I have seen girls who once bowed their head in shame now hold their head high…

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Education.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

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Preying on Innocence

Deb Myers

Knowing that teen pregnancy and suicide have skyrocketed propels me forward to fight for them…One Girl at a Time.

We're thinking about you!

We’re thinking about you!

I have often been called an advocate for teen girls. I love that label; however, I am truly an advocate for ALL women. I believe a woman’s strength, compassion, and ability to find the best in people enables females to empower one another. For so long now, we have been, in a sense, brainwashed. We have allowed the media and workplace to determine our personal sense of self-worth. We have been programmed to believe that pink is our color of choice. We have been told that we can become nurses, but not doctors.

We have digested the misconception that we must all aesthetically emulate supermodels to be seen as beautiful. Though I believe our society has sought to make strides for the benefit of the female, in many ways we have not. I come from a generation where leading career opportunities

were left for men, despite the fact that a household required two incomes to forge ahead. There’s a silent understanding that the mother will take care of the family, support her husband as head of the household, and be successful in her career, as well. For generations, we have battled this expectation of the modern female, while also facing societal struggles of idealistic stereotyping.

Effecting Even One Girl Makes a Difference…

Deb Myers is the National Director of Women Like Us Foundation One Girl at a Time Program

Deb Myers is the National Director of Women Like Us Foundation One Girl at a Time Program

I started the One Girl at a Time Program because I knew one thing for sure: If I started with one, that would create impact, and that would help her to be strong and raise her children to be wise and empowered. And if that grew to thousands, how wonderful would that be? I have seen

young women who once bowed their head in shame and guilt soon hold their chin high, because they realized they had a gift. They had experiences they could share, love to give and arms to hold those who needed them. We all need this—we just need to learn the power it has to created change.

So many of our young women in One Girl at a Time have said, “I am only me.” But by focusing on them as amazing already, by offering them the tools to make good decisions, their confidence flourishes. These confident young women lead. They fight for justice. They dream bigger and they believe they can have impact to better the world. Why? Because we, as role models who simply can, cared enough about them to

uplift them, to share what we know and pass it along. Girls have said to me, “I never knew so many girls were stressed out like me and had the pressures I do; so many have problems at home or have faced the hardships I have. I understand I am not alone. I don’t want this program to be over.”

I say to them, “Oh, honey, it’s not over: it’s just beginning.” Teach our young women their strengths and they will take flight. Enable them to be brave and bold and it will cause a ripple effect on the world in all areas of need. We have to fight for our youth. Sex trafficking in the United States is just below drug sales as the most profitable criminal activity. Knowing that teen pregnancy and suicide have skyrocketed propels me forward to fight for them… One Girl at a Time!

Deb Myers is the National Director of the One Girl at a Time Program for the Women Like Us Foundation.  Learn how you can get involved in Indianapolis in this program and help make a difference in teen girls lives right here in the community.

http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org    deb@womenlikeusfoundation.org

Taryn Brumfitt- ending body shame and empowering women

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Education.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

On a Sunday night in 2013, an Australian woman posted before and after photos of her body on Facebook and received over 3 million likes. These weren’t the usual before and after shots that display dramatic weight loss and a flatter stomach after dieting. The before photo was of her in a bikini, thin, tan, and lean, participating in a women’s fitness competition. The after shot was of her body, soft and curvy, after the birth of her daughter. The photo has now been seen by more than 100 million people and went on to create a media frenzy.

Taryn Brumfitt...Embracing her body.

Taryn Brumfitt…Embracing her body.

This woman is Taryn Brumfitt, now the leader of a global effort to end body shame for women with her project Body Image Movement. Her crusade includes speaking and writing about body acceptance, pursuing the quest to change and redefine beauty ideals, and a documentary called Embrace that chronicles her own debilitating story of body hate and her long journey to finding body love.

Taryn’s efforts are seen as remarkable and pioneering as she takes on corporate and media messages about how women’s bodies should look.  One of the tenets of the Women Like Us Foundation is gender equality, especially since we know it is an important catalyst in the restructuring of human rights for all and Taryn is leading a very important aspect to this fight.

