Human trafficking to be discussed at WLU

Darrick Blake

WEST LIBERTY — Human trafficking will be the topic of conversation as part of a program to be offered at West Liberty University Friday.

The university is sponsoring the program, which is open to the public at will take place at 6 p.m. in the Boyle Conference Center of the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex.

“We are planning discussion and education that describes just what are human trafficking crimes and who are the victims in this area. I’ve also invited employees of the new organization, Refuge for Women, to talk about their work,” said Darrick Brake, WLU professor of criminology and criminal justice.

January was first declared as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010.

Refuge for Women is a national organization that assists adult victims and has an office in Steubenville.

According to the organization’s website, human trafficking is a dark industry that abuses and exploits women of all ages. When a woman is rescued from a trafficker, she is left with many years of past trauma and oftentimes, substance abuse issues.

Refuge for Women is a non-profit, faith-based organization providing specialized long-term care for women who have escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation. Theresa Golden, director for the Steubenville site and April Stellfox, a full-time employee there, also will be on hand to explain what they have to offer.

With multiple locations across the U.S., Refuge for Women offers up to 12 months of safe housing, at no charge to the resident, with around- the-clock care as clients progress through evidence-based, trauma-informed programming. The staff is trained to help residents work through the program to reclaim their identities and reach their goals to overcome addictions, heal from trauma and develop life skills leading to healthy, balanced living and financial independence.

“I reached out to this new group to present about a month ago, after learning about Refuge for Women and their fantastic work. It was by accident that I heard about April, through my church (West Liberty Federated Church),” Brake explained.

Refuge for Women also has some internship and volunteer opportunities available that will be perfect for students, according to Brake.

Brake studied and researched child sex trafficking while he was a graduate student at Western Michigan University in 2007. He now teaches graduate and undergraduate students, many whom are criminal justice majors.

For information on Refuge for Women, visit rfwohiovalley.org.


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