Survivors of human trafficking not only deal with the trauma of being a victim, they often have a difficult time getting an education and finding employment afterward.
Several women told their stories in Atlanta Tuesday at a roundtable that included White House Adviser Ivanka Trump, Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp, who has been leading the state’s effort to fight human trafficking.
One woman who shared her story was Andrea. Her last name is not being used to protect her privacy. A dozen years ago, after becoming the victim of human trafficking, she sought help from Wellspring. That’s a facility in Atlanta that helps victims of human trafficking not only deal with trauma but also learn skills and find a job.
“Never did any of us think that anybody wanted to hear what we had to say,” Andrea said of the roundtable. “That somebody would believe in us, that someone would give us a chance.”
After she graduated from the program, Andrea began to work for Wellspring, eventually becoming a counselor to other victims.
Ivanka Trump, who touted several White House initiatives aimed at combating human trafficking, said the victims’ stories were painful to hear
“But, yet so encouraging because of the light that we saw in the eyes of each of these survivors and the hope that they have for their futures,” she said.
At one point, Trump was moved by the story of one survivor, JoJo, that she got up from her chair, walked over to the woman and hugged her.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar also attended the event Tuesday.
“We often think of human trafficking as something that’s rather distant. That is not something we would see in our lives,” Azar said. “But, I think, thanks to Ivanka’s work and the president’s work, the governor and first lady’s calling attention to this, we highlight the fact that human trafficking exists all around us.”
Several Georgia business owners were applauded at Tuesday’s roundtable for training and hiring human trafficking survivors.
The White House is set to host a human trafficking summit later this month.