History

Gender inequality has had an enormous influence on the physical expression and appearance of women’s bodies over thousands of years. This includes, but isn’t limited to, practices such as binding women’s feet in China dating back to the 10th or 11th centuries, Muslim laws requiring complete coverage of women’s bodies in public (except for their eyes), and the waif like physical frames of runway models.

Body image in Western Culture has been a topic of increasing concern over the last 30 years, with awareness becoming more main stream with the death of Karen Carpenter in 1983, due to anorexia nervosa. Her passing woke the world up to the influences and pressures for women to be thin. Although anorexia and bulimia are rooted in complex emotional and psychological issues, the message from our media about life being better for those women who are thin, continues to be a core theme in fashion magazines and pop culture, influencing millions of women.

What are the numbers?

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 20 million women suffer from eating disorders at some time in their life in the United States. By age 6, girls are becoming concerned about their own weight and body shape. And, 40-60% of girls, ages 6 to 12, are concerned with becoming fat.

Overall, 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance, as echoed by Ms. Brumfitt’s interviews of 100 women in Australia, asking them to describe their bodies in one word. Responses included “Wobbly”, “Imperfect”, “Stumpy”. And “disgusting” was used numerous times by many of the women.

This is a glimpse into the internal wars that women wage with their bodies. The war often looks like constant inner criticism about body parts not measuring up to media standards, fears about being fat, self-deprecation of body appearance in social settings (especially around other women), and restricting and/or indulging in food in unhealthy ways.

What’s Changing Now

The Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership in the world and that quality can only come from a strong self-image. The foundation continues to do their part in supporting women through efforts to end sex trafficking and homelessness and to promote education by mentoring teen girls through their One Girl at a Time program. Taryn’s efforts are also helping to change women and girls’ self-image from ‘fixable, damaged, needing improvement projects’, to ‘celebrations of strong, healthy, vibrant beauty’.

Change is also slowly happening around the world. Taryn Brumfitt’s Body Image Movement and her documentary Embrace are both making an impact, along with other change makers such as Dove’s “Real Beauty” empowerment campaign that’s been running for over ten years, a more accepting attitude towards women’s natural curves, as demonstrated with the Sports Illustrated 2016 Swimsuit issue cover photo, featuring plus sized model Ashley Graham, and European fashion organizations specifying a minimum healthy body mass index for models.

The Women Like Us Foundation is proud to be part of these global changes and welcomes support from our community to further the cause. Together, with other efforts like Taryn Brumfitt’s Body Image Movement, we’re closing in on the gender inequality gap and helping women to thrive through social change.

To learn more about the foundation go to http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org/#women-like-us and to learn more about Taryn Brumfitt’s work and her documentary go to https://bodyimagemovement.com/

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Blog author Molly Lyda, MA is a Life Coach and Therapist in Los Angeles, who supports women in finding balance and purpose in their lives through her program Intimacy 101: Create the Life You Want. She enjoys volunteering with the Women Like Us Foundation and working to make a difference in women’s lives. http://www.MollyLyda.com

 

 

Individuals and Communities Benefit When Single Mothers are Supported…

 

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Education.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

Why is it so imperative for our nation as a whole to educate the female? More specifically, why is it critical for our nation to focus on education for our single mothers?

 

A single mother household is not a rarity in the contemporary American culture, but has become quite a norm for our American families. However, not only are single mothers financially struggling against the nation’s wage earning gender discrepancy, but single mothers are also faced with the challenge of adequately dividing their time and priorities between quality child-rearing, while also maintaining consistent employment in our competitive American work force.

Unfortunately, the statistics reveal the reality in the difficult hardships that single mothers face. According to Karen Kramer, a U of I assistant professor of family studies, “Single mothers earn about two-thirds of what single father’s earn.” (…) “Single mothers are far more likely to live in singlemomspoverty than single fathers, and they do not catch up over time.” (…) “In 2012, 28 percent of all U.S. children lived with one parent. Of that number, 4.24 million single mothers lived below the poverty line compared to 404,000 single fathers” (Picklesimer). In an article discussing the link between single mothers and poverty, the Washington Post points out, “Poverty, meanwhile, touches an astounding 45 percent of children who live without a father” (Badger). As a result, our children, our future generation living in homes of poverty do not have comparable means to obtain the same quality, high-level education; many do not have access to the adequate and significant mentorship they need and deserve! These struggles not only impact the lives of the single mothers, but also have a rippling effect on the children and the community!

