In honor of January’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Osher Adult Re-entry Center (OARC), VOICE, and ASI at CSUSB teamed up with Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) and held workshops, a panel, discussion, film screening and guest speaker session at the San Manuel Student Union (SMSU) Theater Jan. 24.
Held as part of Human Trafficking Awareness Week, which included iEmpathize Apathy Effect Exhibit to showcase real-life artifacts of children victims as well as a Walk Against Human Trafficking, the event kicked off with the introduction of the event, followed by the workshop on rape and trauma.
The presentation was given by one of the members of the San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, a rape crisis center that provides free services to survivors and their families.
“Fear, force, and manipulation all fall under sexual assault,” said Sandra Chardonnay, who works with sexual assault survivors at the center. “[Victims] will get beaten to submission and, or get threatened [if they say ‘no’].”
Audience members felt compelled to share their experiences related to the issue with others. The audience applauded their bravery for speaking out.
Engagement coordinator, Kara Rooney, from Open Door spoke on a range of topics from clarifications on human trafficking, who the victims are, psychological aspects, current information on human trafficking in San Bernardino, real-life cases she encountered, and many more.
California has one of the biggest trafficking rings in the nation with 13 hotspots in the state, one of which is San Bernardino, where children as young as 10 years old are trafficked, according to Kara Rooney, an engagement coordinator at Open Door. Rooney said that while many believe that children are often the victims of human trafficking, victims can be anyone from any age, gender, class.
During her presentation, Rooney showed the audience guests also watched the video ‘Beautiful’, a video by a survivor who shares trafficker tactics to lure victims into sexual exploitation. Rooney also educated the audience about the Polaris Project, a non-profit organization that has fought over a decade against modern slavery and human trafficking while building data on the issue.
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Thank you to all who participated in Human Trafficking Awareness Day at CSUSB today! It was a day of amazing presentations with the final workshop featuring survivor Vickye Pointdexter-Wilson and local survivor advocates. #endhumantrafficking #nomore #itsonuscsusb #smsuoarc #csusbvoicepeers @sbsas_ @rebirthhomes @sanbernardinocase @csusb.smsu @smsu.oarc
“I remember a couple of clients the first time they realized their victimization,” Rooney said. “They broke down. The second they are pulled from the life, they are afraid. Some have formed trauma bonds with their traffickers, sometimes compelling them to go back.”
Rooney explained that some people don’t make it out alive, while some continue seeking help for trauma or manage to move on in their lives, dealing with the trauma.
“My worth was nothing,” said Vicky Poindexter, a survivor of human tracking, who was invited to speak at the event. “I was groomed at a young age and sexual assault was my addiction. I’ve never done drugs. I just wanted to feel the emptiness and I found it through sex… this is my blueprint to my self-destruction.”
Audience members sat in complete silence as Poindexter shared her experience in human trafficking and the various struggle she faced. Today, she is a certified life coach who focuses on a holistic approach to emotional healing. She has also started a non-profit to provide transitional homes for those in need after leaving the ring.
“Why God spared me sometimes I didn’t know but today I do know,” Poindexter said. “I spend my days coming up with ways trying to help young women and men to change their lives and live again.”