To the editor:
The Willow Domestic Violence Center was pleased to see the article on massage parlor ordinances in the Jan. 29 Lawrence Journal-World and wanted to add some background on the ongoing efforts in our community to stop trafficking. January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and we were proud to work in conjunction with partner agencies in Lawrence to raise awareness of the impact of human trafficking and the devastating effects it can have on victims, their families, and the communities where trafficking occurs. Trafficking is a massive global problem and one that also impacts us locally.
The Willow serves survivors of sex and labor trafficking in Douglas, Jefferson and Franklin counties. Survivors that use our services are often extremely vulnerable people struggling with addiction, homelessness and other trauma. Survivors of trafficking are sometimes international but often are local individuals exploited at the hands of those they trusted: parents, interpersonal partners, employers or friends.
We are pleased to work with law enforcement, district attorney offices and other community agencies to provide comprehensive services shelter and support to survivors. We have educated city employees, first responders and many civic groups on trafficking. Last year, the Willow provided services to 58 survivors in our area. We proudly serve on the Attorney General’s Advisory Board on Human Trafficking and continue to be part of a vibrant and active community of partner organizations who strive to raise local awareness, provide services and support, and increase the safety both of survivors of human trafficking and our community.