Human Trafficking

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We in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, live in small communities which we think of as fairly safe.  Most of us in no way think there is human trafficking going on in our communities.  We are wrong.  This is not a tragedy that’s happening in another country or state.  According to a 2015 quote by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Human trafficking is “a growing problem in every county and community in Michigan”.  Michigan as a whole is one of the top five states in the country where trafficking is exploding.  Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

The first ever reported case of human trafficking in Michigan was in a tiny town in the Upper Peninsula, director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force Jane White said.  This past year saw a case of human trafficking prosecuted in Dickinson County.  Human traffickers are drawn to rural areas and small towns.  There is often a smaller police presence and isolated areas, and these criminals feel they have much less chance of getting caught.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. The most common form in the United States is commercial sex.

Indicators of Human Trafficking

Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Is the person accompanied by someone who insists on telling a story all the time…they are a student, they are a tourist, they are here on a visa and there are a lot of inconsistencies.
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack access to personal identification documents?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.  For your safety and the safety of possible victims, do not confront someone you suspect may be a human trafficker or a victim, report the information you have to the police.

Traffickers look for vulnerable people.  People who are emotionally or psychologically at risk, people who are economically at risk, and people who are isolated.  Trafficking victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Trafficking victims can be men or women, young or old, American or from abroad, with or without legal status. Sometimes these criminals have specific victim requests by their clients…example, blond haired, blue eyed boy around 12 years old.  They use threats, force and false promises to lure their victims in.

Human trafficking is usually a hidden crime.  The victims don’t come forward because they are afraid of their traffickers or even law enforcement.  The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

 

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STOP THE SILENCE —10/14/2014

Have you taken a ride past the First Covenant Church on H Street in Iron Mountain, MI?  Each cross you see displayed out in front represents one person from the Upper Peninsula who was killed in a Domestic Violence situation.  Who will the next cross represent?  Will it be your sister or brother?  Your neighbor?  A favorite teacher at the school?  Your doctor’s wife?  It could be anyone!  You can’t tell if someone is a victim by looking at them.  They look like me or you.  Wounds aren’t always visible.  Victims are very, very good at pretending everything is ok.

Are you aware of the Domestic Violence in this world?  Do you care?  Every football fan in the United States should know…watch the video of Ray Rice hitting his wife.  Listen to sports personnel talk about how hundreds of cases of Domestic Violence have been covered up.  We all think that good old guy we know couldn’t do such a thing,  why he’s a great guy and fun to be around  (unless he comes home to you each night).  Each and every one of us should be more aware.  Abusers get away with it because they can.  Nobody wants to get involved.  If you see something or hear something that you think may be abuse call the police, that’s the only way this will end.  Don’t keep SILENT!!!  We need everyone to make abusers accountable for their actions.

One way you can help is to come out to our annual  “Break the Silence, Stop the Violence” procession, if you are able.  We will meet at The Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department between noon & 12:15 on Tuesday October 14th.  This year we will be joined by the MI Bikers Helping Veterans Motorcycle group, followed by area law enforcement with sirens blaring, followed by cars honking their horns.  If you can drive or ride in a car and honk a horn you can join us.  The procession will proceed to Caring House where refreshments will be served.  We need YOU!!

Let’s make some changes and shake up this county, so we can shake up this state, so we can shake up our country and shake up the world.  Let’s make this world a safer place.

2013 Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence thrives when we are silent; but if we take a stand and work together, we can end it. Throughout the month of October, Caring House will be hosting awareness activities and encourages your participation.

  • Cross Display-First Covenant Church on “H” Street in Iron Mountain.  Dedication of the crosses will be at 8:00 AM on September 30th.
  • Break the Silence-October 8th at 12:00 Noon-Meet at the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department-Procession from the Sheriff’s Department to Caring House-Open House at Caring House 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM.
  • Celebrity Waiter’s Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction-October 24th, First Presbyterian Church 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

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  • Paint the City Purple-Local businesses will be displaying purple ribbons
  • Purple Ribbon Campaign-wear a purple ribbon to demonstrate your support towards ending the violence.  Ribbons can be picked up at Caring House.

Some interesting facts about domestic violence:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

Candlelight Ceremony & Open House

On April 30, 2013 Caring House held a Candlelight Ceremony in honor of the survivors of sexual assault.

Caring House also used that opportunity to invite the community to an open house.

We would like to share some of the images from these events with you:

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IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT IT

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Chances are you  or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault.  (Some facts regarding sexual violence are presented in the April 2012 post.)  Each of us has an obligation to be aware and do what we are able to do to stop sexual violence.

WHAT IS SEXUAL VIOLENCE?

Sexual violence is a broad term and includes rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.

Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and elders.

These crimes are widespread and occur daily in our communities, schools, and workplaces, but sexual violence can be prevented. Community members can work to prevent sexual violence by establishing healthy and positive relationships that are based on respect, safety, and equality.

While some forms of sexual violence may not be illegal, such as sexist jokes, catcalling or vulgar gestures, this does not make them any less threatening or harmful to the person victimized. All these behaviors contribute to a culture that accepts sexual violence. Bystanders can speak up when they witness these actions to foster healthy sexuality and safer communities. Many opportunities exist in daily life where society can prevent behaviors that promote sexual violence.

WHAT IS AN ENGAGED BYSTANDER?

