promise, more than three decades ago, to avoid young boys “for the good of the Church.”
New Orleans police said in an arrest warrant that Brignac began grooming the altar boy in 1978, when Brignac taught math at Holy Rosary School and was a leader of the parish's altar boy program.
He bought the boy “candy, cokes, ice cream and baseball cards on the way home from school,” the warrant says, and took him to his home across Esplanade Avenue from the school. The warrant says Brignac raped the boy repeatedly at his home and at least once in City Park, warning him “not to tell anyone about the abuse.”
The warrant also refers to several “disturbing” birthday and Christmas cards Brignac sent to the boy expressing his love for him, including one that says, “It is really hard for me to understand why you don't even acknowledge that I exist.”
Detective Lawrence Jones wrote in the warrant that the abuse took “all the innocence from the young juvenile victim.
'Please don't ever feel ashamed'
Sophia Murphy appeals to victims of abuse to come forward in emotional Late Late Show interview
by Aoife Kelly
Sophia Murphy has appealed to victims of abuse to come forward in an emotional interview on Friday night's Late Late Show.
In July last year Sophia's father John Murphy was convicted of sexually assaulting and raping his eldest daughter from the age of three to 15.
Sophia, who is originally from Galway, waived her anonymity following the conviction so that her father could be named and to encourage other abuse victims to come forward.
On Friday's Late Late Show she shared part her story with host Ryan Tubridy and revealed the impact of the horrific, 'relentless' abuse on her life.
It started when she was just a toddler and her first memory of abuse is of being three and a half or four years old and being abused by her father on a bus outside her home as the bus driver stepped out to smoke a cigarette.
She was also sexually abused on her Communion day, and she revealed that she often inflicted severe injuries on herself as an outlet for her emotional pain.
Speaking to the viewers, Sophia appealed to any victims watching the programme to come forward, and pleaded with abusers not to ruin the lives of children.
"For anyone that's a victim of any form of abuse please don't ever feel ashamed," she said.
"You have done nothing wrong. They know exactly how to break you down. They know exactly what they're doing."
"For anyone who touches a child. You are sick. Just please, please think twice before you destroy a child's life. It has destroyed our family."
Sophia said she hoped that victims would seek help in the wake of her interview.
"Please ring, please seek the help there is," she said. "I know people say there is a long waiting list but even just pelase ring the helplines, please talk to someone."
There was a huge outpouring of support for Sophia on social media following her appearance on the show.
Africa - Cathoilic Church
Top African cardinal says pope's anti-abuse rules should be ‘extended'
by Elise Harris
Africa's top prelate has hit back against the notion that clerical sexual abuse is a purely western problem, saying it happens on his home turf, too.
Speaking to Crux, Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo said: “Crimes of sexual abuse offend our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.”
Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Ouédraogo was elected president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in July.
The meeting in Kampala, Uganda, was SECAM's 18th Plenary Assembly, and it marked the 50th anniversary of the pan-African bishops' organization.
During the July gathering, the prelates discussed the rapid growth of Catholicism on the African continent, the role of young people, who compose roughly 60 percent of the population in Africa, challenges to evangelization, including tribal issues and the abuse of women and minors.
Noting how some have said that clerical sexual abuse is not a problem in Africa, Ouédraogo said “each society has its strengths and weaknesses. There are similarities and differences.”
“From this point of view, ‘marriage for all' or the question of sexual abuse of minors does not arise with the same urgency in all societies on the planet. Thus, some people believe, not without reason, that sexual abuse of children is not as frequent in Africa as in Europe or America, for example,” he said.
“Does this mean that it does not exist in Africa? Far from it,” Ouédraogo said, insisting that sexual abuse does happen, not just to minors, but also to women.
During the plenary, specific mention was also made of Pope Francis's new document, Vox estis lux mundi, which was released in May and outlines a new process for episcopal accountability in abuse cases, both for the crime and the cover-up, giving metropolitan archbishops a key role and requiring all dioceses in the world to set up reporting mechanisms.
“Peter's successor took the true measure of the drama and undertook to help the ecclesial community to live a true repentance and an authentic, continuous and profound conversion of hearts through concrete and effective actions,” he said.
Insisting that the problem “concerns the whole Church,” Ouédraogo said concrete studies and recommendations are being made at the level of both national and inter-territorial bishops' conferences.
Implementation of Francis's new measures, Ouédraogo said, was discussed “at length” by African prelates during their plenary meeting, and as part of the follow-up, each individual bishops' conference is required to inventory their own procedures and provide a report, including recommended solutions, to SECAM's general secretary.
A synthesis of the plenary discussion on the issue will also be drafted by SECAM's standing committee in order to both take stock of the situation and adopt concrete recommendations in light of Francis's new measures, he said.
“There are many scourges to which children are subjected: Sexual abuse, child soldiers, trafficking in human beings. Children's rights are being violated both in Africa and around the world,” Ouédraogo said.
“What Pope Francis's Motu Proprio stipulates, namely, is the establishment of an appropriate ecclesiastical office in each diocese to enable reports of various cases of sexual abuse to be presented,” Ouédraogo said, adding that the document “must be extended, it seems to us, to these other scourges that also cruelly affect children.”
Speaking specifically of women, Ouédraogo said much of the plenary discussion on how to empower them and encourage their leadership in the Church and in society echoes a 1994 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which spoke out against cultural customs and practices “which deprive women of their rights and due respect.”
Bishops are seeking to both protect and promote the rights of women, he said, adding that the Church can play a “prophetic role” in “defending the rights of women and girls in African society,” such as their right to education, to the same life opportunities given to men, and the freedom to marry whom they choose, rather than being forced into arranged marriages.
Speaking of the goals and challenges of the Catholic Church in Africa, Ouédraogo said that looking to the future, key challenges are evangelization and the inculturation of the Church in Africa's culturally and traditionally diverse context.
He also highlighted interreligious and intercultural dialogue as key challenges both within the Catholic Church, and with other religious communities, such as Islam, Judaism, Protestantism, and traditional African religions.
Current global issues such as migration, a lack of respect for life, damage to the environment, social communications and globalization are all issues he said that will make it more difficult to promote justice, peace and an integral human development moving forward.
However, “our greatest strength in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI, has said, is hope,” Ouédraogo said, adding that in Africa, “despite all the difficulties…It is this human hope that the theological virtue of hope comes to assume and fulfill. Faced with the immensity of the challenges to be met, it is therefore out of the question to get discouraged and desperate.”
He also praised the role of young people, who in Africa make up nearly 60 percent of the population.
“It is the present and the future of the Church and humanity,” he said, explaining that how to empower young people was a key point of discussion for African bishops during their plenary. “Hence the need for training in human, intellectual, doctrinal and spiritual values so that they can take their place and play their full role in society and in the Church.”
Referring to SECAM's golden jubilee celebrations, Ouédraogo voiced his hope that the landmark anniversary “will deepen in lay faithful, consecrated persons and pastors our knowledge of Christ and strengthen our missionary zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.”
“We have the reasonable presumption that this jubilee is, for the Church Family of God in Africa, a new missionary departure, in the sense that was understood by Pope Paul VI: ‘You Africans, you are now your own missionaries. You can and must have African Christianity,'” he said.
Greenland Calls On Denmark to Help Fight Child Sexual Abuse
The small, isolated community of Tasiilaq is confronting an epidemic of child sexual abuse.
by Martin Selsoe Sorensen
COPENHAGEN — In Greenland, a quarter of all police reports of child sexual abuse come from the remote district of Tasiilaq, a tiny community of 2,800 on the country's east coast, according to the police.
Pay days are the worst time for the children of Tasiilaq, officials say. With their salaries or social benefits in hand, many adults tend to drink and parents become too inebriated to look after their children, officials say. That's when an already high rate of sexual abuse rises, according to a police study published last week.
So on the last Friday of every month, officials open a sports hall in the district as a shelter to keep children away from sexual abuse.
“Children were abused by their stepfathers, cousins and by the neighbor looking after them as the parents were on a bender,” Naasunnguaq Ignatiussen Streymoy, the mother of a sexual abuse victim and an anti-abuse activist, told Weekendavisen, a newsweekly, in an article published on Friday about the crisis.
In an unusual step, the government of Greenland turned to Denmark, its former colonial ruler, for help. Greenland said it lacked sufficient funds and expertise to tackle the problem in Tasiilaq, where 5 percent of the national population of 56,000 live.
On Thursday, Denmark answered the call, with the minister of social affairs announcing $730,000 in emergency funds and a team of psychologists that would travel to Tasiilaq within days to help address the epidemic. Next year, the minister said in a statement, more funds will be made available.
The emergency aid is the first step in a much broader effort to deal with widespread sexual abuse of children across the Arctic territory. The true scale of the problem is unknown, the police said, as many cases most likely go unreported.
Asii Chemnitz Narup, then Tasiilaq's mayor, said in a statement in May: “Across Greenland, children and youngsters are abused sexually and the scale is so big it calls for a national emergency. I believe we are in a human, social and cultural death spiral if we don't manage to stop the sexual abuse.” She stepped down in June.
Greenland, a semiautonomous Danish territory, has its own government, but Copenhagen, the Danish capital, is responsible for its foreign and defense policies. Social affairs, however, are usually handled in Nuuk, Greenland's main city, which is a two-hour plane ride from Tasiilaq. Millions have been spent on social work in a country that caught the eye of President Trump, who this year floated the idea of buying it but was rejected.
But Nuuk said it needed help to tackle Tasiilaq's abuse crisis. The police report documented 191 reports of the sexual abuse of minors from 2014 to 2018. Eighty-nine percent dealt with accusations of rape or sexual abuse of children under 15. Based on interviews with victims, residents and officials, the report described “sexualized” social conventions in which inappropriate physical contact happens randomly and frequently.
“As a child, one can be subjected to violation of sexual boundaries on a daily basis,” the study found.
Activists say that the authorities have not only failed to bring the level of sexual abuse down; they have also failed to treat and support the victims. The abuse has been widely known but ignored for many years by politicians, they say.
Experts point to a mix of unemployment — it's 25 percent in Tasiilaq — alcoholism, a growing transition from a traditional to a modern culture and geographical isolation as factors fueling the abuse. But Tasiilaq's sexual abuse rate also stands out for the high tendency among residents to report the abuse, officials say.
“The big difference is that in Tasiilaq, they've chosen to come forward and report things,” the chief superintendent, Svend Foldager, told Weekendavisen.
The police study identified victims as young as 1, and nearly half of victims reported experiencing repeated abuse. Many of the perpetrators were male between the ages 15 of 30 and knew their victims, the study found. Most of the violations happened in private homes during sleepovers or social gatherings, the report found.