How do we address this national problem? And, what can we actively do to effectively support our single mothers? By investing in the education of our female population, we are investing in the growth of our nation as a whole. Individuals and communities benefit socially, financially and culturally when single mothers are supported in their educational pursuits. As Kramer suggests, “We need to encourage women to invest in education. And, as policymakers, we need to make sure that women and men get the same return on that investment” (Picklesimer). Education combined with equal gender wages will not only raise the nation’s poverty levels, it will give the children (of the single mother household) the opportunities and ability to pursue their own educational aspirations! An article from the Center for American Progress effectively states, “By extending ladders of opportunity to single mothers and their families, we can make a dent in child poverty, educate and equip children for tomorrow’s workforce, and increase our economic competitiveness” (Wright). To educate our single mother is to empower our society as a whole!

The Women Like Us Foundation supports causes locally and globally, encouraging and facilitating the efforts in female education.

 

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ONE GIRL AT A TIME PROGRAM (Indianapolis, Indiana & Los Angeles, California)- The Women Like Us Foundation currently has two female, youth educational program initiatives (located in Indianapolis, Indiana and Los Angeles, California). Both are growing and developing with over 1000 girls impacted over the past 5 years.

The One Girl at a Time Program is educating teen girls to live their best life through mentoring and empowerment workshops, providing tools necessary for young girls to become Women Like Us. Girls learn life skills, their value to society, their communities, and the world. By supporting healthy self-esteem, promoting education, and providing multifaceted guidance, girls learn about themselves, acquire the tools necessary for success in all aspects of life, and start the journey on becoming the best they can be.

 

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

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Badger, Emily. “The Relationship between Single Mothers and Poverty Is Not as Simple as It Seems.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 July 2016.

Picklesimer, Phyllis. “Single Mothers Much More Likely to Live in Poverty than Single Fathers, Study Finds.” (2015): n. pag. :: College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 31 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 July 2016.

Wright, Katie. “5 Things to Know About Single Mothers in Poverty.” Center for American Progress. N.p., 11 May 2012. Web. 20 July 2016.

 

Written By: Sommer K. Bannan

Five Different Homes by Age 7

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Education.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

One Girl at a Time Program

Five Different Foster Homes by Age 7

Kayla was born to a mother who was a drug addict and who didn’t know who Kayla’s father was. There were three other children in the family, all growing up with Kayla in an abusive environment. Soon the young siblings were split up between other family members who weren’t invested in their well-being and eventually Children’s Services sent them to various foster homes.

Kayla herself lived with five different families by the time she was 7. She was troubled and had given up on anyone caring about her. Feeling unloved, Kayla felt her life would never have meaning. Then miraculously, a young couple with two other children decided to foster her. Upon hearing Kayla’s story and getting to know her, they soon adopted her siblings as well and they all thrived.

Mentoring Making the Difference

1432744361484When Kayla entered the One Girl at a Time Program she was part of that new wonderful family but she still was very lost, unconfident, and confused. As she got involved in the program, she began to find a way to move forward in her life, believing in herself and going after dreams, knowing that achieving them was possible. Not only does she have confidence now and the tools to make good life decisions, but she also has hope.

Through the learning Kayla gained in the program workshops on leadership skills and career guidance, she now holds her head high. The mentoring she received from the volunteers who truly got to know her led Kayla to understanding her inner beauty and her importance to society.

Giving Back to Other Teens and A Bright Future

On her own, inspired by volunteering with One Girl at a Time, Kayla started a group who collects items for homeless teens. She is now an honor student and has finished AP classes. Kayla graduated from high school last year and was accepted to several colleges where she received scholarships.

When Deb Myers, the National Director of the One Girl at a Time Program, saw her before she went to college, Kayla said to her “Thanks for believing in me and loving me. Please know that it is because of this program and all the wonderful people who helped that I am where I am today. Honestly, I didn’t think I would live this long and now I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.”

