One Woman’s Tale Of Surviving Sex Trafficking

When we hear “victim,” we may think of victims of violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse, rape. Victims of sex trafficking and exploitation often suffer all those tragedies combined.

Sex trafficking is a subset of the larger problem of human trafficking, which President Obama spoke out against during the Clinton Global Health Initiative in September:

It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.  It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.  I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.

Asia Graves, a victim of underage sex exploitation who was trafficked from Boston up and down the east coast, chose to speak out as well.  In 2010, she testified against her pimps, landing six men in jail. She now works as a case manager for FAIR Girls, which works against the exploitation of women.

Since 2010, Massachusetts has made strides to deal with human trafficking. In 2011, the state passed its first human trafficking bill, which went into effect in in February. In August, the Polaris Project, which rates all states on their laws combating human trafficking, named the Bay State the “Most Improved in 2012.”

When it comes to sex trafficking and exploitation, Suffolk County has been leading the state in its efforts to provide services for victims since 2005. One organization, My Life My Choice, focuses on adolescent girls vulnerable to exploitation. The co-founder and director, Lisa Goldblatt-Grace, joins us today to talk about what’s being done across Eastern Massachusetts to address the growing problem of underage sex trafficking.

Despite public and private efforts, Graves says there’s still much more to be done, and she too joins Radio Boston to share her harrowing tale from victim to survivor.





Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 3:12 am  Comments (2)  
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Walk With Me


WALK WITH ME can provide your organization with the tools necessary to effectively identify victims of human trafficking and provide those victims with the services necessary to overcome this horrendous cycle of abuse. As a human trafficking survivor, Timea E. Nagy can provide education and training from a perspective that is more effective than any other.



How to identify Human Trafficking victims.

Understanding the mindset of a Human Trafficking victim.

Providing appropriate counselling to victims of Human Trafficking.


Mobile Crisis Counseling

Immediate Safe Housing

Ongoing Case Management


and more…

Together we can stop the cycle of abuse

For further information and for immediate crisis

counselling services  contact us at :

Timea E. Nagy has provided training and worked with many agencies including the following:

RCMP, OPP, York Region Police Vice and Drug Units,Toronto Police Toronto, Vancouver, & York Region Victim Services.Salvation Army BC and Toronto, FBI Kansas City, Kansas, Vancouver Police Dept, Drug, Vice, and Sex Crimes Units, Edmonton Vice Unit,International Counsel of Women Refugees,Canadian Border Services


Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team

Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team VATF – 2 rescued a survivor from the UN building today. The victim was Jens Christensen, a United Nations worker from Denmark, who managed a smile shortly after being pulled from the rubble of the collapsed U.N. headquarters building. With this rescue the team’s motivation and sprits are extremely high. To see video …of the rescue click on the link below.
Rescue workers pulled a Danish United Nations worker from the ruins of the UN headquarters building, five days after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti.


Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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How Not to Die in the Woods

Today’s emergency kit: a cell phone and a lighter

“I thought you brought the map!”
“It never snows here this time of year.”
“What do you mean, you’re out of water?”
“That was our last match.”
“A tin of Altoids and a PowerBar? That’s it?”
“He’s not moving.”

Slowly the realization sinks in that maybe you’re not going to get back home in time to watch Survivorman. The joy of a day spent stalking wily pheasants or scouting spring wildflowers is replaced by a cold lump in your stomach. Then, depending on how well you’ve prepared, you either stand around in a daze or get to work staying alive.

Preparedness is not my strong suit. It was sunny at home, for example, when I packed for my February wilderness survival clinic at Southern California’s Tejon Ranch, so I left the wool socks behind. I’m an optimistic sort and presumed beneficent sunshine would follow me.

It snowed.

Attendees at the clinic, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Game’s hunter education program, had been asked to bring along their “personal survival kits.” Unwilling to admit I didn’t have one, I threw together a couple of kitchen matches in a plastic bag, an old compass I’d forgotten how to use, some ancient Band-Aids, a Leatherman multipurpose knife I stole from my wife, and a spare Clif bar.