Of the 191 cases reported, 152 have been prosecuted (some cases are still pending, and others have been dropped). Thirty-three percent of the prosecutions have led to convictions.
But perpetrators usually are not ostracized after convictions for molesting a child, the authors of the report were told. The report suggested that it was the result of a collective survival system that protects the community even at the expense of its children.
Greenland's problems, and Tasiilaq's in particular, echo those of other indigenous Arctic communities facing changing lifestyles. In a 2008 survey of Inuits in Canada, 52 percent of female respondents said they had experienced “severe sexual abuse” during their childhood.
In Alaska, rural communities have been struggling with high rates of rape for decades — by some accounts, rates 12 times higher than the national average.
Researchers said households in Tasiilaq that used to hunt and fish for food are now dependent on an unstable job market to survive. Without the connection to their native traditions, some lose identity and purpose and grasp for stimulants elsewhere, researchers say.
As one startling marker of social dislocation, one in five deaths in Tasiilaq is by suicide, said Henrik L. Hansen, Greenland's chief medical officer. In Greenland over all, 8 percent of the population die by suicide — more than twice the rate of any independent nation, according to official figures.
About 80 percent of Greenland is covered with ice, and its vast, empty landscape tends to create isolated communities. Without many roads between towns and settlements, the island's transportation is mostly done by air or sea, making it difficult to leave and still remain in close contact with relatives and friends. Unable to cut such social ties, experts say, some abuse victims tend to end up staying among their abusers.
“People will have to live right next to each other in spite of what has happened,” said Christian Friis, an anthropologist and an author of the report. “You don't just move to another town.
The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?
Evidence confiscated by a police task force charged with investigating images of child sexual abuse, in Seattle. Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and illicitly shared, but the volume of them online has grown exponentially.
by GABRIEL J.X. DANCE and Michael H. Keller – NY Times
[Editors Note: Articles in this series, ‘Exploited,' examine the explosion in online photos and videos of children being sexually abused. They include descriptions of some instances of the abuse.]
The images are horrific. Children, some just 3 or 4 years old, being sexually abused and in some cases tortured.
Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year.
More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than 1 million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008.
Yet the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially.
An investigation by The New York Times found an insatiable criminal underworld that had exploited the flawed and insufficient efforts to contain it. As with hate speech and terrorist propaganda, many tech companies failed to adequately police sexual abuse imagery on their platforms, or failed to cooperate sufficiently with authorities when they found it.
Law enforcement agencies devoted to the problem were left understaffed and underfunded, even as they were asked to handle far larger caseloads.
The Justice Department, given a major role by Congress, neglected even to write mandatory monitoring reports, nor did it appoint a senior executive-level official to lead a crackdown. And the group tasked with serving as a federal clearinghouse for the imagery — the go-between for tech companies and authorities — was ill-equipped for the expanding demands.
A paper recently published in conjunction with that group, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, described a system at “a breaking point,” with reports of abusive images “exceeding the capabilities of independent clearinghouses and law enforcement to take action.” It suggested that future advancements in machine learning might be the only way to catch up with criminals.
The Times reviewed over 10,000 pages of police and court documents; conducted software tests to assess the availability of the imagery through search engines; accompanied detectives on raids; and spoke with investigators, lawmakers, tech executives and government officials. The reporting included conversations with an admitted pedophile who concealed his identity using encryption software and who runs a site that has hosted as many as 17,000 such images.
In interviews, victims across the United States described in heart-wrenching detail how their lives had been upended by the abuse. Children, raped by relatives and strangers alike, being told it was normal. Adults, now years removed from their abuse, still living in fear of being recognized from photos and videos on the internet. And parents of the abused, struggling to cope with the guilt of not having prevented it and their powerlessness over stopping its online spread.
Many of the survivors and their families said their view of humanity had been inextricably changed by the crimes themselves and the online demand for images of them.
“I don't really know how to deal with it,” said one woman who, at age 11, had been filmed being sexually assaulted by her father. “You're just trying to feel OK and not let something like this define your whole life. But the thing with the pictures is — that's the thing that keeps this alive.”
The Times' reporting revealed a problem global in scope — most of the images found last year were traced to other countries — but one firmly rooted in the United States because of the central role Silicon Valley has played in facilitating the imagery's spread and in reporting it to authorities.
While the material, commonly known as child pornography, predates the digital era, smartphone cameras, social media and cloud storage have allowed images to multiply at an alarming rate. Both recirculated and new images occupy all corners of the internet, including a range of platforms as diverse as Facebook Messenger, Microsoft's Bing search engine and the storage service Dropbox.
In a particularly disturbing trend, online groups are devoting themselves to sharing images of younger children and more extreme forms of abuse. The groups use encrypted technologies and the dark web, the vast underbelly of the internet, to teach pedophiles how to carry out the crimes and how to record and share images of the abuse worldwide. In some online forums, children are forced to hold up signs with the name of the group or other identifying information to prove the images are fresh.
With so many reports of abuse coming their way, law enforcement agencies across the country said they were often besieged. Some have managed their online workload by focusing on imagery depicting the youngest victims.
“We go home and think, ‘Good grief, the fact that we have to prioritize by age is just really disturbing,'” said Detective Paula Meares, who has investigated child sex crimes for more than 10 years at the Los Angeles Police Department.
In some sense, increased detection of the spiraling problem is a sign of progress. Tech companies are legally required to report images of child abuse only when they discover them; they are not required to look for them.
After years of uneven monitoring of the material, several major tech companies, including Facebook and Google, stepped up surveillance of their platforms. In interviews, executives with some companies pointed to the voluntary monitoring and the spike in reports as indications of their commitment to addressing the problem.
But police records and emails, as well as interviews with nearly three dozen local, state and federal law enforcement officials, show that some tech companies still fall short. It can take weeks or months for them to respond to questions from authorities, if they respond at all. Sometimes they respond only to say they have no records, even for reports they initiated.
And when tech companies cooperate fully, encryption and anonymization can create digital hiding places for perpetrators. Facebook announced in March plans to encrypt Messenger, which last year was responsible for nearly 12 million of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of child sexual abuse material, according to people familiar with the reports. Reports to authorities typically contain more than one image, and last year encompassed the record 45 million photos and videos, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
All the while, criminals continue to trade and stockpile caches of the material.
The law Congress passed in 2008 foresaw many of today's problems, but the Times found that the federal government had not fulfilled major aspects of the legislation.
The Justice Department has produced just two of six required reports that are meant to compile data about internet crimes against children and set goals to eliminate them, and there has been a constant churn of short-term appointees leading the department's efforts. The first person to hold the position, Francey Hakes, said it was clear from the outset that no one “felt like the position was as important as it was written by Congress to be.”
The federal government has also not lived up to the law's funding goals, severely crippling efforts to stamp out the activity.
Congress has regularly allocated about half of the $60 million in yearly funding for state and local law enforcement efforts. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security this year diverted nearly $6 million from its cybercrimes units to immigration enforcement — depleting 40% of the units' discretionary budget until the final month of the fiscal year.
Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was abducted by a man she had met on the internet when she was 13, said the lack of follow-through was disheartening. Now an advocate for laws preventing crimes against children, she had testified in support of the 2008 legislation.
“I remember looking around the room, and there wasn't a dry eye,” said Kozakiewicz, 31, who had told of being chained, raped and beaten while her kidnapper livestreamed the abuse on the internet. “The federal bill passed, but it wasn't funded. So it didn't mean anything.”
Further impairing the federal response are shortcomings at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which reviews reports it receives and then distributes them to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as international partners.
The nonprofit center has relied in large measure on 20-year-old technology, has difficulty keeping experienced engineers on staff and, by its own reckoning, regards stopping the online distribution of photos and videos secondary to rescuing children.
“To be honest, it's a resource and volume issue,” said John Shehan, a vice president at the center, which was established 35 years ago to track missing children. “First priority is making sure we're assessing the risk of the children. We're getting this information into the hands of law enforcement.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who was an author of the 2008 law, said in an interview that she was unaware of the extent of the federal government's failures. After being briefed on the Times' findings, she sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr requesting an accounting.
Stacie Harris, the Justice Department's coordinator over the past year for combating child exploitation, said the problem was systemic, extending well beyond the department and her tenure there. “We are trying to play catch-up because we know that this is a huge, huge problem,” said Harris, an associate deputy attorney general.
The fallout for law enforcement, in some instances, has been crushing.
When reviewing tips from the national center, the FBI has narrowed its focus to images of infants and toddlers. And about one of every 10 agents in Homeland Security's investigative section — which deals with all kinds of threats, including terrorism — is now assigned to child sexual exploitation cases.
“We could double our numbers and still be getting crushed,” said Jonathan Hendrix, a Homeland Security agent who investigates cases in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Cutting Edge
The videos found on the computer of an Ohio man were described by investigators as among “the most gruesome and violent images of child pornography.”
One showed a woman orally forcing herself on a girl who was then held upside down by the ankles in a bathroom while “another child urinates” on her face, according to court documents.
Another showed a woman “inserting an ice cube into the vagina” of a young girl, the documents said, before tying her ankles together, taping her mouth shut and suspending her upside down. As the video continued, the girl was beaten, slapped and burned with a match or candle.
“The predominant sound is the child screaming and crying,” according to a federal agent quoted in the documents.
The videos were stored in a hidden computer file and had also been encrypted, one common way abusive imagery has been able to race across the internet with impunity.
Increasingly, criminals are using advanced technologies like encryption to stay ahead of police. In this case, the Ohio man, who helped run a website on the dark web known as the Love Zone, had over 3 million photos and videos on his computers.
The site, now shuttered, had nearly 30,000 members and required them to share images of abuse to maintain good standing, according to court documents. A private section of the forum was available only to members who shared imagery of children they abused themselves. They were known as “producers.”
Multiple police investigations over the past few years have broken up enormous dark web forums, including one known as Child's Play that was reported to have had over 1 million user accounts.
The highly skilled perpetrators often taunt authorities with their technical skills, acting boldly because they feel protected by the cover of darkness.
“People who traffic in child exploitation materials are on the cutting edge of technology,” said Susan Hennessey, a former lawyer at the National Security Agency who researches cybersecurity at the Brookings Institution.
Offenders can cover their tracks by connecting to virtual private networks, which mask their locations; deploying encryption techniques, which can hide their messages and make their hard drives impenetrable; and posting on the dark web, which is inaccessible to conventional browsers.
The anonymity offered by the sites emboldens members to post images of very young children being sexually abused, and in increasingly extreme and violent forms.
“Historically, you would never have gone to a black market shop and asked, ‘I want real hardcore with 3-year-olds,'” said Yolanda Lippert, a prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois, who leads a team investigating online child abuse. “But now you can sit seemingly secure on your device searching for this stuff, trading for it.”
