Augusta, GA -
Human trafficking can be difficult to point out or categorize because of how easily it happens to young men and women.That’s why Elizabeth Smith and her brother Tim are taking the message of unwarranted sex and labor among youth and creating an international rescue team.
“It is not defined by any socioeconomic class, by any race or religion,” said Elizabeth Smith, Co-Founder of I’m Aware.
The Sweet Justice Gala, one of the biggest fundraisers for the non-profit, may give the public a chance to silently cash in on local deals, but it’s just the treat to open the Garden City’s eyes to behavior many may be blind to.
Smith said, “Pimps lure their girls in kind of as a father figure or as an older boyfriend type figure.They don’t normally start out being completely forced into the trade.It’s very much mind control and its very much something that happens over time.”
Allen Bonds, one of the board members for I’m Aware, said a trip to Amsterdam’s Red Light district showed him how young girls trafficking there could have been someone’s daughter.Allen Bonds:
“Forced sex is wrong no matter what label you put on it,” Bonds said.
Bonds connected with Smith and relocated to Augusta from Washington, D.C.Now, he is helping to educate the community about human trafficking through I’m Aware.After hearing countless stories, including one from the guest speaker at last year’s Sweet Justice Gala, he realized the victims of human trafficking do not always suffer from sexual exploitation and forced labor.
“She was taken advantage of in college and someone video-taped it and held it against her.It was a whole different side of human trafficking that you don’t think about,” Bonds said.
I’m Aware has partnerships throughout the southeast.Smith said her organization is focused on training various groups that come in contact with human trafficking victims such as law enforcement, medical staff and educators.For more information about I’m Aware, click here.