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A human trafficking survivor’s story

The Women’s Leadership Luncheon in Milwaukee will be from 11:30 am – 1 pm on Thursday, March 7. Join us to hear the featured speaker, Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, speak about the topic, “From the Mud, We Bloom: Finding Freedom from Exploitation.” The free luncheon will leave attendees with an awareness on SSND’s stance on human trafficking and what sisters are doing to remedy the problem. At this luncheon our speaker Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, will introduce Emmy to briefly discuss her survivor story. Read more:

Often the word victim is used when describing someone who has been freed from human trafficking. However, most “victims” would prefer to be known as survivors.

Emmy is a survivor of sex trafficking. This is an image of Emmy after being freed. You can find this image on her website Lacey's Hope Project. Emmy was thought to be a well-rounded, popular girl in high school. She lived in a suburban neighborhood of Wisconsin, where she participated in all the sports she could. If you knew Emmy, you thought she loved life, was happy and appeared to have it all: but Emmy saw the world differently. She participated in activities and enjoyed friends, but she wasn’t as engaged emotionally as people thought. Due to that disconnection and her boyfriend at the time, Emmy was introduced to drugs and slowly got addicted to heroin. She eventually was befriended by a woman and others who were not as friendly as they seemed. Because of the addiction, she was trafficked by a pimp; she became a sexual object for her pimp to sell. It wasn’t until she was trafficked across state lines that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) got involved in her case. With the FBI’s help, she was able to break free from her pimp and return home.

Returning home would seem like a happy ending to someone who was addicted to heroin and was trafficked, but it was only a first step in the right direction.Not only did Emmy have to fight her heroin addiction, but also she had an inner battle to conquer. She had to reconnect and love herself again. During this process her mother took her to a community center event about human trafficking. The speaker asked people to imagine they knew someone who was trafficked. Emmy said, “I was looking around at all of these people struggling to imagine someone who was trafficked and here I was a survivor. I was nothing like what they were imagining. A girl from a healthy, happy home in the suburbs.” Emmy stood up that day and shared her story with the group. The interest and engagement she received that day and the months to follow led her to create her own nonprofit to help other who are trafficked. She states, “Sharing my story in front of people escalated and starting ‘Lacey’s Hope Project’ seemed to be where God was leading me.”

After six years of freedom, Emmy founded her nonprofit with a goal to educate law enforcement, health care workers and anyone else interested to learn more about human trafficking. She states, “We need to break down the stigma and perceived notions. Many people believe it is like the movie ‘Taken.’ That is just not the case.” Emmy’s nonprofit is also able to provide hope and support for survivors, including money, rent and/or care packages.

Emmy’s survivor story is only one of millions around the world. This year’s Women’s Leadership Luncheons will focus on human trafficking. They will be held this March in St. Louis, Dallas, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Milwaukee. The luncheons focus on topics surrounding trafficking such as: the causes of human trafficking, who is targeted and what is being done to eradicate it. Attendees will gain an understanding of the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s stance on human trafficking and what sisters are doing to remedy the problem. The luncheon is free. Please register for a luncheon near you. Emmy will be a guest speaker of Rachel Monaco-Wilcox at the Milwaukee event on Thursday, March 7. Learn more about Emmy at ‘Lacey’s Hope Project’ and in the Fox6 article, “‘You are not immune:’ Sex trafficking survivor helps unveil campaign designed to make you uncomfortable.”


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