Exhibits in the case of the Love Zone, sealed by the court but released by a judge after a request by the Times, include screenshots showing the forum had dedicated areas where users discussed ways to remain “safe” while posting and downloading imagery. Tips included tutorials on how to encrypt and share material without being detected by authorities.
The offender in Ohio, a site administrator named Jason Gmoser, “went to great lengths to hide” his conduct, according to the documents. Testimony in his criminal case revealed that it would have taken authorities “trillions of years” to crack the 41-character password he had used to encrypt the site. He eventually turned it over to investigators, and was sentenced to life in prison in 2016.
The site was run by a number of men, including Brian Davis, a worker at a child day care center in Illinois who admitted to documenting abuse of his own godson and more than a dozen other children — ages 3 months to 8 years — and sharing images of the assaults with other members. Davis made over 400 posts on the site. One image showed him orally raping a 2-year-old; another depicted a man raping an infant's anus.
Davis, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2015, said that “capturing the abuse on video was part of the excitement,” according to court records.
Some of his victims attended the court proceedings and submitted statements about their continuing struggles with the abuse.
‘Truly Terrible Things'
The surge in criminal activity on the dark web accounted for only a fraction of the 18.4 million reports of abuse last year. That number originates almost entirely with tech companies based in the United States.
Companies have known for years that their platforms were being co-opted by predators, but many of them essentially looked the other way, according to interviews and emails detailing companies' activities. And while many companies have made recent progress in identifying the material, they were slow to respond.
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor in cybercrime and child exploitation cases, said it was clear more than two decades ago that new technologies had created the biggest boon for pedophiles since the Polaroid camera.
The recent surge by tech companies in filing reports of online abuse “wouldn't exist if they did their job then,” said Nigam, who now runs a cybersecurity consulting firm and previously held top security roles at Microsoft, Myspace and News Corp.
Hany Farid, who worked with Microsoft to develop technology in 2009 for detecting child sexual abuse material, said tech companies had been reluctant for years to dig too deeply.
“The companies knew the house was full of roaches, and they were scared to turn the lights on,” he said. “And then when they did turn the lights on, it was worse than they thought.”
Federal law requires companies to preserve material about their reports of abuse imagery for 90 days. But given the overwhelming number of reports, it is not uncommon for requests from authorities to reach companies too late.
“That's a huge issue for us,” said Capt. Mike Edwards, a Seattle police commander who oversees a cybercrimes unit for the state of Washington. “You've got a short period of time to be able to get the data if it was preserved.”
Most tech companies have been quick to respond to urgent inquiries, but responses in other cases vary significantly. In interviews, law enforcement officials pointed to Tumblr, a blogging and social networking site with 470 million users, as one of the most problematic companies.
Police officers in Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin lamented Tumblr's poor response to requests, with one officer describing the issues as “long-term and ongoing” in an internal document.
A recent investigation in Polk County, Wisconsin, that included an image of a man orally raping a young child stalled for over a year. The investigator retired before Tumblr responded to numerous emails requesting information.
In a 2016 Wisconsin case, Tumblr alerted a person who had uploaded explicit images that the account had been referred to authorities, a practice that a former employee told the Times had been common for years. The tip allowed the man to destroy evidence on his electronic devices, police said.
A spokeswoman for Verizon said that Tumblr prioritized time-sensitive cases, which delayed other responses. Since Verizon acquired the company in 2017, the spokeswoman said, its practice was not to alert users of police requests for data. Verizon recently sold Tumblr to the web development company Automattic.
Law enforcement officials also pointed to problems with Microsoft's Bing search engine, and Snap, the parent company of the social network Snapchat.
Bing was said to regularly submit reports that lacked essential information, making investigations difficult, if not impossible. Snapchat, a platform especially popular with young people, is engineered to delete most of its content within a short period of time. According to law enforcement, when requests are made to the company, Snap often replies that it has no additional information.
A Microsoft spokesman said that the company had only limited information about offenders using the search engine, and that it was cooperating as best as it could. A Snap spokesman said the company preserved data in compliance with the law.
Data obtained through a public records request suggests Facebook's plans to encrypt Messenger in the coming years will lead to vast numbers of images of child abuse going undetected. Data shows that WhatsApp, the company's encrypted messaging app, submits only a small fraction of the reports Messenger does.
Facebook has long known about abusive images on its platforms, including a video of a man sexually assaulting a 6-year-old that went viral last year on Messenger. When Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, announced in March that Messenger would move to encryption, he acknowledged the risk it presented for “truly terrible things like child exploitation.”
“Encryption is a powerful tool for privacy,” he said, “but that includes the privacy of people doing bad things.”
“In a recent case, an offender filmed himself drugging the juice boxes of neighborhood children before tricking them into drinking the mix,” said Special Agent Flint Waters, a criminal investigator for the state of Wyoming. “He then filmed himself as he sexually abused unconscious children.”
Waters, appearing before Congress in Washington, was describing what he said “we see every day.”
He went on to present a map of the United States covered with red dots, each representing a computer used to share images of child sex abuse. Fewer than 2% of the crimes would be investigated, he predicted. “We are overwhelmed, we are underfunded and we are drowning in the tidal wave of tragedy,” he said.
Waters' testimony was delivered 12 years ago — in 2007.
The following year, Congress passed legislation that acknowledged the severity of the crisis. But then the federal government largely moved on. Some of the strongest provisions of the law were not fulfilled, and many problems went unfixed, according to interviews and government documents.
Today, Waters' testimony offers a haunting reminder of time lost.
Annual funding for state and regional investigations was authorized at $60 million, but only about half of that is regularly approved. It has increased only slightly from 10 years ago when accounting for inflation. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who was a sponsor of the law's reauthorization, said there was “no adequate or logical explanation and no excuse” for why more money was not allocated. Even $60 million a year, he said, would now be “vastly inadequate.”
Another cornerstone of the law, the biennial strategy reports by the Justice Department, was mostly ignored. Even the most recent of the two reports that were published, in 2010 and 2016, did not include data about some of the most pressing concerns, such as trade in illicit imagery.
The Justice Department's coordinator for child exploitation prevention, Harris, said she could not explain the poor record. A spokeswoman for the department, citing limited resources, said reports would now be written every four years beginning in 2020.
When the law was reauthorized in 2012, the coordinator role was supposed to be elevated to a senior executive position with broad authority. That has not happened. “This is supposed to be the quarterback,” said Wasserman Schultz, one of the provision's authors.
Even when the Justice Department has been publicly called out for ignoring provisions of the law, there has been little change.
In 2011, the Government Accountability Office reported that no steps had been taken to research which online offenders posed a high risk to children, and that the Justice Department had not submitted a progress assessment to Congress, both requirements of the law.
At the time, the department said it did not have enough funding to undertake the research and had no “time frame” for submitting a report. Today, the provisions remain largely unfulfilled.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which testified in favor of the 2008 law, has also struggled with demands to contain the spread of the imagery.
Founded in 1984 after the well-publicized kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old Florida boy, Adam Walsh, the center has been closely affiliated with the federal government since the Reagan administration.
But as child exploitation has grown on the internet, the center has not kept up. The technology it uses for receiving and reviewing reports of the material was created in 1998, nearly a decade before the first iPhone was released. To perform key upgrades and help modernize the system, the group has relied on donations from tech companies like Palantir and Google.
The center has said it intends to make significant improvements to its technology starting in 2020, but the problems don't stop there. Police complain that the most urgent reports are not prioritized, or are sent to the wrong department completely.
“We're spending a tremendous amount of time having to go through those and reanalyze them ourselves,” said Edwards, the Seattle police official.
In a statement, the national center said it did its best to route reports to the correct jurisdiction.
Despite its mandate by Congress, the center is not subject to public records laws and operates with little transparency. It repeatedly denied requests from the Times for quarterly and annual reports submitted to the Justice Department, as well as for tallies of imagery reports submitted by individual tech companies.
Shehan, the vice president, said such disclosures might discourage tech companies from cooperating with the center. He said the numbers could be misinterpreted.
The Times found that there was a close relationship between the center and Silicon Valley that raised questions about good governance practices. For example, the center receives both money and in-kind donations from tech companies, while employees of the same companies are sometimes members of its board. Google alone has donated nearly $4 million in the past decade, according to public testimony.
A spokeswoman for the center said it was common to expect corporations to provide financial assistance to charities. But the practice, others working in the area of child protection said, could elevate the interests of tech companies above the children's.
“There's an inherent conflict in accepting money from these companies when they also sit on your board,” said Signy Arnason, who is a top executive at the equivalent organization in Canada, known as the Canadian Center for Child Protection.
This close relationship with tech companies may ultimately be in jeopardy. In 2016, a federal court held that the national center, though private, qualified legally as a government entity because it performed a number of essential government functions.
If that view gains traction, Fourth Amendment challenges about searches and seizures by the government could change how the center operates and how tech companies find and remove illegal imagery on their platforms. Under those circumstances, if they were to collaborate too closely with the center, companies fear, they could also be viewed as government actors, not private entities, subjecting them to new legal requirements and court challenges when they police their own sites.
An Ugly Mirror
It was a sunny afternoon in July, and an unmarked police van in Salt Lake City was parked outside a pink stucco house. Garden gnomes and a heart-shaped “Welcome Friends” sign decorated the front yard.
At the back of the van, a man who lived in the house was seated in a cramped interrogation area, while officers cataloged hard drives and sifted through web histories from his computers.
The man had shared sexually explicit videos online, police said, including one of a 10-year-old boy being “orally sodomized” by a man, and another of a man forcing two young boys to engage in anal intercourse.
“The sad thing is that's pretty tame compared to what we've seen,” said Chief Jessica Farnsworth, an official with the Utah attorney general's office who led a raid of the house. The victims have not been identified or rescued.
The year was barely half over, and Farnsworth's team had already conducted about 150 such raids across Utah. The specially trained group, one of 61 nationwide, coordinates state and regional responses to internet crimes against children.
The Utah group expects to arrest nearly twice as many people this year as last year for crimes related to child sexual abuse material, but federal funding has not kept pace with the surge. Funding for the 61 task forces from 2010 to 2018 remained relatively flat, federal data shows, while the number of leads referred to them increased by more than 400%.
Much of the federal money goes toward training new staff members because the cases take a heavy emotional and psychological toll on investigators, resulting in constant turnover.
“I thought that I was in the underbelly of society — until I came here,” said Lippert, the prosecutor with the task force in Illinois, who had worked for years at a busy Chicago courthouse.
While any child at imminent risk remains a priority, the volume of work has also forced the task forces to make difficult choices. Some have focused on the youngest and most vulnerable victims, while others have cut back on undercover operations, including infiltrating chat rooms and online forums.
“I think some of the bigger fish who are out there are staying out there,” Lippert said.
