By Jared Mauldin, and Noura Aalen, First Coast News, on February 13, 2014—
“Telisia Espinosa is speaking out about her experiences in the human trafficking trade. Espinosa came from a broken home, was sexually abused in childhood and lived with a mother who struggled with drug abuse. Ultimately, Espinosa found herself in the middle of an issue many people on the First Coast simply aren’t aware of — human trafficking.
According to the Polaris Project, an organization that offers services to victims through advocacy and support, human trafficking is a form of “modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.”
While the topic may seem foreign, Florida ranks third nationally in the number of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center‘s hotline.
To ensure Espinosa’s story is heard loud and clear, Jacksonville Universityprofessor Nathan Rousseau and local attorney Crystal Freed, are organizing a series of events with Jacksonville University, Artworks For Freedom and other organizations to be held around the area, which aim to bring awareness to the issue.
“People have a false sense of how slavery has evolved,” Rousseau says. “It’s changed, but it’s very much alive.”
Rousseau said millions of people are caught in the trap of human trafficking — often kids and women held against their will, sometimes only freed by their own deaths. According to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, about 2.5 million people are enslaved at any given time by human trafficking and more than 9 out of 10 people suffer from physical or sexual violence.
Although the topic itself is hard to discuss, Rousseau and Freed say it is crucial for everyone, especially here in Jacksonville, to know it is an issue that is happening right in their backyard.”
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