Luckily I didn’t take the wrong turnoff from Highway 5, get lost in the snowy Tehachapi Mountains, and have to put this pathetic packet to the test. Even more luckily, I never had to show it to Paul Turpin and Russell Marta, the beefy, no-nonsense dudes who had volunteered to teach our motley collection of 20 hunters, anglers, and dayhikers what to do when things get rough.

Both have a lot of experience in that area: Turpin, a former Green Beret, and Marta, whose face looked like it had seen duty as a punching bag, are guards at a maximum-security prison. Neither could be accused of being an optimist: On the first day, we discussed the wisdom of carrying a lightweight titanium revolver in your backpack. “Depends on where you’re going,” said Turpin. He and Marta also made it clear that we wannabe survivalists shouldn’t expect any Euell Gibbons- style foraging for wild asparagus and hickory nuts.

Survival Pack Checklist

* Cell phone
* Compass
* Lighter/flint and steel/ waterproof matches
* Duct tape
* First aid supplies
* Parachute cord
* Knife
* Whistle
* Signaling mirror
* Garbage bags
* Space blanket
* Water-purification tablets
* Pictures of loved ones
* Dryer lint

“If you’re lost in the wilderness,” Turpin said at one point, “you want meat.” And sure enough, by the end of the weekend we could build shelters out of garbage bags, start fires with flint and steel, and ensnare (or at least thoroughly annoy) small woodland animals.

“I believe in using technology to its fullest,” Turpin declared at the outset. First thing to do when you’re lost? Take out your cell phone. “If you’re in an area that has coverage,” Marta said, “help is as close as 911.” And before setting off your aerial pop-up flare (a lost hunter doing so in 2003 burned down a big chunk of Southern California), take the time to hike up the closest hill: “You just might see that nice AM/PM [convenience store] on the other side.”

But let’s suppose you are truly lost in the boonies. (You don’t need to have been tracking javelina–it could be that the minivan died in the middle of that shortcut that looked so promising on the map.) Here’s what our clinic’s Survivor Men advise: Sit down. Breathe deeply. Think things over. “Fear is like being hot or cold,” Turpin said matter-of-factly. “You just learn how to deal with it.”

Your job is to answer some questions: What is your main problem? What resources are available? What’s your plan? “The thing that gets most people in trouble is that they panic and do something totally stupid,” said Turpin. He cited the case of the misfortunate Kim family, who got stuck in a snowstorm after taking a shortcut through the Oregon mountains in December 2006 without telling anyone where they were going. After six days, James Kim set off in search of help; his body was found four days later. His wife and children stayed with the car (which was visible from the air), were rescued, and survived. The moral, according to Turpin: “If you’re lost, 72 hours is the longest it will take [searchers] to find you–if they know you are missing.”

So if you want the nice folks in the helicopter to come looking for you before you accustom yourself to a diet of squirrel-on-a-spit, you need to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Leaving a note in your vehicle at the trailhead helps. While you’re at it, suggested Turpin, also leave an imprint of your boot on a piece of tinfoil, so the search-and-rescue crew will know which footprint to look for.

In wilderness survival, as in so many other realms, success is greased by money. A clever but pricey fix for lost souls is a cell-phone-size gizmo called Spot (“the greatest thing I’ve seen in a long time,” declared Turpin). You push a button, it signals a satellite, which signals an earth station, which sends a message to someone who cares with your GPS coordinates and an indication of whether you’re just saying hi or would prefer a medevac. Another option is the Bushnell BackTrack, which marks the GPS coordinates of your starting point and guides you back at the end of the day. It’s also helpful for finding your car at the mall.

So you’re stuck somewhere and maybe someone is coming to get you and maybe someone isn’t. This is where preparedness comes in. Every time you go into the wild, Turpin insisted, your car and backpack should both have an emergency kit with the tools to start a fire, make a shelter, acquire food and water, and signal the Seventh Cavalry when it comes looking.

The time-honored method of keeping your spirits high in a tough spot is to build a fire, partly for the instant feeling of accomplishment it gives you. (Just don’t burn Southern California down again, please.) Turpin recommended always being ready to spark a fire in several different ways–with paraffin-soaked matches, a flint and steel, or (duh) the cheap cigarette lighters you should keep in multiple pockets.