The internet is well known as a haven for hate speech, terrorism-related content and criminal activity, all of which have raised alarms and spurred public debate and action.
But the problem of child sexual abuse imagery faces a particular hurdle: It gets scant attention because few people want to confront the enormity and horror of the content, or they wrongly dismiss it as primarily teenagers sending inappropriate selfies.
Some state lawmakers, judges and members of Congress have refused to discuss the problem in detail, or have avoided attending meetings and hearings when it was on the agenda, according to interviews with law enforcement officials and victims.
Steven Grocki, who leads a group of policy experts and lawyers at the child exploitation section of the Justice Department, said the reluctance to address the issue went beyond elected officials and was a societal problem. “They turn away from it because it's too ugly of a mirror,” he said.
Yet the material is everywhere, and ever more available.
“I think that people were always there, but the access is so easy,” said Lt. John Pizzuro, a task force commander in New Jersey. “You got 9 million people in the state of New Jersey. Based upon statistics, we can probably arrest 400,000 people.”
Common language about the abuse can also minimize the harm in people's minds. While the imagery is often defined as “child pornography” in state and federal laws, experts prefer terms like child sexual abuse imagery or child exploitation material to underscore the seriousness of the crimes and to avoid conflating it with adult pornography, which is legal for people over 18.
“Each and every image is a depiction of a crime in progress,” said Sgt. Jeff Swanson, a task force commander in Kansas. “The violence inflicted on these kids is unimaginable.
Australia probes PayPal amid child abuse payment fears
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) will appoint an external auditor to examine what it calls 'ongoing concerns' over PayPal's alleged breaches of the country's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws
SYDNEY -- Australia's financial regulator on Tuesday (Sep 24) ordered an investigation into global money transfer platform PayPal over concerns it is being misused by sex offenders to buy child abuse material from Asia.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) will appoint an external auditor to examine what it calls "ongoing concerns" over PayPal's alleged breaches of the country's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
Announcing the appointment in a statement Tuesday, AUSTRAC said it was working with its partners to "combat serious crimes such as child sex exploitation" using funds transfer information reported by the financial services sector.
"Online child abuse material can be ordered from Australia to areas such as the Philippines in quite often small amounts that are repeated often, and PayPal unfortunately is one of the areas that they can use to do that," AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose told the ABC.
"That's why we want to get the auditor in to really what sort of risks there have been and continue to be with PayPal systems or their reporting regime."
A PayPal Australia spokesperson said the review was prompted when the company realised it had not been fully reporting international payments in line with obligations.
"These reporting obligations are important protections in the international fight against financial crime and the misuse of payment platforms, which PayPal takes very seriously," they said in a statement.
The company added that the audit was not "instigated was in response to the discovery of child sex exploitation connections."
An audit report must be compiled within 120 days and will be used to determine whether the regulator takes any further action against the digital payments platform.
Respond to child abuse cases, teachers told
Andhra Pradesh State Legal Services Authority (APSLSA) Member Secretary V.R.K. Krupa Sagar has appealed to teachers, non-governmental organisations and advocates to respond to child abuse cases and steps for prevention of such incidents.
Mr. Krupa Sagar participated in a State-level consultation on ‘Child Abuse Prevention and Response in Schools and the Community', jointly organised by Child Rights Advocacy Foundation (CRAF) and World Vision India, here on Thursday.
Addressing the District Child Protection Officers (DCPOs), Crime Investigation Department (CID ) officials, teachers, Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) department personnel and the representatives of various NGOs, he said teachers, NGOs, Police and the DCPOs should respond to the child abuse cases immediately, create awareness and take steps to prevent them.
“Absence of response will not only cause humiliation and depression to the victims, but also increase the crime”, Mr. Sagar said and appealed to the officials concerned to sensitise minors on their rights.
Praising CRAF, World Vision and other NGOs for enlightening students on child rights and organising various programmes against child marriages, Mr. Sagar assured of all support from APSLSA in creating legal awareness among the children.
WD&CW Assistant Director M. Vijaya Lakshmi said that NGOs and government departments were one family and should work together to stop minor abuse, harassment, sexual assault and violence against children.
AP in third place
World Vision India senior manager Tabitha Francis said about 53% of the children were subjected to abuse in India and Andhra Pradesh was in third place in child abuse.
Mr. Krupa Sagar along with other participants released the study report prepared by World Vision India and CESS on child abuse on the occasion.
Nun Writes First Ever Dissertation About Priest On Nun Sex Abuse At Vatican Approved University
by Melissa Lemieux
Sister Makamatine Lembo, a Togolese nun, made history on Thursday when she successfully defended her dissertation on the sexual abuse of nuns by priests at a Vatican-sanctioned university and won her degree—and summa cum laude honors—in the process, reported U.S. News and World Report and the Associated Press.
Lembo's dissertation, given at Pontifical Gregorian University, focused on nine nuns victimized by priests in five sub-Saharan countries and the relational elements therein. Her conclusion—that decades-old entrenchments of power imbalances between the nuns and priests made consent impossible, as it often involved priests trading money with impoverished sisters in exchange for sex after a years-long process of grooming—relationships that, Lembo said, the nuns felt trapped into and couldn't escape.
Three nuns listen to the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in St Peter's Square on March 19, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Sister Makamatine Lembo was awarded summa cum laude for successfully defending her dissertation about priest sexual abuse of nuns in sub-Sahara areas.
Lembo realized these exchanges of sex for cash were not consensual when her fellow sisters shared a feeling of spiritual torment with her, telling her the relationships caused them emotional distress. She was inspired to embark on her study because of these women.
Sister Lembo's examiners praised her courage in pointed out and questioning these entrenched authorities.
Examiner Sister Brenda Dolphin praised Sister Lembo "on behalf of consecrated women all over the world."
"After these experiences, they live, but they don't live," said Lembo of the sisters who participated in her research to the Associated Press.
"I said, 'Why, we have to do something to free these women. We have to help her have the courage to say "'no.
The Trauma Disorder You May Not Have Heard About
by Annie Wright, LMFT
“There is no growth without real feeling. Children not loved for who they are do not learn how to love themselves. Their growth is an exercise in pleasing others, not in expanding through experience. As adults, they must learn to nurture their own lost child.” — Marion Woodman.
Last year, I wrote an article about child abuse, specifically dispelling the notion that child abuse is “just” physical in nature.
I wrote about how child abuse can also look emotional, psychological, verbal and/or neglectful in nature and provided examples of what this can look like.
In today's post, I want to introduce an idea of what can result from the complexity of this child abuse, particularly if the abuse takes place over a period of time and in the context of a relationship with a parent or guardian.
This idea is called complex relational trauma and it can be deeply impactful to children and the adults they become. I want to provide a brief overview of what complex relational trauma is, how it happens, what the symptoms and impacts of this may be, and share a curated list of resources you may want to explore further if you identify with complex relational trauma.
What is complex relational trauma?
“Unlike other forms of psychological disorders, the core issue in trauma is reality .” ? Bessel A. van der Kolk.
First, let me be clear that complex relational trauma is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM, the clinical guidebook of the mental health community).
Complex relational trauma and its attendant symptoms do, however, most closely resemble post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is in the DSM.
However, complex relational trauma could and sometimes is also interchanged with terms and descriptions such as complex PTSD, developmental trauma and interpersonal trauma.
So, why is complex relational trauma not in the DSM?
There are likely many explanations but one I personally and professionally believe is that the DSM — while valuable — sometimes fails to take into account our full spectrum of humanity and complicated relational experiences and, thus, lacks in some ways.
So, for the sake of this article, I'll use the term complex relational trauma, explain it anecdotally (since an official diagnosis is lacking) and provide the symptoms that most closely resemble PTSD as well as what I've seen and understood clinically.
So again, what is complex relational trauma?
Complex relational trauma is likely to happen in our primary relationships with parents, caregivers, guardians or those with authority and great control over us (for example, the head of a boarding school or director of an orphanage) where there is accessibility to the child or teen, and a level of dependency from the victim to the abuser.
Complex relational trauma happens more than once and usually over a period of time, making it also, usually, cumulative.
For example, complex relational trauma doesn't have to end in childhood; there can be the same or different perpetrators such as going from having your father be the abuser to having a string of abusive relationships with men.
Complex relational trauma is, effectively, anything that undermines, demeans or erodes the dignity, safety and well-being of the individual who goes through it.
Examples of events that can lead to complex relational trauma can include the scenarios from my prior article and it can also include experiences with caregivers or guardians that are fundamentally chaotic, unstable, unsafe, inconsistent, unpredictable and overwhelming.
Exposure to domestic violence, having neglectful, apathetic, or emotionally unavailable caretakers, parents who betray you or fail to advocate for you and your needs, parents with mental illness, being parented by a narcissist or with addictions, etc. All of these are examples of who and what can contribute to the development of complex relational trauma in a child and adult.
But what makes these relational experiences traumatic?
The bottom line is this: when children experience traumas and stress, it is not necessarily the trauma itself that becomes the problem. If a child has securely attached, attuned, loving, consistent caregivers who can support them in metabolizing the stress, organizing and making sense of it, the child can more or less move through a trauma or stressor functionally.
However, if the trauma or stressor is happening within the attachment relationship with the parent or guardian, the child, therefore, cannot usually rely on the adult to help them integrate and process the stress.
Or if the trauma or stress happens outside of the attachment relationship but the caregiving adult still fails to support the child in managing, healing or recovering from it, a child will likely develop maladaptive and compensatory responses to organize their experience simply because, as children, they do not have the resources and coping skills to do much else.
Maladaptive responses are numerous and varied but essentially, if left unaddressed and untreated, they can lead the child to become an adult who has ineffective beliefs and behaviors about themselves, about others and about the world.
So, what specifically can these maladaptive beliefs and behaviors look like?
Impacts on the individual who goes through complex relational trauma.
“As the ACE study has shown, child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and suicide.” ? Bessel A. van der Kolk.
The impacts of complex relational trauma will be wide, varied and unique to the individual who experiences it.
There is no one-size-fits-all description.
It's absolutely possible that two children, growing up in the same household where the relational trauma took place, will have wildly different responses due to many factors including but not limited to the child's temperament and resources, length and intensity of exposure to the trauma, the type of trauma and any if at all support in managing it, etc.
