Dear Fierce Freedom Friends,
Sam Cooke’s words in A Change is Gonna Come, “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change gon’ come. Oh yes, it will…” sung wholeheartedly in 1964 still rings so true today. Progress can feel so slow. Take for example, the work Fierce Freedom has been engaged in to end the cycle of human trafficking and exploitation within our communities for the past 10+ years. We have seen “wins,” in this time, but we have also come up against the inertia of systems so ingrained in our culture that it can feel daunting.
One such example of this slow movement can be found in our state’s legislation, where hypocrisy still exists that while children cannot legally consent to sexual acts, they can be charged with prostitution. This summer we were invited to the capitol to advocate for Safe Harbor Legislation that would protect these youth from criminal charges. Our staff spoke to the assembly committee alongside a brave survivor, Emily, who shared about her experience as a minor, sold into a life of forced prostitution at age 17. Emily’s account moved the committee members, and yet, the bill has not moved forward. Had legislation like Safe Harbor been in place, someone like Emily could have had a way out of her situation as a teenager.
This year, Fierce Freedom received word of eight new cases of sex trafficking, right here in our community. Each story we hear reminds us that, while those committing these heinous crimes are not very innovative in their grooming of victims – each story reveals unique layers of exploitation and how it reaches into our homes, schools, tech, transit, places of work and even houses of worship.
As Fierce Freedom board member Jessie Podolak put it during her keynote at last year’s Night of Freedom & Hope celebration, “We have hope, despite the darkness.” But first, this requires identifying and facing the realities of trafficking, abuse, and exploitation. This is what we do. We also take to heart our responsibility to give survivors a voice and to create media that strives to give justice to their lived experience and to emphasize the important lessons this provides the public in prevention of further exploitation. We are excited to announce that we are debuting a new film in the coming year that shares the stories of three women who have been impacted by trafficking or exploitation.
Because we have had the opportunity to create resources created with families and vulnerable youth in mind through generous contributions of local foundations, churches, organizations, and community members, we are committed this year to decrease barriers of access to these resources.
“Fierce Freedom has given me a voice. I never knew what hope is. Now I do.” Emily, survivor
Your support makes our work possible, and it gives victims and survivors like Emily, a voice and hope for the future. Our year-end goal is to raise $50,000 by December 31 and we’re already at 14% of our year end goal of $50,000!
In the year ahead, we are committed to:
- creating accurate and survivor informed media
- decreasing barriers to access of our educational materials
- increasing collaborative opportunities with other community organizations
Upstream education and prevention are still at the heart of our work and our desire is for families and communities to have the tools in place to learn about the many harms and dangers youth face, even (and in some cases especially) online.
A tactic many abusers or traffickers know well is isolation. As we look at the work to be done. We know it cannot be done alone. In the last few months, Fierce Freedom has doubled down on our efforts to create and strengthen community ties and to come alongside other organizations who are engaged in other aspects of this work. We have been so grateful to have reconnected with some local organizations, and to be planning for future opportunities to broaden our reach through intra-agency collaboration.
We realize that 2024 will come with its share of challenges but with that, opportunities to grow as we continue to chip away at this mountain and face changing our collective landscape together one step at a time. We are committed. Won’t you join us as we continue our work to disrupt human trafficking and exploitation?
Financial support options: First, would you think about setting up a recurring giving cycle for 2024? Small monthly donations can have as much impact as a large, one-time donation, allowing us freedom to budget, plan, and advance our mission. Some employers will even match your donation to Fierce Freedom. Just type in your employer’s name on the bottom of our support page (address below) to find out if your employer is among them.
As a small thank you for setting up monthly giving, after six (6) consecutive months of recurring giving, Fierce Freedom will offer you a Fierce Freedom swag bag gift (minimum value $35)! No matter how you decide to give, you can use our return envelope or give on our safe and secure website https://fiercefreedom.org/support/ OR scan our QR code. If you take advantage of our website, please select “End of Year Campaign 2023” as the program you are supporting.
The issue of human trafficking will not go away on its own. Ending the cycle of human trafficking and exploitation takes all of us working together. Your investment enables us to continue to equip our community with information and stand in the gap for victims, connecting them with the resources they need.
Thank you for your generosity!
Cat Morgan & Team
"I believe that all jails desperately need your training as the victims of human trafficking frequently pass through the system. If staff is not trained on the warning signs of human trafficking and what the victims my look like, these are missed opportunities to provide help."
Captain Curt Dutton, Chippewa County Sheriff's Office
“Your agency is my greatest resource to share with anyone I talk to.”
Amy O’Donahue, Deputy, Specialized Enforcement, Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Officer Ashland and Bayfield County Sheriff’s Offices
"Human trafficking is a worldwide crisis. Everyone can do something. Stand against this egregious violation and maltreatment of our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet. Join Fierce Freedom and fight human trafficking at home and around the world!"
"Fierce Freedom is at the forefront of anti human trafficking! They are constantly working with the community to train, rescue, and bring awareness! If you're going to support an organization in your area, this is the one to partner with!"