Since 2013, Alamance For Freedom has led the effort to bring human trafficking awareness to our community.
We are committed to working with agencies, students, churches and service providers to confront and respond to human trafficking in Alamance County and to support the efforts of our anti-human trafficking network in North Carolina.
Human trafficking is a crime that requires a variety of alliances--victims cannot be identified or assisted without training community members and service providers to “see” them. Law enforcement and prosecution must work closely together to conduct investigations that will be successfully prosecuted. Victim advocacy agencies must be equipped to address the unique and complex needs of the trafficked victim. Our goal is to strengthen the "anti-human trafficking" infrastructure of our county and to contribute to the growing network of North Carolina coalitions and organizations doing the same.
some of our achievements
- Served 35 victims since 2013
- Provided staff training to:
- Alamance County Sheriff's Office
- ABSS School Resource Officers
- ABSS Support Staff
- Department of Social Services
- Crossroads, Family Abuse Services and Family Justice Center partners
- ARMC Hospital
- Kernodle Clinic
- Provided statewide training for Child Advocacy Centers of NC multidisciplinary team members
- Proposed policy to state representative to include sex trafficking education in public school
- Established internship program with Elon University Periclean Scholars class of 2015
- Regular participation with Elon University's Criminal Law and Human Services classrooms
- Created Training Manual for Rape Crisis Center Volunteers
- Participation in research projects with UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work
- Served on Project NOREST Advisory Board
- Represented Alamance County in Human Trafficking Roundtable Discussion hosted by Congressman Mark Walker
- Coordinated ongoing professional training for law enforcement officers
- Participation in Alamance County Anti-HT Advocacy Council
- Established Medical Outreach Team that has trained hundreds of health care professionals
- Established Youth Services Program to reach at-risk youth
- Awarded Federal grant through NC Governor's Crime Commission to assist victims of human trafficking
The summer of 2013 a group of fellow advocates met in a downtown coffee shop to discuss how we could address the increasing influence of human trafficking in our community. We wanted our efforts to be local, practical and to meet real needs. We were not interested in simply a show of concern, nor did we want to be just another social cause with a lot of hype with little substance.
We learned about what other NC groups were doing to address human trafficking (HT), what efforts were being made in our area, and whether or not agencies recognized the advance of HT. We received lots of advice and encouragement. We learned that our county was in need of an organizing agent to “link” together services, first responders and aftercare providers to ensure a seamless response when a trafficked victim was identified. We also recognized the need to effectively persuade others about the rapid growth of this crime in our county.
One of our earliest challenges was how to organize so that victims could be served most effectively—at the time the NC Rapid Response Teams--an informal association of law enforcement agencies, service providers and advocates--were beginning to organize around this issue. The big question for us what should Alamance County come under one of the existing "Rapid Response Teams?" Should we start our own?
We concluded that since Alamance already had a strong victim-advocacy infrastructure with multiple meetings and collaborative case review we decided to work within our existing structure. We then developed this simple strategy:
- reach out to agencies in key positions to identify and respond to HT
- meet with the director of these agencies
- present Alamance for Freedom and have a discussion about HT
- gauge level of awareness, offer training to staff and volunteers
- identify a point person in each agency who would agree to work with us
- suggested protocols within the agency and discussed how to work with other agencies should a victim be identified
This worked well to start, especially as there remained a large gap of technical understanding of serving trafficked victim. Even so, we began to receive referrals or requests for assistance from social workers, advocates from shelters, Latina support groups and even social workers from other counties who heard about us. Many suspected cases of HT were funneled to us primarily because at that time nobody else knew what to do with them.
In 2014 we became involved in a case of a trafficked young woman that helped us learn together how to better serve victims. We became aware of her case when a local service provider, not knowing about AFF, was seeking services for a trafficked victim. We spoke with her on the phone and over the course of weeks, developed some trust. The rest of the story was a text book picture of collaboration with law enforement, prosecution, victim advocates and AFF who provided survivor support and material help. Today she is thriving.
We have served many victims since. There is a lot of work yet to do. Challenges remain but yet we are encouraged that Alamance For Freedom has been a force for change in our community.