United Methodist Women partner organization featured in documentary on child trafficking in the U.S.

The girl in the motel room is 17. She says she’s been “in the life” since she was 13. But she is not ready to leave the only life she knows — that of a child trafficked for sex.

Sasha Ray was pimped out of the back of a barbershop. She was luckier. She was able to leave. She reached out to an advocate for sex trafficking victims, Lisa C. Williams, and ended up getting the love that everyone deserves.

These girls, Lisa Williams, and many others, are featured in the CNN documentary Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking. The CNN Special Report takes a close look at today’s modern day slavery — the sex-trafficking of children in America.

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Author Lisa Williams speaks on the dangers facing girls and women

Lisa Williams, author and founder and director of Living Water for Girls, spoke on GHC’s Cartersville campus on April 2.

Living Water’s mission states that it provides assistance to girls and young women survivors of violence, street life and human sex trafficking and exploitation. Living Water offers survivors a safe space to heal from traumatic life events and a chance to pursue educational endeavors and acquire skills to become self-sufficient.

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Dirty Secret: Online Sex Trafficking of Black Girls

Four years ago, Shayna* skipped school with a classmate who promised that if they headed to a local barbershop, she would show her how easy it was to make fast money. “I had no idea what that would be until we got there, and I didn’t realize that she was recruiting me for a pimp,” says Shayna, who accepted a drink from the man upon meeting him. “He began telling me, not asking me, everything I was going to do from that day on. I was scared but interested, because he made it seem like it was the perfect situation. But I didn’t really understand the depth of what he was saying—or what it really meant I would be doing—until he brought in the first guy who bought and violated me. I was only 14 years old.”

Shayna, now 18, was trapped in that life for three years, part of the time in metro Atlanta, before she escaped. “I feared for my life through all the sexual assaults, gang rapes, beatings and weapons used by the pimp to keep me in line and generate money,” she recounts through an interview facilitated by Lisa Williams, founder of Living Water for Girls, a treatment facility that helps to restore the lives of girls who have been trafficked.

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Who's Who Honoree Spotlight: Lisa Williams

For Lisa Williams, a ten year old being charged, shackled and put in detention for 4 months for a crime that was being committed against her required immediate action. Saying, “How do you see that and not do anything? I rallied support because I knew it should not be tolerated.” Today, Living Water for Girls, through their grassroots efforts have increased the awareness of 365,000 individuals through training and seminars, and raised 1.4 million dollars to prevent abuse through sex trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery. 

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A Sex-Trafficking Survivor’s Perspective on the Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

I was 18 years old when I first felt powerless. I stood, frozen, as a gun was pointed at my head. I was demeaned and called unprintable names. The victim of abuse and sex trafficking, I was repeatedly violated and tortured and then blamed for it all.

On April 15 that powerless feeling returned. That was the day it was reported that 230 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped and forced at gunpoint from the safety of their boarding school, from the safety of their families’ protection, and from the sanctity of the right to their own thoughts, dreams and bodies.

It’s been a month now, and my feeling of powerlessness continues to free fall. Yet without giving into helpless emotions, I raise a voice for the now voiceless Nigerian schoolgirls.

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Coalition pushes lawmakers to fight sex trafficking

A politically savvy coalition of religious groups and nonprofits is pushing Georgia's Legislature to take more steps against sex trafficking.

About 600 members rallied support at the state Capitol on Wednesday for the creation of a commission that will draft a plan to help victims of sex trafficking and crack down on those who run the trade.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia said last year that sex trafficking is one of Atlanta’s most significant criminal problems.

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Prostituted children find refuge in survivor's 'tough love'

The 10-year-old was being charged with prostitution. She wore a detention jumpsuit. She had shackles binding her skinny ankles.

It was an image that Lisa Williams couldn't comprehend.

She read through the newspaper article. Nowhere did it mention the pimp who had sold this girl or the men who had bought her -- they weren't being charged. Williams stared at the child's photo in horror.

"It's as if [the law] was saying she woke up that morning and decided she wanted to be sold to 10 to 15 men," Williams said. "That just didn't make sense to me."

So, Williams got on the phone. She called friends in seven states and asked them to take out their checkbooks. To start, they sent money to a small safe house mentioned in the article. But the safe house could only take in so many children, and Williams realized she needed to do more.

"It was my God nudging me, saying 'What part of six beds east of the Mississippi did you not hear?'" Williams said. "That clearly was not enough."

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Lisa Williams Rescues Atlanta’s Lost and Forgotten

Lisa Williams remembers the first girl who walked through the door of this house, nestled snugly in the hills of a sleepy Georgia town. The 13 year-old, handcuffed and wearing leg shackles, had been arrested for child prostitution. Young, bound, and helpless, the “baby,” as Williams calls her, was a painfully real example of something that, until that moment, she had only read about.

Years earlier, in 2004, Williams had read about two other girls just like this one in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Selling Atlanta’s Children” profiled the commercial sexual exploitation of two sisters – one ten and one eleven years of age. Both the article and photo still haunt Williams today. “There was a photo of the girl from the knees down; she was in orange flip-flops and shackles—a ten year-old girl. She was waiting to go before the judge. Her eleven year-old sister was scheduled to go before the judge next.”

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