An engaged bystander is someone who intervenes before, during, or after a situation when they see or hear behaviors that promote sexual violence. It is common for people to witness situations where someone makes an inappropriate sexual comment or innuendo, tells a rape joke, or touches someone in a sexual manner. Bystanders might also witness other forms of sexual violence. Bystanders who witness the behavior or hear the comment can intervene in a way that will help create a safer environment. Research has shown that bystander programs can produce positive results by increasing participants’ knowledge of sexual violence, decreasing participants’ acceptance of rape myths, and increasing the likelihood that they will intervene (Banyard, Moynihan, & Plante, 2007). Engaged bystanders help create healthy communities and help others build safe and respectful environments by discouraging victim blaming, changing social norms that accept sexual violence, and shifting the responsibility to prevent sexual violence to all community members (Tabachnick, 2009).

WHEN AND HOW TO INTERVENE

Every situation is different and there is no universal response when intervening to prevent sexual violence. Safety is key in deciding when and how to respond to sexual violence. Every person must decide for themselves the safest and most meaningful way to become an engaged bystander. The following are ideas on how one can maintain safety while being an engaged bystander:

  • If you witness sexual violence, get support from people around you. You do not have to act alone.
  • Practice with family and friends about what you would say and how you would say it.

  • When intervening, be respectful, direct, and honest.
  • Contact your local sexual assault center to see if they offer resources or training on bystander intervention. Visit http://www.nsvrc.org/organizations/state-andterritory-coalitions for coalition contact information.
  • If you hear or see something and do not feel safe, contact the police.  (never put yourself in danger)

Portions of this message come from a publication from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

CARING HOUSE EVENTS:

  • April 24th, 2013–Denim Day

Please show your support of efforts all over the world to join in this nationwide campaign to bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence.  Wear your denim this day.

  • April 30th, 2013–Noon–Open House

Join us at the Caring House to socialize and support Sexual Awareness Month.  There will be a small art display created by people who have been impacted by sexual assault.

  • April 30th, 2013–5 PM–Candlelight Vigil

A short candlelight vigil will be held to honor victims of sexual violence.  Please come to support the many victims in our community.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH 2012

As you may know, Domestic Violence is a serious issue.  It’s complicated because it involves families and their personal lives, lives many of us think are “their business”.  Unfortunately, their business affects most of us in some way.  That child who is bullying your child may be watching their mother get beaten by their father.  I guarantee your children are going to school with children who live daily with the fear that their parent, usually a mother, is going to be hurt or killed.  Many of those children are themselves being abused.  The sweet woman who clerks at your favorite grocery store may be afraid to go home, she may have someone checking up on her at all times to make sure she’s where she is supposed to be, or she may not be there tomorrow because she’s dead.

We may think of domestic violence victims as “one of those people”.  Maybe we categorize them as drug addicts, alcoholics, welfare recipients, etc.  Guess what, a victim could also be your next door neighbor, your sister, the doctor’s wife or your favorite librarian.  You can’t tell a victim by looking at them much of the time.  Yes, they may have bruises.  Then again, you may not be able to see those bruises.  They may be hidden by clothing.  They may be hidden in their hearts.

Possibly you are thinking that they should just leave.  That too is complicated.  There are dozens of reasons domestic violence victims don’t leave.  They may be afraid to, not have any money or are afraid of losing their children.  More than likely, they love their abuser and think and hope that this time when he tells them he will change, he will.  They may not know where to go or who to turn to.

We don’t expect you to jump into the middle of an abusive episode.  That would be foolish on your part.  We would like you to become more aware.  If you see or hear something suspicious, we would like you to call the police.  Yes, it might be nothing, but then again someone might be in real danger.  We hope you will support us so we can help the victims become survivors.

This month we have several activities planned for Domestic Violence Awareness.  We would be so pleased to have you join us in one or all of these events.

  • October 2, 2012

8:15 AM Cross Dedication in memory of victims who have lost their lives.                                                                                                                     First Covenant Church, 125 H Street, Iron Mountain, MI

  • October 25, 2012

5-8 PM Celebrity Waiter’s Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                     An evening of fun for the whole family…prizes, raffles, silent auctions, entertainment                                                                                              $6 per person with children 5 and under admitted free                                                                                                                                                          Location to be announced.  Call 906-774-1337 for more information.

  • October 30, 2012

12 Noon- “Honk Your Horns” to break the silence of domestic violence.                                                                                                                         Bring your car to the Dickinson County Sheriff’s office to participate in a noisy procession to the Caring House.                                                                     Open House to follow at the Caring House with refreshments served.

2012 MYSTERY THEATER DINNER

“DARLING, YOU SLAY ME”  will be the 2012 Mystery Theater Dinner.  The production will take place April 13th and April 14th, 2012 at the Encore on Main in Florence, WI.  

Cocktails 5:30 to 6:30

Performance begins at 6:30

Buffett Dinner

Tickets are $30 per person

Tickets are availabe at the following outlets:  Caring House, 1st National Bank & Trust of Iron Mountain,  Dickinson Area Partnership, Barb’s Cafe in Florence, and 1st National Bank of Crystal Falls.

Please join your friends and family for a Roaring 20’s evening of great entertainment, food and fun.  Every year this event is filled with surprises and excitement.  Prizes awarded for best dressed matching the theme (you aren’t required to come in costume) and for best detective.  This year’s event will not disappoint you!

For further information please  call

906-774-1337 between 8AM and 4PM Monday through Friday