Turpin split us into teams to practice our fire-starting skills. Everyone began with a hole in the ground (to shield the starter flames from wind) and a “nest” of the most flammable stuff we could find. (Real bird nests reportedly work great.) Ruben Rosales and his seven-year-old son, Eden, tried–and tried and tried–rubbing two sticks together with a friction bow, sadly without success. (Life before Bic was tough.) Young friends Laura Rubin and Briana O’Rourke attempted to ignite an Ignite-O fire-starter packet with a flint and steel, succeeding only when they ignored the directions and opened the packet to expose the flammable contents. A father-son hunting team took apart a bullet to ignite the smokeless powder, and some of the younger hunters had a little more fun than was absolutely necessary mixing a small amount of potassium permanganate with a teaspoon of antifreeze to create homemade napalm. (Very effective, if of dubious backcountry utility.)

I opted for old-school flint and steel–a very nice “Aurora” model from Solo Scientific. It threw a massive spark once I learned to apply sufficient pressure, but not enough of one to set fire to my nest. Taking pity, Turpin threw me a lifeline: a wad of clothes-dryer lint doused with petroleum jelly. One spark was all it took. I vowed to replace the kitchen matches in my sorry survival kit with a film canister packed with these bomblets. (Marketing opportunity for an unemployed environmentalist: “Lint-O, the only emergency fire starter made with recycled dryer lint.”)

Once you get a fire started, you need a place to shelter your bones. It doesn’t take much: Our teams concocted an astonishing variety of very usable refuges using a 55-gallon plastic trash bag (Turpin thinks everyone should carry one) and a couple of yards of cord. (Another must-have for my kit: parachute cord, a.k.a. paracord or 550 cord. In a pinch–like when you need to make a shelter out of a garbage bag–you can unravel the braided strands, multiplying your cordage length.) For a cushier emergency experience, carry a military poncho or Mylar blanket, the reflective surface of which is also handy for signaling a rescue team. When the cold night comes, stuff leaves in a trash bag and call it a sleeping bag. All you’ll miss is the mint on your pillow. Well, and the pillow.

After having warded off hypothermia with a cheery fire and a good sleep in your garbage bag, you wake up hungry, with 48 hours until Turpin’s search-and-rescue friends track you down. Time to trap some protein! It’s not easy to explain without lots of diagrams, but with just a few yards of paracord, a strategically bent sapling, and a carefully whittled trigger, you can construct a nifty and possibly even lethal snare. Marta admitted that these are a “low-odds solution,” so “you’ve got to set up three or four and hope for the best.” (One of our teams made a particularly lame version that was dubbed the “vegan snare.”) But that’s okay: A common problem faced by folks stranded in the wilderness, according to our instructors, is figuring out how to keep mentally occupied. And, as Marta said, “you can sit and think for days about triggers.”

There’s an infinite amount more to learn about keeping yourself alive, of course–much of human history has been Survival 1A. There’s “How to Signal for Help” (three of anything: whistles, fires, gunshots) and “How to Find Water Where None Is Obvious” (put a plastic bag with a weight at the bottom around some leafy green foliage, tie the neck securely at the branch, and water will condense out of the leaves and gather in the bottom of the bag). People used to learn such skills from their parents; now they learn them from reality shows, books, and the California Department of Fish and Game.

One reason this body of knowledge is withering away is that people just aren’t getting lost the way they used to. Today you really have to work to get so far away that you need more than a charged-up cell phone.

Still, if you are among that dwindling number of Americans who wander beyond the alpenglow of the city lights, it takes only minor forethought to avoid becoming a cautionary news story. Just head down to the local army surplus store for some basic equipment for your pack and car. Finally, add snapshots of your spouse, kids, and even your pet to the kit. When you’re in a tight spot, Marta said, “you need to change your mentality and stay in the fight until you get out of it.” Having a tangible image of a loved one can make the difference. Because sometimes the most important part of surviving is the will to do it.