Behind the Scenes

One Girl at a Time is an incredible program that the Women Like Us Foundation is proud to bring to our communities. Deb Myers, also the President of the Board of Directors, started the program in 2011 with Linda Rendleman, the CEO and Co-founder of the Women Like Us Foundation. After Deb joined the organization, she was asked where she thought she would be most valuable. Deb responded with “Let’s start young”, recognizing the tremendous needs of teen girls.

Given the statistic that only one in four girls believes she can turn to an adult if she has a problem, Deb desired to help girls understand the value they hold in society, while connecting with other caring women as role models. One Girl at a Time creates a strong sisterhood of support among the girls and mentors.

As Deb shares, “One of the things I love about this program is creating a sisterhood of support. Bonds between women are a force to be reckoned with. We band together protecting and empowering each other, knowing that we can count on the love and support created together. That’s what true mentoring is all about”. This deeply impacts the girls and leads to life changing results, like with Kayla. It’s through the passion of Deb Myers and the committed mentors and volunteers that the girls in the program thrive.

The program is based on experiential learning, open and encouraging discussions, learning life skills, embracing leadership and creating an environment where interest, care, and concern for the girls are all shown. Deb has numerous success stories about the girls in her program and Kayla’s story is just one of them.

Clearly, One Girl at a Time is making an impact on young women today. To learn more about the One Girl at a Time Program and Deb Myers go to One Girl at a Time.

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Blog author Molly Lyda, MA is a Life Coach and Therapist in Los Angeles, who supports women in finding balance and purpose in their lives through her program Intimacy 101: Create the Life You Want. She enjoys volunteering with the Women Like Us Foundation and working to make a difference in all women’s lives. http://www.MollyLyda.com

 

 

Education is Imperative for Gender Equality

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Education.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

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“Education is one of the most important means of empowering women…”

In 1994, the United Nations Population Fund provided the following alarming statistics: “despite notable efforts by countries around the globe that have appreciably expanded access to basic education, there are approximately 960 million illiterate adults in the world, of whom two thirds are women. More than one third of the world’s adults, most of them women, have no access to printed knowledge, to new skills or to technologies that would improve the quality of their lives and help them shape and adapt to social and economic change. There are 130 million children who are not enrolled in primary school and 70 per cent of them are girls” (Issue 7: Women Empowerment). The UNPF stated “education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process.”

To Educate the Female is to Empower the Female! To Educate the Female is to Empower Society!

In a recent humanitarian article, The Top 10 Reasons Why Female Education is Important, Lauren Stepp adequately states, “when women are provided with equal rights and equal access to education, they go on to participate in business and economic activity. The sustainability and progress of all regions depends on the success of women across the globe.” Stepp points out, “As President Obama said while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, ‘The future must not belong to those who bully women. It must be shaped by girls who go to school and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.'”

To become educated is not only important for the female gender, but it’s imperative for the growth of our nation as a whole. In other words, to educate the female is to empower the female! And, to educate the female is to empower our society!

Women Like Us Foundation Supports the Efforts for Female Education

Women Like Us Foundation is committed to being a part of creating a world that has greater equality. Education is ALWAYS the key for greater gender equality: education in reading, writing, math, science, and education in life-skills such as hygiene and nutrition.  Education opens the door to opportunities and choices in life. And, investing in education for women and girls leads to economic empowerment and growth.  When women are educated, they bring their children, families and communities along with them!

The Women Like Us Foundation provides funds, opportunities for volunteering, and awareness both locally and globally. The following are a few programs the Women Like Us Foundation is supporting, within our local communities, in their mission and work in educating the female:

ONE GIRL AT A TIME PROGRAM (Indianapolis, Indiana & Los Angeles, California)

One Girl at a Time Program is educating teen girls to live their best life through mentoring and empowerment workshops, providing tools necessary for young girls to become Women Like Us. Girls learn life skills, their value to society, their communities, and the world. By supporting healthy self-esteem, promoting education, and providing multifaceted guidance, girls learn about themselves, acquire the tools necessary for success in all aspects of life, and start the journey on becoming the best they can be.

teengirls

Currently, we have two program initiatives located in Indianapolis, Indiana and Los Angeles, California. Both are growing and developing with over 1000 girls impacted over the past 5 years. Our humanitarian trips with the teen girls have already impacted lives on a global scale.