So, all of this to say that while there is no one recipe for what the impacts of complex relational trauma may be on an individual, there is, according to the symptoms in the DSM diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and what I have experienced and understood clinically, a list of possible and probable outcomes:
1. Attachment wounds and development of an attachment style that is other than secure (see my forthcoming blog post for more on this);
2. Cognitive distortions (erroneous or non-constructive beliefs about self, others and the world) and/or intrusive thoughts;
3. Avoidance behaviors to minimize contact or recreation of the events or scenarios that caused the distress;
4. Dissociation, an inability to recall the traumas or to stay mentally present when reflecting on and discussing them;
5. Somatic impacts such a hyperaroused nervous system, muscle tightness, trouble sleeping or other uncomfortable body sensations;
6. Interpersonal difficulties in romantic relationships, at work, with friends, with neighbors, with the family of origin, feeling detached and separate from others;
7. Comorbid (meaning co-occurring) disorders such as eating disorders, substance disorders, compulsive behavioral patterns, self-harming behaviors, possible development of a personality disorder or mood disorder;
8. Emotional distress and dysregulation challenges (either too much access or too little access to emotion and difficulties appropriately expressing this emotion);
9. Life task impairments such as holding down a job, creating stable housing, managing money well, achieving relational, academic and professional developmental milestones, etc.
And while this list is not exhaustive, you can see that the impacts of complex relational trauma effectively can impair nearly every major life area.
Often, this is how life for a complex relational trauma survivor feels: fragmented, broken, splintered and not whole across so many different life areas…
Now, as challenging as it can be to begin recovering from a childhood of complex relational trauma, I do personally and professionally think it is possible and that it is one of the most worthwhile journeys anyone could ever make.
In essence, it's a journey to reclaim your life, to take the little fragments and make something beautiful and more whole from them.
Healing from complex relational trauma.
“As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself… The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.” ? Bessel A. van der Kolk.
For individuals dealing with complex relational trauma and the clinicians who work with them, it can, quite frankly, sometimes be hard to identify and understand that what you are dealing with is a trauma history.
So many of the clustered symptoms of complex relational trauma overlap with mood and personality disorders and may even be missed if a comorbid disorder (like bulimia nervosa or panic disorder) exists, or if a trauma background is not identified by either party.
It's important if you think that you see yourself in this article or in this concept of complex relational trauma, to talk to your therapist about it.
When we shine a light on things as they really are, it gives us a better chance to work with them. That is because in recovering from complex relational trauma, there is plenty of work to be done.
Recovery is and will be, for many, multidimensional work as the wounding itself is multidimensional.
There's the relational wounding component and the need for relational healing which, I believe, can happen in the context of a safe, supportive, attuned and reparative experience with a trained professional (like a therapist) or with a dear friend or securely attached romantic partner.
There is the somatic level of the work, the need to regulate and retrain the nervous system and body that the world is safe and to help it calm down and respond appropriately versus in default.
There is the cognitive level of the work which includes recalling, narrating, and making meaning and sense of memories and history as well as forming and internalizing newer, more constructive beliefs about oneself, others, and the world.
There is the emotional level of the work, learning or relearning emotional regulation, emotional expression, even being able to identify emotions in the body.
And there is, I believe, life skills work that may have been missed or impeded by the complexity of the relational trauma. Work like managing money wisely, seeking out and nurturing a career, practicing self-supporting hygiene and personal care habits, and learning the myriad complex logistical skills that can lead to a whole and fulfilled life.
The best way, I truly believe, to begin recovering from complex relational trauma is to seek out professional support, ideally with a clinician who is well-versed in trauma.
I also believe that psychoeducation can be a wonderful and helpful tool in the recovery process and so, to that end, I have included some curated resources for you below.
On complex relational trauma:
“First, the physiological symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have been brought within manageable limits.
Second, the person is able to bear the feelings associated with traumatic memories.
Third, the person has authority over her memories; she can elect both to remember the trauma and to put memory aside.
Fourth, the memory of the traumatic event is a coherent narrative, linked with feeling.
Fifth, the person's damaged self-esteem has been restored.
Sixth, the person's important relationships have been reestablished.
Seventh and finally, the person has reconstructed a coherent system of meaning and belief that encompasses the story of trauma.”
? Judith Lewis Herman.
I want to thank my friend Carol Anna McBride, creator of The Trauma Project, for her recommendations of resources to further explore the topic of complex relational trauma. I will add, too, that The Trauma Project itself is an excellent resource for anyone who has undergone complex relational trauma and is seeking education, support and community around it.
What does it mean to re-mother yourself and why is it so critical for our growth as women?
“She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful.” — Terri St. Cloud.
I include the above quote often in my writing often because, fundamentally, this describes my orientation and belief about therapy and therapeutic work.
Our past is not something we “just get over,” nor is it something we can ignore.
Our past is something which, when ready and with support, we turn towards and face, and only then can we do the grieving and healing work we need to do in order to move forward and make the whole of our lives more beautiful than our pasts have been.
Confronting our personal history takes tremendous courage, but it is so, so worth it.
Now I would love to hear from you in the comments below: Have you heard of the term “complex relational trauma” before? Do you see yourself in this? What or who has been a support to you in your healing journey in recovering from complex relational trauma? Leave a message in the comments below so our community of readers can benefit from your wisdom.
And until next time, take very good care of yourself.
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame panel on abuse crisis: Where do we go from here?
Catholic News Agency --
It has been more than a full year since the sex abuse allegations against the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the publication of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report set off a shockwave of further abuse accusations and investigations in the Church in the United States and beyond.
It has been 17 years since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) implemented the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which proposed a “zero-tolerance policy” for child abuse in the Catholic Church in the U.S.
It was just this week that a panel of four experts on the abuse crisis gathered at the University of Notre Dame to discuss the question: “Where are we now?” and to propose ways for the Church to continue moving forward.
Panelists at the Sept. 25 event included Juan Carlos Cruz, an abuse survivor and advocate from Chile whose complaints were initially dismissed by Pope Francis (though were later accepted with an apology from the pope); Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore; Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI executive assistant director who helped the USCCB implement the 2002 Dallas Charter; and Peter Steinfels a long-time journalist for Commonweal who wrote a lengthy review of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on the sex abuse crisis. John Allen Jr., editor of Crux, moderated the panel.
While much has improved regarding the clerical sex abuse crisis in the U.S. since 2002, the panelists gave a resounding response that even one case of abuse occurring in the Church is too many, and that a change of hearts and attitudes, and not just of policies, is needed for the Church to progress and for victims to heal.
“The one thing that I am certain about is that most of us, myself very much included, know much less about this painful, stomach-churning scandal than we think we know,” Steinfels said.
Steinfels noted that since 2002, the Church in the U.S. made significant progress in the abuse crisis, reducing the number of cases of sexual abuse from about 600 per year in the 1950s-1970s down to roughly 20 or fewer cases per year, post-Dallas Charter.
“Anyone who obscures this dramatic drop in Catholic clergy abuse, as I think the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report did, is not telling the truth,” he noted.
But that is still not enough, Steinfels added, because “one case is one too many,” and these statistics of success “can blind us to the excruciating, life-derailing devastation caused by a single case of abuse.”
He also predicted that news of Church sexual abuse was not going anywhere anytime soon, because “the abuse scandal has gone global. More than 120 million children sexually abused worldwide - it is woeful that even a small fraction has touched the Church.”
Even though the bulk of the abuse crisis in the U.S. occurred decades ago, Steinfels said, there are still victims coming forward who were afraid to share their stories until now, and whose experiences of pain and betrayal “are like landmines left buried in the ground after the war.”
In one suggestion for a way forward, Steinfels encouraged Catholic universities like Notre Dame to compile the history of the sex abuse crisis, from which others could learn.
“A genuine history will require archives, oral history interviews, and study of scandal's religious, cultural, and economic context,” he said.
“It has been said that we walk backwards into the future looking at our past. A genuine history is needed for our future.”
In his remarks, Cruz said that he would leave the statistics to the experts and speak from the heart. While Cruz' story of abuse at the hands of his parish priest in Chile was initially dismissed by Pope Francis, the Holy Father later apologized to Cruz and other victims for being “part of the problem” in May 2018.
Cruz told the panel audience that what sustained him through the pain of his experience of abuse was his Catholic faith.
“I decided early on that I wasn't going to let them win. I wasn't going to let the bad ones win,” he said. “I believe that the relationship anyone has with God...it's the most basic human right that one can have, is to believe in what you believe, and nobody can mess with it. And I wasn't going to let them mess with that.”
In a word of encouragement to abuse survivors, Cruz said that while it is hard to come forward with a story of abuse, there are people who can help.
“There are so many people who want to lend you a hand, to help you through that horrible pain,” he said.
Cruz said that he was encouraged by Pope Francis' apology and willingness to listen to his story and those of other abuse survivors, but that he was discouraged by the attitudes of some bishops who promise to improve but who continue to cover up and mishandle cases of abuse.
“Pope Francis wants to solve the problem, I've talked to him and know he's sincere,” he said. “However, the bishops go, talk to him, say, ‘absolutely Pope Francis,' they bow, they kiss his ring, go back to their countries and do the same thing they've been doing...nobody holds them accountable and that needs to stop.”
In her remarks, McChesney also called for a change of heart and attitude among the bishops.
“When I first worked for the USCCB, the Dallas Charter was new, we were excited about implementing it, and I talked with many survivors,” she noted. “And one man said: ‘Look, you can have all the programs in the world you want, you can have policies, you can have trainings, you can have background checks and investigations, you can do all of those things, but until the bishops realize that there has to be a true accountability, I and my fellow survivors are not going to heal.'”
“It is so critical for the men and women who have been abused to know that someone is taking responsibility for what has happened to them,” McChesney said.
There has also been a lot of talk about the rethinking of seminary formation in the wake of the abuse crisis, McChesney said, with suggestions to really emphasize the human formation aspect of seminary formation.
But this “puts the cart before the horse,” she argued.
“In my experience, I think that selection is more important than formation...you can have the best formation programs, the best seminaries in the entire world, but if you have selected the wrong person to go into seminary, someone who is so troubled, who doesn't know what they want to do, has mental health issues...that person is never going to become a healthy cleric. So to have a healthy presbyterate, you need to start with healthy men,” McChesney said.
She also credited lay men and women, as well as some dedicated clergy, with working on the ground levels to bring the abuse numbers down since the Dallas Charter was established and who continue to work with and pressure bishops into doing more.
Because there have been so few cases since the 2002 Charter, McChesney added, it is all the more urgent to thoroughly investigate the cases of abuse that have occurred since then, and to ask how and why they happened.
“There are not as many cases - but there have been cases. Why? Who missed that lesson and why? And where was the oversight of those persons who abused?” she said.
Finally, she added, the Church must fight against issue fatigue and complacency when it comes to the sex abuse crisis.
“We can't let our tiredness, our sadness, overtake our passion for continuing to work on these issues,” she said.
Archbishop Lori, once a member of the USCCB's Committee on Sexual Abuse, noted that he was speaking only for himself and not all bishops. Lori said that for him, learning how to really listen to victims of the sex abuse crisis has been one of the “steepest learning curves” in the handling of the sex abuse crisis.
