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NJ Lifetime Freedom Award:
Theresa Flores, The SOAP Project
NJ Freedom Award:
Barry Segal, Focus for Health
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice
Detective Alicia Bergondo
Christine Pastor, Tamar's Hope
John Pizzuro, Raven
The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NJCAHT) is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2023 NJ Freedom Awards, who will be honored at the NJ Freedom Gala hosted at the Bridgewater Manor on May 23.
The NJ Freedom Awards recognize the compassion, courage, impact and reach of individuals and organizations to prevent human trafficking in New Jersey and help those affected by it.
We spend so much time talking about ACES – adverse childhood experiences – in a world that seems to have no shortage. It is, frankly, exhausting. Children, or any group of people, are more than their suffering, and yet that’s what we first go to in order to identify them.
Our children, and ourselves, deserve better. So how do we reframe this?
Simply, we can focus on joy. Clinically, we can call that “Positive Childhood Experiences.” CPEs are all the moments between traumatic events, that hopefully are robust, and create an intrinsic understanding for youth that “the bad will pass.” You can imagine that this is complicated when children are being shot at in schools on a near-weekly basis.
The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NJCAHT) was named the winner of the 2023 Liberator Award for Organization at the Liberator Awards held on March 25 in Columbus, Ohio. The Liberator Awards were created by The S.O.A.P. Project (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) to unite people from around the country who are working for the same cause: fighting human trafficking. READ MORE
People who have escaped from being trafficked are up against at least two levels of life-altering difficulties. The first is the obvious one—the trauma of being coerced into servitude (and in the event of sex trafficking, being forced to have sex with strangers repeatedly and frequently). The second is also long-lasting and difficult to recover from: They may have forced by their abuser to commit crimes that guarantee difficulty in living outside “the life.” READ MORE
“Anytime I can help, I am happy to.” The words in the email were not unexpected, but every time I read them, or something similar, they make me smile.
They were written to me by a New Jersey Prosecutor.
I had been working with this Assistant D.A. on the dismissal of a decade-old bench warrant for one of my clients; a Prostitution charge against a Human Trafficking survivor. He could have opposed the dismissal, and required me to file a formal motion. He could have delayed responding, especially given his large caseload. But instead, he replied quickly, filed the motion to dismiss himself, and told me he’d let me know once the judge signed the Order.
I thanked him for his responsiveness, and these inspiring and thoughtful words were his reply back to me. READ MORE
A vital document that will assist teachers and school staff in spotting the signs that students might be being groomed or trafficked has been published by the NJ Department of Education. The Guidelines for Schools on the Prevention of Human Trafficking of Students was the result of legislation that passed in 2019 and entailed the gathering of dozens of stakeholders and experts to create the document. READ MORE
It is a particularly poignant time of year for the NJ Senate to vote to pass a vital bill that survivors of human trafficking have been waiting for – the eve of Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The bill A5322 which just passed unanimously will allow survivors to vacate criminal convictions that resulted from the abuse and exploitation of their traffickers. Awareness Day is a highlight of January’s Human Trafficking Prevention Month and will now also mark the efforts of legislators, survivors, and advocates to pass legislation to make it possible for survivors to build lives after their ordeal of trafficking. READ MORE
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When I first joined NJCAHT—just before the pandemic hit in February 2020—my focus was on Sex Trafficking. I knew only some basic information, but I had known for many years that I wanted to join the fight against it. By last year, it was finally becoming an issue of increasing prominence in our national consciousness. I had read news articles, seen movies and read books about it. While NJCAHT was also involved in the movement to end Labor Trafficking, that was not an issue I was aware of at all.
As NJCAHT begins its May series on Labor Trafficking, the above fact struck me.
And I wondered: Why?
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