 

 

For more information, or to learn how you can become involved, please visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

 

“Issue 7: Women Empowerment.” UNFPA. N.p., 1994. Web. 18 June 2016.

Stepp, Lauren. “Top 10 Reasons Female Education is Important.” The Borgen Project.

          N.p., 23 May 2015. Web.

 

Written By: Sommer K. Bannan

Helping Girls Become Women Like Us

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Social Justice.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

Our Signature Program, One Girl at a Time™ has impacted over a thousand girls in the communities of Indianapolis and Los Angeles.  Through our annual conference, self-esteem building workshops, and important group discussions we have created awarenteengirlsess of issues that directly affect our girls today. Topics such as bullying, human trafficking, career resources and values clarification through TV and film portrayals of women and girls in partnership with Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are a few of the topics addressed.  Humanitarian travel and service projects in their own communities teach girls the value of giving back. By investing in young women’s current and future lives we create confident, informed future mothers and leaders in the world and our communities. 

Leading Gracefully Towards Global Change

Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Social Justice.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

Monique Tallon

Monique Tallon

Monique Tallon

Leading Gracefully Towards Global Change

There are great women doing great things in our world. The Women Like Us Foundation enjoys highlighting the people who are making a difference for women and Monique Tallon is one of them. She is the author of Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership.

Monique’s story began with her early success at a well-known technology company in Silicon Valley where she led large-scale conferences and events. Although the company CEO and her direct boss both were women, Monique struggled to find female role models who could mentor her into being a strong feminine leader.

Uncharted Territory

When her boss resigned, Monique volunteered to take over her role of running a 10,000 person conference, an event whose size and scope were beyond her experience. Despite her feelings of fear and overwhelm, during the first large team meeting with 20 executives in the room, she declared “I have never done something on this scale before and I need your help!”

To her surprise that moment of vulnerability, mixed with her strong vision for the event, led to everyone stepping into their responsibilities and contributing fully to make it one of the company’s most successful conferences ever. Using a less common leadership style that included trust, collaboration, and vulnerability, Monique experienced not only fruitful results but positive feedback on how easy it was to work with her.

A New Way

In using some of her innate feminine traits on that large project, Monique stumbled upon a new and exciting way of working as a feminine leader. Through that experience and some of her other business ventures, she created an approach for leading and living life that embraces feminine strengths, something that has been previously lost due to the masculine leadership paradigm that has found its way into our everyday interactions. As for what she means by feminine, Monique defines it as “the qualities invoked when using the word, such as vulnerability, empathy, humility, openness and collaboration.”

The Feminine Leadership Model (FLM) is a new roadmap for women, including stay at home moms, young adults, and those in the career world, offering an approach to a more inclusive leadership style that can be used in all aspects of life. The model also applies to those working for non-profit organizations. The Women Like Us Foundation is an ideal example of how this model can thrive. As more women lead in our world with the support of this new model, it allows the foundation to continue celebrating and creating awareness of women’s work on the planet, which in turn encourages more female leadership everywhere and allows for more global change to occur.

The model is comprised of seven feminine qualities: vision, vulnerability, care, intuition, empathy, collaboration, and humility and four masculine strengths: assertive, daring, resilient and direct. When used together, these qualities offer a more balanced approach to building high performing teams, healthy relationships and a purposeful life. Her book offers 15 powerful exercises that assist the reader in embracing and stepping more fully into these strengths.

The Future

Monique is now on a quest to redefine what power and leadership look like in our world. She supports women as they move into more open, receptive, vulnerable, and authentic roles to challenge unconscious biases and gender stereotypes in the corporate world and beyond.

The good news, as Monique shares in her book, is that our world is not only ready for this change but hungry for it. In a study called the Athena Doctrine, based on a global survey of 64,000 participants, 66% believed the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. And the leadership qualities the participants valued the most were feminine traits – patience, loyalty, empathy, and long-term thinking.

Her Words to Women

With these new possibilities in mind, Monique shared some of her hopes for young women today with me during an interview. Her message included “You can be and do anything you want. You’re beautiful and intelligent and you can make an impact. Tune out the world around you and connect with your inside world.” She also shared a declaration for adult women today by saying “You are more powerful than you can even imagine. Your power lies in your feminine qualities and abilities.”