Paul Rauber is a senior editor at Sierra who aspires to getting his two young daughters off-trail.


Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Working to Shed Light on Very Dark Practices


Activists Seek End to Human Trafficking in D.C

Amid cool winds and occasional light showers, hundreds of people circled the pebbly paths of Meridian Hill Park in Northwest Washington on Sept. 26 in a walk that organizers hoped would help stop human sex and labor trafficking in the District.

Entertainers, activists, policymakers and a human-trafficking survivor spoke to more than 600 people. The crowd often fell silent during narratives depicting some of the brutalities suffered by the victims.

“People are beginning to realize that immigrants, minorities and minors are being enslaved right here in the District,” said Mark Lagon, executive director of Polaris Project, a Washington-based organization working with D.C. officials to end coercive labor and sex exploitation.

“Whether it’s Latina women found in a brothel, Chinese women found in a massage parlor or African American teens, they’re all human-trafficking victims,” Lagon said.

Over the past decade, organizations have been joining forces to end what they are calling modern-day slavery in the District.

The D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force, which has been investigating human trafficking since 2004, said that in the first six months of this year, it identified more than 50 victims of trafficking in the District, about 15 of whom were minors. Most of the victims were found through reports from nonprofit groups or law enforcement operations.

Inspector Brian Bray, commanding officer of the D.C. police’s Narcotics and Special Operations Division and a member of the task force, said the District is not considered a hub city for human trafficking but is more of a destination city.

“Trafficked persons are generally transported to D.C. from other areas like New York City and Baltimore,” Bray said. New York and Miami are considered to be the main East Coast hub cities for human trafficking, and the most common form in the District is commercial sex trafficking, he said.

“This walk is really highlighting an issue that hits close to home,” said Tina Frundt, 35, a sex trafficking survivor and founder of Courtney’s House, a D.C.-based organization that assists victims.

The walk was organized by D.C. Stop Modern Slavery as a local expression of a national campaign spearheaded by Stop Child Trafficking Now. Frundt recently formed a team to do late-night street outreach work on weekends. She said that in the past 2 1/2 months, the Courtney’s House crisis hotline has received 100 phone calls and identified 85 suspected traffickers.

Frundt and other activists are awaiting revisions to the District’s Prohibition Against Human Trafficking Act of 2009 that, if passed, would make human trafficking a separate crime and increase penalties for offenders and support for victims.

“The current law is not as clean as it should be, because it wasn’t written with human [sex] trafficking in mind,” said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), the author of the bill, which was introduced in January. Mendelson said that, for example, without human trafficking being considered a crime in itself, someone who is forcing a child or adult into commercial sex or labor acts might be charged with kidnapping or pimping and pandering, which carry a lesser punishment than would a human-trafficking violation.

EleSondra DeRomano, 43, another survivor of the sex trade, said she had traveled from Ohio to attend the walk. She said she had been exposed to sex and drug trafficking since birth. She said that her mother was a prostitute and her father was a pimp and that she was forced into sex trafficking at 11. After escaping the system 15 years ago, she, too, launched an organization that provides services for sex-trafficking victims.

She said that she thinks the D.C. bill would serve the city well but that more needs to be done. “We need as many bills as we can get, but along with prosecuting the pimps, we need to also be prosecuting the Johns,” DeRomano said.


Sex Slave Survivor Tells Her Story

Former sex slave
Woman Speaks To YWCA Audience

Timea Nagy, a new book author, spoke to a group at the YWCA on Tuesday about how she became a victim of human trafficking.

Nagy said she was a naive girl when she left Budapest, Hungary, at 19. It all started with an advertisement for baby-sitters in Canada, but Nagy ended up working as a stripper, a dancer and working inside a massage parlor.

She said her aggressors threatened to kill her and her family if she ever told anyone.

“I don’t know how to explain,” she said. “I was so tired and my mind was tired. I think you either freak out or you stay calm. And my way to survive was to stay calm.”

She couldn’t speak English to tell anyone she was trapped. It’s a problem she said that many young women who are still victims of human sex trafficking face. They are told they will be deported, or killed.

