Tennessee’s Human Trafficking Efforts Featured On “Greater Chattanooga”

Chattanooga PBS affiliate WTCI recently embarked on an in-depth look at the state of human trafficking in the Chattanooga area, while featuring the state’s efforts to address the issue and support survivors.

The 15-minute documentary, titled ‘Close to You,’ features interviews with Sen. Bob Corker and Jerry Redman, CEO of Second Life Chattanooga, among others.

For more information on the show, visit www.greaterchattanooga.org.

Panel Discussion Highlights Trafficking On UTK Campus

Students on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville had a chance to learn about the issue of trafficking, from a variety of perspectives on the frontlines.

A panel discussion, hosted by the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy, featured Kate Trudell, executive director of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Special Agent Jamesena Walker of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and Anita Voorhees, president of the UT chapter of International Justice Mission. Voorhees currently sits on the state’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council.

From ‘The UT Beacon’:

“I know everybody has a specific image of what they think human trafficking looks like,” Walker said. “A carload of foreign nationals in a van … That, I know, comes to people’s mind, and that is a form of trafficking as well, but it’s not what we see here in the Upper East Tennessee area.”

The type of human trafficking Walker has mostly seen is gang-related crimes and prostitution, especially with young women. Other kinds of investigations include human trafficking sites, forced labor, mail-order brides and domestic servitude. Social media also plays an important role in human trafficking.

A major issue Walker has experienced in law enforcement is struggling to shift blame from the victims to the traffickers and customers.

“I think we’re beginning to realize that the prostitute is not actually the problem,” Walker said. “We’ve got to shift our mindset and arrest these traffickers and also arrest the johns.”

Trudell’s organization works to raise awareness and education about human trafficking. They also provide survivors with long-term, personalized support that emphasizes peer relationships and giving control back to these survivors.

“Experiencing that level of trauma, in an essence, for the duration of your life, is not going to be undone in a 28-day program or a three-month program or a six-month program. It’s going to take a long time, and so what our organization strives to do is to stick it out,” Trudell said. “It’s about creating a relationship and helping them relearn what healthy relationship dynamics are.”

Students who want to help stop human trafficking can support CCAHT through volunteering or join IJM. The panelists emphasized that it is most important for people to address issues in their own interests that can help perpetuate human trafficking.

“Ultimately, trafficking is a demand-driven crime,” Trudell said. “But on the whole, if we don’t start curbing the demand, if we don’t start holding perpetrators more accountable … and also looking at and addressing, what are these indicators, what is it that’s providing the space for men to think it’s fine to buy a child for sex.”

Read more about the panel’s discussion on the UT Daily Beacon website:

Tennessee Nonprofits Join Forces, Launch Statewide Anti-Slavery Alliance

As part of ongoing efforts to enhance systematic wraparound services for human trafficking survivors, four leading Tennessee nonprofits have joined forces to establish the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance.

What is the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance?

In 2013, Governor Haslam mandated the creation of the Tennessee Human Trafficking Services Coordination and Service Delivery Plan, a statewide plan for delivering services to survivors of human trafficking. In coordination with this plan, Governor Haslam appointed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) the lead agency for all human trafficking crimes in the state of Tennessee. The regional nonprofits emerged as those working to provide a regional, single-point-of-contact system to ensure that quality services would be provided to human trafficking survivors in the most effective and efficient way possible. This partnership helps coordinate comprehensive specialized services across the state for human trafficking survivors.

What does it mean to be a single point of contact within the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance?

Each of the four organizations in the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance receive human trafficking referrals in their designated region of Tennessee and coordinate services to meet the needs of each individual survivor. These organizations work collaboratively with one another and with other nonprofits, direct service providers, and law enforcement agencies to accomplish this coordination of comprehensive services.

Who are the organizations that comprise the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance across Tennessee?

The organizations that are part of all human trafficking referrals in Tennessee are as follows.

Restore Corps

West TN
(901) 410-3590

End Slavery Tennessee

Middle TN
(615) 806-6899

Second Life Chattanooga

Lower East TN
(423) 994-4857

Grow Free

Upper East TN
(865) 236-1046