New sex trafficking laws give survivors hope

2 years 4 months 1 week ago Tuesday, July 05 2016 Jul 5, 2016 Tuesday, July 05, 2016 4:54:00 PM CDT July 05, 2016 in News
By: Austin Hough, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA – A new sex trafficking law in Missouri has hit home with one survivor of human trafficking.

The bill, signed by Governor Jay Nixon on June 22, expands the definition of sex trafficking and increases the protection of victims of sex trafficking. 

"I think it's great. The privacy act really hits home with me because I worry every day. We shred all of my mail. I don't have my own address. Of course, I can't do social media because that's just setting yourself up. Just having things in my name scares me, like having my name on a license. So I think it's great. I think it'll make people feel more safe."

The survivor, who will be referred to as Blair to keep her anonymous, was a victim of sexual assaults, sex trafficking and sex slavery for over two decades.

It started when she was three years old, when three separate distant family members molested her over a two-year stretch. The molesters don't know the others committed the same acts.

By 14, Blair was breaking into houses, stealing prescription drugs, and selling them to pay for her own drug habits. That's when it started going downhill for her.

"When you get that innocence taken away from you, you lose that sweetness," Blair said. 

At 18, she was raped for the first time. The rapes and beatings didn't stop for the next decade. She was routinely beaten and burned. She was forced to stay in the house. She was a sex slave to three different men over a 10-year stretch.

"I just didn't feel like I had any kind of worth. It spiraled out of control, and I was just with people who were just terrible," Blair said.

During these times, Blair was in and out of a psychiatric ward. Nothing solved the problem, though, until she said she found Christ. 

"God has given me so much in such a short amount of time. I couldn't have done it without him."

While she said she still has night terrors every night, she's learned how to deal with them better as time has gone on.

"About a month before and a month after I spoke about my experiences for the first time were tough. It didn't take much for me to cry," she said. "I fight for my life in almost every dream I have, but it's getting better every day."

That's why this new law is comforting to survivors like Blair. Officially called House Bill 1562, the law adds the "act of advertising the availability of a minor or non-consenting adult for prostitution or pornography" to the definition of sex trafficking. The state previously had not fully addressed availability of another person for the purposes of sexual exploitation in its definition of sex trafficking.

Along with expanding the definition of sex trafficking, lawmakers made two additions to improve protections under the Safe at Home Program. One addition increases the penalties for attempting to access the addresses of victims in the program. The other adds victims of human trafficking to the list of eligible participants for the Safe at Home Program.

The Safe at Home Program allows victims to have a different address on government documents than where they actually live. This provides another level of security for victims who are trying to escape their perpetrators.

The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition has been raising awareness for human trafficking for eight years, and one of its co-founders, Nanette Ward, expressed joy when this law was passed.

"It was attempted last year (the bill being passed), and all of us advocates thought it would be a no-brainer. Whatever got in the way, it didn't happen," Ward said. "So we're relieved that it finally did happen. It just is something that absolutely should be a part of the protection for victims of trafficking."

While the bill being passed is a victory for people like Ward and Blair, Ward said there's still more work to do.

"When we become more aware, then we have that ability to have that alertness to the signs (of human trafficking) and to know who to call," Ward said. "And then, in turn, you have an alert law enforcement that doesn't pass it off as something else. It really takes everyone at every level to have that awareness."

You can read the full details of the new law here.

More News

Grid
List
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (all times local): 10:55 a.m. ... More >>
2 minutes ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 4:59:48 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
OMAHA (AP) — The Federal Reserve says farm income continued to decline across the Plains and western states this fall... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 3:32:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - One women is in custody today after a shooting late Saturday night on North Wester Lane, just... More >>
3 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 2:00:00 PM CST November 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Turkey Day came early for people in Columbia on Saturday. The Shiloh Christian Worship Center hosted its... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:18:00 AM CST November 18, 2018 in News
SAVANNAH (AP) — A cat owner in northwestern Missouri is crafting makeshift shelters to help keep stray cats warm during... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, November 18 2018 Nov 18, 2018 Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:05:00 AM CST November 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - One person was hospitalized Saturday evening after a shooting just east of Columbia, the Boone County Sheriff's... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:01:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
LAKE OZARK - Community members gathered Saturday to raise money for the Police Unity Tour. Every year, police officers... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 7:12:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man is home from the hospital Saturday after spending three weeks in the ICU, recovering from... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 6:58:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
PHELPS COUNTY - One man was airlifted to the hospital Saturday morning after he suffered "a large caliber gunshot wound... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 4:46:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Fall Into Art kicked off the weekend with its annual show, and artists shared what their art means... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 3:50:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - One of the largest holiday shopping events in mid-Missouri takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Columbia Exposition... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:20:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - From the amateurs to the professional travel teams, dodgeball players of all skill sets took part in the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 2:05:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A chase that reached speeds of 115 mph and a subsequent foot pursuit led to the arrest... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 12:50:00 PM CST November 17, 2018 in News
Royal Palm Beach, FL ( WPTV ) -- Firefighters rescued several pets from a house fire in Royal Palm Beach... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:45:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - Another fatal crash occurred in Missouri early Saturday morning. 30 year-old Richard Lowry, of Eugene, was pronounced... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 5:57:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
SEDALIA - A Sedalia woman was pronounced dead following a crash near Sedalia on Nov. 16. 51-year-old Janna McQueen... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 17 2018 Nov 17, 2018 Saturday, November 17, 2018 5:24:00 AM CST November 17, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A jury has found a Wisconsin man guilty of first-degree murder for killing a Missouri mother who... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 9:47:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Families filled empty shoeboxes with hygiene products, school supplies, clothes, shoes and toys for children in need at... More >>
1 day ago Friday, November 16 2018 Nov 16, 2018 Friday, November 16, 2018 8:04:00 PM CST November 16, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
5pm 34°
6pm 35°
7pm 35°
8pm 34°