Monique’s intention is to balance out the old leadership paradigm previously based on command and control and authoritative styles. She invites women and men to collaborate and partner together in this new vision and way of leading in our world. And she looks forward to a cultural change where leadership is more inclusive, collaborative, and empathetic to all of those involved and where each woman can lead gracefully. Leading Gracefully is available for purchase on Amazon, and you can learn more about Monique at http://www.moniquetallon.com

 

Blog author Molly Lyda, MA is a Life Coach and Therapist in Los Angeles, who supports women in finding balance and purpose in their lives through her program Intimacy 101: Create the Life You Want. She enjoys volunteering with the Women Like Us Foundation and working to make a difference in women’s lives. http://www.MollyLyda.com

 

They sell them love…sell them dreams…then they are like putty in their hands.

My interview with Shaunestte Terrell, Indiana Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Human Trafficking and Missing Persons Division

Women Like Us Foundation is focusing April on Sex Trafficking with two events.

Upcoming events in Indianapolis and Los Angeles

I met a girl last December, she was 20, on a night we picked up street walkers.  They all were so messed up.  They were all addicted to drugs.  One girl said she had a pimp but her mother took the pimp away from her saying “I’m a better hooker than you.” I hope we can stop a 13 or 14-year-old from becoming that girl I met.

In my opinion the biggest problem we face in this country is lack of awareness.  People don’t believe that sex trafficking is right here, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our cities,
in our schools, in our lives.

Shaunestte Terrell

Shaunestte Terrellin our schools, in our families, in our lives.

Everywhere, parents or kids or service workers in the schools are not aware of how prevalent sex trafficking is. Kids are recruited through social media, they are recruited walking down the street, at bus stops, in malls, even at the playground.

All the way through the system, there are still defense attorneys who don’t think it’s happening.  And it is.  Even right here in Indianapolis. They are in denial. Even the judges still don’t think it’s as prevalent as it is. They think they’re being diligent, but they’re not.

I have to craft my plea negotiations to look different depending on what judge has my case.  Each judge I get has a different amount of understanding of the problem and I know who will take my cases more seriously than others.

The legislation in Indiana is getting better.  In fact, it’s pretty good.  If a person gets charged with promotion of human trafficking of a minor in Indiana, this means under the age of 18, whether there is consent or not, most can get anywhere from 3-16 years.  But the same crime in the federal system is 30 years to life.  That’s why, of course, we try to get the feds involved as much as we can.  I love to file federally.

Cases are also difficult to investigate and try in front of a jury due to lack of awareness.  Many times the jurors are not sympathetic to the victim because the victim doesn’t’ fit into a nice little box. What I mean by that is they don’t have a clean background perhaps, or they are not a part of the community, but rather transient. Or they have been involved in sexual abuse their whole lives, have tattoos, ear-piercing, they look like losers.  And we only get about 20 minutes to educate the jurors during the selection process before we start the case. Asking jurors what they know about trafficking in 20 minutes doesn’t allow much understanding of our plea.  In the questioning, the place I have to start is with the question, “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Human Trafficking’?”

The way the law reads in Indiana is that sex trafficking is Human Trafficking.  It’s a bit of a misnomer. When you say this to a jury, many think of a girl from overseas locked in a truck against her will. And that is the way it needs to be presented in the courts.  But most of my cases are sex trafficked teenage girls from our own back yard who are vulnerable in many different ways and from many different situations.

It’s very rare that we have a victim immediately say yes to prosecution.  The come from dire circumstances.  They are missing something at home or they wouldn’t be so easy to exploit.

No money, no dad, mom working 3 jobs or maybe is an addict, lack of supervision at home.  The trafficker figures out what they want more than anything else in the world.  Love, stability, loyalty…and he gives it to them.

There was a saying I heard once that went something like, “Once you own the mind, you own the body.”  This is what they do.  They get into their minds, and eventually control their bodies. They sell them love, sell them dreams, then they are like putty in their hands.  They give them a sense of family.  It doesn’t start out where it ends up.

 

 

 

 

 

The Game When you own the mind…you own the body.

The Game

When you own the mind, you own the body.

