Tallahassee organization fights to combat human trafficking

Photo Courtesy: FBI.org

The Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center (STAC) is putting forth efforts to bring awareness to human trafficking in Tallahassee. STAC’s human trafficking cases have tripled since early last year. Traffickers have capitalized off the vulnerabilities of their targets due to the pandemic.

STAC hosted their “Imagine Freedom 2021” fundraising and awareness event from Oct.13 to Oct. 15. They hosted three days of informative and educational community programs. The programs covered ways to identify human trafficking, how the community should combat human trafficking, and how to protect the community from sex and labor trafficking.

Robin Hassler Thompson, the STAC executive director, says that the increase in trafficking is due to the nation’s current economic instability. Traffickers prey on the crisis and that’s the reason for the increase in cases during the pandemic.

“Part of the reason is the pandemic has had an effect on more of the people at risk,” Thompson said. “It has millions out of work, [which] mostly affected people who are already vulnerable, and the eviction moratorium just got lifted. So, you have an increase in economic vulnerability.”

Thompson believes that it takes a community to overcome human trafficking. Thompson has led her team to connect with banks, such as Capital City Bank, to inform them on ways to recognize human trafficking.

STAC has worked with Tallahassee Community College as well, informing them on ways to identify sex and labor trafficking.

Stesh Davis, an employee at Capital City Bank, says she anticipates learning more about human trafficking and the reasons it is so prominent in Tallahassee.

STAC held an informative session on Oct. 15 to help inform people about trafficking within their community during the Imagine Freedom 2021 event. Community leaders joined the session to give insight and knowledge that they gained while being connected with STAC.

Heidi Otway, the president of Salter Mitchell PR Agency, says before she learned about human trafficking, she did not believe it could be happening in Tallahassee.

“The more people that are aware, the more people can build this practice to help the community,” Otway says.

Salter Mitchell took on STAC’s Imagine Campaign as their pro bono case this year, because they wanted to help get the word out about human trafficking.

STAC will continue to fight for Tallahassee to gain awareness and combat human trafficking. They will be hosting events throughout the year. They will also host another large event in January during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month.

For more information regarding human trafficking visit STAC’s website, or you can contact (850) 297-2080.