It may be the instinct of a bishop to offer a victim the help and support of the Church, Lori said, but survivors of abuse do not always want that. He had to learn how to really listen and realize that “I as the bishop listening to this cannot fully appreciate the nature of the experience that's being described to me.”
He had to learn to not try to “be the person that has the answer, not try to be the person who pushes or who offers something that might not be wanted by the victim-survivor in that moment, the victim-survivor has to be in the driver's seat. It's not just a question of meeting them or of affirming, it's a question of listening deeply, and believing them.”
Adding to the chorus of previous comments that “one case is too many,” Lori also echoed the other panelists' call for conversion among the bishops and other Church clergy and officials.
“The need remains and will always remain not to see the charter, these norms...simply as policies to be complied with,” Lori said. “In the grace of the Holy Spirit, there's really got to be, on the part of people like me, my co-workers, lay co-workers, a conversion of mind and heart.”
Protecting children and listening to and helping victims of clerical abuse must be “as much as part of the life of the Church...as evangelization, Catholic education, or raising up vocations,” he added.
“We've got to continue being held accountable, because the Church's mission depends on it.”
During the discussion, most panelists also noted that the abuse crisis has in some cases been “weaponized” by both conservative and liberal camps within the Church to push certain other agendas.
This is “a shameful use of what has happened to these men and women,” McChesney remarked.
During a question-and-answer session, Lori added that part of the ongoing solution to the abuse crisis is bringing more lay professional voices to the decision table.
“I need the help of qualified, committed laypersons who have expertise that I'll never have,” Lori said. “Who's sitting around the decision table?...that affects Church governance and how we look at this.”
Cruz also called for more young people and more laity, particularly women, to be involved in the decisions and solutions to the abuse crisis.
“We need more women in the Church that are trained, that are prepared, to break this men's club, to bring all their talent and their training to help us heal,” he said. “We can't have women in the sacristy, we have to have them front and center in the Church, and we can't wait for bishops to finish their learning curve, survivors need us now.”
Cruz added that he gets frustrated when he hears bishops or other clergy say that prior to the Dallas Charter and other protocols, they did not know how to act or handle cases of abuse.
“I want to tell them: raping a child has always been wrong - before Christ, after Christ, in the Middle Ages...and it always will be wrong. So you better learn.
OPINION -- Re: Greta Thunberg
Climate Child Abuse? Using Children to Lobby for Action on Climate Change
by James Murphy
With a mother who is an opera singer and a father who is an actor, it stands to reason that young Greta Thunberg would follow her parents' footsteps into the performing arts. Greta (shown) — a 16-year-old who can pass for 12 — has become an international star for her role in the traveling production of Climate Strike, a show sponsored by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and assorted socialist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide.
The Climate Strike, which was attended by an estimated four million people worldwide on September 20, will continue with thousands of performances scheduled in countries all over the world in the coming week.
Among the show's organizers was climate hysteric NGO 350.org, which claimed in a press release Friday:
Today was the biggest distributed climate mobilization ever seen. Organizers estimate that over four million took to the streets today, kicking off a week of actions in which more than 5,800 events will take place in 163 countries in all corners of the globe. Over 7,370 websites shut down and around 3,000 companies closed their doors in support of the Global Climate Strikes.
And young Greta was the star of it all. She delivered her lines quite well for a young actress. In front of an estimated 250,000 in New York City's Battery Park, Greta spoke about the dangers to the planet from global warming and her frustration at the inaction of today's politicians.
“What is the point in educating ourselves and learning the facts when the people in power refuse to listen to the educated and pay attention to the facts?” Greta asked. “Where I come from (Sweden) things are very different from here, but when it comes to the climate and ecological emergency, and the people in power, it is pretty much the same. In fact, everywhere I've been, the situation is more or less the same.”
Greta's stirring soliloquy continued: “The people in power, their beautiful words are the same, the empty promises are the same, the lies are the same, and the inaction is the same. Nowhere have I found anyone in power who dares to tell it like it is, because no matter where you are, even that burden they leave to us, us teenagers, us children.”
Later, on Twitter, Greta issued a threat to anyone who might not believe that climate change is the crisis that she insists it is. “Over 4 million on #ClimateStrike today. And counting.... If you belong to the small number of people who feel threatened by us, then we have some very bad news for you: This is just the beginning. Change is coming — like it or not.”
Greta's performance, along with the climate brainwashing that the public schools and the media have been engaged in for decades now, affected many in the crowds around the globe — especially children, many of whom were given the day off from school to attend the event. New York City even gave its 1.1 million students permission to take the day off to attend climate strike events.
But Greta, and all those other children, are being used.
Unfortunately, many children aren't seeing the whole climate change movement as the absurdist fiction that it is. Perhaps the saddest part of the climate change charade is that real children are truly afraid that their planet is in danger. They actually believe that the world is ending due to man's “mishandling” of the climate.
One sign in the New York City crowd was especially telling. Fifteen-year-old Peri Micheva of Ward Melville High School in Suffolk County, New York, held up a sign, which read, “Why the f~~~ are we studying for a future that we don't even have?”
Young Peri's sign is symptomatic of the Malthusian theory, which is being propagated in public schools these days. Simply stated, the theory posits that human beings are the world's main problem. As the human population continues to grow, food will become scarce, overcrowding will lead to wars and, of course, the environment will degrade. You can understand how those teachings could lead to some surly kids.
When government schools teach climate hysteria to children, it's somewhat true that they are creating children who are passionate, politically active, and ready to go out and shout for the governments of the world to “do something” about the theoretical menace of climate change. But for every politically active kid they produce, they are creating dozens who just don't care. They're creating a generation of nihilists who justify wasting their lives on video games on the assertion that their futures look dystopian at best.
Climate-change activists, politicians, and leftist government school systems have no qualms about using children as human shields in their attempt to use junk science and fear to overturn the current social and political order. Children, after all, are not responsible for what they are taught. But in denying children information on the other side of the climate change-argument (and, yes, there is another side to that argument), the government school systems around the world are guilty of a kind of child abuse — the denial of hope.
Minnesota figure skating sexual abuse survivor: 'He robbed years of my childhood'
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minnesota figure skating coach Thomas Incantalupo was sentenced to 24 years in prison Friday morning for sexually abusing one of his skaters. This is her victim impact statement provided to the court:
Twenty one months ago I told a secret I thought I would never tell. When I was 14 years old, my coach, Tom Incantalupo, started abusing me. The week of my 18th Birthday, Tom got this plea deal and finally admitted to a very small piece of what he did to me. I'm here today to tell you about his mental and sexual abuse, and the impact it's had on me.
As a young skater, I had the hopes and dreams that many others have, to be an amazing figure skater and one day go to the Olympics. At the young age of nine, I started working with Coach Tom. He had coached other skaters to Nationals and International competitions. I spent countless hours training, trying to achieve my goals. I believed in myself. I did my best to follow Tom's schedule and rules, even when it meant sacrificing a lot. He scheduled my training many hours a day, 5-6 days a week, all year round. There was never a break. Figure skating is a tough sport. You have to fall hundreds of times to learn a new jump. And no matter how bad it hurts, or how bad you want to quit, you have to get up and keep going. I respected my Coach, and I believed he was helping me reach my dreams. But Tom had different plans for me and after I spent years training, Tom turned my dreams into a nightmare. I was 14 years old when Tom took my innocence. He took what wasn't his to take. He robbed years of my childhood and I will never get those years back.
People ask “why didn't you tell” or “why didn't you quit skating”? The answer really is quite complicated. It wasn't just sexual abuse, it was also mental abuse. Tom had so many people that loved him, and looked up to him. Tom acted like he cared about all of us, and by the time he started abusing me, he knew everything about me. I really believed he cared about me, and I cared about him too, Tom was like another parent to me. But then, he began tearing me down. Even before Tom sexually assaulted me, he started crossing my boundaries and invading my privacy. He would take my phone and look through my messages. He was harassing me about social media. He would yell at me until I cried. By the time he started sexually abusing me, he already had control of me. And, he was like part of our family by that point. But after he started sexually abusing me, it got much worse. He demanded my silence and he also told me I was a disappointment to my parents and family. And after being sexually abused by Tom, I believed what he was telling me. Because being sexually abused made me hate myself. During the years of his abuse, Tom told me he had close family and friends that were police and fire men, and they could “take care” of any situation. He knew who I was sitting with at school lunch, and I still have no idea how he knew. He told me he knew where my friend lived, and that he drove by my friend's apartment. He followed and messaged my friends on social media. He told me he started a fake instagram account, as a teenage boy, then started a group chat with kids from my school saying horrible things about me and I tried to tell, but Tom just lied about it. When I had plans but didn't tell Tom who it was with, he would send me pictures of their social media. He knew everything I did, even when I wasn't with him. There was no escaping Tom.
He never approved of my friends, telling me that my best friend was a “piece of shit”, and all of my other friends were “white trash”. He told me HE was the only one who truly cared about me. Yet, there were countless days that he would tell me I was fat and needed to lose 10-15 pounds in order to be a good skater. He would yell at me until I cried. But there were also days where I would come into the rink and he would completely ignore me, but he would be in a good mood with everyone else. Sometimes he wouldn't give me lessons, and refused to let me compete. Sometimes he threw water on me when he didn't like the way I was skating. I knew he was talking bad about me and my family to people. I have many memories of having to get off the ice because I was having a panic attack. Memories of crying in the bathroom because of the things he would say to me, or the way he would treat me. Trying to hide all my feelings so no one would see my pain. His words burned into my head. I had to think through everything I said to Tom, starting from the moment I woke up every morning. I learned that if I didn't try to make him happy, I would pay for it.
I have some very vivid memories of things Tom said to me. I remember the morning after the first time he assaulted me, I was fourteen. I was upstairs at Steve and Svetlana's house, sitting in a chair waiting to leave to go to the ice arena. Tom walked upstairs, and came over to me. He looked down at me, kissed me and said “good, I thought last night was a dream. I'm so happy it wasn't”. And all I could do is scream inside. He had told me I couldn't tell anyone and I didn't think anyone would believe me. I wondered if it was my fault, even though I was pretending to be asleep - hoping he would go away. It was easier to pretend it didn't happen. Then I got really sick with mono and hepatitis, they were watching me for liver failure and I had to have liver biopsy. Through those five months of being sick, Tom was extra nice to me, and I thought he must have felt bad. That he knew it was wrong and it wouldn't happen again. More months had gone by and I was still working hard to get my skills back after being sick. We had travelled and he was still treating me nice. I was excited about my invitation to Argentina, and I felt safe going. I was wrong. The country of Argentina is beautiful, and the people were amazing and so kind to me. But behind closed doors, no one knew the hell he was putting me through. This is where things got horrific and never stopped. I was still 14. Crying and saying no didn't stop him. I was thousands of miles away from home and everyone in Argentina loved Tom. I had to shut it out to survive, but this was the beginning of the nightmares and anxiety, the headaches and the stomach pain. After I got home, I said I wanted to quit skating. My parents thought I was traumatized by a bad car accident we had been in. They thought I would regret giving up all my years of hard work and then told Tom I wanted to quit. I was scared and I felt trapped… nobody would believe what he did to me, and what would he do if I told? My parents knew something was wrong, but I couldn't find the words to tell them. They made me go to therapy, but Tom knew. He told me I couldn't say anything, and I didn't. I learned to split my life in two.
