Ventura County is breaking the chain of human trafficking

Community leaders, advocates and concerned citizens attended the sold out viewing of the groundbreaking film Break the Chain recently at the Museum of Ventura County. The film gave a detailed look at how sex and labor trafficking goes unnoticed and is happening in our backyard. In attendance was producer and co-director, Laura E. Swanson; Interface Children & Family Services’ Human Trafficking Program Manager, Christan Perez; VC Coalition Against Human Trafficking, April De Pretis; Ventura County DA Investigator II, Michael Munn; The Acorn Project Founder, Junemarie Justus; and Ventura City Councilmember, Cheryl Heitmann.

When asked their perception of the prevalence of human trafficking in Ventura County, Mike Munn responded “Human trafficking is definitely here. We’ve identified it. If we don’t combat it, it’s going to just fester; it’s going to be like a cancer because the pimps are going to know that they can operate in the county that’s not going to enforce those human trafficking laws.”

Since the start of the human trafficking program last year, Interface Children & Family Services has served 36 human trafficking survivors in Ventura County. Situated between major trafficking hubs of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the U.S. 101 freeway through Ventura County serves as a corridor for human trafficking activities along the central coast. Interface’s human trafficking program provides a trauma-informed and confidential shelter for adult survivors of trafficking. Survivors are provided a safe and supportive residential setting to begin healing from their trauma and work towards reclaiming their independence. Immediate, in-person response is available when requested by law enforcement or medical providers, to emotionally support adult survivors of sex and/or labor trafficking (both U.S. born and foreign nationals). The advocates assess for basic and immediate needs, provide referrals and linkage to supportive services, inform survivors of their rights and discuss options for safely exiting their trafficking situation.

Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin will be hosting a second Break the Chain screening at California Lutheran University, titled Combating Human Trafficking: Local Efforts on a Global Issue on March 28.

For community members who would like to further support human trafficking efforts in Ventura County, Interface Children & Family Services will be hosting the 5th annual Love is Brewing at the Kentucky Derby Champagne Luncheon & Tea on May 12, 2018. Proceeds from this inspiring and educational event will be used to directly support domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking prevention, intervention and awareness programs. Tickets are on sale for $100 per ticket/$1,000 per table and sponsorships are still available. For reservations or for more information, visit icfs.org or contact Laura Everest at 485-6114, Ext. 628 or leverest@icfs.org.

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