I set the alarm for 12:30 AM. I knew I wouldn’t actually sleep. Just mostly trying to rest, anticipate and be open to the mission I was a part of that cold November night. I knew to be sure to bring a jacket, as the windows would be down a lot.

They call it “the game”. The game of pimps owning girls, pimps competing with one another to steal their girls, pimps patrolling the streets to make sure the girls didn’t talk to the competition. If the girls talk to the competition, it can be dangerous. She can be abused, cut, made to pay in a number of ways.

It was now nearing 1 AM. I was in the car with Kyla, who does this every week. Connecting with the girls on the street. Showing them a way out. We saw a few young girls dressed like they had been out for the night.human-trafficking Out “clubbing”. Were they on their way home? They walked across the busy lanes of the well-lit retail area and into a residential neighborhood. We stopped at the light and we watched them disappear into the darkness.

“Look ahead…see all those cars going into that neighborhood? Do you see their taillights? Do you see how they are all turning left? Those are Johns”, Kyla told me.

We pulled across the street and took our place. It felt like we were in the drive-thru at McDonalds- waiting our turn. And when we made our left turn into the neighborhood we became a part of a mass of cars, all with one driver, some old, some young, all sharing the same common denominator of seeking sex for hire. It was a mid-month Friday night. Pay day when not so many bills were due. So extra money meant more dollars to spend on sex.

Sophia was the first girl I met. She was maybe 15 with her pimps name tattooed on her neck. Sophia was standing by herself at the edge of the street, waiting for a car to pull over and invite her in. Dressed in a red mini skirt, a faux fur black vest with a black bra underneath, and spike black and silver high heels, she walked over to us when we rolled down the window. “Hi” we said.” would you like a gift?” How about some hot chocolate? Pretty cold out there tonight isn’t it?” ‘Oh yes, thank you,’ said Sophia.

We had instant hot chocolate ready and handed it to her. “By the way,” Kyla said, “we know about the game. You’ll find a lip gloss with an 800 number on it in the little gift bag.” Sophia moved back to her spot on the street. Back to work.

There were 13 girls on the block that night. Some of the young girls were sure to have been trafficked. The young victims could have come from playgrounds, malls, online and as runaways. And some older who were probably taken years ago. Some were dressed scantily, others dressed in sweats. Some of them were Caucasian, some African American, some Hispanic…a mix of nationalities and mostly women. The young victims came from playgrounds, malls, online and as runaways.

My experience that night could be played out in many cities and towns across the country.

There’s much to learn. There’s so much to know about this billion dollar industry. How can we get involved in eradication, how can we recognize the need for us to come together and create awareness. And how can we recognize the signs of trafficking in order to help.

Linda Rendleman

CEO/Cofounder

Women Like Us Foundation

 

Her Work-Women’s Work

Her work, I really think her work
Is finding what her real work is
And doing it,
Her work, her own work,
Her being human,
Her being in the world.

Ursula K. Le Guin

 Kenyacropped-Cattandme1

What is OUR work?  The work of the feminine…the work of this gender… the meaning to the activities of our lives, day in and day out.

My mind runs to the measuring of my life by the quality of relationships; family, children, friends, coworkers and the richness felt by my personal soul when I give back to the world.

But these would simply be the by-product of an even deeper work, a work that is constant and continual and has been there my entire life.  From the moment that I get out of bed, throughout my days, into my evenings; over holidays, Saturdays, Sundays; in times of joy, in times of strife, in times of quiet reflection or chaos;  that deeper work is the discovery, re-discovery and re-birth of me along the way.

My work is to be a woman on my own terms and of my own definition.  My work is to understand that the woman I was at 19, at 32, at 45, at 55 and on and on will be ever-growing, continually developing, always learning and re-defining the meaning of me.  And it’s my work to persevere in it.

And so, my work, is to understand, accept, support, educate and know, really know, the person who is me. To question, seek answers, feel the energy of the world and claim what I want from it, and, in turn encourage other women to come along with me.  And, as I travel on this life journey of defining and knowing myself, of being a part of and doing the job of living, I know that my work is to make my own personal contribution and share what I’ve learned with the world so you, they, whomever, too can take what is needed from my life and do your work.

Linda Rendleman  CEO/Cofounder
Women Like Us Foundation