Tom started taking me to hotels when I was fifteen. He would lie to my mom about my schedule and also lied to other skaters, parents, and coaches. I started cutting myself because it was easier to deal with that pain then what he was putting me through. His hands would graze over the cuts, my body completely exposed, and he wouldn't care. I was getting migraines to the point where I would be curled up in the dark. I had stomach cramps so bad I would be sobbing on the ice because it hurt to move. I started hating the sport I once loved because I knew that every day I went, there was a possibility that he would take me to a hotel and do unexplainable things to me. The few times I felt brave enough to challenge Tom were in public, couldn't people see something was wrong? I felt like no one cared about me, but now I know it was his abuse that isolated me. Tom knew every move I made, and wanted me to believe that he was the only person I could trust, the only person who cared about me. When he wasn't being horribly mean to me, he was saying he loved me… and I felt like I was crazy.
There is another specific time I would like to speak about, and that is the last Argentina trip we went on. Tom told me and my parents that he was working with the Federation so I could skate for them. He told me I would get a Junior or Senior Grand Prix assignment. He told us the Federation was paying for me and they had paid for my other trips too. I felt like I had to go, or I'd let everyone down. I worked up the courage to tell Tom the day before we left that the abuse needed to stop. And he told me it would stop but we got there and he pretended like I never said anything. So while we were there, I told him again. I explained how I wanted to have a normal life, I wanted to go to school dances, and have friends, and that I wanted it to stop. That night, I had to watch a 46 year old man as he cried. The next day, nothing changed. These were not the only times I asked him to stop. I hated him, but I hated me more, because I couldn't find a way out. I didn't want to ruin everyone's life, and I didn't want the other skater's to hate me for losing their coach. I had so much fear about what would happen if I told. And it just continued.
There were other trips, when I thought I'd be safe because other people were with us. But I was wrong. Tom just manipulated everyone and kept abusing me. During one of our trips, Tom made me take a pill that caused cramping. He didn't explain what was happening, and I thought for a long time that I had an abortion. I can't explain the overwhelming feelings I had. And when I tried to get out of going on a trip it didn't work, because Tom manipulated everyone. I felt like I was never going to be free of him. There were many times that I just didn't want to be alive anymore, and would think of every way I could kill myself. I sat in my bed at night thinking about what would make it easier – slitting my wrists, hanging myself, jumping in front of or off of something? All of my hope and trust was gone. I had nothing left, because he took everything. But my little brother started taking lessons from Tom, and I couldn't risk him being hurt like I was. I couldn't leave my little brother behind, he had never failed me. I couldn't kill myself - not because I didn't want to, but because I couldn't put my brother and parents through that. But I would go to bed hoping I wouldn't wake up in the morning because I knew that when I did, I would have to text Tom and do my best to make him happy, and deal with whatever mood he was in that day, or I would pay.
After my 16th Birthday I tried to get away from Tom again but it didn't work. I said I didn't want to work with him anymore, but I couldn't say the real reason why. My parents called a meeting with Tom and thought we should work things out. So after, hoping that my attempt to get away might make a difference this time, I asked him again to stop… and he said he would. But he didn't, and it just got worse. Everyone looked up to Tom – my parents, the skaters, all the other coaches and parents. He knew how to play everyone. I wasn't the only one he took advantage of. He robbed us all of our ability to trust and believe in someone. I tried quitting skating and was told not to give up. I tried quitting Tom and was told to give him another chance. I was supposed to respect and be grateful to my Coach. I asked Tom so many times to stop. He kept giving me gifts and gift certificates, like that could make up for robbing me of everything I had. I was full of fear but I realized that if I stayed silent, I was never going to be free.
A million pounds of weight was lifted by telling the secret. And I was so relieved that everyone who mattered to me, believed and supported me. But I'm not free. I still have memories and nightmares of hotel days and trips where Tom sexually abused me. I still have to fight my own mind, because I don't want to trust anyone. I can't fully trust anyone because of what Tom did to me. I want to have a family one day, but I'm scared I will end up alone. I will forever be battling with nightmares and trust issues. I've had sights, sounds, smells, and even the air temperature bring anxiety and horrible memories. I struggle with feeling tense, it's hard for me to relax. While he's been free, I've had anxiety about just going out shopping, what if I see him? I've had anxiety driving. What if I'm alone on the interstate and look over and he's in the car next to me? Does he still try to follow me on social media with a fake account? I was accepted to the College I wanted, but didn't feel safe moving away from home. I will forever be scarred with what he has put me through, and I have to live with that, because a forty five year old man decided it was okay to rape and mentally abuse a child for over two years. It took a while for me to understand that I didn't deserve this. And that I didn't ruin Tom's life. Tom did this. Tom has told people I was a troubled child, and we were a troubled family. But TOM was the trouble. And now by the Grace of God we are healing. But I pray that he never does this to anyone ever again.
This process has been very hard. I had to mentally prepare myself to testify over and over, because the trial kept getting delayed. It felt like Tom was still in control, all the way into the week of my 18th Birthday. Once again, he took something important, that was mine, and pushed himself in. I feel like he has taken 9 years of my life, and now I will always be on guard.
I don't know what the future holds, but I'm grateful for the help and support I've been given. I'm thankful for the people who defended me. I want to thank the investigators and their teams – Officer TJ Henderson from the Eden Prairie Police Dept., and Special Agent Brad Murkins from the FBI, and the Prosecutors Amy Blagoev, Erin Lutz, and my advocate Amy. And thank you Your Honor, Judge Cahill. I know you have a hard and important decision to make today. You all make the world a safer place, and I hope to make a difference like all of you one day.
Look, don't touch: Thai bars raided for trafficking child 'entertainers'
While Thailand has ramped up efforts to tackle child sex trafficking, crime is evolving and taking new forms such as use of girls as 'entertainers' to lure men into bars
by Nanchanok Wongsamuth
CHIANG MAI, Thailand, Sept 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A hug, a hand on her knee, a kiss on the cheek: teenage waitress Pim would not allow the customers to go any further at a karaoke bar in northern Thailand where she was found in a police raid.
The 16-year-old was one of four teenage bar staff who were uncovered earlier this month in an anti-trafficking operation in Chiang Mai, a tourist hotspot with a well-established sex trade.
The four girls, all under the age of 18, told social workers after the raid on two bars that they were not forced to have sex with customers nor ordered to wear miniskirts and low-cut tops.
"Some customers touched my breasts, but I pushed their hands away," said Pim, who could earn up to 700 baht ($23) each night - more than double the daily minimum wage in Thailand - working for the owner of the bar who she always referred to as "mother".
While Thailand has ramped up efforts to tackle child sex trafficking in recent years, the crime is evolving and taking new forms such as the rising use of girls as "entertainers" to lure men into bars, according to police chiefs and campaigners.
The majority of patrons, child waitresses and bar owners do not see this work as abusive or unlawful, but officials say it is a type of human trafficking that has largely gone under the radar - and proved difficult to investigate and prosecute.
"Most of the offenders are karaoke bar owners who have an understanding that it is ok for children to do this type of work when in fact it's considered sex trafficking," police lieutenant colonel Likhit Thanomchua told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Most of the time, the first thing (the bar owners) say when they're interviewed is, 'I didn't use these children for prostitution'," added Thanomchua, who is a member of the Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) taskforce.
In most cases, police find suspected victims online as bars showcase their young waitresses on social media, he added.
The owners of the two karaoke bars raided this month have been charged with human trafficking and employing workers under the age of 18 without obtaining permission from the government.
But securing justice in such cases is difficult as the police often do not see the abuse as a crime or are reluctant to launch investigations, said Wirawan Mosby, director of the HUG Project, a charity that helps trafficked children in Chiang Mai.
"Police know that the children won't cooperate and there's a high chance that prosecutors won't file charges since it is more difficult to find evidence than (in) cases of prostitution."
"(Many) children call the bar owners 'mother'. There's a sense of family, and ... obligation involved," Mosby added.
QUESTION OF TRUST
Thailand is a major source, transit and destination country for children who are sex trafficked throughout southeast Asia.
Tens of thousands of people are thought to work in the sex trade that is illegal yet widely tolerated - most do so freely, others against their will - and activists say many are children.
Sexual exploitation is the main form of modern-day slavery in Thailand - making up more than half of the 191 human trafficking cases recorded by the government so far this year.
While most instances involve children sold for sex or used to produce pornography, cops and campaigners are also grappling with new forms of abuse that they class as human trafficking.
Thailand's anti-trafficking taskforce has been involved in a dozen child "entertainer" cases - most involving karaoke bars - after making the first arrest in 2017 over three children working in a bar in the northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima region.
Its most high profile operation to-date involved two karaoke bar owners in Chiang Mai - a husband and wife - who were jailed in March for almost 23 years for human trafficking and other offences, and ordered to pay 500,000 baht to five child victims.
Ratchapon Maneelek, a director at the government's anti-trafficking division, said it was tough to crack the crime as it was hard to identify compared to cases of child prostitution.
"What's challenging is how to gain trust from the child victims ... because they don't want anyone to know that they are doing this type of work or that they've been touched," he said.
DRINKS, MONEY, OPPORTUNITY
The child sex trade in Thailand has evolved in recent years as men no longer meet children at brothels but first engage with them at karaoke bars, pubs or online, said Ketsanee Chantrakul, a program manager at anti-trafficking charity ECPAT Foundation.
"Due to the strict prostitution laws, (businesses) have shifted their business model, arguing that the children are earning extra money as 'entertainers'," said Chatrakul.
For many Thai girls such as Pim - who grew up in a farming village about 70 km from the city of Chiang Mai - the allure of opportunity and a steady income is often too hard to turn down.
"Life is tough at home. I didn't want to stay there," said Pim, who left home about a year ago and headed to the city with 1,000 baht provided by her mother. "My friend said I would get good money (at the karaoke bar), and my parents didn't oppose."
"At least I didn't get bored there," she added. "I got to drink and talk to people."
Pim - who said the bar owner did not ask her to fill in an application form or check her identity card before hiring her - is now in a shelter and expected to give evidence in court soon.
