How Northeast Wisconsin is fighting sex trafficking

Posted at 7:24 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 00:36:10-04

People working to end the issue of sex trafficking don't always refer to those trafficked as victims but survivors.

They said they have an incredible amount of strength especially coming out of these situations, but the trauma they endure doesn't go away right when they leave the life.

"What I did is what I see so many survivors do, is when you're in the midst of that healing, you look for a way to numb the pain, said Colleen Stratton, a survivor of sex trafficking.

Her story began at age five when she was sexually abused.

Then she began cutting herself at age seven and abusing drugs and alcohol at 11.

When her parents sent her to a treatment center in Florida, she decided not to go and was homeless until a man offered to help her.

He became her trafficker.

"My parents were so burnt out because of my behaviors and how I was that my mom told me, 'We can't help you anymore, Colleen. Walk to a hospital if you need help,'" said Stratton.

Stratton escaped, got clean, and now works with survivors, giving them hope in their dark times through the nonprofit Eye Heart World.

"Eye Heart World is all about raising awareness. We're about prevention, and then we're about aftercare," said Stratton.

Dawn Spang also works with survivors through Eye Heart World.

"We do a lot of presentations to the community at large as well as to professionals that are going to be seeing it in their fields of work," said Spang.

They also focus on prevention such as working with a Boys & Girl Club.

"We provide kind of a workshop conference type of experience to not only talk with them about tips on staying safe and how to have healthy relationships but also to build their self-worth and self-confidence," said Spang.

Eye Heart World also opened the Rose Home in Green Bay.

This is a place survivors can go for therapy, to learn life skills, and prepare for the workforce while healing from their trauma.

The Family Services' Sexual Assault Center also offers services for survivors.

They do outreach events to raise awareness such as handing out beads and flyers at a Packers game.

"Just trying to get information out to as many people as possible," said Shelby Mitchell with the Sexual Assault Center.

They also teamed up with Remedy Drive, a band dedicated to raising awareness through music.

One of the band members David Zach encourages others to use their own talents to spread the message.

"I've seen other people that have other kinds of currency that they use and spend that currency whether it's their time, or their art or their camera lenses," said Zach.

Remedy Drive and the Sexual Assault Center impact others through these events.

"As a result of this concert and as a result of this partnership, they have a way to participate," said Zach.

These organizations encourage everyone to step up and make a difference by helping survivors on their road to recovery through volunteering, donations, and spreading the word.

If you are interested in volunteering with Eye Heart World, email or visit their website here

If you are interested in volunteering at the Sexual Assault Center, visit their website here.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.