“I tried to commit suicide,” she said. “I tried to pretend that I was committing suicide to see if they would take me to the hospital. But they did not. They said I didn’t cut deep enough.”

Retired FBI agent Jeff Lanza, who worked on many human trafficking cases including a similar case in Overland Park, said the public needs to open its eyes to the problem.

Nagy’s book, “Walk With Me, Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor,” should be in stores soon.


Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sex-slavery survivors visit Steamboat during cultural immersion

Sina talks  why is involved in the Somaly Mam Foundation, strives to create world where women children are safe from slavery. Marabou Ranch, just outside Steamboat Springs, hosting Sina with other survivors.

Steamboat Springs — Watching them laugh and smile as they prepare for a bike ride along the Elk River, it’s hard to imagine the horrors these women have endured.

“I wake up and say, ‘Hi mountains,’” said Sina, one of six rescued survivors of the Cambodian sex-slave industry who are spending the weekend at Marabou Ranch. “I’m so happy.”

Speaking on behalf of all the young women — the others’ names are Sok, Neang, Pov, Mey and Pheap — Sina is full of gratitude, and not just for her present surroundings. The women are members of the Somaly Mam Foundation’s Voices for Change program. Through the program, these women who have first-hand experience with human trafficking are becoming leaders in the fight against it.

Foundation co-founder Nic Lummp asked that the women be referred to by only their first names and that they not be questioned about their pasts.

“They’re still kind of in a delicate situation, so we don’t want to get into details of their past,” Lummp said. “They get really emotional.”

Considering the horrors involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution, that is understandable.

“A lot of times, girls get stuck in this by being sold into it by their families,” Lummp said.

Sometimes, traffickers come into unsuspecting rural villages and trick families into turning over their young women and female children. Other times, Lummp said, the families are desperate and willingly make a deal for money that will help them survive.

And still other times, victims are kidnapped and trafficked across borders.

“If you don’t catch them within the first 24 hours,” Lummp said, “they could be pretty much anywhere in the world.”

In the brothels of the world, some victims of sex slavery are kept in cages and subjected to torture, Lummp said. Nearly all are physically and mentally abused.

According to the Somaly Mam Foundation, more than 1 million young women and children are sold into slavery every year. At $12 billion annually, it is the most profitable criminal industry in the world behind narcotics and weapons, according to the foundation.

The foundation’s namesake was born into poverty and sold into slavery at age 12. Somaly Mam was forced to work in a brothel and faced torture and sexual abuse on a daily basis. After watching a pimp murder her friend, she resolved to escape.

She succeeded and ultimately returned to Cambodia. In 1996, she established the organization Acting for Women in Distressing Situations, which now has 155 social workers in Southeast Asia and has saved more than 4,000 women, including Sina.

Mam also founded the Somaly Mam Foundation with Lummp and Jared Greenberg. The foundation is “dedicated to ending human trafficking through action, advocacy and awareness.”

Lummp said the mission of Voices for Change and the goal for the girls in the program is to essentially replicate Mam’s work.

“It’s a very difficult problem to attack, and it’s a very complex problem to attack,” he said. “Just imagine how much more of an impact we could make with more Somaly Mams out there.”

As part of their preparation, the six young women are spending a month in Denver studying English at Regis University. They came to Steamboat for a bit of a vacation and to see Western culture. At Marabou, where Lummp’s uncle owns a lot and is building a home, they are participating in activities such as horseback riding and fly-fishing.

“We love it here,” Sina said.

When they return to Cam­bodia, they will work to spread awareness and work with other survivors to teach them skills they need to find jobs and survive on their own — to help them “stand up,” as Sina put it.

Lummp said those who wish to help in the fight against sex slavery and forced prostitution can donate money to the Somaly Mam Foundation at Lummp also encouraged people to educate themselves about the problem. He said a good start would be reading Mam’s book, “The Road of Lost Innocence.”

cambodia3Pictured along the Elk River at Marabou Ranch are, from left, Sok, Neang, Sina, Pov, Mey and Pheap.

cambodia2Sina leads a group of girls on a bike ride at Marabou Ranch.


Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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