While her life is in limbo, other girls who have been found toiling in bars in recent years are hopeful about their futures - such as 18-year-old Nat, who now works as a nursing assistant.
"Nat was at the shelter for only a month, but ... she said she realised that she could do more than the type of work she used to do," said a social worker who worked with the teenager after she was rescued last year. "She came to value herself."
Selling kids: Labor trafficking
by STAN INGOLD
For the past 14 months, the Alabama Public Radio news team has been investigating human trafficking throughout the state. So far most of the focus has been on sex trafficking. Another major part of human trafficking is labor.
Evelyn Chumbow is from Cameroon. She's also a survivor of labor trafficking.
“The message I want you all to take back, to think about this, you're dealing with humans. "These are human beings," she said. "Being a victim at such a young age, I have trauma but think about that, it could be your child, it could be your sister.”
Chumbow told a panel of U.S. senators how she was brought to the United States from Africa. She expected to go to college. What she said she got was a life of slave labor. And the state says it's happening here in Alabama.
Robin Wilburn is the child labor inspector supervisor for the Alabama Department of Labor. She's also a new member of the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force. Wilburn said many undocumented children are forced into jobs upon arriving in the U.S.
“We have children doing the job of an adult and they don't have that level of safety that an adult would have," she said. “They're also doing jobs that are long hours on their feet, cold conditions or very hot conditions it just depends on what job they have.”
Many of these children are working in meat processing plants, agriculture and construction. Most are coming from Central America, Guatemala in particular. Wilburn said they first have to find false ID's to get these jobs.
“One of my young girls that was working at the meat processing plant, she was fired after two days because somebody else was already using that name and social security number,” she said.
And when her bosses found out, they don't seem to worry.
“They told her to get new papers and come back,” Wilburn said.
The process sounds cheap and easy if you're okay with breaking the law. But Wilburn said it's not.
“In interviews with them, they're paying anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars. I don't know who the source is they get their IDs from but most of the driver's licenses that we looked at were from neighboring states, Tennessee and North Carolina," she said.
State raids on massage therapies in Huntsville made the news earlier this year. These are industries where sex trafficking and labor trafficking often overlap, just not clearly.
Doug Gilmer is the resident agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for the Birmingham field office. He said when it comes to breaking the two down, you must look at them individually.
“Labor trafficking is not necessarily sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is always labor trafficking," he said. “The two main forms are sex trafficking which is the facilitation of a commercial sex act through force, fraud or coercion or in which the victim is under the age of 18.”
Defining labor trafficking is a little different.
“Labor trafficking is very similar in that it's the use of fraud, force or coercion to employ, harbor, transport, and otherwise exploit a person for the purpose of forced labor, slavery, debt bondage or peonage," Gilmer said.
Peonage is when people work off a debt with labor. Congress outlawed the practice in 1867, but it's reportedly going on now in Alabama. Immigrants trying to make a new life for themselves cross paths with people looking to exploit their situation. Gilmer said many of these people are working in plain sight.
“They're industries where there doesn't have to be a lot of skilled labor. So it could be, housekeeping at a hotel, dishwashers at a restaurant, cooks, could be the agricultural industry, manufacturing those sorts of things," he said.
This is where the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy comes in. Keith Warren is the executive director of the board.
“We have approximately 50 out of the 709 that we have licensed as massage therapy establishments or that calculates to seven percent of those that are out there that we have identified and participated in that kind of activity," he said.
The board licenses and regulates massage therapists, the parlors where they work, and schools where they learn their trade. The state also inspects these businesses and investigates them if necessary.
Warren said there are several red flags to look out for when looking for some of these illegal operations.
“Those that fit the criteria basically have facilities close to the state lines, heavy traffic area like truck stops, heavy traffic exits around the state," he said.
The courts are still sorting out the high profile case in Florida against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. It can argued that alleged Johns know what they're looking for. Warren said how sex workers end up in situations like this may come as a shock.
“The information we've obtained through the investigations is that the conditions they are presented with and given when they are here are tremendously greater than the conditions they have where they originally came from," Warren said.
In other words, they're better off turning tricks in a massage business than their former life back home. Massage therapies are a common front for human trafficking, but in Alabama the Massage Therapy Board is very active in fighting back.
“We are probably one of the very few states out of the fifty that have the authority to go and inspect an establishment and not have a complaint filed against them. So we are pretty much the lead in the nation when it comes to dealing with these kinds of complaints.”
Those fighting traffickers know the best way to stop the process is to take away their means of carrying out their practice. The state of Alabama has a new tool that helps in this effort, as well as offering another way to help the victims.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall's office came up with a new law that is designed to fight traffickers and help the victims at the same time by giving state prosecutors a specific power.
“It's not too far akin to what we see in the fortitude side for criminal cases," he said. “To allow us in a civil setting to seek very immediate relief through a temporary restraining order and then subsequently a preliminary injunction when we are aware of a business that has been, is or will be engaged in human trafficking.”
Before prosecutors could only charge traffickers with a crime, now the victims can hit massage business owners in their wallets. Marshall said the cases in Huntsville is the first time the state has been able to use the new law.
“It's a wonderful tool for us to then not only seek the immediate relief, shut down a business or businesses we believe are engaged in this effort and then allow the civil court to be able to allow the case to continue," he said.
Just last week Marshall's office hosted a summit where he hopes to take what authorities have learned in Alabama and passing it along to others.
“The largest law enforcement gathering every year is one we host for training and we have the opportunity to set the agenda," he said. "One of the agenda blocks this year will be human trafficking. We'll bring in some experts, gives us a chance to broaden the knowledge and expand the training and hopefully create more opportunities for enforcement.”
All of the law enforcement individuals we spoke to say they are trying to help the victims. Once someone is taken out of a trafficking situation, they try to help them get some stability in their lives. Wilburn said this is especially true when working with kids.
“The teenager is not in trouble, we're not prosecuting them and that's why a lot of times they're willing to answer our questions, we've reiterated to them that they are not being held responsible, no penalty will be issued to them and we also do not deport, we are not immigration," she said.
If you or someone you know is being trafficked, Alabama Public Radio has a list of resources to help. Got to apr.org/traffic for phone numbers and links to groups that support trafficking survivors. You can also text the word traffic to 855-353-6644.
Sex trafficking survivor has message for those who buy sex
Survivor: "It's called rape"
by Julie Cornell
OMAHA, Neb. — What's love? That's a question a young woman from Omaha has grappled with since the age of 19 when she found herself trapped in a form of slavery. Eight years later, she realizes what love is not: it is not coercion, violence, intimidation or selling her body.
“I was a victim. I didn't wake up and say this is what I'm going to do. I was brainwashed,” said the young woman who is going by the name, Savannah.
Savannah says she feels an enormous weight lifted from her life.
On May 11, 2018, the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force and local law enforcement set up a sting operation at a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska. That's where they rescued the woman who was sent to the hotel to sell her body.
“Over the years, law enforcement has learned to deal with these cases differently. We used to treat them as suspects,” said an undercover detective named John, who's part of the FBI Women and Child Exploitation Task Force.
Last month, the man who trafficked Savannah was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison. The investigation revealed 40-year-old Terrance Terrell Jackson Sr. placed online ads to arrange meetings and would physically assault the woman when she didn't meet a daily quota of earnings.
Investigators said it was a classic case of violence and coercion to control a woman. She said she turned to drugs and alcohol to numb her mind and survive the hundreds of appointments.
"Every day I would talk myself into-- this is a date, this is somebody I met at a bar. I got really good at playing a role," Savannah said.
The survivor in this case felt very strongly about sharing her story so that people can understand the trauma and pain that she and others have endured and the damage inflicted by people who pay for sex.
She said her traffickers convinced her that it was all for "love." It took months of therapy and building her self esteem to understand what was truly going on.
“Somebody that loves you wouldn't do that to you. Somebody that loves you wouldn't allow you to sell yourself. They would think better of you and want you to think better of yourself,” said Savannah.
The young woman was able to give investigators enough information to show that she was being trafficked by a man who was in control of her every move. It took the now 27-year-old, months to trust investigators and an advocate who guided her therapy, treatment and recovery up to this point.
She lovingly calls the officer and advocate, “Mom and Dad,” and said they saved her life.
“They didn't leave me. They were right there, like a family that I always wanted, and never left,” Savannah said, talking about Sarah McGinnis, an officer and advocate with Catholic Charities in Council Bluffs, and the undercover FBI task force member named John.
“They stayed through my addictions, my therapies, my countless times of being in trouble with the law,” said Savannah.
She smiled when she said they even visited her in when she was in jail.
Sarah McGinnis sees the trauma of survivors, daily. She works for Catholic Charities in Council Bluffs as a sex trafficking victim advocate. Currently she's working with 10 survivors and takes phone calls each day to help more women.
“I'm incredibly proud. It's been a long journey and she did all the work,” said McGinnis, who gives Savannah all the credit for working through her trauma.
Sarah McGinnis works as a sex trafficking advocate for Catholic Charities in Council Bluffs.
The trauma includes being trafficked by four violent men over the span of seven years. Savannah said she thought she was in love with some of them and realizes now that she was used so that others could make massive amounts money.
Savannah said she had to earn $2,500 dollars a day and the consequences of not making that money were torturous.
“Well, you have to turn as many clients as you can in a day so you can make your quota. If you don't make your quota, I was hit with a soap in a sock. Because I didn't make my quota, I was beaten,” she said.
She was injured badly enough to be hospitalized several times. Her collarbone was even broken. She still bears a lasting scar of her slavery: a large crown is tattooed across her abdomen. Savannah said it was her trafficker's "branding," a sign the she was his "property." She said it's a lasting reminder of what she's been through and she wishes she could erase it.
The detective, advocate and survivor said there's no shortage of men who line up to pay for sex. And that demand creates lasting effects for women like Savannah.
“You are victimizing the girls and causing a lot of trauma. It's not that they're willing to sleep with you. They have to sleep with you and you're hurting them. And in some cases, they call that rape,” said Savannah.
Now sober and starting to heal, she said she's no longer living in the shadows.
"I never thought I could smile after everything I've gone through. I never thought I could be happy being sober, but I am. And it's a blessing. I thank God everyday," she said.
She wants other women still trapped in the lifestyle to know that there's hope and people who care, like John and Sarah.
Sarah calls two of the people who rescued her, "Mom and Dad."
"There is a better life, a happy life, a drug free life. You will find somebody that loves you," she said.
Watch Savannah's full interview along with the advocate and detective, Sunday at 10 a.m. on KETV Newswatch 7's Chronicle program.
If you are being trafficked or know someone who needs help, call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Locally, Catholic Charities in Council Bluffs offers a 24/7 hotline, 888-612-0266. Or contact the Women's Center for Advancement, 402-345-7273.