Hi. I'm Rusty Havens, the President and CEO of SWLA Abolitionists. I want to invite you to become an abolitionist. I'll explain why. Truth is people are being bought & sold right here in Southwest Louisiana. People from all genders, races, social classes and any other divider.
The good news is that you can do something about it. You can make a difference in the world. I know because we have.
I first found out about human trafficking at a college conference in Atlanta. This was in 2011. The speaker said that human trafficking happened there and that it happens in our cities as well. I didn't believe it. I came home and started looking into it. My friends, who attended the conference as well, came up with a 5k to raise money and awareness for an organization (IJM) that we heard about at the conference. We showed videos about the topic and the 5k in my church. One lady, after watching the videos, learned she had a client who was being sold to her neighbors for drug money. This happened right outside of Lake Charles. Because of the videos, the lady recognized what was going on and she knew what to do. We were involved in a rescue. That showed me the possibility of changing the world.
During my journey, I was told that I couldn't make a change. In fact, I was told there was no need for change because "human trafficking didn't happen in SWLA", but I knew better. I had already seen it. After noticing that there wasn't a website with SWLA stories or a local organization here tackling all the types of human trafficking, I created this website. Then, one incredible person joined me after another and SWLA Abolitionists was formed. People started sharing their stories with us. Our main message of "WE BELIEVE SURVIVORS" drew in survivors and they started guiding us to reach more. Regular people like teachers, delivery drivers, law enforcement officers, faith leaders, hair stylists, artists and more volunteer their time with us.
Since then, we have reached millions with awareness through a billboard, media interviews, booths, presentations, radio PSAs.
We have trained thousands of people including DARE officers, social workers, churches, students and etc.
We have helped pass federal laws like the TVPRA and state laws like Louisiana's Minimum Age For Marriage.
We have helped with numerous rescues and have connected many survivors with services like medical, dental, jobs, IDs, housing and etc.
We, also, believe survivors. Lift them up. They volunteer anonymously, give presentations or share their stories in the news media. They guide us and guide our organization.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, we could use you. You can help out by sharing our social media posts, signing up to become a monthly donor, volunteering with us or telling your everyone you know about us.
Human Trafficking is in SWLA, but so are we.
Until All Are Free,